Edward G. Boehne served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia from 1981 until his retirement in 2000. He is the longest serving president in the history of the Reserve Bank.
Boehne holds four degrees from Indiana University, including a doctorate in economics. He started with the Philadelphia Fed as a research economist in 1968 and steadily rose through the ranks, eventually being named president in 1981.
Boehne's tenure at the Bank overlapped with significant developments in economic conditions at the local and federal levels. These include a series of takeovers of banks throughout the Third Federal Reserve District by larger rivals as well as the national banking crisis that led to the passage of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991.
Boehne was a consistent advocate for local banks and the communities they serve, and he often highlighted the economic conditions being faced at the local level at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. During much of his tenure, the Fed's challenge was to bring inflation down from the double-digit rates of the late 1970s. Always a pragmatic monetary policymaker, Boehne was famously an advocate of "opportunistic disinflation," that is, bringing inflation down gradually over successive business cycles as each down phase softens price pressures.
Boehne explained the policy this way at a 1989 FOMC meeting: "Now, sooner or later, we will have a recession. I don’t think anybody around the table wants a recession or is seeking one, but sooner or later we will have one. If in that recession we took advantage of the anti-inflation (impetus) and we got inflation down from 4.5 percent to 3 percent, and then in the next expansion we were able to keep inflation from accelerating, sooner or later there will be another recession out there. And so, if we could bring inflation down from cycle to cycle just as we let it build up from cycle to cycle, that would be considerable progress over what we’ve done in other periods in history."
Since retiring from the Philadelphia Fed, Boehne has remained active in the business community. Among many roles, he serves as the senior economic advisor for Haverford Trust Co., is a trustee of Beneficial Bank, and is a director of both Beneficial Savings Bank MHC and Beneficial Mutual Bancorp. He is also on the board of directors of Toll Brothers Inc., Haverford Trust Co., Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., and AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. See disclaimer.