WASHINGTON (AP) The men and women who considerable sway over your money sit on the Federal Open Market Committee, whose interest-rate decisions ripple through the economy. A look at this year's voting members:
Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman
Bernanke traces his interest in economics to some less-than-wonky summer jobs after high school and in college.
After graduating from high school, he helped build Saint Eugene hospital in his hometown of Dillon, S.C. "I remember that, on the first day I came home from the construction site that summer, I was too tired to eat and I fell asleep in my chair," he says.
During the summers of his college years, he waited tables six days a week at South of the Border.
"I remember the fellow construction worker who wanted to become foreman someday and a waitress who was saving to go to college," he says. "I was impressed by these experiences, and I think they were an important reason I went into economics, which a great economist once called the study of people in the ordinary business of life."
Now approaching his second anniversary as Fed chairman, Bernanke, 54, is confronted by his biggest challenge: housing and credit debacles that threaten to push the economy into its first recession since 2001. How well Bernanke a scholar of the Great Depression handles these crises will shape his effectiveness, his credibility and his legacy at the central bank.
Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Geithner attended junior high in India and high school in Thailand.
In some ways, those globe-trotting years helped to prepare him for his present job as the No. 2 person on the FOMC.
Geithner, 46, brings to the Fed a keen understanding of international economics and a good appreciation of other cultures. He also has lived in East Africa, China and Japan. And, he has studied Japanese and Chinese.
One of Geithner's most important jobs as head of the New York bank is to act as a crisis manager. He's been on the front lines of the Fed's efforts to curb a global credit crisis that has rocked Wall Street since the late summer.
When he worked at the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, Geithner dealt with international financial crises and played a major role in negotiating assistance packages for South Korea and Brazil.
Donald Kohn, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors
When the weather is nice, Kohn enjoys riding his bicycle to work, pedaling across a bridge over the Potomac River and making his way to downtown Washington, D.C., and the Federal Reserve's marble headquarters.
In his spare time, Kohn also likes sailing a passion he shares with a few of his other central bank colleagues.
Kohn, 65, also is proud to point out that he has three grandchildren.
As the Fed's vice chairman, Kohn is the second-highest ranking person on the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. With more than three decades of Fed experience under his belt, Kohn enjoys a close working relationship with the board's economists and researchers. He is viewed as an important intellectual voice on the Fed and was a confidant and sounding board for former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Kevin Warsh, Federal Reserve Board member
Warsh played varsity tennis in high school, a passion that led him to Stanford University.
At Stanford, Warsh met his future wife Jane Lauder, the granddaughter of cosmetic pioneer Estee Lauder. He also came to know university provost Condoleezza Rice, who now is secretary of state.
Warsh, 37, is the youngest governor in Fed history.
He brings to the table Wall Street experience, which is considered a valuable contribution when setting interest-rate policy. Warsh worked for Morgan Stanley & Co. in mergers and acquisitions and eventually became a vice president at the company.
He took a job in the Bush White House in 2002, advising the president on economic matters, especially those related to financial markets, securities, banking and insurance.
Randall Kroszner, Federal Reserve Board member
Kroszner has come a long way since his first job as a bank teller.
The 45-year old former economics professor taught money and banking at the University of Chicago, his professional home before becoming a Fed governor.
He showed an early interest in money and banking: when he was young, he collected coins.
These days, Kroszner takes pleasure in classical music. After years of violin and piano lessons, he says he realized "I was much better at listening than playing."
Kroszner also has a special fondness for art, contemporary photography and architecture. He once lived in a building in Chicago designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, considered a pioneer of modern architecture.
An avid reader of fiction, Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick" is perhaps his favorite work. Among his favorite living writers: V.S. Naipaul and J.M. Coetzee.
As a member of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, Kroszner played a key role in helping the administration shape policy to respond to the wave of corporate accounting scandals that rocked Wall Street. Kroszner's areas of research include corporate governance, conflicts of interest at financial firms and international financial crises.
Frederic Mishkin, Federal Reserve Board member
Whether on land or sea, Mishkin is at home.
The Fed governor, 57, likes cutting through the water on his small sailboat, which is moored on the Hudson River. He also works up a sweat cross-country skiing, bicycling and roller blading.
Mishkin brings sterling academic credentials to the Fed job.
An author of more than 15 books, Mishkin's academic research has focused on how monetary policy affects financial markets and the economy at large. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Princeton University and Columbia University.
Charles Plosser, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Plosser is a music aficionado. And, his musical tastes are wide-ranging classical, jazz, country, folk and good old rock and roll.
Named head of the regional Fed bank in August 2006, Plosser can call upon both his academic and business experiences to help get a read on the economy's vital signs. Plosser was an economics professor at the University of Rochester.
Plosser also has served as a consultant to some corporations, including Chase Manhattan Bank and Eastman Kodak Co., providing clients with advice on strategic planning, forecasting, portfolio and pension fund management, capital budgeting and other things.
Besides music, Plosser, 59, likes to play golf and get lost in a good book. He also enjoys traveling.
Richard Fisher, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Fisher collects rare and first-edition books and documents. Some of his treasures: A first-edition of Thomas Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia"; several historical Texas documents; a complete collection of all first prints of Winston Churchill's books and speeches; and works by the famous economists Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes.
A voracious reader, Fisher's favorite authors include Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Langston Hughes, P.G. Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh. Recent reads include "The Shadow of the Wind," The Secret Life of Lobsters," and "A Thousand Splendid Suns."
Favorite music: Vintage rock and roll, all classical music except for Russian composers and anything by Robert Earl Keen, whose music falls into the folk and country genres.
A first-generation American, Fisher's father was Australian; his mother was Norwegian-born and raised in South Africa. Fisher was born in Los Angeles and raised in Mexico City. He is fluent in Spanish.
To pay his way through Harvard University, Fisher worked three jobs.
Fisher, 58, has worked in banking, ran his own investment firm and has experience as a Washington policymaker serving at the Treasury Department during the Carter administration and as a trade official during the Clinton administration. He took over the Dallas Fed in April 2005.
Gary Stern, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Stern, 63, is one of the longest-serving presidents in the Federal Reserve system. He is the only member of the Federal Open Market Committee the group that decides the direction of interest rates in the United States to have served with former Fed chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan and the current chief, Bernanke.
A native of Wisconsin, Stern joined the regional Fed bank in January 1982 as a senior vice president and director of research. He rose to the presidency some three years later. Before going to the Minneapolis Fed, Stern was a partner in a New-York based economic consulting firm. He also worked seven years at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York the mission control center for the Fed's daily market operations.
Stern co-wrote "Too Big to Fail: The Hazards of Bank Bailouts," published by The Brookings Institution in 2004.
Sandra Pianalto, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Pianalto born in the small Italian village of Valli del Pasubio came to the United States when she was 5. Her family settled in northeast Ohio. She traces her interest in public service and her career path to her childhood days helping her parents study for their U.S. citizenship test.
She joined the regional bank in 1983 as an economist in the research department, rose through the ranks and some 20 years later took the helm.
Before that Pianalto, 53, worked in Washington as an economist at the Fed's headquarters and became well versed in politics and budget making as a staff member on the House Budget Committee.
Pianalto serves on the boards of many community organizations in her region, including University Hospitals, the United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.