Darwin Beck (’60) is the Bethany Lutheran College 2019 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient.
Beck, a native of St. James, Minnesota, is an accomplished and noted economist and monetary policy expert. During his 44-year career, Beck served as economist for the United States Treasury Department and Federal Reserve System, as well as Credit Suisse First Boston. He also authored a number of articles on monetary policy for private organizations and the Federal Reserve System.
Beck graduated from St. James High School (Minnesota) in 1955. During his high school days, he wrestled, participated in speech, and was a member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). But mostly, he helped on the family farm. It was that work on the farm that kept him from enrolling in college until three years after graduating from high school.
Beck chose Bethany primarily to be closer to home in order to continue to help on the farm as time permitted. He also thought a small college would help him regain his study habits after being out of school for some time.
Beck discovered that Bethany gave him so much more than he anticipated or had hoped for. The experience not only helped to prepare him for a very successful career in economics, but also instilled in him the importance of being strong in your faith, and keeping the Lord at the center of everything in life.
Beck said the list of professors that he admired and respected at Bethany is too long to list, but they all helped shape him to lead a strong life professionally, personally, and spiritually. He cherished his time at Bethany with his classmates, and all the lifelong friends that he made.
After earning his associate in arts degree from Bethany in the spring of 1960, Beck found a renewed spirit for learning, He enrolled Mankato State University (MSU) and majored in economics earning his degree in 1962. After MSU, he applied and was accepted into a graduate program at the University of Maryland (College Park), earning a master’s of economics in 1966. He continued to study at Maryland, and then also at George Washington University completing all his coursework towards a PhD.
Beck joined the Office of Financial Analysis of the United States Treasury Department as a general economist in his first post-graduate job. This marked the beginning of a long career in Washington D.C. focusing on economics for the U.S. Government. This office of five professional economists was responsible for preparing analytical evaluations of the economic and financial conditions of the United States for use by the Secretary of the Treasury and other Department officials.
Beck moved on to become the Senior Economist for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. At the Board of Governors, he was a financial economist in the Board’s Banking Sector, Division of Research and Statistics. While with the Board he served under four chairmen: William McChesney Martin, Jr., Arthur F. Burns, G. William Miller, and Paul Volcker. Most of his time was devoted to the formulation and implementation of monetary policy. He participated in the daily conference call with the Trading Desk in New York, and prepared reports, memorandum, and Board briefings on bank reserves, bank deposits, bank credit and the monetary aggregates. He supervised a staff of seven, including professionals and support staff. In 1974, he was assigned to a team appointed to provide support for the Blue-Ribbon Advisory Committee on Monetary Statistics. This advisory group consisted of two former Chairmen of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, three former U.S. Presidents of the American Economic Association, one Nobel Laureate, and other prominent members of the economics profession.
From mid-1979 until early 1981, he attended all of the Federal Open Market Committee meetings. In 1981, Beck was hired by Credit Suisse (CS) First Boston as their Director and Economist. At CS First Boston, a top-tier investment banking firm in New York City, he was involved in short- and medium-term analysis and forecasting of monetary, fiscal, and financial market developments, and disseminating this information to CS First Boston’s senior management, clients, and customers. While there, he also published Money Market Notes, a biweekly letter on the economy, financial markets, and outlook for monetary policy.
In 1996, he returned to Washington D.C. as a U.S. Treasury Advisor for the Office of Technical Assistance. During this period, he had a number of resident and intermittent assignments in the U.S. Treasury’s technical assistance program. He served as a resident advisor in the Public Debt Department, Ministry of Finance (MOF) Poland, then on macroeconomic and monetary policy at the National Bank of Ukraine, and also for the Public Debt Department MOF Republic of Moldova. He has also worked with other countries on intermittent assignments including Malawi, Liberia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Jordan, Bosnia, Morocco, Ivory Coast, and Senegal. After a 44-year career in economics, Beck officially retired in 2008.
Beck, and his wife Sharron, have been married 56 years and have four children, and seven grandchildren. They make their home in both Aitkin, Minnesota, and Green Valley, Arizona. In his personal time, he enjoys gardening, reading, playing cards, fishing, watching TV, and interacting with his grandchildren.
Beck is an active church member in both Minnesota and Arizona. Throughout his life, Beck has held a variety of positions in churches he’s attended including elder, president, vice president, treasurer, Sunday school superintendent, building committee, and evangelism committee.
When asked about his time at Bethany, and what it means to him, he responded “I have always thought that attending Bethany was a great privilege and prepared me for the things that followed in life. Bethany reinforced values that I have tried to maintain all my life and pass on to my children and grandchildren.
“Receiving the award is a great honor, one I never expected and do not think I deserve. However, it is a tremendous honor, which I humbly accept, and it means so much to me.”