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Politics Podcast: Why The Federal Reserve’s Power Is ‘Limitless’

American government is designed to have components that are not directly accountable to the public. The Supreme Court is probably the most recognizable example, but it’s not the only one.

In her new book, “Limitless: The Federal Reserve Takes On A New Age Of Crisis,” New York Times reporter Jeanna Smialek focuses on another unelected institution with a lot of power over American life: the Federal Reserve. The Fed has great power, but, unlike the Supreme Court, Americans on the whole are pretty unaware of the role it plays in their lives. According to an Ipsos poll, 90 percent of Americans say their knowledge of the Fed ranges from not much to nothing at all.

In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Smialek argues that over the past century, through successive crises, the Fed has accumulated the power to choose winners and losers across American markets and society on the whole. And if partisan loyalists were to make their way onto the Fed board, that degree of power could be abused.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Galen Druke is FiveThirtyEight’s podcast producer and reporter.