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Chairman of the Fed: William McChesney Martin Jr., and the Creation of the Modern American Financial System Hardcover – November 10, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0300105087 ISBN-10: 0300105088 Edition: First Edition, First Printing

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (November 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300105088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300105087
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,420,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This richly detailed, fascinating history of a professional life virtually defines a bygone ideal of public service. When Martin was appointed to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System by President Harry Truman in 1951, the Fed had lost much of its credibility, says former World Bank executive Bremner. Martin, a self-effacing but strong-willed manager who had introduced long-needed reforms at the New York Stock Exchange between 1938 and 1941, appreciated that the Fed's effectiveness depended crucially on gaining White House and congressional allies, on boosting the professional level of research and on regaining the confidence of the banking industry. Through meticulous research deftly presented, Bremner shows that Martin's persistence, calm and forthrightness gained new respect for the Fed; his dogged efforts over nearly 20 years re-established a central role for monetary policy in U.S. economic planning. Despite being a dedicated inflation fighter throughout his tenure (his motto was: "A sound currency is coined freedom"), a disastrously disruptive, Vietnam-related inflation he had long forecast was on the horizon at the time he retired in 1970. If Martin thus felt a sense of failure as he left the Fed, Bremner's book justly celebrates the invaluable, long-lasting effects of his overarching plan to establish the Fed's function in coordinated economic policy making.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Creation of the modern Federal Reserve System is, to a very considerable extent, the work of William McChesney Martin, Jr. Robert Bremner’s book brings out the character, conviction, courage, and collegiality that Martin brought to this historic achievement.” -Allan H Meltzer, author of A History of the Federal Reserve and Professor of Political Economy, Carnegie Mellon University

"Whatever your definition of a 'great american,' Bill Martin meets it. He passed effortlessly from floor broker on the NYSE to its first professional paid president, became the only Wall Streeter to enter the Army as a private in World War II, [helped] negotiate the end of lend lease with Russia, created while Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the document that established the independence of the Federal Reserve System, then served 18 years as the Fed's Chairman, playing tennis just about every day. A one-of-a-kind narrative."— Martin Mayer, author of The Fed: The Inside Story of How the World’s Most Powerful Financial Institution Drives the Markets

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Francisco Mariategui on November 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very good book. McChesney Martin was a superb banker and alongside Mariner Eccles, established a high standard of performance for future Fed chairmen. The book not only covers the way McChesney Martin managed the Fed, but also represents an economics and economic history textbook.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William McChesney Martin Jr. (no relation to me, as far as I know) is an important figure in US history. He led the Federal Reserve System from 1951 to 1970, successfully defending its independence in five administrations. This is the first, and to date the only, book-length biography of him.

Of course, the Fed's business is monetary policy, a dizzyingly abstruse subject. But Robert P. Bremner explains it so lucidly that even I, with only a rudimentary knowledge of economics, was able to understand it.

When the Fed's monetary policy goes wrong, the consequences are stark: failed businesses, lost jobs, lost savings. Not only do abstractions like GDP or CPI elicit consternation, but real people around the country suffer crushing reverses. By the same token, monetary policy is designed and carried out by real people with real supporters and opponents, families and careers, principles and ambitions. Robert P. Bremner draws adequate sketches of the main characters in William McChesney Martin's life and work, but I wish he'd rounded them out a bit more. In particular I think he's too nonjudgmental about Martin's opponents.

To appreciate Martin's virtues, however, it's not necessary to contrast them with his opponents' vices. Bremner recounts Martin's mistakes as well as his successes--indeed, Martin himself in 1970 took the blame for failing to avert what he called "the wildest inflation since the Civil War." But the human being and public servant who emerges from these pages is unfailingly dedicated, courageous--and honest. Those were the days.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book came in a timely manner and is in great condition. I would buy from this seller again.
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