The year just past saw the death of five men who played very large roles in American life, especially its financial life, over the course of several recent decades. Given their significance in finance, these men naturally also had a great impact (for good or ill or both) on the political scene.
The Five Departed:
These five men (each identified by name and the date of his death) are: Warren H. Phillips (May 10); Martin Feldstein (July 11); T. Boone Pickens (September 11); Paul Volcker (December 8); and Felix Rohatyn (December 14).
Phillips was for years a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, then he rose through the editorial hierarchy to become the executive editor of all Dow Jones publications in 1965.
Feldstein was an important policy figure in the administration of President Ronald Reagan.
Pickens was a renowned takeover operator and “corporate raider” in the 1980s.
Paul Volcker was appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve by President Carter and remained in that post through most of the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.
Yet the most consequential of the names of our distinguished departed may be the fifth.
The Thing to Know:
Rohatyn, more than any other person (but with political backing from New York Governor Hugh Carey) rescued New York City from the self-undermining fiscal system that had it on the verge of bankruptcy in the mid 1970s.