Federal Reserve Notes
Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs, "ferns") is the official name for the type of banknote used in the United States, more commonly known as a bill (as in "twenty-dollar bill"). more...
Federal Reserve Notes are currency, with the words "this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private" printed on each bill. (See generally 31 U.S.C. § 5103). They are issued by the Federal Reserve Banks and have replaced United States Notes which were once issued by the Treasury Department.
The authority of the Federal Reserve Banks to issue notes comes from the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Legally, they are liabilities of the Federal Reserve Banks and obligations of the United States Government. Although no longer issued by the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve Notes carry the (engraved) signature of the Treasurer of the United States and the United States Secretary of the Treasury.
Congress has specified that a Federal Reserve Bank must hold collateral equal in value to the Federal Reserve Notes that the Bank receives. This collateral is chiefly gold certificates and United States government securities. This provides backing for the note issue. The idea was that if the Congress dissolved the Federal Reserve System, the United States would take over the notes (liabilities). This would meet the requirements of Section 411, but the government would also take over the assets, which would be of equal value. Federal Reserve Notes represent a first lien on all the assets of the Federal Reserve Banks, and on the collateral specifically held against them.
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