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Roger W. Ferguson Jr., 54, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and the highest ranking African American ever to serve on its board of governors, resigned in April.
Ferguson joined the board in 1997 and was reappointed in 2001 to a full term ending Jan. 31, 2014. He had been vice chairman since 1999.
“Roger Ferguson was one of the most outstanding vice chairman that the board has ever seen,” says Andrew F. Brimmer, the first African American governor at the Federal Reserve Board.
With new Chairman Ben Bernanke successfully taking the reins from former Chairman Alan Greenspan, Ferguson decided it was the right time to resign. “Considering the stability of the Federal Reserve and the country, I resigned knowing that the transition from Chairman Greenspan to Chairman Bernanke was in solid shape,” he says. “With a sense of confidence that I’ve achieved reasonable success as vice chairman, I felt I could comfortably move on.”
Some thought that Ferguson, an experienced board member who holds three degrees from Harvard, was next in line to succeed Greenspan. “Ferguson was in the running for chairman, but he wasn’t Bush’s man,” says Mark Vitner, director and senior economist at Wachovia Corp. Ferguson’s departure creates a central banking body where all seven members are Bush appointees.
“I had no expectation that I might become the Fed chairman,” says Ferguson. “I am honored that I was mentioned by some and thought to be qualified, but I was not waiting for the phone to ring.
Ferguson says that during his tenure as vice chairman, he was most proud of leading the board on 9-11 and during the turbulent days that followed, while Greenspan was away in Europe. “His steady voice and sound council helped to assure [the world] that the American financial system would weather that storm,” says Brimmer.
Though Ferguson is restricted from employment at a commercial bank for two years, he has received invitations to work in the public and private sectors and academia. “I’ve been approached to do some interesting things,” he says, “and right now I don’t want to definitively accept or reject any offers.”