Thursday, October 24, 2013


Terry Checki announced his intention to retire from The Federal Reserve Bank of New York yesterday.  "Who the hell is Terry Checki" you might ask and he would be delighted that you did.  He shunned the limelight and any attention that might be focused on him.  Outside of the world of Central Banking, finance ministers and the boards of financial institutions he was virtually unknown.  I don't remember  if I have ever seen him on television or his photograph displayed in any newspaper. For the 40-odd years at the New York Fed he was The Invisible Man, but at the same time, to the extent that anyone could be, he was The Indispensable Man, recognized as such when in the battle over the requirements of the next Fed Chairman one commentator remarked, "Hell if they want a crisis manager, pick Terry Checki."

Beginning with the Latin American debt crisis in 1980 and in every financial crisis up to the present day, Checki was deeply involved and in many cases responsible in a large measure for the solution.  He saw it all, understood it all, knew all involved and was the institutional memory that was so vital throughout the years.   He believed deeply that the best policies and solutions were those made in private and therefore you never saw him express a private view or break a confidence.  As such his reputation was unmatched: no one, and I do mean no one was as respected or trusted more than Terry Checki.  His word was his absolute bond; his phone calls not returned but answered immediately.  His call list unparalleled in the world of finance.  To say he knew everyone that mattered would be an understatement; to say he treated everyone as if they did would be merely speaking the truth.

In the world of crisis management those involved know of his efforts but even some of them are unaware of one moment in his career.  On September 11, 2001, he was the senior person in the Fed in New York.   I am told he lived in the Bank for the next 40 days.  A year later, his name arose in a conversation involving a small group in Washington into which I had wandered.  "Checki," said one very senior participant, "hell, he kept it running.  He saved the system."  No public thanks given but none asked: he would simply say it was his job.

The Fed is losing one of the finest public servants I have known...he'll pop up again somewhere simply because his value is too great to ignore.  Instant credibility arrives with him raising the stature of any institution.  But more importantly, his legacy will be simply, "There was an honest man."  I suspect that will be what he will value the most.

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