Marriner Stoddard Eccles is best known as the father of the modern Federal Reserve. As Chairman of the Fed under Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, Eccles was integral to the economic policies of the 1930s and ‘40s. KUED tells the compelling story of the financial genius in Marriner Eccles: Father of the Modern Federal Reserve, produced by Senior Producer, John Howe. The film premieres Monday, October 21 at 9:00 p.m. on KUED.

KUED, in partnership with Salt Lake County, will commemorate the Eccles legacy with an advance screening of the new film, Marriner Eccles: Father of the Modern Federal Reserve, on Monday, October 7th. The screening will be open to the public. The Honorable Jerome H. Powell, current Chairman of the Federal Reserve will deliver opening remarks.

The event will be held at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. Doors will open at 10:30 a.m. and guests must be seated by 10:45 a.m. The screening of the film will start promptly at 11:00 a.m. This event is free, but tickets are required. Tickets can be picked up at the Rose Wagner box office prior to the event, or ordered at arttix.org.

Howe said, “It was a privilege to bring the story of his life and times to television. As Randal Quarles, Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve says in the film, ‘Marriner Eccles was one of the most consequential public figures in the history of the country.’”

From a young age, Eccles oversaw the family’s lumber, construction, and banking institutions, which gave him an understanding of business from the ground up. Eccles turned into a shrewd businessman who would come to see the economy as something that required interventions on a grand scale when the Great Depression hit.

After the stock market crash of 1929, branches of the Eccles family’s First Security Corporation kept their doors open, while neighboring banks were folding. As the Great Depression took its toll on America, Eccles took to the podium and spoke before Congress in 1933.

In his testimony, Eccles stated, “It is recognized by everyone that our most urgent and acute problem today is to immediately provide adequate relief to the millions of our people who are destitute and unemployed in every corner of our nation.” His ideas to combat the economic downturn and fix the economy would later be represented in President Rooosevelt’s New Deal. Soon after his speech, politicians from Washington D.C. started to take notice of this banker from Utah.

“It’s what makes the New Deal such an important turning point in American institutional policy and political history. Marriner Eccles is associated with that, and I think he needs to be remembered for that kind of thinking and for understanding the legitimacy and, indeed, the necessity of federal initiative when the free market fails, especially when it fails as spectacularly as it did in the 1930s and darn near did again in 2008 and 2009,” said Dr. David Kennedy, Pulitzer-winning Stanford historian.

In 1934, Eccles was appointed as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve by President Roosevelt. Eccles believed that only the federal government was large enough to make the kinds of economic changes necessary to stem the tide of the Great Depression. In 1936, TIME Magazine wrote, “a good many people believe Marriner Eccles is the only thing standing between the United States and disaster.”

As the economy slowly recovered, Eccles took steps to solidify what he considered an essential piece of the puzzle. – the independence of the Federal Reserve as an institution. The Banking Act of 1935 was one of Eccles’ greatest achievements. Through it and his leadership – in conjunction with the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and new restraints and safeguards on the banking industry – the Fed was able to keep interest rates low, combat deflation, and stimulate modest economic growth through the 1930s.

In the years following World War II, the Fed became increasingly concerned over rampant government spending and inflation, arguing it was time to reconsider wartime interest rates. President Truman disagreed. This dispute ended with the signing of the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of 1951, but eventually Eccles turned in his letter of resignation.

Eccles returned to Utah, where he resumed his family businesses and spawned a series of philanthropic foundations that are still managed by the Eccles family to this day. (KUED and The University of Utah are both recipients of grants provided by the Eccles family endowments.)

Howe said, “This film was an intellectual and emotional journey taking our filmmakers from New York to San Francisco to Washington D.C., speaking with some of the most important thinkers of our time regarding Marriner Eccles, including Dr. Ben Bernanke and Pulitzer-winning Stanford historian Dr. David Kennedy.”

Eccles leaves behind a legacy as one of the premier economic thinkers of his time, a strong believer in the idea that an economic system should work for the common man, and whose stewardship cemented the Federal Reserve as the independent, effective institution it is today.

Airdates:
Mon. Oct. 21, 9PM
Sun. Oct. 27, 2PM

About KUED: KUED is Utah’s PBS station, providing the state with access to exceptional content that entertains, informs, and enriches viewers. KUED airs PBS programming plus award-winning, locally produced documentaries, and series. Recognized as one of the leading public television stations in the country, KUED is committed to serving and engaging with the Utah community through its diverse productions, as well as its educational and outreach programs. KUED is always evolving to provide Utahns with relevant programming and services while maintaining its core values of integrity, fairness, independence, education, and innovation. KUED also provides three additional broadcast channels: WORLD, PBS Kids 24/7, and Create.