Donald Kohn

Donald Kohn, a 1964 College of Wooster graduate and a current member of Wooster's Board of Trustees, is one of the candidates under consideration to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman.


Donald Kohn on Short List of Candidates Under Consideration for Chairman of Federal Reserve

College of Wooster graduate and current Trustee has four decades of experience with the Fed

August 2, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Donald Kohn, former vice chair of the Federal Reserve and a 1964 College of Wooster graduate as well as a current member of Wooster’s Board of Trustees, has been added to a short list of candidates being considered to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman, according to reports in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, and elsewhere.

Kohn, who served as vice chair from 2006-2010 and played a significant role in the central bank’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, was mentioned along with frontrunners Larry Summers and Janet L. Yellen as one of three candidates under consideration by President Obama (although Obama later said that he has interviewed “lots” of candidates).

Kohn, 70, began his career with the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank in 1970, after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wooster and a doctorate from the University of Michigan. He then moved to the Federal Reserve’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he held a series of positions, including director of monetary affairs from 1987 to 2001. He was appointed to the Fed’s Board of Governors in 2002, and named vice chairman four years later. He currently serves as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

While some see Kohn as a dark horse, others view him as a legitimate contender, including Neil Irwin, a blogger for The Washington Post, who offered a very flattering assessment, including his comment that Kohn's "credentials as a crisis manager are impeccable." He also wrote that Kohn is "apolitical" and that could make him more palatable "in confirmation hearings for Senate Republicans who might be uneasy with someone they view as loyal to the White House." Most importantly, Irwin said that Kohn is "well-known and highly respected among the international community of central bankers."

Kohn’s preparation for a possible appointment may have begun some 50 years ago when he started working on his Senior Independent Study (Wooster’s nationally acclaimed undergraduate research experience), which dealt with flexible exchange rates as a means to stabilize markets. “It has served me well because I have been thinking about closely related issues my entire career,” he says. “So it formed a strong foundation for a good part of my graduate work and my subsequent career in monetary policy.”

Throughout his career, Kohn has made numerous trips to campus to present lectures, participate in panel discussions, meet with students, and teach classes on topical financial issues.