Paul Volcker is a renowned American economist known for his tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He is particularly hailed for his role in curtailing the high levels of inflation witnessed across the United States in the late 1970s through the 1980’s.
Volcker was born on 5th September, 1927, in Cape May, New Jersey. After completing his initial education from the Teanack High School in 1945, he was matriculated in to Princeton University from where he earned his bachelors in 1949. Volcker then jumped ship to Harvard University to do his M.A. in political economy, which he completed in 1951. The same year he went to the London School of Economics as a fellow of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships program.
Volcker kick started his professional career by joining the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1953. After four years at the organization, he moved to Chase Manhattan Bank where he assumed the role of Vice President in 1965. In the years between 1969 and 1974, Volcker was undersecretary of monetary affairs in the Treasury Department. He orchestrated the United States’ plan to denounce the gold standard and devalue the currency in the early 1970s.
Volcker was made president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1975. He was handed the mammoth task of controlling the persistently high levels of inflation witnessed across the United States by then President, Jimmy Carter, who made Volcker the head of the Federal Reserve System. Volcker was certainly up to the task, as he ensured that interest rates rose and stifled the money supply in an attempt to reduce the prevailing inflation rate which had risen almost as high as 13%. Although these policies put the U.S. economy in deep recession, it managed to successfully curtail ever increasing price levels. Volcker’s impressive work saw the Federal Reserve extend his tenure to a second term, although refused to serve a third time despite the offer being on the table.
In 2000, Volcker was named Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Accounting Standards Committee. He was determined to redesign the prevailing accounting standards and benchmarks in order to ensure high quality book keeping which could be implemented across nations. Volcker spearheaded a private Commission in 2003 which aimed to revamp the organizational structures and personnel practices and systems in place at the United States Federal Government.
In 2004, Volcker led a corruption investigation of the allegations against the United Nations Oil for Food Program, since it permitted Iraq to fund its acquirements of food, infrastructure etc. by selling oil in international markets. He later became chairman of the board of Trustees of the Group of Thirty, an organization which devotes its time and efforts to improve existing knowledge about global financial and economic matters.
Amongst his other list of accomplishments, Volcker has also stayed on President Obama’s Economics Recovery Advisory Board between the years 2009 and 2011. In this time, he managed to pass the ‘Volcker Rule’, which imposed more stringent regulations on banking entities regarding their daily operations. Paul Volcker is currently also a member of a multitude of public policy entities, such as the Japan Society, the American Assembly and the Institute of International Economics. In his decorated career, he has also found the time to teach at numerous universities, including Princeton.