Volcker, Paul Adolph

Volcker, Paul Adolph, 1927–2019, American economist, government official, and banker, b. Cape May, N.J. After working as an under secretary in the Treasury Department (1969–74) and as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank (1975–79), he was appointed the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 1979. He pursued a restrictive monetary policy to combat inflation but was forced by a stagnant economy and high unemployment, which resulted from Federal Reserve policies, to support increased monetary growth during the mid-1980s. Volcker was succeeded as Federal Reserve Board chairman by Alan Greenspan in 1987. He subsequently was successful as an investment banker, retiring in 1996.

In 1999 an official panel he headed that investigated Swiss banks' handling of the accounts of Holocaust victims issued a report that was critical of the banks but did not recommend any changes in a settlement reached in 1998 (see Holocaust). Volcker was chairman of the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation from 2000 to 2006 and, in the wake of the Enron bankruptcy, headed (2002) an independent oversight board at Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that was responsible for auditing Enron. He also chaired (2004–5) the UN's investigation into wrongdoing in the UN oil-for-food program for Iraq. As the head (2009–11) of the Economy Recovery Advisory Board, he was critical of banking practices and proposed restricting banks from using deposits for high-risk investments, which was enacted into law and became known as the Volcker rule. Volcker is the author, with Toyoo Gyohten, of Changing Fortunes: The World's Money and the Threat to American Leadership (1992).

See his memoir (2018); biography by J. B. Treaster (2004); biography of his professional life by W. L. Silber (2012); study by W. Greider (1988).

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