April 18, 2014

Icon

Icon: Fred Schultz

Banker; philanthropist; Speaker, Florida House of Representatives, 1969-70; vice chairman, Federal Reserve Board, 1978-82; died Nov. 23, 2009, age 80.

Cynthia Barnett | 11/1/2008
Fred Shultz
Schultz, in front of artwork by his wife, Nancy [Photo: Kelly LaDuke]

» I had a wonderful life because I had a wonderful wife.

» They weren’t warm and fuzzy parents. My father was working very hard, very long hours. And I didn’t see very much of him until later, when I was very fortunate to be in business with him for a short period and really got to be a good friend of my father’s and learned to not only to respect him, which I always had done, but learned to love him.

» When I had to sell my Barnett stock to go on the Fed Board, I sold it for $20 a share. My cost was 5 cents a share. That was the home run.

» It really freed me from financial worries. I began to do what I called entrepreneurial philanthropy. Rather than just giving money to things, I would try to get involved in their activities and really take a hands-on approach.

» I think every day, particularly now that I’ve been through this bout of cancer and chemo, and I don’t do as much any more. I can sit and think.

» I was sitting at the breakfast table with (wife) Nancy, and they (NationsBank executives) had made us a good deal. Nancy said, ‘How many shares of Barnett Bank would you own if you hadn’t sold all of it when you went to the Fed?’ I said, ‘About 850,000 shares.’ And she said, ‘Well, how much would that be worth in the buyout?’ And I said, ‘Oh, between $63 and $64 million.’ And she said, ‘Oh my God!’ And I said, ‘Now, honey, what would you do with all that money?’ And she said, ‘I can think of things.’

» I love Florida. It’s a wonderful state. I just really think that we have done not as good a job in recent years as we need to. We’ve concentrated more on winning politically rather than on getting the right things done politically.

» I was the first Democratic Speaker to appoint a Republican chairman of a committee. We had partisan stuff, but we’d talk about it in the leadership meeting. And we’d say: ‘Our troops are getting a little restless. We need a partisan bill that we can argue about and get this all out in the open.’ In the meantime, behind the scenes, we were working together amazingly, particularly on reorganization.

» The Legislature met once every two years. It did not operate between. There were no standing committees. There was no prefiled legislation. The state was run by the Cabinet. And they were not interested in change. And this was where the real blood came on the floor. But we were able to do it. There were 120-some boards, bureaus and commissions, and we cut those down to eight.

» I lost (the U.S. Senate race to Lawton Chiles in 1970) by only 13,000 votes.
It was a real blow at that time.

» When I was nominated to be on the Federal Reserve Board, he (Chiles) took me to the Senate Finance Committee. He introduced me by saying, ‘but for 13,000 votes, Fred Schultz would be sitting where I am, but I doubt that I would have been sitting where he is.’ He was a classy guy.

» The mortgage bankers were sending us 2-by-4s on which they had written ‘Lower interest rates!’ They sent us so many that they filled a large room at the Federal Reserve. I made a speech to the American Automobile Dealers Association. When I finished, I got my normal questions: ‘You dumb S.O.B, do you have any idea what you’re doing?’ Those were easy. I went through the problems of inflation and why we were doing what we were doing. And then an older man stood up and said, ‘Mr. Vice Chairman, I just want you to know that I’ve been in the automobile business for 35 years, and tomorrow I am closing my doors.’ Oh. We were human beings on the Fed Board. We did feel the pain.

» Alan Greenspan is a good friend of mine, and I’m a great admirer of his, but he really dropped the ball. He is a free-market believer. He’s an Ayn Rand guy. When banks started making loans outside of their normal purview, when they started setting up assets off balance sheet, Alan said: ‘Our job is to regulate banks — not bank subsidiaries that they’re setting up and not some of these unusual kinds of derivatives and loans that they’re making.’ I happen to know that (former Fed Chairman Paul) Volcker didn’t agree. He felt strongly the Fed needed to do something, that the Fed was losing control.

» We need to find a way to make some of our better college students interested in going into education. Teach for America is doing a great job of that, and we need to do a better job of expanding those efforts. Do we need colleges of education? I guess the answer is yes, but we also need to put more emphasis on substance. The things you actually study. The curriculum itself rather than on pedagogy.

» I must admit that the chemo was quite harsh. Nobody knows why it has worked so well for me.

» It gave me the opportunity to meditate on my life. I got to think about what it was that I had not done well. I felt like I hadn’t done as good a job as I should have at being a husband and a father.

» I didn’t listen very well. That was one of the things when I was in politics
I didn’t do quite as well as I needed to. I needed to listen better.

» I am now living in the happiest period of my life.

Tags: Politics & Law, Florida Icon, Banking & Finance

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