A Who's Who of the Federal Reserve Policymakers Who Hold Power Over Your Pocketbook
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The men and women who hold considerable sway over your money sit on the Federal Open Market Committee, whose interest-rate decisions ripple through the economy. A look at this year's voting members, now immersed in a two-day policy meeting:
Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman
Bernanke traces his interest in economics to some less-than-wonky summer jobs after high school and in college.
After graduating from high school, he helped build Saint Eugene hospital in his hometown of Dillon, S.C. "I remember that, on the first day I came home from the construction site that summer, I was too tired to eat and I fell asleep in my chair," he says.
During the summers of his college years, he waited tables six days a week at South of the Border.
"I remember the fellow construction worker who wanted to become foreman someday and a waitress who was saving to go to college," he says. "I was impressed by these experiences, and I think they were an important reason I went into economics, which a great economist once called the study of people in the ordinary business of life."
Now approaching his second anniversary as Fed chairman, Bernanke, 54, is confronted by his biggest challenge: housing and credit debacles that threaten to push the economy into its first recession since 2001. How well Bernanke -- a scholar of the Great Depression -- handles these crises will shape his effectiveness, his credibility and his legacy at the central bank.
Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Geithner attended junior high in India and high school in Thailand.
In some ways, those globe-trotting years helped to prepare him for his present job as the No. 2 person on the FOMC.
Geithner, 46, brings to the Fed a keen understanding of international economics and a good appreciation of other cultures. He also has lived in East Africa, China and Japan. And, he has studied Japanese and Chinese.
One of Geithner's most important jobs as head of the New York bank is to act as a crisis manager. He's been on the front lines of the Fed's efforts to curb a global credit crisis that has rocked Wall Street since the late summer.
When he worked at the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, Geithner dealt with international financial crises and played a major role in negotiating assistance packages for South Korea and Brazil.
Donald Kohn, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors
When the weather is nice, Kohn enjoys riding his bicycle to work, pedaling across a bridge over the Potomac River and making his way to downtown Washington, D.C., and the Federal Reserve's marble headquarters.
In his spare time, Kohn also likes sailing -- a passion he shares with a few of his other central bank colleagues.
Kohn, 65, also is proud to point out that he has three grandchildren.
As the Fed's vice chairman, Kohn is the second-highest ranking person on the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. With more than three decades of Fed experience under his belt, Kohn enjoys a close working relationship with the board's economists and researchers. He is viewed as an important intellectual voice on the Fed and was a confidant and sounding board for former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Kevin Warsh, Federal Reserve Board member
Warsh played varsity tennis in high school, a passion that led him to Stanford University.
At Stanford, Warsh met his future wife Jane Lauder, the granddaughter of cosmetic pioneer Estee Lauder. He also came to know university provost Condoleezza Rice, who now is secretary of state.
Warsh, 37, is the youngest governor in Fed history.
He brings to the table Wall Street experience, which is considered a valuable contribution when setting interest-rate policy. Warsh worked for Morgan Stanley & Co. in mergers and acquisitions and eventually became a vice president at the company.
He took a job in the Bush White House in 2002, advising the president on economic matters, especially those related to financial markets, securities, banking and insurance.
Randall Kroszner, Federal Reserve Board member
Kroszner has come a long way since his first job -- as a bank teller.
The 45-year old former economics professor taught money and banking at the University of Chicago, his professional home before becoming a Fed governor.
He showed an early interest in money and banking: when he was young, he collected coins.
These days, Kroszner takes pleasure in classical music. After years of violin and piano lessons, he says he realized "I was much better at listening than playing."
Kroszner also has a special fondness for art, contemporary photography and architecture. He once lived in a building in Chicago designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, considered a pioneer of modern architecture.