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

My must-read of 2020: a page-turning biography of Keynes
Investment strategy

My must-read of 2020: a page-turning biography of Keynes

John Stepek recommends some of his favourite financial books for you to read as lockdowns continue, including a surprisingly gripping biography of the…
31 Dec 2020
Five books to put on your Christmas list
Investment strategy

Five books to put on your Christmas list

Even if they’ve done nothing else, lockdowns – in whatever guise – have given us plenty of time to read. Merryn Somerset Webb picks five books to enjo…
7 Dec 2020
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

China owns a lot more gold than it’s letting on – and here’s why
Gold

China owns a lot more gold than it’s letting on – and here’s why

In a world awash with money-printing, a currency backed by gold would have great credibility. And China – with designs on the yuan becoming the world’…
21 Apr 2021
“Joke” cryptocurrency dogecoin goes to the moon. What’s going on?
Bitcoin

“Joke” cryptocurrency dogecoin goes to the moon. What’s going on?

Dogecoin – a cryptocurrency created as a joke – has risen by more than 9,000% this year alone. Saloni Sardana looks at how something that began as an …
19 Apr 2021
House prices in the UK are still surging – here’s why it’ll probably continue
Property

House prices in the UK are still surging – here’s why it’ll probably continue

The latest UK house price data shows no letup in the country’s booming property market, with the biggest yearly rise since 2014. And there’s no end in…
22 Apr 2021