Inside the US Federal Reserve
10 December 2013 Last updated at 00:10 GMT
On 23 December 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act creating the US central bank that this month celebrates its 100th birthday.
Created in the wake of financial panics of the early 20th century - and in the teeth of deep suspicion of centralised power - it is now perhaps the most powerful financial institution on the planet.
BBC business reporter Simon Jack was granted rare access to the Federal Reserve's inner sanctum - just a stone's throw from the White House.
Inside the Fed, BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 10 December, 20:00 GMT, or listen again on the BBC iPlayer.