Chairman of the Fed: William McChesney Martin Jr., and the by Mr. Robert P. Bremner

By Mr. Robert P. Bremner

William McChesney Martin Jr. (no relation to me, so far as i do know) is a vital determine in US historical past. He led the Federal Reserve approach from 1951 to 1970, effectively protecting its independence in 5 administrations. this is often the 1st, and so far the one, book-length biography of him.

after all, the Fed's enterprise is financial coverage, a dizzyingly abstruse topic. yet Robert P. Bremner explains it so lucidly that even I, with just a rudimentary wisdom of economics, was once capable of realize it.

whilst the Fed's financial coverage is going fallacious, the implications are stark: failed companies, misplaced jobs, misplaced rate reductions. not just do abstractions like GDP or CPI elicit consternation, yet actual humans round the nation endure crushing reverses. by means of a similar token, financial coverage is designed and performed via actual individuals with genuine supporters and rivals, households and careers, rules and goals. Robert P. Bremner attracts sufficient sketches of the most characters in William McChesney Martin's existence and paintings, yet I want he'd rounded them out a piece extra. particularly i feel he is too nonjudgmental approximately Martin's competitors.

to understand Martin's virtues, although, it isn't essential to distinction them along with his competitors' vices. Bremner recounts Martin's errors in addition to his successes--indeed, Martin himself in 1970 took the blame for failing to ward off what he referred to as "the wildest inflation because the Civil War." however the individual and public servant who emerges from those pages is unfailingly committed, courageous--and sincere. these have been the times.

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Extra resources for Chairman of the Fed: William McChesney Martin Jr., and the Creation of the Modern American Financial System

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Charles Gay was not the only anti–Old Guard candidate nominated in 1935. Bill Martin’s disgust at the way the Exchange was run goaded him into campaigning to become the board of governor nominee of the out-of-town commission houses. ≤≥ On 12 May 1935, Gay, Martin, and Whitney were duly elected governors. Richard Whitney received more votes than any other candidate, reflecting the Old Guard’s undiminished strength. Governor Martin was assigned to three management committees, only one of which had much influence on the affairs of the Exchange.

If he had misjudged his fellow governors’ attitude toward his active leadership, his ambitious challenge would appear naive and overreaching. Martin’s move could generate opposition to his presidential ambitions, and the Old Guard would unite to slap him down. All Martin’s hopes hung in the balance. Before the meeting, Martin had reached out to the reform group by offering to use his pro tem authority to promote many of its leaders to positions of influence. He also committed himself to give the out-of-town brokerage houses a voice in the management of the Exchange.

In a move only Martin could have engineered, the Law Committee, the powerful committee the Old Guard had used to strangle reform initiatives for years, was abolished. The web of management committees was simplified and made more responsive to the presidency. The report addressed the hotly contested issue of the adequacy of the current securities trading mechanisms in a philosophical discussion that set a hurdle to reform which bore Martin’s stamp. ’’∂∫ Bill Martin played a vital behind-the-scenes role in shaping a response to Douglas’s challenge that would serve as a blueprint for overhauling the operations of the Exchange.

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