The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Fed CEO talks economy

President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Richard W. Fisher sat down with Texas Monthly Senior Editor Erica Grieder Monday night. (BEN OHENE / The Daily Campus)

Around 400 business-minded men and women, still dressed in their crisp workday attire, filed into Mcfarlin Auditorium on SMU’s campus to hear Richard W. Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas discuss the state of the economy with Texas Monthly Senior Editor Erica Grieder.

When one hears the words CEO, banker and Harvard alum, a certain type of person comes to mind. Richard Fisher, however, embodies quite the opposite of the “banker” stereotype. He is surprisingly grounded with an impressive sense of humor for a man who’s life’s work is devoted to monetary policy. This is perhaps due to the fact that Fisher’s childhood is quite unlike many of the nation’s leading businessmen.

SMU’s forum website for faculty and students states that Fisher is a first generation American, having spent his formative years in Mexico. He attended the Naval Academy and later graduated with honors from Harvard. His path to success, however, was by no means easy.

“In my family, which came up rough, work was the route to dignity,” Fisher said. “I can’t imagine my father who was a ward of the state, by the way, and arrested at the age of six and sentenced to seven years for begging…I think he would rather die than accept a welfare payment.”

The Editor of Texas Monthly, Jake Silverstein, introduced Fisher and Grieder and elaborated on Fisher’s unique path to success.

“Fisher, himself, is an unusually interesting central banker, who happens to run an unusually interesting regional fed bank,” Silverstein said. “Fisher was briefly raised in Mexico, and his family didn’t have a lot of money and advantages — unlike many of the colleagues of his that sit around the fed table with him. He has a fascinating rags to riches personal story.”

Despite his triumphant story, however, Fisher barely touched on his upbringing during his interview with Grieder, perhaps due to his humble, hardworking spirit, which has led him thus far. He believes that Texas’ economy is the leader in the nation’s job creation due to Texans acceptance that success cannot come without putting in the hard work, a trait that he attributes largely to the whole middle of the United States.

“If you want great social services go to California, go to Michigan, go to Illinois, if you want to work come here,” Fisher said.

Fisher’s main focus of the talk came down to what the government needs to be doing to help propel America’s economy forward. He explains that the Federal Banks are supplying the necessary “fuel” for the tank of America’s economy, but the government has yet to figure out how to drive the car. This has caused a “total fog of uncertainty” surrounding America’s financial future due to fiscal authorities who cannot make up their minds. It’s clear Fisher likes his metaphors.

In order to clear the fog, so to say, Fisher insists that the United States must get fiscal policy right by providing businesses with an incentive that will spark the economy. He states that basic principle is to figure out a way to correct the many years of government overspending.

“I don’t want to get into specifics, but it is very simple, and in its simplicity it is very difficult,” Fisher said.

Fisher also notes that America must step up its game when it comes to elementary and secondary education. He describes this sector of the public sphere as the “Achilles tendon” of America as it has gradually fallen further and further behind competing countries. He also believes that with the recent government shutdown, America is “raising a giant question mark to the world”, and if something is not done soon the world is going to begin to lose confidence in the United States.

However, he does believe that right now is America’s chance to begin to enact positive change. The shutdown serves as a wake up call for our elected officials. It lets them know that there is healthy competition out there and that America can’t be lazy.

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