Bruce MacLaury became the eighth chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on July 1, 1971, following the death of his predecessor, Hugh Galusha.
MacLaury was not new to the Federal Reserve System. His introduction came at the Boston Fed, where he was a research assistant in the summer of 1957. Following his Ph.D. studies at Harvard University, MacLaury took a position as an economist in the foreign research division at the New York Fed in 1959, rising to the title of vice president, foreign.
During his tenure at New York, he was granted leaves of absence for a special assignment with the office of the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs and another to serve as an economic officer at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.
After 10 years with the New York Fed, MacLaury joined the U.S. Treasury Department as Deputy Under Secretary for Monetary Affairs from 1969 until he came to the Minneapolis Fed. At Treasury, he assisted Paul Volcker on debt management and international issues. Upon his departure from Treasury, MacLaury was given the department’s exceptional service award; he was cited for his efforts in the development of the Securities Investor Protection Act.
MacLaury called the East Coast home, having been born in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., and educated at Princeton and Harvard universities; however, he eagerly accepted the presidency at the Minneapolis Fed. In a 1998 interview, celebrating the Federal Reserve System’s 75th anniversary, MacLaury said, “We really had not lived outside the East Coast prior to 1971. And so the opportunity to come out to this part of the world was entirely new for us. [My wife] remembers very well to this day my description of Minneapolis as a jewel in the Midwest, and we found that to be true.”
MacLaury continued much of his predecessor’s work in progress, for example, the construction of the new Fed building, community visits throughout the Ninth District and the Baconian Dialogues begun by Galusha in 1966. The three-day programs featured speakers from around the country, and topics varied from “The Implications of Technology” to “Religion and the World.”
MacLaury also took an active role in monetary policy discussions. In one of his first public actions as Minneapolis Fed president, MacLaury urged President Richard Nixon to adopt an income policy to restrain wage and price increases to stabilize the economy.
MacLaury recalled in another 1988 interview voting against Chairman Arthur Burns at a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in 1972. “[Burns] felt that the Federal Reserve needed to follow an easier [monetary] policy, a more forthcoming policy than I felt was desirable for the state of the economy. So it came to a vote &hellips; and a vote against the chairman is not something one does lightly. I felt very strongly, at that time, that it was important to take a stand, even at the risk of having interest rates rise more than would be politically desirable at that time and, therefore, voted against the proposal that the chairman was putting before us. That was one of the formative, maybe, badges of courage, if I can put it that way, of my career. There aren’t that many opportunities that come along that way.”
MacLaury resigned in 1977 to become president of the Brookings Institution, a nationally known public policy research organization in Washington, D.C., where he served until his retirement in 1995. The Bruce and Virginia MacLaury Chair currently endows the work of a Brookings expert.