Open and Operating: The Federal Reserve Responds to September 11

This video-based lesson is designed for high school and college students to answer these important questions and provide teachers of history and economics a flexible format in which to introduce the Federal Reserve System.

  • What is the purpose of a central bank?
  • How did an extraordinary event challenge the infrastructure of the financial system?
  • What role does the central bank play in responding to a crisis situation?

The events of September 11, 2001 provide the context for this lesson, documenting how the Federal Reserve acted decisively to calm the financial markets, keep funds moving, and stabilize the economy. Students will participate in an opening discussion, actively view the Open and Operating video, and complete a culminating assignment.

The video combines news footage and interviews with Federal Reserve officials to illustrate how the Fed functions in the real world. The accompanying lesson plan addresses the voluntary national content standards in economics and explains concepts such as “liquidity,” “monetary policy tools,” and the “payments system.”

Program Highlights

  • Video-based curriculum with teacher lesson guide
  • One class period required
  • Meets national and state content standards in economics
  • Interactive student activities

Student Objectives

Through this curriculum, students will be able to:

  • Identify the steps taken by the Federal Reserve System to stabilize financial markets following the events of September 11.
  • Define liquidity and its significance in providing a stable economic environment in which individuals and businesses conduct daily activities.
  • Create graphic organizers depicting the actions of the Federal Reserve in response to the events of September 11.
  • Utilize graphic organizers to write a summary outlining the benefits of a well-functioning central bank.

How do I get involved?
For more information regarding Open and Operating, please contact your local Federal Reserve Public Information representative.

In This Section

Open and Operating video (16:21 minutes)

Teacher lesson guide

Open and Operating brochure (pdf, 71 kb).

Order your free DVD that contains the video and lesson guide!

State content standards


Crisis and Response

What is the Fed?

Bram, Jason, and Andrew Haughwout, and James Orr. “Has September 11 Affected New York City’s Growth Potential.” FRBNY Economic Policy Review, November 2002, Volume 8, Number 2.

In Plain English. “Why a Federal Reserve System?” Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.

Ferguson, Roger W., Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. “September 11, the Federal Reserve, and the Financial System.” Speech delivered to Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, February 5, 2003.

McAndrews, James J. and Simon M. Potter. “Liquidity Effects of the Events of September 11, 2001.” FRBNY Economic Policy Review, November 2002, Volume 8, Number 2.

Parry, Robert T. “The U.S. Economy after September 11.” FRBSF Economic Letter, Number 2001-35, 2001.

“Responding to September 11 and Future Prospects for the New York Regional Economy.” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Annual Report, 2001.

“Stability in a Crisis.” Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Annual Report, 2001.

“The Economic Effects of September 11.” FRBNY Economic Policy Review, October/December 2002, vol. 8, no. 2.

Yellen, Janet L. “Remarks on the U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy.” Speech delivered to a Seattle Community Leaders Luncheon, Seattle, WA. September 9, 2004.