Published August 1, 1988 | August 1988 issue
From its beginning in 1913 as an “adventure,” it was inevitable that the Federal Reserve System would undergo change. The Fed’s changes are not necessarily reflective of shortcomings in the original act; rather, as illustrated throughout the history of the Fed and as Woodrow Wilson said, those changes suggest an evolution shared with America’s growing economic system. The future, then, would imply more change, more evolution. Indeed, throughout the mid- to late-1980s Congress has been grappling with the issue of expanding the business powers of commercial banks. Whatever form the legislation eventually takes, it will likely involve more supervisory responsibility for the Fed. In addition, as noted before, the Fed is a pivotal force in the development of electronic banking practices that will have a profound effect on future generations.
The adventure, then, as Carter Glass would probably say, continues. Or, as they say in the Ninth District: there are still uncharted fields to plow. And, through all the “adventures,” through all the changes of the last 75 years, the Fed—on an national and district level—has relied upon the leadership of its board of governors, district presidents and districts board of directors. Just as important, perhaps, as the evolving structural developments of the Federal Reserve System, is the leadership the Fed received over the years. What follows, then, are the reflections of some past presidents of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, along with views of former chairman of the bank’s board of directors, as they consider the era in which they served and their outlook for the future.