Skip top navigation
Photo of William J. McDonough

William J. McDonough

  • President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 1993–2003
  • Born: April 21, 1934
  • Died: January 22, 2018

William J. McDonough, at the age of fifty-nine, became the eighth president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on July 19, 1993. McDonough joined the Bank in 1992 as the executive vice president and head of the Markets Group.

McDonough earned his bachelor's degree in economics from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a master's degree in economics from Georgetown University. He also served as an advisory board member for the Yale School of Management.

McDonough served in the US Navy from 1956 to 1961 and with the State Department from 1961 to 1967. Prior to coming to the New York Fed, he spent twenty-two years working at the First Chicago Corporation and its subsidiary bank, First National Bank of Chicago. He also served as an adviser to a variety of domestic and international organizations before joining the New York Fed.

While president of the New York Fed, McDonough made a number of significant contributions to both banking and the United States economy. While chairman of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the Committee developed major revisions in the Basel Capital Accord to modernize the capital rules for internationally active banks. This development was noted by Peter G. Peterson, then-chairman of the New York Fed's board of directors, as being "a singular and enormously challenging achievement" for McDonough personally and for the international banking community in general.1

McDonough served as president and chief executive officer of the New York Fed for ten years, making him the longest-serving president of the Reserve Bank since Alfred Hayes, the Bank's fourth president. Almost immediately upon stepping down from his post at the New York Fed, he was appointed to serve as the first chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (established by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) in Washington, DC. He served in that post until 2005 when he returned to New York to join Merrill Lynch as vice chairman and special adviser to the chairman. He also served as a member of Executive Client Coverage Group of Bank of America Merrill Lynch until December 31, 2009.

McDonough was director emeritus of the Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York, Inc., a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and chairman of the Economic Club of New York.

Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. See disclaimer.