Photo of Mike Chriszt As Latin America's ties to the Sixth Federal Reserve District have grown, so too has the scope of activity of the Atlanta Fed's Americas Center. As someone who has worked with the Americas Center since its inception in 2005, I have had the opportunity to watch it develop into a thriving Bank-wide strategic initiative that enables staff to collaborate, often with external partners, on a wide range of programs.

When we started the Americas Center, we sought to bring thought leadership to the critical emerging policy and regulatory areas that are of vital interest to our Bank's mission. In 2012, three examples of achievements that reflect this leadership include:

  • The Retail Payments Office's role in supporting the Western Hemisphere Payments Initiative's goal of establishing a regional payments hub, that, if implemented, would link many of the hemisphere's central banks' payment systems.

  • An international stakeholders' meeting hosted by the Americas Center that brought together leaders from governments, multilateral organizations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to discuss how credit can be expanded through secured transaction reform.

  • An Americas Center forum held with leading business and academic experts on the growing commercial and economic ties between the United States and Mexico.

In addition to the higher-profile initiatives that you will read about in this Annual Review, the Atlanta Fed is responding to new challenges in the region. In banking supervision, staff representing various areas of expertise built upon their successful track record of collaborative, multilingual foreign technical assistance programs. The Country Risk and Foreign Banking Organization (FBO) Analysis team continued its efforts to build key working relationships and better understand country and regional banking sector risk fundamentals and their linkages to global developments. Sixth District Cash Operations, which serves 35 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean from the Miami Branch, rose to the challenges presented by Superstorm Sandy and stepped in to support its Fed System colleagues. The community and economic development team continues its work with unbanked and underbanked consumers, and the Bank's Retail Payments Risk Forum, which focuses on improved detection and mitigation of emerging risks and fraud in retail payments systems, focused on reaching out to partners throughout the hemisphere.

In 2012, the Americas Center worked with Atlanta Fed, Federal Reserve System, and public and private stakeholders to provide leadership in key supervisory, financial, and economic matters related to the Americas. As we look ahead to 2013, the Americas Center will continue to build upon this foundation.

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