Fed candidate brings entrepreneurial outlook

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

On one hand, Edward W. Kelley Jr. does not fit the Texas stereotype. He's quiet and shuns the limelight. On the other hand, the Houstonian is about as Texan as they come as a successful businessman and entrepreneur. It is his entrepreneurial outlook that Mr. Kelley believes will give him a different viewpoint, should his nomination to the Federal Reserve Board be approved by the United States Senate.

``I think I'll bring an alternative set ... of qualifications to the board than the present members have,'' says Kelley, who is an investment counselor. ``They are a very distinguished group, but I have 25 years' experience managing companies in very competitive industries. I'm an entrepreneur who has had profit and loss responsibilities for many years now.''

In recent years, the board had been made up largely of members who have come through the Federal Reserve System or who have a strong banking orientation. Kelley is expected to fill the seat vacated by Emmett Rice, who resigned to return to the private sector. The term will expire in January 1990.

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Kelley declined any discussion of his monetary policy, investment outlook, or the current situation with the stock market, saying that he was not officially the nominee yet, and that the confirmation hearings would be the appropriate time to air his views. He does call himself ``nominally a Republican'' who has not been active in the party for a number of years.

Kelley would become the third Texan to assume a major monetary policy post in the Reagan administration. Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III and Robert Clarke, comptroller of the currency, are both Texans. Mr. Baker and Kelley attended the preparatory Kincaid School together in Houston.

Bob Rogers, president and chief executive officer of Texas Industries and former chairman of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, is enthusiastic about Kelley's proposed appointment: ``The business orientation that Mike will bring to this job as a member will be excellent. Most of those who serve come from a background primarily as economists or bankers.

``Mike will do his homework and understand the background, as well as the implications of policy. He is not an off-the-cuff, shoot-from-the-hip decisionmaker,'' he adds.

Kelley, who has been called Mike since childhood, is chairman of Investment Advisors Inc., an investment counseling firm, and The Shoreline Company Inc., a distributor of oilfield equipment.

For many years he ran Kelley Manufacturing, which evolved into Kelley Industries Inc., a family-owned firm that had 600 employees at one time and specialized in galvanized household and garden equipment. The business was sold in 1981, and became KI Holding Inc., and Kelley remained on the board until 1984. He is on the board of directors of Texas Industries Inc., a Dallas-based company with interests in concrete products, cement, and real estate. He also has served on the boards of several smaller banks in Houston.

``Mike is a very intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, quiet kind of person,'' says John Cater, president of MCorp, one of Texas' largest bank holding companies. ``Mike is probably conservative in everything he does. He projects conservatism. He has a good sense of humor that is reserved in his demeanor.''

A graduate of Rice University in 1954 with a BA in history, Kelley earned an MBA from Harvard in 1959. He serves on the Rice board. Notes Rice vice-president George Rupp: ``He is a good team player and insists on addressing new questions and pressing for relevant data to those.''

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