Book Review: ‘Volcker,’ by William Silber
Some statesmen blossom late in life; others bloom early and disappear. Paul Volcker did both. The young Volcker was an influential Nixon administration official during the 1971 crisis when America ditched the gold standard. Volcker later ran the Federal Reserve Board for eight years, where he had the guts to raise interest rates and brook a recession, thereby subduing inflation. When he retired in 1987 he was an international hero, having acquired a reputation for unflinching rectitude. He retreated from public view and became a partner for a spell at Wolfensohn, an investment bank. Then, as Wall Street began to lose its head with mortgages, Volcker, like a curmudgeonly deity on Olympus, began to toss thunderbolt warnings about the frothiness of America’s financial system. President Barack Obama, capitalizing on Volcker’s wise man rep, brought the banker back to public service and—briefly—to center stage.