Preston Martin

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Preston Martin was vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors between 1982 and 1986

Dr. Preston Martin (December 5, 1923 – May 30, 2007) was an American banker and public official best known as the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board between 1982 and 1986.[1]


Preston Martin graduated from the University of Southern California in 1947 and successfully completed an MBA from the same university. He earned his Ph.D from Indiana University in 1952.[2]


He was the head of the Economic Department at USC, founded ERG Economic Research Group doing work for Lockheed, among others, while simultaneously writing a book on Housing and Urban Development, as well as serving on the board of directors at Lincoln Savings and Loan. He then served as California's Saving and Loan Commissioner between 1967 and 1969 under then Governor Ronald Reagan. His exemplary performance at the state level led to President Nixon appointing him as chairman and chief operating Officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in 1969. He was involved in creating Freddie Mac while working in this position.[1] Here also he initiated the 5% mortgage loan bill which was passed, almost as a token because the opposition did not think it would work. There was no entity to insure those loans. Shortly thereafter, when he left the government in 1972, he founded PMI Mortgage Insurance Company to do just that, insure the 5% mortgage loans which would enable thousands of Americans to purchase their first homes.[3]

Martin later established Seraco Enterprises, a subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Company based in the Sears Tower in Chicago, and was appointed to the board of directors of Sears. When Sears merged with Coldwell Banker, in 1982, President Reagan appointed him as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve for four years and as a member for 14 years.[2] During his years at the Fed, Martin was known as a Reagan loyalist who challenged Chairman Paul Volcker's tough anti-inflation policies.

Martin was considered as a possible successor to Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve, but Alan Greenspan was appointed instead. Martin returned to San Francisco and created Western Holdings, acquiring failing savings & loans all around the Pacific rim. He died of cancer, aged 83, in San Francisco, survived by his son Pier Preston Martin, also a banker.[1]


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Government offices
Preceded by
Frederick H. Schultz
Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve
March 31, 1982 – April 30, 1986
Succeeded by
Manuel H. Johnson