The St. Louis Fed at 100: Welcoming Remarks

May 05, 2014

Martha Perine Beard, regional executive of the Memphis Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, welcomes attendees to the May 6, 2014, "Dialogue with the Fed" on the topic of the bank’s centennial. She introduces the featured speaker, David Wheelock, vice president and deputy director of research, who discusses the origins of the St. Louis Fed and how it became known as the "maverick" Federal Reserve bank.


Martha Perine Beard: Now you’re at the Federal Reserve Bank, and you know we’re known for surveys and giving reports on surveys, and tonight is not going to be any different. So I want to start off the evening by asking just a few questions for those of you who are in the room. And this is the first question. We like to know a little bit about who’s in the room.

So, using the clickers that are in front of you, would you click the number that applies to you in terms of, “I am employed in the following industry.” Construction and manufacturing, financial activities, health and education, leisure, professional, trade, retired, other. So if you would click, please. Okay. And I see clicking is still going on. Okay, it looks as though you’ve stopped. So let’s see what the responses are. Okay. Am I reading that right? The bulk of you are retired? (Laughter)

Okay. Well, I’m glad to know that this is something that, even when you leave the world of work, you’re interested in coming to the Federal Reserve. So thank you. Okay, the next question. Is this your first time inside the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis? One for yes, two for no. Okay, you’ve gotten the hang of it. You clicked a little bit faster that time, so let’s see. Wow. A large majority said no, so that’s really good. So whatever brought you to the Federal Reserve in the past, you’ve decided to come back and see us again. So really glad to hear that.

Now the next question is going to be a little bit trickier. Since you’re here for an event that’s going to talk about the Federal Reserve Centennial, I have a question that’s related to history for the Federal Reserve. And the question is, who had the longest tenure of service as Chairman of the Federal Reserve? And your choices are, number one, Alan Greenspan, number two, Paul Volcker, number three, William McChesney Martin, Jr.

No conversing. This is supposed to be you. (Laughter) You know, you may have come with a partner, but this is not for you to—you worked it out? You got the answer? You know? Okay, then. Oh, you don’t know? Okay. [Unintelligible 00:03:23] giving your answers, so let’s see who got it right. Okay. Well, the correct answer is William McChesney Martin, Jr. By way of background, he served as a chairman for 18 years and nine months. Chairman Greenspan served as chairman for 18 years, five months.

Now there was a reason why I chose that particular question. Chairman Martin, Jr. is the son of a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, William McChesney Martin. So the Federal Reserve ran in the blood in that family. So I thought I would give you that bit of trivia by bringing both father and son into this. So now we’re through with the survey, and we’re ready to move on.

Now the Dialog with the Fed has become a really popular event, as evidenced by all of you who are here tonight. And when we’re planning these events, we try to come up with topics that will be of interest to the general public. And, given that the Federal Reserve just observed the 100th anniversary of our chartering on December 23, 2013, we thought it might be of interest to have you come in for this Dialog series and the discussion would focus upon the centennial and what we’ve done to observe it.

Now I was asked to moderate tonight because, for the last three years, I spent a significant amount of my time working with other system leaders in planning activities to commemorate our anniversary. And since I had done that, I was asked to come and commemorate with you tonight by serving as moderator, so I was pleased to do that.

Now, when I’m not working in terms of the Federal Reserve Centennial, my role is serving as the head of the Memphis office of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Some of you may not have known that this district has three branch offices, in Little Rock, Louisville, and Memphis. And the Memphis zone from which I hail covers West Tennessee, East Arkansas, and North Mississippi. And that is the reason for the slight Southern twang. (Laughter)

Now, I started my career here, and the longer I’ve stayed in Memphis, when I come back, people say I’m starting to talk Southern. So I apologize for that, and hopefully you can follow me. I do tend to talk slower than I used to when I left here. Now, prior to introducing Dave Wheelock, who is going to be the keynote speaker for tonight—Dave is an economist at the bank and our unofficial historian—I want to take just a couple of moments to tell you a little bit about some of the things that we did on behalf of the general public as we planned how we wanted to commemorate the Federal Reserve Centennial.

Now, one of the first things that we did was to create a new website, and you can find it when you go home at And on this particular website, there are three main categories. The first has to do with events so that you can go and on that website find out about all the key things that happened in Federal Reserve history, all the economical things that happened with the economy from the Federal Reserve’s perspective.

And then the second part of the website talks about people. So everyone who ever served as a Federal Reserve Chairman, a Federal Reserve Governor, a president of any Federal Reserve district, all of their information is on this one website. And then of course there is a lot of information about the Federal Reserve itself in terms of why we were founded. And so you can go to this particular website, and I call it one-stop shopping, so that if you’re trying to find out a question related to the Federal Reserve, more than likely, you should be able to find it if you go to that particular website.

A second project that we took on was for educators, because working with educators is very important to us from the standpoint of financial literacy and economic education. So one of the things that we did was to create history lessons on the Federal Reserve. And they can be found at a website that’s called

So for any educators in the room, or if you have friends, acquaintances who are educators and they want to get materials that they can use in terms of teaching their students in the classroom, they can go to this website and get lesson plans and all kinds of materials at no cost to help them in terms of teaching students about the Federal Reserve.

And then Chairman Bernanke held a town hall meeting with educators across the country. So we tried to do a number of things so that the public will become a little bit more knowledgeable of what the Federal Reserve is all about. And one last thing—and we have a sample for you—is the postcard that’s in front of you. Every Federal Reserve Bank designed its own centennial postcard. And the one that’s in front of you is the one that was designed by this particular Reserve Bank. So those are some of the things that we did from the centennial’s perspective to benefit the general public, and we hope that some of the websites will be beneficial to you on an ongoing basis.

Now we’re ready to go into the reason that you came tonight, and that is to hear a presentation from Dave Wheelock. And Dave’s presentation as it relates to the history of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is going to focus on how St. Louis was chosen to be a Reserve Bank location. There are 12 Reserve districts nationwide. It was very competitive to become one. So Dave’s going to talk about how St. Louis was chosen as one. He’s going to talk about the role of the St. Louis bank and the Federal Reserve System to give you a little bit more information about us. And then he’s going to talk about how we got our reputation as being the Maverick Reserve Bank. So when you hear the term maverick, we had it first.

Now, after Dave’s presentation we’re going to have a Q&A session. And during that session, you can ask questions that you have related to the centennial. Or if there are other questions that you have about the Federal Reserve and you’re here in the building and you want to ask those, you can ask those as well. Now when we get to the Q&A session, Dave is going to be a part of that. And he’s going to be joined by Julie Stackhouse, who is our Senior Vice President of Supervision and Regulation, and Mary Karr, who is our Senior Vice President and General Counsel, and me. So the hope is that, among the four of us, we will be able to answer any question that you throw at us.

This popular lecture series addresses key issues and provides the opportunity to ask questions of Fed experts. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

Contact Us

Ellen Amato | 314‑202‑9909

Media questions

Back to Top