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Friday, October 14, 2005

The Houston Chronicle on Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher

Here's the Houston Chronicle on Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher.  It looks like the fun will continue:

No Shrinking Violet, by Jessica Holzer, Houston Chronicle: No one could accuse Richard Fisher of being a dull, old central banker — at least not after his splashy debut as president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. Barely two months on the job he started in April, he managed to spark a rally in the stock market, send bond yields tumbling, and make financial headlines from Frankfurt to Taipei. Fisher, who gets to vote on the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets rates for the Fed, predicted on CNBC that the Fed was in its "eighth inning" of rate hikes — meaning that it would lift rates one more time before declaring its tightening job done — though he added that there could be "extra innings." Back in Washington, Fed officials were stunned. The remarks prompted a Fed spokeswoman to announce tersely that Fisher did not speak for the committee. Fisher admits that he took some heat for his remarks, but he wasn't chastened for long. In a speech last week, Fisher roiled markets again, though less so this time, with yet another metaphor. The Fed, he said, can't "let the inflation virus infect the blood supply and poison the system." The episodes are testament to the power of the FOMC members and the way the media and the financial markets hang on their every word. But they are also telling about Fisher, a former Dallas fund manager and Democratic candidate for the Senate who, according to friends, is smart, ambitious and no shrinking violet. ...

Fisher's button-down résumé is in sharp contrast to his colorful upbringing. His Australian father was abandoned on the streets at the age of six. His mother came from a family of bankrupt Norwegian whalers living in South Africa. The two met, according to Fisher, after his father made his way to South Africa, probably as a stowaway, at age 19. Fisher grew up poor in Tijuana, Mexico, where his parents settled after they were denied entry to the U.S. According to Fisher, his mother crossed the border to California to give birth to him in 1949. "If you grew up like I did, you never had comfort knowing where the next meal was coming from and you never want to live like that again," he said. After the family moved to the U.S., Fisher began a startling rise, helped by scholarships to a prep school in New Jersey and the U.S. Naval Academy.

During his second year at the academy, a visiting professor from Harvard recruited him to that university as a transfer student. To pay the tuition, Fisher held down three jobs — at a bicycle shop and as a short-order cook and a researcher for a professor — and also rented out his room on the weekends to amorous couples. Of his college days, Fisher said, "Obviously, I didn't have a lot of dates and I didn't have a lot of fun, but I am very grateful to Harvard." Lucky for Fisher, the Dallas Fed has a history of outspoken presidents and his comfort in the spotlight was one of his selling points. "We knew that Richard would be a strong voice," said Malcolm Gillis, a member of the Dallas Fed's board and the former president of Rice University. Some say that Fisher will have higher ambitions after his service at the Fed. Given his efforts to keep up his ties with politicians on both sides of the aisle, Fisher does not seem likely to turn up his nose at a prestigious appointment. "Richard will always make a mark because he's an important player," said Al From, the CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist Democratic group that Fisher helped to found in the late 1980s. "But I suspect it will always be in non-elective politics."

    Posted by on Friday, October 14, 2005 at 09:30 AM in Economics, Monetary Policy | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (2)


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