The first central banks emerged in Europe in the 17th century, in the form of Sweden’s Riksbank, which was intended to be a central lender and clearing house, and the Bank of England, founded as a joint stock company to purchase government debt. The U.S. Federal Reserve was created just over 100 years ago to manage the money supply and to act as a lender of last resort. (An interesting aside: The Fed, in its current structure, is a network of regional central banks, because the powers-that-be back then didn’t trust the idea of centralized finance. Go figure.
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