A Who's Who of Fed Policymakers
Sunday, January 28, 2007; 12:38 PM
WASHINGTON -- Ben Bernanke shoots hoops. Susan Schmidt Bies hits the links and once refereed kids' soccer games. Donald Kohn rides his bike to work on sunny days.
Sound like the pursuits of ordinary people? Yes, but these folks aren't regular Joes. They and their colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee help determine how much interest you'll pay on mortgages, credit cards and the like.
Although the central bank has become more open over the years, it is still one of the most mysterious Washington institutions. So who are the people who hold such power over your pocketbook?
Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, traces his interest in economics to some less-than-wonky summer jobs after high school and in college.
After graduating from high school, Bernanke helped build Saint Eugene hospital in his hometown of Dillon, S.C. "I remember that, on the first day I came home from the construction site that summer, I was too tired to eat and I fell asleep in my chair," he says.
During the summers of his college years, he waited tables six days a week at South of the Border.
"I remember the fellow construction worker who wanted to become foreman someday and a waitress who was saving to go to college," he says. "I was impressed by these experiences, and I think they were an important reason I went into economics, which a great economist once called the study of people in the ordinary business of life."
Now approaching his first anniversary as Fed chairman, Bernanke, 53, is trying to create a more democratic central bank by gently shifting the spotlight of monetary policymaking to the institution rather than its chairman.
Fittingly, Bernanke is not one to seal himself in his stately Fed office. Sometimes, he'll eat lunch in the Fed's cafeteria, mingling with staff. He also can be spotted on occasion playing basketball with staff or shooting hoops with whomever is around on the half-court in the Fed's basement. During baseball season, he follows the Washington Nationals.
Timothy Geithner attended junior high in India and high school in Thailand.