Ernest T. Baughman served as the ninth president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from December 9, 1974, to December 31, 1980.
Born in Ackworth, Iowa, in 1915, Baughman grew up on a farm outside of Randall, Minnesota. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in agriculture and economics from the University of Minnesota. Baughman also excelled in extracurricular activities in college, including wrestling on the varsity squad, participating in debate contests and judging livestock for the university’s team.
After college, Baughman worked in several agricultural-related jobs, including stints at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Chicago and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives in Washington, DC.
Baughman served a three-year tour with the US Navy during World War II. In 1946, he joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago as an agricultural research economist. In 1955, Baughman took a three-month leave of absence to serve as an economic consultant to President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the foreign disposal of agricultural surpluses. After a series of promotions, Baughman was appointed first vice president of the Chicago Fed in 1970.
During his tenure in Chicago, he served as an economic advisor for the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) for nine years. As a member of the Conference of First Vice Presidents, he chaired the Committee on Communications and Payments, charged with researching and developing an electronic payments system. He also served on the Federal Reserve System’s Steering Committee on Improving the Payments Mechanism and was instrumental in the creation of the Federal Reserve’s regional check processing centers.
Baughman joined the Dallas Fed as president in 1974. Baughman served as a member of the FOMC during the Federal Reserve’s famous battle against inflation, which culminated in the discount rate reaching an all-time high of thirteen percent in 1980 under the leadership of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Baughman retired in 1980 after thirty-five years with the Federal Reserve System.
During retirement, Baughman stayed active in the community, serving as president of the Dallas Economists Club and director of the Dallas Chapter of the American Red Cross. He also served on advisory boards at the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management, Texas Southern University Center for Banking Education, and Texas Tech School of Banking in Lubbock.
When asked about his work at the Federal Reserve over the years, Baughman once said: “My goal has been to do a job each day such that on the way home I would feel that I’d earned my pay … When a new job was passed to me I’ve tried to look deep into it, see really what’s involved, then get on top of it as quickly as possible. It must be good to feel you’re really on top of your work; once or twice I’ve felt I was getting close.”1
Baughman passed away in 2012.
Fed Flyer profile article, Dec. 17, 1980
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. See disclaimer.