Ben Strong and Montagu Norman

Prominent New York banker Benjamin Strong, president of Banker’s Trust, played a crucial role in founding the Federal Reserve, and in 1914 he was nominated as the first president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). Strong’s legacy at the FRBNY is significant, most notably in the areas of international affairs and central bank cooperation.

During Strong’s first trip to Europe in 1916, he accepted a dinner invitation to the London home of Montagu Norman, a fellow banker and future governor of the Bank of England, which marked the beginning of an affable and sympathetic friendship. This relationship, combined with Strong’s desire to assist US allies in World War I reconstruction and his belief that the US deserved a prominent place among the world’s financial powers, influenced his desire for the Fed to become involved in international economic affairs. Working together, Norman and Strong increased central bank cooperation in the 1920s.

Today, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is the only Reserve Bank to conduct international operations, as it continues its objectives of “fostering international financial and economic stability and expanding international relationships.” Through its Emerging Markets and International Affairs Group and other divisions, the FRBNY continues to carry out Strong’s legacy.