In Memoriam: Paul A. Volcker


Paul A. Volcker Japan Society mourns the passing of Paul A. Volcker, a member of Japan Society's Board and Life Director for over four decades. A towering figure in American economic policy, Mr. Volcker served in the federal government for almost thirty years, culminating in two terms as chairman of the Federal Reserve. His innovative policies halted the spiraling inflation that crippled the U.S. economy in the late 1970s and early '80s, laying the groundwork for the economic boom of the 1990s.

As an indefatigable advocate for Japan Society, Mr. Volcker steered numerous initiatives with characteristic élan. He was awarded the 2005 Japan Society Award, was Keynote Speaker at the 1984 Annual Dinner, introduced Bill Clinton as Keynote Speaker at the 2007 Centennial Gala, and dialogued with Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase ∧ Co at the 2010 Annual Dinner. His scholarship on the global monetary order—as seen from the vantage points of the U.S. and Japan—has strengthened the bridges between our two nations.

Appointed as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, Mr. Volcker was re-appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. After leaving the Federal Reserve in 1987, Mr. Volcker interwove his lengthy terms of public service with a successful career in the private sector.

In 1987, Mr. Volcker became a professor of international economic policy at Princeton University and served as chairman of the firm of James D. Wolfensohn & Co. until his retirement in 1996. He was the first Henry Kaufman Visiting Professor at the Stern School of Business at NYU, served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Accounting Standards Committee, and served as chairman of the Independent Inquiry into the United Nations Oil for Food Program, he was honorary chairman of the Trilateral Commission and the Group of 30, as well as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Group of 30, an international organization which examines the impact of economic and financial decisions by the public and private sectors.

As chairman of the first National Commission on the Public Service (also known as the "Volcker Commission") in 1988, and the second Volcker Commission in 2002, Mr. Volcker established himself as one of the nation's strongest advocates for the revitalization of public service. In his last official post, as chairman of President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, he convinced legislators to enact new restrictions on big banks—a measure known as the “Volcker Rule.”

Our gratitude is immeasurable and our deepest condolences go to his family and friends.

Image: Japan Society's 1984 Annual Dinner featured Paul A. Volcker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, as keynote speaker. © William Irwin.

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