(Counterclockwise from bottom center)
Ben Bernanke, Fed Chairman:
A scholar of the Great Depression, Bernanke blames the Fed for causing it. "We're very sorry," he told Milton Friedman on his 90th birthday. "But thanks to you, we won't do it again." Fittingly, the former Princeton prof has fought recession harder than inflation.
Charles Plosser, Philadelphia Fed President:
The jazz-loving macroeconomist (PhD, U of Chicago) co-coined the term "real business cycle." (Productivity naturally fluctuates, and recessions will self-correct.)
Donald Kohn, Fed Vice Chair:
Think Fed members clash on monetary policy? Try investing strategy. Kohn, who got his econ PhD at Michigan, invests mostly in actively managed mutual funds, unlike most of his index-fund-focused colleagues. kevin warsh, governor: The only member without at least a master's in econ. At 35, theM&A specialist and Bush aide was the youngest Fed appointee ever. (He is now 38.) His best financial decision: marrying cosmetics heir Jane Lauder.
Richard Fisher, Dallas Fed President:
The Mexico City — raised ex — fund manager oversaw NAFTA's implementation as deputy U.S. trade rep under Clinton. sandra pianalto, Cleveland Fed president: At her first job, as a Fed research assistant, the Italian immigrant toured the FOMC board- room and set a goal to sit at the table. She's also on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board.
Gary Stern, Minneapolis Fed President:
Stern's 2004 book, Too Big to Fail, proposed reforms to lower creditor expectations of a federal bailout when banks go bust. Oops. timothy geithner, New York Fed president: The former Treasury and IMF official deals with both domestic crises and global financial stability. He has a global background: Schooled in India and Thailand, he's lived in East Africa, China, and Japan.
Randall Kroszner, Governor:
An unexpected architect of new regulations for mortgage lenders, Kroszner comes from the laissez-faire Chicago school and dabbled in "new monetary economics," which imagines a totally unregulated financial system.
Elizabeth Duke, Governor:
Aptly for our financial times, Duke majored in drama at UNC — Chapel Hill. She has a rich commercial-banking résumé: The former teller was the first woman to head the American Bankers Association.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.