David Ganz writes:
McChesney Martin Jr. served as chairman of the fed for 19 years, 1951 to 1970. The dates quoted in The E-Sylum appear inaccurate; the
confusion arises no doubt because of his father, McChesney Martin Sr.
David forwarded this nice bio of William McChesney Martin Jr. from the Federal Reserve history web site. Thanks. Bruce W.
Smith's item seemed to be about William McChesney Martin Sr. Both had interesting careers. -Editor
William McChesney Martin Jr. took office as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
on April 2, 1951, and served until January 30, 1970. He served under five different presidents.
Martin was born in St. Louis, Mo., in 1906. He graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree.
Martin’s association with the Federal Reserve was lifelong. His father, William McChesney Martin Sr. helped draft the Federal Reserve Act and was
governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis from 1929 to 1941. After earning his degree, the younger Martin worked in the bank examination
department of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis before leaving to head the statistics department of A.G. Edwards & Sons. He later became the
firm’s representative at the New York Stock Exchange. In 1941, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. By the end of World War II, he was a colonel and
was nominated by President Harry Truman to lead the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
From February 1949 to April 1951, Martin served as assistant secretary of the Treasury. In that role, he was instrumental in helping negotiate the
March 1951 Treasury-Fed Accord. That agreement gave the Fed control over monetary policy and ended its obligation to monetize the debt of the
Treasury at a fixed rate. One month after the Accord was signed, President Truman appointed Martin chairman of the Board of Governors.
As chairman, Martin was known for his tight money policies and anti-inflation bias. With his banking background, he emphasized the importance of
statistics over economic theory. At the same time, he also pushed for the Fed to have flexibility and discretion in its policymaking. In 1956, he
famously described the Fed’s purpose to Congress as “leaning against the winds of deflation or inflation, whichever way they are blowing.”
After leaving the Board of Governors, Martin served on the boards of several corporations and nonprofit organizations, including IBM, American
Express and the National Geographic Society. He also worked as a lawyer at Riggs National Bank in Washington.
Martin died in 1998.
To read the complete article, see:
William McChesney Martin Jr.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
NOTES FROM E-SYLUM READERS: DECEMBER 28, 2014 : William McChesney Martin of St. Louis
Wayne Homren, Editor
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