As an economist, Karen Johnson’s work on the research team has focused primarily on business and economic conditions during the banking crisis that began in 1893 and continued in varying degrees throughout the remainder of William’s life.
William commented frequently in the Diary on general business conditions in New York City during the crisis and on particular events in the business and financial sectors. Of special interest to William were events at several banks in the city for which he was serving or had served as a director. Johnson’s assignments have included reports on the history of these banks and William’s connection to them. William also engaged in a variety of complex personal business relationships, such as guaranteeing the debts of friends or colleagues. Johnson has researched these persons and the particular transactions that William reports. In addition, Johnson has collaborated with another member of the research team, Kathryn Morisse, to investigate the Astoria Homestead Company and to follow William’s activities in Astoria that relate to the Homestead Company and its environs.
Johnson was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts and studied economics at Radcliffe College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, from which she received a PhD in economics. She taught in the economics departments of Wellesley College and Stanford University. Johnson subsequently joined the staff of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and held various jobs within that agency, becoming Director of the Division of International Finance in October 1998. As director, she was responsible for analysis of developments in international capital and financial markets, of macroeconomic and policy issues in foreign countries, of the external transactions of the United States, and for oversight of research on topics in international trade and finance. Johnson retired from the Federal Reserve in February 2008. Since retirement, she has engaged in part-time economic consulting and pursued a variety of recreational and personal interests.