Former Chairman, Federal Reserve System
(September 5, 1927 – December 8, 2019)
It is with immense sadness that we mourn the passing of Paul Volcker, Chairman Emeritus of the Group of Thirty, at the age of 92. He was without doubt the most influential central banker of his time, an outstanding public servant, and a giant in economic and financial policy thinking, even in his later years.
Paul Volcker’s public service stretched for decades, starting in the U.S. Treasury, under both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. He was appointed President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1975, before serving as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1979-1987. At a critical juncture in economic history, he successfully brought down high rates of inflation and set the stage for a long period of growth. Upon leaving the Federal Reserve and government service, Paul carried on working in pursuit of the common good, in the United States and globally.
Paul Volcker led the G30, first as Chairman of the Group from 1990 to 2000, and then as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2001 until 2011. Under his leadership, the G30 went from strength to strength, impacting policy debates and outcomes on numerous topics including accounting standards, derivatives standards, and through the highly influential 2009 Volcker Report on reform of the financial system.
Paul also took up numerous other leadership roles, notably chairing the Inquiry into the UN Oil for Food Program and leading the Volcker Commission on Holocaust Assets. Paul also served as Chairman of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, formed in response to the 2008 financial crisis, and worked on tighter bank regulation and the “Volcker Rule.”
One area of constant focus for Paul was his support for training young officials for a life of public service, which he pursued through the creation of the Volcker Alliance and his work with schools of public administration.
We remember Paul as a stoic and an uncommon leader. He had a deep concern for all people. He was uncompromising on the truth and had the strength to tell people on occasion what they would not have wanted to hear. He always strove to bring colleagues with him. He was a mentor to generations of public servants. And Paul was a friend, in good times and bad.
Today, when the ethos of public service and high standards of public administration are needed more than ever, Paul Volcker’s life demonstrates what they mean, and will inspire generations to come. America and the world has lost a unique and outstanding figure. We in the Group of Thirty have lost a true friend and mentor. We send our deepest sympathy to Anke, his son, his daughter, and the rest of his family at this sad time.