Marvin Goodfriend, Trump Nominee to the Federal Reserve, Dies at 69


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Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Marvin Goodfriend, a leading conservative monetary economist and former nominee to the Federal Reserve Board, died on Thursday at his home in Pittsburgh. He was 69.

The cause was cancer, a spokeswoman for Carnegie Mellon University, where Mr. Goodfriend was a professor of economics, said. It had recurred after being successfully treated in 2017, the spokeswoman, Mara McFalls Falk, said.

An expert on central banking and monetary economics who had often been critical of the Fed’s actions since the 2008 financial crisis, Professor Goodfriend was nominated to the Fed’s Board of Governors by President Trump in November 2017. The full Senate did not confirm him and his nomination lapsed.

The spot he would have occupied remains vacant, along with a second seat on the central bank’s seven-member board.

Even without confirmation, Professor Goodfriend had a wide impact in economics and monetary policy. He had been teaching at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business since 2005. He spent 25 years before that working as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, including as director of research.

“Marvin was an academic firmly grounded in the big, policy-relevant questions that needed to be answered,” said Eswar Prasad, an economist at Cornell University who researched monetary policy in China with Professor Goodfriend.

Professor Goodfriend was a leading academic proponent of the view that the Fed should focus more intently on controlling prices, a popular position among some Republicans.

But his nomination failed to win support among Democrats. And when Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who is a longtime Fed critic, said he would not support Professor Goodfriend, the nomination was put on shaky ground.

“I think it’s very sad that he was a victim of the political discord in Washington,” said Mark Gertler, an economist at New York University.

Professor Goodfriend’s insights were often applied directly to policy. He served as a visiting scholar at various global monetary authorities, including the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank. From 1984 to 1985, he served as a senior staff economist for President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“He really excelled at bridging the divide between rigorous academic economics and policy-setting,” said Jeffrey Lacker, a former president of the Richmond Fed who worked with Professor Goodfriend when both were on the staff there.

His research also helped to fundamentally shift the way academics understood central banking, Professor Gertler said. While macroeconomists had long focused on money supply, for instance, Professor Goodfriend pointed out that interest rates were central to economic policy during Paul Volcker’s tenure as chairman of the Fed.

“He was an original thinker,” Professor Gertler said.

Professor Goodfriend also made a case that central bank secrecy could have both benefits and drawbacks, and he did extensive research into negative interest rates.

In the wake of the 2007-9 recession, he took a position that was fairly out of the consensus in warning that the Fed might be courting high inflation with its post-financial crisis monetary policies. He told House lawmakers in 2017 that the Fed’s inflation targeting approach should be made more credible.

While he was sometimes critical of the Fed’s approach, Professor Goodfriend was ultimately loyal to the institution and its mission, Professor Gertler said. He was a member of the Shadow Open Market Committee, an independent group of influential academics who evaluated the policy choices and actions of the Fed’s policy-setting committee.

“He has always been someone who wants to follow the idea he has — even if it’s controversial,” his wife, Marsha Stroh Goodfriend, said. The two met while working at the Richmond Fed 41 years ago, and dated for nearly four decades before marrying in 2017, she said.

“Marvin was a big believer in public service,” she said.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his sister, Miriam Rapaport, and a stepson, William Shuler.

Born on Nov. 6, 1950, in New York City to Dr. Sanford Goodfriend and Claire Baum, Mr. Goodfriend was raised in New Rochelle, N.Y., and received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Union College in 1972 and a Ph.D. in economics from Brown University in 1980.

In between his two degrees, he spent time in Los Angeles with his rock ’n’ roll band, his wife said. Throughout his life, Mr. Goodfriend was an avid jazz guitarist, always on the lookout for a friend to play alongside.


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