Malcolm H. Bryan was the eighth president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He served in that position from April 1, 1951, to September 30, 1965.
Bryan was born in Watseka, Illinois, in 1902. He studied economics at the University of Illinois, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1924 and a master’s degree in 1925.
Bryan started his career as a professor at the University of Georgia in 1925. In 1936, he took a position as an economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, DC. Bryan returned to Georgia in 1938 when Atlanta Fed Chairman Frank H. Neely hired him to manage the newly created Research and Statistics department. Bryan became a vice president and the Bank’s first economist, earning $7,500 a year. He was later promoted to first vice president.
A respected economist, Bryan was the editor of the Southern Economic Journal from 1933 to 1937 and was founder and president of the Southern Economic Association. He authored four books: The Fiscal Position of Georgia, Contemporary Georgia, Tax Limitations in Georgia, and The Limitations of Monetary Management. In addition, he wrote numerous monographs and papers.
Bryan left the Atlanta Fed from 1946 to 1951 to work in commercial banking. He served as the vice chairman of the Trust Company of Georgia.
Bryan returned to the Atlanta Fed in 1951 to assume the presidency. His tenure began just as the accord between the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury in 1951 restored independence to the Fed to conduct monetary policy after years of pegging interest rates to finance World War II. After the removal of the peg, Bryan was part of a subcommittee in 1952 that set the tone for monetary policy.
Bryan played a key role in many economic events in US history besides serving at the Federal Reserve. He served as a member of the US Treasury’s Special Committee on Banking and Taxation. He was also a member of the American Technical Staff at the Bretton Woods Monetary and Financial Conference in 1944. In 1957 and 1958, he served on the Advisory Committee on Social Security Financing.
Bryan also had experience in helping solve economic problems in other countries. In 1948, he went to Peru as a member of the Economic and Financial Mission to help solve the country’s monetary problems. He found the economy harnessed by controls, none of which worked, so he advised that the controls be abolished. He returned to Peru in 1959 and in 1960 as a special adviser to the government and the central bank of Peru.
Less than two years after retiring from the Atlanta Fed, Bryan passed away in 1967. Bryan was married to the former Nan Coghlin and had a daughter, Patricia, and a son, William Arch.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. See disclaimer.