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Expand chart
Data: Ipsos; Chart: Axios Visuals

Disjointed results for the wealthy and working classes since the pandemic hit the U.S. have fostered an environment in which most Americans don't trust the Federal Reserve, or think that the central bank is doing a good job.

Driving the news: New polling from Ipsos exclusively for Axios shows that 53% of Americans say they don't trust the central bank, and just 38% say the Fed has done a "good" or "excellent" job, while 58% say the Fed is doing a "fair" or "poor" job.

  • The percentage of respondents who say the Fed is doing poorly (13%) is more than triple the share who say it's doing an excellent job (4%).
  • Similarly, the share who say they have no trust at all in the Fed (15%) is triple the share who say they have a great deal of trust (5%).

Why it matters: Some market participants argue that most ordinary people have no idea what the Fed does, but 60% of poll respondents said they know at least "a little" about how the Fed operates, compared to 38% who say they know "not a lot" or "nothing."

  • The Fed gets its charter from Congress, which is at the mercy of voters. If voters think the Fed is hurting rather than helping, they can direct their representatives accordingly.
Expand chart
Data: Ipsos; Chart: Axios Visuals

Go deeper

Poll: Not trusting the Fed

Expand chart
Data:Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

For all it's impact on the U.S. economy, more than three-fourths of Americans say they know "a little" or less about how the Fed operates and what it does, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted for Axios.

Why it matters: People who say they do not understand the Fed are more likely to say they don't trust what the Fed is doing. A breakdown of trust could lead to more politicization of the agency.

The Fed takes on climate and race

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer. Photos: Robert Gauthier (Los Angeles Times), Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Historically untouchable issues — like climate change and race — are now on the table for the Federal Reserve, as it wades further into uncharted territory.

Why it matters: The about-face has implications for how one of the world’s most influential economic bodies steers policy and regulates the nation's banks.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Apr 3, 2021 - Economy & Business

Biden returns to political norms on Fed decisions

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The modern Fed is designed to operate free of political pressures, as codified in a 1951 agreement with the U.S. Treasury Department. That gives monetary policy to the Fed and fiscal policy to Treasury.

Reality check: The president nominates Fed chairs and governors, who don't have lifetime appointments like Supreme Court justices, so politics has always maintained some influence.