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.


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".

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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".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

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