Paul Volcker

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Paul Adolph Volcker

In office
August 11, 1987 – January 31, 2006
Preceded by G. William Miller
Succeeded by Alan Greenspan

Born September 5, 1927
Cape May, NJ
Profession economist

Paul Adolph Volcker (born September 5, 1927 in Cape May, New Jersey), is best-known as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve ("The Fed") under United States Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (from August 1979 to August 1987).

Volcker's Fed is widely credited with ending the United States' stagflation crisis of the 1970s by limiting the growth of the money supply, abandoning the previous policy of targeting interest rates. Inflation, which peaked at 13.5% in 1981, was successfully lowered to 3.2% by 1983 and has remained low ever since[1]. The change in policy contributed to the significant recession the US economy experienced in the early 1980s, which included the highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. The stabilization of price levels appears in retrospect to have been a success.

Volcker's undergraduate education was at Princeton University; he graduated in 1949. He earned a M.A. in political economy from Harvard University in 1951 and then attended the London School of Economics from 1951 to 1952 as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Fellow - perhaps the most prestigious scholarship to be awarded on a global basis.

In 1952 he joined the staff of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as a full-time economist. He left that position in 1957 to become a financial economist with the Chase Manhattan Bank. In 1962 he joined the U.S. Treasury Department as director of financial analysis, and in 1963 he became deputy under-secretary for monetary affairs. He returned to Chase Manhattan Bank as vice-president and director of planning in 1965.

From 1969 to 1974 Mr. Volcker served as under-secretary of the Treasury for international monetary affairs. He played an important role in the decisions surrounding the US decision to suspend gold convertibility in 1971, which resulted in the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. In general he acted as a moderating influence on policy, advocating the pursuit of an international solution to monetary problems. After leaving the US Treasury, he became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 1975 to 1979, leaving to take up the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve in August 1979.

In 1975 he had become a senior fellow in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. After leaving the Federal Reserve in 1987 he became chairman of the prominent New York investment banking firm run by James D. Wolfensohn, Wolfensohn & Co., a corporate advisory and investment firm in New York, who was later to become president of the World Bank.

In April 2004, the United Nations assigned Volcker to research possible corruption in the Iraqi Oil for Food program. In the report summarising its research, Volcker criticized Kojo Annan, son of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection SA, Kojo's employer, for trying to conceal their relationship. Volcker was a director of the United Nations Association of the United States of America between 2000 and 2004, prior to his being appointed to the Independent Inquiry by Kofi Annan.

As of October 2006, he is the current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the influential Washington-based financial advisory body, the Group of Thirty, and is a member of the Trilateral Commission. He has had a long association with the Rockefeller family, not only with his positions at Chase Bank and the Trilateral Commission, but also through membership of the Trust Committee of Rockefeller Group, Inc. (RGI), which he joined in 1987. That entity managed, at one time, the Rockefeller Center on behalf of the numerous members of the Rockefeller clan.

He has received honorary degrees from several educational institutions. Those include: Notre Dame University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, New York University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Bryant College, Adelphi University, Lamar University, Bates College (1989), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2005), and Brown University (2006).

[edit] Further reading

  • Paul Volcker: The Making of a Financial Legend, Joseph B. Treaster, New York: Wiley, 2004.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Preceded by:
G. William Miller
Chairman of the Federal Reserve
1979–1987
Succeeded by:
Alan Greenspan


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Paul Volcker

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