Volker looks back

Book review: Keeping At It Former Fed chair Paul Volcker's memoir is much more than an account of his life. It is his credo.

926-books-Keeping-At-It

The Quest for Sound Money and Good GovernmentBy Paul Volcker (with Christine Harper)Public Affairs (£21.99)Buy on Amazon

Paul Volcker, the chairman of the Federal Reserve between 1979 and 1987, is widely credited with bringing the inflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s under control. He also played an important role in financial reform. His "Volcker Rule" banned banks from trading with their own money. In this book, Volcker looks back over his career. It is, however, much more than just an account of his life. It is his credo, says Martin Wolf in the Financial Times.

As Fed chair, Volcker "skilfully thwarted" journalists and Fed-watchers "by either refusing to speak, mumbling, or concocting incomprehensible responses", says Fortune's Alan Murray. After his retirement, Volcker "morphed into one of the world's most blunt-spoken truth-tellers, describing the world exactly as he saw it". His book continues that "good fight" and "deserves to be read".

The book invites readers to reconsider his legacy, says The Economist. It reveals that, far from being the monetarist policy wonk of legend, Volcker actually "lacked strong intellectual commitments" and had "a surprisingly moralistic view of the economy", seeing central banking as "a test of character". This suggests that "it is the strength of Volcker's character that deserves emulation rather than his response to a specific, bygone set of economic circumstances".

Recommended

Theatre review: The Visit
Films

Theatre review: The Visit

Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Swiss classic The Visit, transported to 1950s America, poses the question: how much would you kill for?
28 Feb 2020
Six contrarian books for Christmas
Films

Six contrarian books for Christmas

Merryn Somerset Webb picks six of her favourite contrarian books to help you look clever and perhaps win a few arguments over the Christmas dinner tab…
9 Dec 2019
Four excellent books to get your teeth into while you remain holed up
Books

Four excellent books to get your teeth into while you remain holed up

Whether you’re going on a staycation (or even an actual holiday) or remaining holed up at home. Merryn Somerset Webb has four perfect books to educate…
6 Jul 2020

Most Popular

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020
UK post-Covid recovery stocks: these 20 companies could be set to rocket
Share tips

UK post-Covid recovery stocks: these 20 companies could be set to rocket

Finding stocks with the potential to rise tenfold or even further is far easier said than done. But the pandemic has produced the most promising backd…
22 Oct 2020
Big spending government is here to stay – just ask Rishi Sunak
UK Economy

Big spending government is here to stay – just ask Rishi Sunak

Governments around the world are splashing huge amounts of cash as they do “whatever it takes” to prop up their economies. John Stepek looks at where …
23 Oct 2020