At the Mosbacher Institute’s inaugural Conversations in Public Policy event, Ambassador Richard Fisher, the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 2005 to 2015, and Mr. Robert Mosbacher, Jr., the Chairman of Mosbacher Energy Company, reflected on how intertwined the United States’ monetary policy is with global financial markets. Ambassador Fisher, and Mr. Mosbacher discussed global trade and the ways countries can keep themselves economically prosperous.
The Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy at the Bush School of Government and Public Service hosted the event at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. It began with welcome remarks from Ambassador Ryan Crocker, dean of the Bush School, and introductions by Dr. Lori L. Taylor, director of the Mosbacher Institute.
Ambassador Fisher delivered remarks reflecting on his experience at the Federal Reserve of Dallas which serves approximately 28 million citizens. A large portion of Fisher’s remarks focused on the reality of a “global world” which has tied United States’ monetary policy with the global financial markets. “Moving forward the United States would do well,” Fisher said, “to seek stability so entrepreneurs as well as small and medium businesses are able to create the jobs that drive a strong economy.” Fisher remarked that making predictions about the economy is similar to predicting weather patterns years in advance. Thus, while it is impossible to know what the faults in monetary policy are, we can focus on creating an economic climate which encourages job creation and stability.
After Ambassador Fisher concluded his remarks, Mr. Mosbacher initiated a conversation with Ambassador Fisher. One particularly interesting exchange concerned the current political climate for trade agreements. Assuming a “good” trade agreement was proposed, Mosbacher asked, what could be done to obtain bipartisan support within the polarized legislature? Fisher responded that strong leadership must be the driving factor, citing President H.W. Bush and his Secretary of Commerce, Robert Mosbacher, Sr., as well as President Clinton, as examples of the kind of leadership the United States needs to make successful trade agreements. Mosbacher pointed out the correlation between decreased trade barriers and more robust and inclusive economic growth, and that politicians would have to take a political risk to support trade.
The conversation next turned to China. Fisher said that despite their large economy and vast production, the system is not efficient and is unlikely to be truly threatening to the United States because the Chinese government is a “control freak” too willing to “contain the animal spirit” of commerce. Thus, their economy will continue to be substantial, but neither innovative nor efficient. Fisher went on to explain the best way to deal with uncertainty is to implement laws, be open to structural change, have a legislature who is willing to make tough choices, and permit competition. The solution he concluded is most certainly not to print more money.
Richard W. Fisher was President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 2005 to 2015. In this role, Fisher served as a member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve’s principal monetary policymaking group. He has also served as the chair of the Conference of Federal Reserve Bank Presidents, the body that oversees the shared operations of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. For five years he served as chair of the IT Oversight Committee for the 12 Federal Reserve banks, putting in place the first system-wide CIO structure.
Prior to becoming the president of the Dallas Fed in 2005, Mr. Fisher was Vice-Chairman of Kissinger McLarty Associates, a strategic advisory firm, in partnership with Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State for Presidents Nixon and Ford, and Mack McLarty, former White House Chief of Staff in the Clinton Administration. He was also Senior Advisor of FCM Investors in Dallas, Texas, an investment advisory firm that he founded in 1987 (see below). He simultaneously served as Senior Advisor to the law firm of Covington & Burling. He was a member of the Board of Directors of EDS.
From 1997 to 2001, Mr. Fisher was Deputy United States Trade Representative with the rank of Ambassador, responsible for U.S. trade policy and negotiations in Asia, Latin America, and Mexico and Canada. He led numerous high profile negotiations, including the U.S.–Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement signed by President George W. Bush in 2002; the initiation of the Free Trade Agreements with Singapore and Chile; the omnibus Free Trade Area of the Americas; and the U.S. Korea Auto Agreement of 1998. He co-chaired the Enhanced Initiative on Competition and Deregulation of the Japanese Economy agreed to by President Clinton and Prime Minister Hashimoto. Ambassador Fisher was also a senior member of the team that negotiated the US–China and US–Taiwan bilateral agreements for accession to the World Trade Organization. He had oversight responsibility for the implementation of NAFTA. While serving as Deputy USTR, Ambassador Fisher served as Vice-Chairman of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and as a member of the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council.
Prior to joining the government, Mr. Fisher was Managing Partner for ten years of Fisher Capital Management (FCM) and Fisher Ewing Partners, with $500 million in equity capital. Fisher Ewing’s sole fund, Value Partners, earned a compound rate of return of 23.6% per annum during Mr. Fisher’s period as Managing Partner. Mr. Fisher began his career in 1975 at the private banking firm of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (BBH), as Assistant to Robert V. Roosa. He was “lent out” to the Carter Administration to serve as Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury for 1977-79 then rejoined BBH to establish their operations in Texas. He was Senior Manager of BBH’s investment management and corporate finance operations in Texas until creating FCM in 1987.
Mr. Fisher was educated at the U.S. Naval Academy, Harvard (BA cum laude), Oxford (Latin American politics) and Stanford (MBA). He was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas from 1995 to 1997, teaching a second year Masters’ seminar at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. He presently serves on the Board of PepsiCo, where he is a member of the Audit Committee. He serves on the Board of Overseers of Harvard where he is chair of the Finance, Administration and Management Committee and a member of the university’s Inspections (audit) Committee. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College at Oxford University. He has an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bryant University.
Mr. Fisher is a first generation American. He is equally fluent in Spanish and English, having spent his formative years in Mexico. He is the proud father of three children: Anders (Harvard ‘99; Stanford MBA ‘04); Alison (Harvard ‘02; U.Texas L.B.J. School, MPA ‘09), James Miles (Harvard ‘06). A fourth child, Texana (Harvard ‘07), passed away in April 2010.
In 2006, Mr. Fisher received the Service to Democracy Award and Dwight D. Eisenhower Medal for Public Service from the American Assembly. In 2009, he was inducted into the Dallas Business Hall of Fame. In 2014, he received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service. In February of 2015, he received the Order of the Aztec Eagle award, the highest honor given by the Mexican government to foreigners. He will receive the Neil Mallon Award, one of Dallas’ highest honors, in October of 2015.
Robert Mosbacher is Chairman of Mosbacher Energy Company, an independent oil and gas exploration and production company in Houston, Texas. From 1986 to 2005, he was President and CEO of MEC. He was also Vice Chairman of Mosbacher Power Group, an independent electric power developer, which began in 1995, and was sold in 2003.
Mr. Mosbacher was sworn in as the ninth President and Chief Executive Officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in October, 2005, following confirmation by the United States Senate. OPIC is a self-funding, independent agency of the United States Government that supports private capital investment in emerging markets around the world. OPIC currently operates in over 100 countries and has over $14 billion in commitments. He stepped down from his position at OPIC in January of 2009.
In 2009, Mr. Mosbacher joined the Board of Calpine Corporation, the largest independent power company in the United States, with over 28,000 MWs of generating capacity. He also rejoined the Board of Devon Energy Company, a large, independent gas and oil producer. He is Chairman of the Boards of the Initiatives for Global Development, and Global Communities (formerly CHF International), and serves on the Boards of the Americas Society and the Center for Global Development.
Robert Mosbacher, Jr., is founder, Chairman, and CEO of BizCorps, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that places graduates of top American business schools with SME entrepreneurs in emerging markets. These graduates work with the entrepreneurs to develop business plans and other strategies for growth. BizCorps is currently operating in Colombia and Kenya.
Mr. Mosbacher was Chairman of the Board of the Greater Houston Partnership in 2004, a private, nonprofit organization that serves as the city’s chamber of commerce.
Mr. Mosbacher has also served as Chairman of the Board of the Methodist Hospital, the Salvation Army, and the Greater Houston Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, all in Houston. He is founder and former co-Chairman of Rebuilding Together Houston (formerly PSI HomeSavers), which organizes volunteers to deliver free exterior home repairs and has resulted in the repair of over 6,000 houses for qualified low-income elderly or disabled Houstonians. He also served on the Board of South Texas College of Law.
Mr. Mosbacher received a law degree in 1977 from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University in 1973.