Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March 6, 1926:

Alan Greenspan's Birthday

There have been 14 chairmen of the Federal Reserve since its creation in 1914, a period in which there have been 16 presidents. Fifteen if you count William McAdoo, who got the organization up and running at President Wilson's direction. Before the Banking Act of 1935, the formal title was actually Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve System; since then it's been Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The chairman gets a four-year term, appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, though some chairmen have quit early while others have been reappointed successively, even by presidents of different parties.

Wilson appointed two chairmen; Harding one; Coolidge one; Hoover one; FDR two; Truman two; Nixon one; Carter two; Reagan one; and George W. Bush one. Other presidents, however, have reappointed sitting chairmen, such as Eisenhower and William McChesney Martin Jr. and Clinton and Alan Greenspan. The Fed chairman and the president have been at odds over monetary policy from time to time, and the chairman's power is thought to rival that of a president. In economic terms, a good case can be made for that; but no chairman of the Federal Reserve has ever ordered air strikes or cruise missile attacks.

Alan Greenspan, celebrating his 81st birthday today, was not the longest serving chairman, but he was close. William McChesney Martin Jr. was in office from April 1951 to February 1970, nearly 19 years, while Greenspan was chairman for a few months less, retiring last year. The chairman in office the shortest time was Eugene R. Black, serving about 15 months in the 1933-34 trough of the Great Depression; William Miller was Fed chairman only a little longer than that in the late '70s, the era of stagflation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

G. William Miller, the short-time Federal Reserve Chairman mentioned above, shouldn't be confused with William E. Miller of New York, who was Barry Goldwater's running mate in 1964.