Joseph R. Slevin, 86, a specialist in financial reporting who worked at the old New York Herald-Tribune before starting his own syndicated column and newsletter, died July 27 at Georgetown University Hospital. He had respiratory failure.

Mr. Slevin, a Chevy Chase resident, began his newspaper career after Navy service in World War II. He was a Washington-based reporter for the Journal of Commerce until 1955, when he joined the Herald-Tribune in Washington.

He became national economics editor, a job he held until the publication folded in 1966. During his early career, he also was a Washington correspondent for the Financial Times of London and contributed articles to the New York Times.

Starting in 1966, Mr. Slevin began writing a column, "Inside the Economy," which was syndicated over the next 19 years by Newsday, Times Mirror and the Philadelphia Inquirer. The column appeared often in The Washington Post.

He also published the Washington Bond Report, a biweekly newsletter on economic and monetary policy. He retired in 1989.

Joseph Raymond Slevin was a New York native and a 1939 government graduate of Yale University. He spent one year at Yale's law school at his father's insistence but, as he had expected, he hated it.

In 1942, he received a master's degree in history and political science from the University of Nebraska and was pursuing a doctorate in political science at the University of Illinois before he left for military service.

In the 1980s, he served a one-year term as president of the National Press Club and also was president of the National Press Foundation, which provides mid-career training programs for journalists.

He had above his work space a framed statement by Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the former publisher of the Times: "Obviously a man's judgment cannot be better than the information on which he has based it. Give him the truth and he may still go wrong when he has the chance to be right, but give him no news or present him only with distorted and incomplete data, with ignorant, sloppy or biased reporting, with propaganda and deliberate falsehoods, then you destroy his whole reasoning process, and make him something less than a man."

Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Katherine Day Slevin of Chevy Chase; four children, Ann Peck of Chevy Chase, Michael Slevin of Bethesda, Jonathan Slevin of Manassas and Peter Slevin of Evanston, Ill., who serves as The Washington Post's Chicago bureau chief; a sister; and eight grandchildren.

Joseph R. Slevin was an editor and syndicated columnist. He also published the Washington Bond Report newsletter.