Emmett J. Rice, Federal Reserve Governor, Dies at 91

Frank Johnston/the Washington Post
Frank Johnston/the Washington Post

Emmett J. Rice, 91, a former World Bank official and member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and the father of Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, died March 10 at his home in Camas, Wash. He had congestive heart failure.


Dr. Rice was a pioneering economist, banking official and authority on the monetary systems of developing countries who, in the early 1960s, spent two years in Nigeria helping establish that country's central banking system.

He was drawn to economics as a student in the 1930s because of what he saw around him during the Great Depression.

"There was a lot of suffering," he recalled in a 1991 interview for an oral history project at the University of California at Berkeley. "Twenty-five percent of the country was unemployed. I wanted to understand an economy which allowed this to happen."

Dr. Rice came to Washington in 1964 to work in the Johnson administration, eventually becoming acting director of the Treasury Department's Office of Developing Nations. From 1966 to 1970, he was an executive director of the World Bank, representing U.S. interests and helping establish the global bank's priorities.

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter tapped Dr. Rice for the Federal Reserve Board, the seven-member body that sets U.S. monetary policy and regulates the banking system. He was the second black member of the board, after Andrew F. Brimmer, who was appointed in 1966.

Dr. Rice, who served under then-Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker, helped steer the nation's financial policy through a severe recession, the savings and loan crisis and a period of unprecedented banking deregulation in the 1980s.


He kept a low profile during his seven years on the board but, after growing up in the segregated South, was acutely aware of his role as its lone black member.

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