Skip to main content

Homer JonesThe Homer Jones Memorial Lecture honors a man who exemplified the highest qualities of leadership in economics and public policy. So much so, in fact, that after Jones retired, a distinguished group of monetary economists—including Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman—published a series of articles praising him and the imprint he left on economics, monetary policy and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. This compendium was published in a 1976 issue of the Journal of Monetary Economics.

As research director, and later senior vice president at the St. Louis Fed, Jones (1906-1986) played a major role in developing the Bank as a leader in monetary research and statistics. Before being appointed to the Fed position in 1958, Jones worked at Rutgers University, the University of Chicago, The Brookings Institution and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

A measure of Jones's stature is the tribute paid to him by his former student Milton Friedman, who attributes his own career choice to Jones's teachings and encouragement. In particular, Friedman cites Jones's "integrity and independence of character, his insatiable curiosity about the facts and his belief in the power of repeated exposure to the facts that erode illusion." At times, this independence of thought rubbed certain people the wrong way. Frequently, as an article from Business Week (PDF) attests, those people happened to reside at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C. It was during Jones's tenure, accordingly, that the Bank earned its reputation as a "maverick" in the Federal Reserve System, often eschewing official doctrine for monetarist explanations to macroeconomic phenomena. In time, however, the major tenets of monetarism that Homer Jones and his successors at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis helped to formulate and disseminate became conventional wisdom among mainstream economists.

Further information about Homer Jones and his collected writings can be found at the Duke University Libraries, which houses the Register of the Homer Jones Papers, 1928-1986.