Skip top navigation
Photo of Preston  Martin

Preston Martin

  • Vice Chair, Board of Governors, 1982–1986
  • Born: December 5, 1923
  • Died: May 30, 2007

Preston Martin took office as vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on March 31, 1982. He resigned on March 31, 1986. During his service on the Board of Governors, Martin was chairman of the Bank Activities Committee and a member of the Group of Experts on Payments Systems at the Bank for International Settlements.

Martin was born in 1923, in Los Angeles, California. He received both a bachelor’s degree (1947) and a master’s in business administration in finance (1948) from the University of Southern California. In 1952, he received a doctorate in monetary economics from Indiana University.

After earning his doctorate, Martin was active in real estate projects such as homebuilding and developing shopping centers. He was also involved in the organization of banks, mortgage finance, and savings and loan businesses. From 1959 to 1963, he also was a professor of finance and director of executive programs at USC. He also served as a visiting professor at universities in Italy and Pakistan and was director of the USC Pakistan Project.

Martin’s public service career began in 1969, when he became California savings and loan commissioner. From 1969 to 1972, he served as chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board. There he set up the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, or Freddie Mac.

After leaving the Home Loan Bank board, Martin founded two companies: PMI Mortgage Insurance Co., and later, Seraco Enterprises, Inc., a subsidiary of Sears Roebuck. He was a member of the board of director of Sears as well as several other companies.

Before joining the Board of Governors, Martin was senior adviser on housing with the Reagan Administration Transition Task Force (1980–81) and commissioner and chairman of the Taxation Task Force of the President’s Committee on Housing. 

After leaving the Board, Martin joined a partnership with former US Treasury Secretary William Simon that took control of failing thrifts and banks. He also became involved in nonprofit work on inner-city housing and financial education issues.

Martin authored a textbook on real estate finance in 1959, and wrote for various financial and mortgage publications. During his Board service, he spoke before Congress many times on topics such as the agricultural and mortgage sectors, financial markets, mergers and buyouts, and the Eurodollar market. He also wrote a book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Federal Reserve. In addition, he appeared on television and radio as a commentator on economic issues.

Over the years, he served on several commissions and committees at both the state and national level. 

Martin died in 2007.

Written by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. See disclaimer.