Richard Fisher’s headed the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank for a decade. Next week, he steps down after leading the bank through a historic recession and a slow, steady recovery. He gave his goodbye speech Friday.
Fisher peppered his remarks to the Dallas Regional Chamber with his unapologetic Texas boosterism. He recalled being in New York holding his little boy in the 1970s. The sights and sounds were impressive. But Fisher, who had worked on Wall Street, was drawn here.
“New York is fast losing its right to name itself the Empire State,” Fisher thought, more than 40 years ago. “New York is the past, Texas’s Lone Star illuminates the real Empire State.”
Fisher said facts justify his Texas pride. The state’s output last year roughly equaled that of Canada. His staff created a map that equated New York’s economy to Iran’s. He said in his 10 years at the Dallas Fed, the state’s economy grew 36%.
“That increment equates to adding more than the entire output of Norway,” Fisher explained, “my maternal homeland and now one of the world’s richest nations, measured on a per capita basis. “
Fisher likes numbers. During his tenure, the nation underwent its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He said a dysfunctional Congress didn’t help.
“During the recent financial crisis I admit to having doubts. I was given to saying that, relative to other economies, America’s was the best looking horse in the glue factory,” Fisher said.
He has since changed his mind. He said it was up to the nation’s central bank – the Federal Reserve - to stabilize the economy, and it did, without losing a penny. And he said Texas led the way in job growth in all income categories, not just low wage jobs. In the past quarter century, he said Texas created 68 new jobs for every hundred that existed in 1990. He acknowledged that the steep drop in oil prices is having an impact on this energy producing state.
“But Texas is a diversified economy,” Fisher added. “The state has indeed benefited from higher oil prices, so of course lower oil prices are a headwind to economic growth. But my researchers at the Dallas Fed don’t’ see recession in the cards as asserted by J.P. Morgan and others. They simply see a downgrade to growth by more like 2%.”
Which Fisher said is more in line with the national number. Robert Chereck, Vice President with Plains Capital, says Fisher leaves a legacy.
“I’ll miss him,” Chereck remarked, “and I think the city of Dallas and the Dallas Fed will miss him and the country will miss him. He’s obviously a strong believer in Texas and our entrepreneurial spirit and in an approach of limited government control or supervision. I think that’s an important voice we’ll miss.”
Fisher didn’t say what he would do or where he would go when he leaves his job March 19th. He’s not ready to ride into the sunset, though, and used another horse analogy for his vision of the current U.S. economy. He said the country’s like Triple Crown winner Secretariat (in 1973) finishing at Belmont well ahead the pack.
“We’re the best looking, the strongest, fastest horse on the global economic track,” Fisher said.
And the jockey guiding the horse, he added, is Texas.