Allan H. Meltzer (Carnegie Mellon University)

Allan H. Meltzer, a distinguished economist and one of the country’s leading experts on the Federal Reserve, died May 8 at a hospital in Pittsburgh. He was 89.

His wife, Marilyn Ginsburg, confirmed the death but did not provide a cause.

Dr. Meltzer, a professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was the author of more than 10 books and 400 academic papers but was best known for a multivolume history of the nation’s central bank.

He spent 14 years researching and writing “A History of the Federal Reserve,” which covered the central bank from its creation in 1913 through its battle with a severe bout of inflation that began in the 1970s.

When the first volume came out in the early 2000s, Gregory Bresiger writing in Traders magazine called the work “well researched” and noted: “To read this book is like reading a kind of Pentagon Papers of American monetary history. It is a litany of failed policies and mistaken notions along with frequent calls for the Fed to obtain greater and greater powers despite its sorry record.”

From 1999 to 2000, Dr. Meltzer also served as chairman of a congressional advisory committee that proposed reforms to the operations of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The advisory panel, informally known as the Meltzer Commission, conducted hearings and produced a lengthy list of recommendations on how the IMF and other international lending institutions could improve their operations in response to criticism that they had mishandled the response to the 1998 Asian currency crisis.

In 1973, Dr. Meltzer and Karl Brunner of the University of Rochester created the Shadow Open Market Committee, a group of economists, academics and bankers who met regularly to critique the actions of the Federal Reserve’s main policy group, the Federal Open Market Committee. Dr. Meltzer chaired the group, which was frequently critical of Fed policy decisions, from 1973 until 1999.

Allan Harold Meltzer was born in Boston on Feb. 6, 1928. He was a 1948 graduate of Duke University and received a master’s degree (1955) and a doctorate (1958) in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles.

He joined Carnegie Mellon as an assistant professor in 1957 and was still on the faculty at his death.

In the last eight years of his life, Dr. Meltzer had taken up a new interest in law and regulation. Before his death, he was working on the book “Regulation and the Rule of Law” with colleagues from Stanford University.

He married Ginsburg in 1950. Besides his wife, of Pittsburgh, survivors include three children and eight grandchildren.

— Associated Press

Adam Bernstein contributed to this report.