By Mr. Robert P. Bremner
William McChesney Martin Jr. (no relation to me, so far as i do know) is a crucial determine in US historical past. He led the Federal Reserve process from 1951 to 1970, effectively protecting its independence in 5 administrations. this can be the 1st, and so far the single, book-length biography of him.
in fact, 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, used to be capable of know it.
whilst the Fed's financial coverage is going unsuitable, the results are stark: failed companies, misplaced jobs, misplaced rate reductions. not just do abstractions like GDP or CPI elicit consternation, yet genuine humans round the kingdom undergo crushing reverses. via a similar token, financial coverage is designed and performed by means of actual individuals with genuine supporters and rivals, households and careers, rules and targets. 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 rivals' vices. Bremner recounts Martin's blunders in addition to his successes--indeed, Martin himself in 1970 took the blame for failing to stay away from what he known as "the wildest inflation because the Civil War." however the person and public servant who emerges from those pages is unfailingly devoted, 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
Martin was deeply distressed that Douglas’s single-minded persistence kept the divisive Whitney debacle alive at the Exchange and undermined Martin’s patient campaign to get his Fifteen Point Program institutionalized. Despite the tensions over the Morgan issue, Martin and Douglas regularly telephoned one another to provide updates and deny rumors. ’’≤∂ The public show of amity allowed both men to quietly negotiate their strong differences. Martin’s awkward relationship with Douglas ended soon after 20 March 1939, when Franklin Roosevelt announced that Douglas would take the place of Louis D.
He was recruited to join the prestigious investment banking firm of Lehman Brothers and was the first outsider brought directly into the partnership. He had taken an aggressive anti-SEC position, which did not go unnoticed by the remnants of the Old Guard. ≤∫ The coup collapsed in a fury of denials and finger pointing, but the incident revealed the deep-seated hostility that Martin endured throughout his term of office. Like Kennedy before him, Douglas sought to handpick his successor. He eventually prevailed on Roosevelt to offer the chairmanship to Jerry Frank, one of Douglas’s closest friends, a brilliant New Deal activist and fellow SEC commissioner.
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. In characteristic fashion, Martin carefully studied the minutes of past meetings and interviewed former members of the committees on which he was to serve. Before his first meeting, he knew the details of his committee’s history as well as any incumbent and had plans to make it more effective.