Emmett J. Rice, 91; helped steer Fed in recession

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post / March 14, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Emmett J. Rice, a former World Bank official and member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and the father of Susan E. Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, died Thursday at his home in Camas, Wash. He was 91 and had congestive heart failure.

Dr. Rice was a pioneering economist, banking official, and authority on the monetary systems of developing countries who, in the early 1960s, spent two years in Nigeria helping establish that country’s central banking system.

Dr. Rice came to Washington in 1964 to work in the Johnson administration, eventually becoming acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Developing Nations. From 1966 to 1970, he was an executive director of the World Bank, representing US interests and helping establish the global bank’s priorities.

In 1979, President Carter tapped Dr. Rice for the Federal Reserve Board, the seven-member body that sets US monetary policy and regulates the banking system. He was the second black member of the board, after Andrew Brimmer, who was appointed in 1966.

Dr. Rice, who served under Paul Volcker, then Federal Reserve chairman, helped steer the nation’s financial policy through a severe recession, the savings and loan crisis, and a period of unprecedented banking deregulation in the 1980s.

Susan Rice, in an interview Friday, credited her father with instilling in her “a strong sense of personal and social responsibility’’ that has guided her career.

“He believed mightily in the power of the individual to determine his or her own destiny,’’ she said.