An institution that has been in the news a lot these past few years, and which has come in for its share of criticism during the nation’s stubborn economic problems, observes the centennial of its founding today. The Federal Reserve System, known simply as “the Fed,” came into being on this date in 1913, with the job of keeping the nation’s complex financial system in tune. Acting as the nation’s central bank, “the Fed” influences the lending and investing activities of all banks, along with the availability of money and credit, all the way up to the national government. There are more than 91,000 commercial banks in the U.S., with profits of over $600 billion a year. You can find current data on the country’s economy by downloading the America’s Economy mobile app at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, December 22nd. One of the most important inventions of modern times was announced 66 years ago this week — when three Bell Laboratory scientists successfully tested what would become the junction transistor, the foundation of the information age. The three shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1956. The transistor replaced bulky, fragile vacuum tubes, which generated a lot of heat as they amplified a signal. The first application that caught the public’s attention was the transistor radio. Now, transistors are found in every electronic device that we all take for granted. Today, there are nearly 51,000 stores selling electronic devices in the U.S., with sales worth $109 billion annually. You can find current data on the country’s economy by downloading the America’s Economy mobile app at <www.census.gov/mobile>.
Saturday, December 21st. Winter officially arrives today at 11 minutes past 10 p.m. in our Eastern time zone. The winter solstice heralds the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the season’s extended darkness, coupled with holiday partying, means it’s a time for extra caution behind the wheel. So December is well chosen as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, also known as Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. While the number of people killed on the nation’s highways each year has declined in the past few decades, accidents still claim almost 31,000 lives. About one-third of these deaths occur in accidents where the people involved have blood alcohol levels above the legal limit. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at www.census.gov