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PAV Remarks @
Commencement Exercises
University of Cincinnati
June 15, 1986

This is a special and happy day:

Special for you in

the graduating classes who have now surmounted all the hurdles;
special for your families and friends, who on this of all days
feel joy and pride (perhaps tinged with a sense of relief) and
it is, of course, special for me personally to become an honorary
member of the Class of '86 of the University of Cincinnati which
is doing so much to educate so many, and I thank you for it.
At the same time, I must confess that, for me, a commencement
address is a difficult art form.

The image of a central banker

is, I am afraid, a rather pompous one —

grave men given to

lengthy and opaque analyses of obscure economic relationships.
It was quite in that vein that the New York Times commented
the other day that the Federal Reserve is a fairly grim agency.
The Wall Street Journal followed up with a column on its front
page starting with the sentence, "Federal Reserve Board Chairman
Paul Volcker is a cheerless fellow."
A friend of mine summarized it for me with a paraphrase
from H.L. Mencken.

He said:

"Central bankers are like Puritans;

they have a haunting fear that someone, someplace may be happy."
I don't think Mencken thought of that remark as a compliment.
But when I jokingly mentioned it in a speech not too long ago,
it provoked a spirited defense of the Puritan ethic in a newspaper
column.

That made me think a bit, because the basic point the

columnist made was close to my theme today.




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He argued that the Puritans weren't against happiness —
they simply insisted happiness could only be found as a byproduct of hard work, and diligence and thrift.
Those qualities, in the end, do of course drive economic
growth; there really is no substitute.

And while those Puritan

characteristics may not sound very glamorous or exciting —
not quite "with it" —

we do, of course, like to enjoy the

prosperity they engender.
On that score, things don't look so bad today —
fact there is quite a lot to be cheerful about.

in

The economic

world is certainly in better shape than when most of you
entered college, in the midst of recession.

We've had 3-1/2

years of business expansion, and in the process created 9-1/2
million new jobs.

Inflation is down, and so are interest rates.

Manwhile, the way we do business of finance, and medicine,
and law is changing —
really comprehend.

changing faster than many of us can

At the same time, those equipped with

good minds, a solid education, and familiarity with new
technologies -- the kind of thing this University is all
about —

have perhaps more opportunity than ever before.

It's all pretty heady stuff, and it's easy to envy the
young and vigorous, well prepared to launch upon new careers.
But I do get paid to worry —

and I have to tell you I

find no shortage of material on that score.
For one thing, history strongly suggests that —
nation, as businesses, as individuals —

as a

we are borrowing too

heavily, mortgaging our future, and risking financial trouble.




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Our already low savings rate has been declining.
too much and export too little.

We import

The largest and richest

economy in the world has also turned into the largest international debtor.
Closer to home, I worry that too many sectors of our
economy —

and some regions of the country —

in the expansion.

haven't shared

We don't need statistics to know that

unemployment, particularly among minorities, remains too
high.

And, when we look at the rest of the world, there are

too many areas where growth is only a dream, and starvation
a reality.
But I am not going to make this a lecture in economics.
I have some broader concerns, maybe more directly relevant,
to balance all those bright opportunities before you.
You are living in a world of accelerating change, not
just in economics, but in the way we live our lives.

A major

force driving that change is that technology allows us to
store, retrieve, and transmit information with a speed and
economy that makes a mockery of what we thought was advanced
a decade or two ago.

We move about much more freely and

cheaply, here and abroad.

As a natural consequence, markets

for goods and services, and the marketplace of ideas, have
become more international than ever before.
That's all stimulating and exciting.

The financial

rewards for some can be enormous, and many more than an elite
few should have the best opportunities ever for achieving personal
and professional goals.




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But there are risks in all this change and opportunity.
When we move so easily, will we be able to retain a solid sense
of really "belonging" anywhere?

When things are changing so

fast, do we really have time to fully absorb, assimilate, and
consider the implications of what we do?

Most dangerous of

all, will we lose a sense of standards —

of what is right,

what is lasting, and what is necessary to maintain a harmonious
community in which we all must live, and for personal satisfaction as well?
There is a related question in the economic area.

It

was put to me rather pointedly by a retired businessman now
teaching at a prestigious East Coast university.

He said he

saw hundreds of talented young men and women attracted into
finance and law and consulting, and advertising by reports of
high return and high status.

His skeptical observation was

that everyone wanted to groom the horse —

but who was willing

to be the horse to pull the cart of economic growth.
Well, maybe those questions are less pointed out here in
the Mid-West Heartland.

I hope so.

All that change, I fear,

isn't going to do us much good without a core of stable values.
After all, in the end, the overriding question for your
generation is not going to be how much money you make but
whether you can keep the peace in a nuclear age —

that

accident at Chernobyl sent a shiver up all our spines, and
just maybe will help remind us of what our priorities really
are.




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And there is no shortage of other threats to our
collective and individual futures —

from drugs on our

streets to pollution in the atmosphere —

both of which

seem to go hand in hand with all that restless change.
Those, I suppose, are the kinds of concerns that are
traditionally expressed in a commencement oration.

I raise

them now only because, in the areas I know best, there are
disquieting signs that amid all the booming financial markets —
maybe in part because the financial rewards seem so great —
there are also disquieting tendencies at work.

We read in the

daily press these days of abuses of inside inforamtion by
those with fiduciary responsibility.
over recent years —

In too many instances

including here in Cincinatti —

we have

seen instances where managers, with an essentially public
trust to protect other people's money, use those funds for
personal gain.

Taxes, it has been said, are the price of

civilization, but increasingly we see our system abused, by
legal devices or otherwise, to escape a share of that price.
Lawyers and accountants are tempted to skirt their professional
responsibilities in meeting their clients' interests.
There has been a strong movement in this country in
recent years, under Democrats and Republicans alike, to
reduce official supervision and regulation of financial
institutions and other businesses.

The reasoning is clear —

to promote more efficient competitive markets.




But there must

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be another assumption as well, seldom stated or discussed.
The effective operation of a competitive market system must
in the last analysis rest on a strong sense of business
integrity and fiduciary responsibility.
That is not a new thought.

All those new computers,

all those new ways of doing business, all our technological
wonders, are no substitute for a sense of mutual trust, in
our business relationships, in our government, and in our
personal lives.
I am also old enough to know that, decades down the
road, your main satisfactions will be found primarily in the
strength of your families, your ties with faithful friends,
and in a sense of contribution to the community.
be occasions like this —

in about 2016 —

It will

that will symbolize

those achievements.
You are going to have the chance to reach out —
of you

already are —

many

- in:-bu"siness:-and "accounting; or^law,v

or the medical arts, or education, or engineering or the arts.
In every one of those areas there are opportunities for doing
good while doing wellI

And I hope some will find personal

challenge in government where the need for good people is so
great.
As you take your place in the working world, I hope you
don't resist the urge, now and then, to do a little dreaming,
to take some chances in pursuit of those dreams, to see whether,




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l

(
as the adrenalin runs, all that energy can't bring benefits
to the community along with personal fulfillment.
Enough of grand philosophy.

In talking to college

students, a Peanuts comic strip I read some years ago often
comes to mind.

It was a classic Lucy-Charlie Brown dialogue,

with Lucy acting as psychiatrist.
She said that on cruise ships there were two kinds of
people— those who faced their deck chairs forward, because
they wanted to see where they were going, and those who
faced their deck chairs backward, because they were interested
in where they had been.
"On that great cruise ship of life, Charlie Brown,"
Lucy asked, "which way will your deck chair be facing"?
"I don't know," Charlie responded.

"I can't get mine

untangled."
My sense is that there aren't many Charlie Browns left
at a great urban university like Cincinnati.

You're here

today not because college was the thing to do, or to fill
time while you decided what to do, but precisely because you
have a pretty good idea where you want to go, and what it
takes to get there.
All I can do is wish you bon voyage on that great
cruise of life.

Sonner than you realize, your city, your

country, and the world will be shaped by your generation,
not mine.




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