Paul Volcker will be missed

The former Federal Reserve chairman who died last week was a true public servant

Paul Volcker. The scale of his many achievements is huge, although most tributes focused on his unshakeable integrity. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Paul Volcker. The scale of his many achievements is huge, although most tributes focused on his unshakeable integrity. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

 

One man who did make the world a better place was Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman who died last week aged 92. Volcker is famous for taming inflation in the early 1980s, increasing interest rates to 20 per cent in the face of huge political pressure in order to kill off double-digit inflation. Decades later, he took on the banks during the global financial crisis. “Wake up, gentleman, your response is inadequate!” he said at a conference in 2009, complaining that he couldn’t think “of any socially valuable financial innovation since the ATM machine.” The subsequent Volcker rule (since watered down) aimed to rein in risk-taking at banks. The scale of Volcker’s many achievements is huge, although most tributes focused on his unshakeable integrity. “The greatest man I have known,” said Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf. “The greatest American hero I’ve known”, said hedge fund manager Ray Dalio. “A true public servant,” said former Bank of England governor Mervyn King. That he was. Unimpressed by money and power, Volcker’s life is a testament to the importance of having independent, steadfast central bankers and public servants.

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