A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is a public institution that manages a state's currency, money supply, and interest rates. Central banks also usually oversee the commercial banking system of their respective countries. In contrast to a commercial bank, a central bank possesses a monopoly on increasing the nation's monetary base, and usually also prints the national currency, which usually serves as the nation's legal tender. Examples include the European Central Bank (ECB), the Federal Reserve of the United States, and the People's Bank of China.
The primary function of a central bank is to manage the nation's money supply (monetary policy), through active duties such as managing interest rates, setting the reserve requirement, and acting as a lender of last resort to the banking sector during times of bank insolvency or financial crisis. Central banks usually also have supervisory powers, intended to prevent bank runs and to reduce the risk that commercial banks and other financial institutions engage in reckless or fraudulent behavior. Central banks in most developed nations are institutionally designed to be independent from political interference.
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“There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
An axiom from economics popular in the 1960s, the words have no known source, though have been dated to the 1840s, when they were used in saloons where snacks were offered to customers. Ascribed to an Italian immigrant outside Grand Central Station, New York, in Alistair Cookes America (epilogue, 1973)
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