Business: The Martin Era

DURING his unprecedented 19 years as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, William McChesney Martin left a formidable imprint on the life of the U.S. Now the chief guardian of the nation's money and regulator of its credit has served as long as the law allows. This week, at 63, the world's most powerful banker will retire.

The Martin era has included two wars, three recessions, the greatest economic advance in the nation's history, and—much to Martin's dismay—what he calls "the worst inflation since the Civil War." His policies have affected all of them, often in controversial fashion. He was assailed for...

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