At a Glance
- Career History: Chair, Federal Reserve Bank of New York (2008-2009); Economic Adviser to President George W. Bush and Director of National Economic Council (2002 to 2004); Senior Principal, MMC Capital (1998 to 2002); Senior Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co. (1994 to 1998)
- Birthday: December 21, 1937
- Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Alma Mater: Cornell University, B.A., 1959; Columbia Law School, LLB, 1962
- Spouse: Barbara Benioff
- Office: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10045-0001, 212-720-5000; 20 Horseneck Lane, Greenwich, CT 06830-6327, 203-862-2900
- Web site
Path to Power
Friedman is a quintessential New Yorker. Born in Brooklyn in 1937, he went to Oceanside high school and then to Cornell University, where he met his wife, Barbara Benioff Friedman. Both graduated in 1959. Friedman returned to New York City to attend Columbia Law School, graduating with a bachelor's of law in 1962.
At Cornell, Friedman was a star wrestler, and has been inducted into Cornell's Athletic Hall of Fame. He even won a gold medal at the 1961 Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Supply-side economists at first balked at Bush's choice of Friedman for economic adviser. Friedman, like his former colleague Rubin, had a reputation for focusing on reducing the deficit, not fostering growth. Freidman took pains to support Bush, focusing on economic growth coming out of the 2001 recession and Bush's plan for massive tax cuts.
The controversy over Friedman stemmed mainly from his role as a board member for the anti-deficit Concord Coalition, as well as a trustee and contributor to the left-leaning Brookings Institution. He was viewed as part of a group of mainstream Republicans nominated to the Bush administration instead of more ideological true believers.
As former chair at the New York Fed, Friedman worked with former Fed President Timothy Geithner, who is Obama's Treasury secretary. He also worked with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Friedman's long career at Goldman Sachs put him in close contact with many who shuttle between Washington and Wall Street. Henry Paulson was a protege of Friedman's at Goldman. Paulson, a former Dartmouth wrestler, told the New York Times about a memorable weekend in the mid-1970s.
Friedman's list of political donations is pages long and primarily tilted towards Republicans. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he regularly donated $5,000 to $10,000 to the Republican National Committee during the 1990s, topping out with a $50,000 donation in 2000.
But Friedman has also given to Democrats. He donated $1,000 in 1997 to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Wall-Street-friendly senator from New York. He gave another thousand to fellow Goldman alum and Democrat Jon Corzine's successful 2000 run for New Jersey governor.