Chairman of the Fed


Ben Bernanke will take over next week as Chairman of the Federal Reserve for Alan Greenspan, who is stepping down on Tuesday after more than 18 years on the job. “An extraordinary act to follow,” says Princeton Professor Alan Blinder, the Fed’s Vice Chairman under Greenspan in the mid-1990s, on NPR Weekend Edition. “Mr. Greenspan is among the best, if not the best, Fed Chairman ever.” Blinder likens Bernanke’s task to being “the man the Yankees sent out in center field after Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Equaling the Greenspan performance will be hard for anybody.”

Alan Greenspan’s longevity and near legendary status as Chairman of the Fed have been matched by only one other individual: William McChesney Martin, Jr., who served as Fed Chairman from 1951 to 1970. If Greenspan should be considered the DiMaggio of the Federal Reserve, Martin would be its Babe Ruth. According to Robert P. Bremner in The Chairman of the Fed, the first biography of William McChesney Martin, Jr., the extent of Martin’s influence on the course of American economic history has been staggering. As the first paid president of the NYSE and Chairman of the Fed during five presidential administrations, Martin, the book argues, did more to strengthen and reform the nation’s most important financial institutions than anyone else has.

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