Nicholas Brady's family made its early fortune in the oil filter business. Now, Mr. Brady's efforts, if he is confirmed as the nominee for Treasury secretary, will be to make sure the financial system does not get gummed up. President Reagan on Friday nominated Brady to replace James Baker III, who will chair Vice-President George Bush's presidential campaign. Brady, a Wall Street executive and, for a brief time, a former United States senator, is a friend of the vice-president and of Mr. Baker, who recommended him to the President.
``He is part of the classic Eastern establishment,'' says one Wall Street source.
Brady is best known for his presidential appointment to study the Oct. 19 stock market crash. The Brady Commission report recommended the securities markets be regulated by the Federal Reserve Board and that ``circuit breaker'' mechanisms be set up to ensure that the market does not drop as sharply as it did last October. Although some changes were enacted, Fed chairman Alan Greenspan torpedoed the idea of the central bank regulating the markets.
Brady is currently the co-chairman of Dillon, Read & Co., a prestigious Wall Street investment banking firm, which is largely owned by the Travelers Insurance Companies. Brady has worked for Dillon, Read since graduating from Harvard Business School in 1954. At Dillon, Read, Mr. Brady developed a reputation as a shrewd banker. ``He's been in a lot of dog fights, and ended up top guy at the end,'' says investment banker John Castle of Castle Harlan.
The Dillon, Read connection has been a good one for Brady. He knows the Bechtel family, the owners of the huge international construction firm, who also owned Dillon, Read at one point. Secretary of State George Shultz and former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger were formerly Bechtel executives. Brady is also on the boards of NCR Corporation, the MITRE Corporation, and H.J. Heinz Company.