Kohn Charges $40,000-Plus Fee After Leaving $179,700 Fed Salary

Former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn is leveraging his 40 years of public service by charging a speaker’s fee that puts him in a league with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis.

Kohn, 67, who retired Sept. 1 at an annual salary of $179,700, signed on with Washington Speakers Bureau Inc. at a cost of more than $40,000 per appearance, the highest advertised fee class, according to the Alexandria, Virginia-based company’s website. Davis, Stiglitz and about 50 other speakers are in the same rank, the site says without giving a more specific amount.

Kohn served as the top monetary-policy strategist for former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and, as Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s chief lieutenant, helped guide central bank efforts to stem the financial crisis, including unprecedented emergency credit programs. He said in media interviews this month a weaker economic outlook may warrant more monetary stimulus.

“Kohn offers clear insight on the necessary deployment of monetary, fiscal and regulatory policies in correcting the economic excesses of the past and building a more prosperous future,” the Washington Speakers Bureau website says. “His knowledge, experience and wisdom weigh in on the future of the U.S. and global economies.”

Kohn joined the Fed in 1970 and was vice chairman for four years until June 2010, serving the last two months as a governor. He declined to comment about his speaking fees. Harry Rhoads Jr., chief executive officer of Washington Speakers Bureau, didn’t immediately respond to a request for more information about the fee.

Senior Fellow

This month, Kohn also joined the Brookings Institution, a Washington research organization, as a senior fellow.

In a promotional video posted on the bureau’s website, Kohn says he’s looking forward to taking piano lessons with his five-year-old granddaughter. He says his wife, Gail, who runs a Washington nonprofit group that helps senior citizens stay in their homes, is the person he admires most.

Kohn and his wife had assets in 2008 totaling a range of $574,000 to $1.29 million, excluding a primary residence, putting him at the bottom among members of the Board of Governors, according to financial disclosure forms filed with the Office of Government Ethics.

Washington Speakers Bureau represents dozens of ex-government officials including Greenspan, former President George W. Bush, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The company doesn’t publish the fee level for those individuals.