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Matt Yglesias Counts Up Jewish Fed Chairmen
In Slate, Matthew Yglesias counts up Federal Reserve Chairmen by religious ethnicity:
Christopher Mahoney, a former vice chairman of Moody's, has a piece arguing that Protestants will never understand monetary policy because their moralistic worldview makes them incapable of accepting that monetary stimulus offers a real life free lunch. He suggests that we leave this to the Catholics and Jews.
I can't say that the inflation-fighting record of Catholic countries like Argentina is all that hot (although that has mostly improved in recent decades).
The stereotype I have in my head is that the German and Swiss central bankers are all Protestants, but is that true? There are plenty of Catholics in Germany and Switzerland, but they generally get assumed to be Protestants when thinking about the Protestant Work Ethic.
Now it looks to me like in real life we've never had a Catholic Federal Reserve Chairman.
But if we look at Jodi Beggs' data on annual inflation by Fed chairman, we can see that the Chosen People have not done very well at monetary matters in practice. Of the men on this list, five—Meyer [appointed by Hoover], Burns [appointed by Nixon], Miller [? - appointed by Carter], Greenspan [appointed by Reagan], and Bernanke [appointed by Bush]—have been Jewish.
Was G. William Miller, the widely criticized Fed Chairman under Carter in 1978-79, actually Jewish? His name comes up as Jewish a lot on anti-Semitic conspiracy theory websites, but he sure sets off my WASPdar. If he was Jewish, he'd rank up there with golf writer Herbert Warren Wind and maybe Southern belle songbird Dinah Shore in assimilatedness:
Consider his New York Times obituary.
George William Miller was born on March 9, 1925, in Sapulpa, Okla., but grew up in Borger, Tex., where his parents hoped in vain to cash in on the discovery of oil in the Texas Panhandle.
He graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in 1945,
Maybe the picture I have in my head of the Coast Guard Academy being like the Naval Academy in its yachty WASPiness, only more so, is wrong, but I don't much evidence for that:
... After graduating at the top of his law school class at the University of California, Berkeley, he joined the Wall Street firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore in 1952.
Cravath didn't have a Jewish partner until 1964.
But in 1956, he joined Textron, based in Providence, R.I., as an assistant secretary. Within four years he was president of the company ...
Textron was a conglomerate run by Royal Little, nephew of Arthur D. Little, the famous consultant. It had a lot of defense, aerospace and industrial divisions. It sounds pretty Protestant to me.
... Mr. Miller is survived by three sisters: Catherine Spiller and Myra Fowler, of Amarillo, Tex., and Mabel Wade, of Bedford, Va.; and two brothers, Othneil and Dee, both of Amarillo.
So, four of the six Millers make their homes in that center of Jewish culture and life, Amarillo. Othneil Orrick Miller and Dee Deane Miller, both graduates of SMU law school, remain licensed attorneys in Amarillo to this day. I don't know which name -- Othneil Orrick or Dee Deane -- sounds less Jewish. So, I'd strongly bet against G. William Miller being Jewish.
Yglesias getting this wrong isn't a major mistake; it just goes to show how it is hard to find authoritative information on the Internet about something as obviously interesting as the ethnicity of Federal Reserve Chairmen. Because the Fed chairmen for the last 27 years have been Jewish, and that streak is likely to reach 32 years straight by 2018 because all three candidates that Obama is publicly considering to replace Bernanke are Jewish, it's not a topic that you are supposed to know anything about. For example, the term "Jew counting" is used, according to Google, almost solely by liberals at Slate, the Washington Post, ThinkProgress, and so forth to furiously denounce anybody doing what liberals do all the time with categories like "white male."
Yglesias goes on:
Eccles [appointed by FDR] was Mormon. The rest were Protestant. And sorry to say it but Meyer, Burns, and Miller are the worst chairmen we've had. Meyer allowed years of deflation and depression. Burns and Miller both refused to curb inflation.
Greenspan and Bernanke are both mixed bags. ...
But the real heroes of American central banking are Protestants—Eugene Black [appointed by FDR] who knew when to inflate and Paul Volcker [appointed by Carter] who knew when to disinflate. William McChesney Martin [appointed by Truman] I would say ranks alongside Greenspan as a bit of a mixed bag.
Okay, but Miller was a dud, and he appears to have been a Prod.