Karen Horn became the sixth president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in 1982 and the first woman president in the Federal Reserve System’s sixty-nine-year history.
A 1965 graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., Horn received her doctorate in economics from Johns Hopkins University in 1971. From 1969 to 1971, she was a senior economist on the staff of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, where she focused on supervision and regulation of bank holding companies. She then became an economist at, and later vice president of, the First National Bank of Boston. In 1978, Horn became treasurer of the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She served in that position and as treasurer of the Diamond State Telephone Company until her appointment as president of the Cleveland Fed.
As president, Horn successfully guided the Cleveland Fed through Ohio’s savings and loan crisis in the 1980s and was a strict defender of anti-inflationary monetary policy. She was a proponent of low inflation in recessionary times and was aware of the industry shifts occurring in the Fourth Federal Reserve District’s economy during her tenure. She also supported the Federal Reserve’s disciplined monetary policy position of raising interest rates, if necessary, to quell inflationary pressures. Horn opposed large federal spending deficits and cautioned about lessons learned in the 1970s regarding high inflation coupled with overly permissive monetary and fiscal policies.
In 1987, Horn left the Cleveland Fed to serve as chair and chief executive officer of Banc One Corp in Cleveland. In 1996, she became head of international private banking for Bankers Trust. From 1999 to 2003, she was global head of Marsh Private Client Services. Since 2004, she has been senior managing director of Brock Capital Group.
Horn has served on numerous boards during her career, including British Petroleum PLC, Eli Lilly & Company, Rubbermaid Corporation, Fannie Mae, Georgia-Pacific Corporation, Council on Foreign Relations, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Simon Property Group, T. Rowe Price Mutual Funds, and the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlements, among others. In 1990, she became the first woman elected to the board of TRW, Inc. Horn has also been a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, Case Western Reserve University, Johns Hopkins University, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and a director at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is currently vice chair of the US Russia Investment Fund.
While at the Cleveland Fed, Horn was awarded the honorary degree of doctor of law from John Carroll University.
Horn is married to John Horn, and they have a son.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. See disclaimer.