March 5, 2021

Paul Volcker, the economist who defeated inflationary dizziness, dies

One of the most influential experts of the last half century dies. He was president of the US Federal Reserve between 1979 and 1987

Paul A. Volcker died, perhaps one of the most influential economists of the last half century. Not so much for his theoretical contributions as for his work in the trench, first as a Treasury Department official with John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon and then as president of the Federal Reserve as Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

Already retired, but still decisive, he was a highly respected advisor to President Obama after the economic catastrophe of 2008 and the multimillion-dollar public investment needed to rescue the system. To the point that the so-called Volcker Rule, in which he recommended extreme precautions and shorten investment banks, ended up being the best definition of a time in which governments and central banks fought to recover a lost authority in The last decades.

Superlative legacy

But nothing will define the superlative legacy of the great banker better than his performance with Carter and Reagan. His were the tremendously unpopular measures to stop inflation, which in the first instance caused the destruction of millions of jobs. Crucified by trade union centrals and opposition politicians, the huge and peaceful Volcker managed to impose his point of view. The numbers eventually confirmed the medium and long-term goodness of their measures. Since then, as one of his successors, Ben S. Bernanke, at the head of the Central Bank, of whom he was president from 2006 to 2014, told the New York Times, Volcker "came to represent independence" and "personified the idea of doing something politically unpopular but economically necessary ». Last year, in statements to the New York newspaper, he pointed out that one of the main problems of the United States was the enormous power that the richest sectors concentrated. Somehow it was one of the few men capable of challenging the curse pronounced by Jean-Claude Juncker, of which the professor of Ethics and Economics Félix Ovejero has written on several occasions, when he comments on the famous occasion in which the former president of the Commission European acknowledged that "we know what needs to be done, but we don't know how to be re-elected after doing so."

Volcker, grandson of German immigrants born in New Jersey, was always clear. The right thing had to be done for the economy, with an eye on the future, no matter how much it was against the immediate interests of the voter. The champion against inflationary vertigo never gave in to populist sirens. Today, mourned by so many, their independence, their eagerness to stay out of ideological quarrel and partisan flags, they seem almost mythological.


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