ABA Banking Journal - April 2009 - (Page 24)
WASHINGTON PROFILE banker at the The Fed T By Bill Streeter, editor-in-chief 24 APRIL 2009/ABA BANKING JOURNAL Baptism by crisis Duke was nominated to become a Fed governor in May of 2007 by President Bush. At the time there were three nominees to the seven-member board. The Senate Banking Committee declined to move forward with the nominations of either Duke or two other nominees. The nominations languished for about a year, and Duke Subscribe at www.ababj.com PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES NEWS/JOSHUA ROBERTS/STRINGER he white marble building on Constitution Avenue that is Fed headquarters is nicknamed “The Temple,” not only for its classic Roman design, but because inside, it has a very quiet, almost cloistered atmosphere, with few people in view, and no evident hustle and bustle. Somehow that seems appropriate for the curator of the nation’s monetary policy, but it can take a little getting used to for newcomers to the sanctum, especially for anyone who is by nature gregarious. The formality of the Fed was the biggest surprise for Elizabeth A. Duke—known better to friends and fellow bankers as “Betsy.” An outgoing person with a smile, hug, and good word for anyone she knows, the world of being a Federal Reserve Board Governor has taken some adjusting to. No policy precludes hugs or smiles, but the informal interaction she was used to as a banker is less common. A community banker for most of her career, Duke says people “popping in and out” of her office was the norm. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, she says, has come down to her office Community banker and former ABA chairman, Betsy Duke, joined the Federal Reserve Board just as the financial crisis hit full tilt. The banking industry is glad she did once or twice without prior arrangement, but all other interaction with him or the other Fed Governors is by appointment or in formal meetings. “I’m used to walking down the hall and talking with a colleague, or dropping down the bank’s organizational chain and just saying to someone, ‘How are you? What do you think about this?’,” says Duke. Part of the reason she can’t do that at the Fed, she explains, is the Sunshine Act. The act establishes that any time more than three governors are together discussing policy, it is an official meeting, requiring public notification and triggering various procedural requirements. “We can have a briefing,” she says, “where someone speaks to us and we can ask questions, but we can’t really sit around and talk about policy.”
If you would like to try to load the digital publication without using Flash Player detection, please click here.