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Paul Volcker

Paul Volcker

International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

 

Experience

Paul A. Volcker currently serves as Chairman of the “Volcker Alliance”, a foundation he created in 2013 in response to the challenge of achieving more effective government at all levels – Federal, State and Local.  Reflecting his long-term interest in that respect, he headed a private, non-partisan Commission on the Public Service in 1987 recommending a sweeping overhaul of the organization and personnel practices of the United States Federal Government.

Mr. Volcker became widely known for his leadership as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1979 to 1987, a period in which the accelerating inflation and the so-called “stagflation” of the 1970s gave way to greater price stability and strong economic growth.

His appointment, first by President Jimmy Carter and reappointment by President Ronald Raegan, culminated almost 30 years of public service. From 1969 to 1974 as Undersecretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs in the Nixon administration, he carried the principal responsibility for international monetary negotiations during the breakdown of the Bretton Woods international monetary system.

Upon leaving Washington in 1987 after almost 30 years of public service, Mr. Volcker agreed to head a distinguished private, non-partisan Commission on Public Service, reporting to the President George H.W. Bush.  He also accepted a chair at Princeton University as the Frederick Schultz Professor of International Finance and simultaneously chairmanship of the small investment banking firm, James D. Wolfensohn, Inc.

In 1996 he was asked by representatives of the Swiss and Jewish communities to lead an effort to trace accounts of victims of Nazi persecution opened in Swiss banks before World War II, leading to substantial compensation for survivors and their progeny. In 2004 the Secretary General of the United Nation’s called upon Mr. Volcker to undertake an investigation of allegations of substantial corruption by participants in the U.N.’s Oil for Food program and within the U.N. itself. That successful investigation led to a further request by the President of the World Bank to lead a review of the Bank’s anti-corruption program, leading to substantial reforms in Bank procedures. More recently, he served as Chairman of the President’s Economic Recovery Board during Mr. Obama’s first term.

Among other commitments in the non-profit world, Mr. Volcker for a number of years served as Chairman of the Trilateral Commission and of the Group of 30.  At various times he has served as director of several U.S., foreign, and international corporations.

 

 

By Date

 

2016

(AP Photo)

Fall/Winter 2015-2016

Newsmakers

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Mark Bell, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, July 2014–June 2016, Amanda J. Rothschild, Research Fellow, International Security Program, Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School, Anita Gohdes, Former Empirical Studies of Gender and Political Violence Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Security Program/Women and Public Policy Program, 2015–2016, Paul Staniland, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Intrastate Conflict Program, 2008–2009, Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

A sampling of Belfer Center fellows and affiliates in the news.

 

2012

February 14, 2012

"Foreign critics should not worry about ‘my’ rule"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

I confess total surprise about the complaints by some European and other foreign officials about the restrictions on proprietary trading by American banks embedded in the Dodd-Frank Act – now dubbed the “Volcker” Rule.

 

2011

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

September 19, 2011

"A Little Inflation Can Be a Dangerous Thing"

Op-Ed, The New York Times

By Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"IN all the commentary about Ben S. Bernanke’s recent speech in Jackson Hole, Wyo., little attention has been paid to six crucial words: in a context of price stability." writes Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and member of the Belfer Center's International Council. "Those words concluded a discussion by Mr. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, of what tools the central bank could consider appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery."

 

 

AP Photo

June 11, 2011

"A Real Debate About Drug Policy"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By George P. Shultz and Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world."

That is the opening sentence of a report issued last week by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Both of us have signed on to this report. Why?

We believe that drug addiction is harmful to individuals, impairs health and has adverse societal effects. So we want an effective program to deal with this problem.

 

2010

AP Photo

January 31, 2010

"How to Reform Our Financial System"

Op-Ed, The New York Times

By Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"What we do need is protection against the outliers. There are a limited number of investment banks (or perhaps insurance companies or other firms) the failure of which would be so disturbing as to raise concern about a broader market disruption. In such cases, authority by a relevant supervisory agency to limit their capital and leverage would be important, as the president has proposed."

 

2009

AP Photo

June 16, 2009

"Moral Hazard and the Crisis"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We can, and we should, take steps to limit the need and possibility of official "bailouts." One approach would be to set clear policy limits to access to the "official safety net." Deposit insurance and central bank liquidity facilities are properly confined to deposit-taking institutions. It is, after all, those institutions that remain the backbone of the financial system. They provide basic essential services, meeting the needs of households, businesses and other institutions for credit, for a safe and liquid repository for their funds, and for both everyday and complex payment services.

 

2008

AP Photo

October 14, 2008

Paul Volcker: Bailout “Distasteful” but Necessary

News

By Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Paul Volcker, speaking at a lecture in Singapore, said the U.S. economy faces a "considerable recession."

 

 

AP Photo

October 10, 2008

"We have the tools to manage the crisis"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Paul Volcker, International Council Member, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Fortunately, there is also good reason to believe that the means are now available to turn the tide. Financial authorities, in the United States and elsewhere, are now in a position to take needed and convincing action to stabilize markets and to restore trust.

 
Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.