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Undaunted by the responsibilities of leading a staff of more than 1,700 and helping set monetary policy for the nation, Michael H. Moskow ’59 says serving as president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is one of the most rewarding jobs of his career.

“I’ve been privileged over the years to work in government, the private sector, and at several major universities,” he says. “The Fed calls on skills from each of those areas and combines them in a stimulating work environment. As the Chicago Fed’s president and chief executive officer, I find myself wearing many hats, including that of policymaker, regulator, and business manager. It’s one of the most interesting jobs in the world.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, along with the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C., make up the nation’s central bank. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago serves the Seventh Federal Reserve District, which encompasses most of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Each Reserve Bank supervises member banks and bank holding companies, serves as a bank for depository institutions and the U.S. government, monitors economic conditions in the District, and participates in formulating national monetary policy.

Moskow might not be head of the Chicago Fed had he not changed his major from English to economics after discovering that he was much stronger in the latter. Influenced by Professors Morrison Handsaker, who taught labor economics, and George Sause, who taught money and banking, Moskow went on to earn a doctorate in business and applied economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1965.

His career has included federal government positions as deputy U.S. trade representative and various roleswith the Department of Labor, the Council on Wage and Price Stability, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Council of Economic Advisers. However, Moskow attributes most of his visibility to his current role as a member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Along with the committee’s 11 other Reserve Bank presidents and seven members of the Board of Governors (BOG) in Washington, D.C., he helps to establish national monetary policy, which is aimed at promoting economic growth and price stability. Members of the FOMC are expected to voice their opinions about the economy and direction of policy, and based on the comments, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and the committee discuss a policy stance. Members then vote on the recommended policy, with BOG members voting all the time and all but one president voting on a rotating basis.

“Without question, the most important part of my days is spent in preparation for my role as a member of the FOMC,” says Moskow, who began his term as eighth president of the Chicago Fed in September 1994. “Before each FOMC meeting, I look at a wide range of economic indicators and talk to many business contacts to get a qualitative perspective on both current and future economic conditions. As the president of a Reserve Bank, I monitor both the national and local economy.”

Moskow says he is intrigued by recent changes created by technology and the Internet. For example, with consumers and businesses increasingly using electronic payments, the Federal Reserve’s payment activities have become more efficient and effective.

“It’s a fundamental change that has affected the way we all do business, and the speed at which it has become so pervasive worldwide surprised me and many others,” he says.

Moskow’s career also has changed significantly over the years. His early positions were teaching economics, labor relations, and management at Temple University, Lafayette, and Drexel University. After working for the U.S. government from 1969 to 1977, he joined the private sector at Esmark, Inc. in Chicago and later served in senior management positions at Northwest Industries, Dart and Kraft, Inc., and Premark International, Inc.

President H.W. Bush appointed him deputy U.S. trade representative in 1991, a position carrying the rank of ambassador and one of five in his career for which he received Senate confirmation. Two years later, he joined the faculty of the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University until his appointment to the Chicago Fed. He is slated to be in the position until 2007.

Moskow believes that Lafayette provided excellent preparation for his career.

“The quality of the classroom learning experience combined with the campus atmosphere is among the best around,” he says. “Lafayette gave me a very solid foundation from which to begin my career.”

Moskow enjoys golfing, traveling abroad with his wife, and spending time with his family, which recently expanded to include a fifth grandchild. He also finds time to take leadership roles in many professional and civic organizations and makes it a priority to stay involved with the College, where he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and regular host of several January externships.

“I am busy, but I cannot overemphasize the importance of giving back to an organization from which you received great personal benefit,” he explains. “My time at Lafayette was extremely well spent in terms of what I learned in the classroom, but also in terms of what I learned about myself, the friendships I made, and the opportunities that have arisen from that experience.”

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles