Paul Volcker worked in the United States Federal Government for almost 30 years, including two terms as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1979 to 1987, a critical period that brought a stiflingly high level of inflation back down to manageable levels. Mr. Volcker had served as undersecretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs in the early 1970s, a period of historic change in international monetary arrangements. He was subsequently president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. When not working in the public sector, Mr. Volcker worked in several large financial firms. He retired as chairman of Wolfensohn & Co. upon the merger of that firm with Bankers Trust.
Mr. Volcker kept busy before and after retirement. From 1996 to 1999, Mr. Volcker headed The Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, formed by Swiss and Jewish organizations to investigate deposit accounts and other assets in Swiss banks of victims of Nazi persecution and to arrange for their disposition. From 2000-2005, Mr. Volcker served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the newly formed International Accounting Standards Committee overseeing a renewed effort to develop consistent, high-quality accounting standards acceptable in all countries. Upon leaving public service in 1987, and again in 2003, he headed private, non-partisan Commissions on the Public Service, each recommending a sweeping overhaul of the organization and personnel practices of the United States Federal Government.
In 2004, Mr. Volcker was asked by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to chair the Independent Inquiry into the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program, resulting in identification of substantial corruption and malfeasance. In 2007, Mr. Volcker was asked by the President of the World Bank to chair a panel of experts to review the operations of the Department of Institutional Integrity. That effort culminated in broad reform of the Bank’s anti-corruption effort. In November 2008, President-Elect Obama chose Mr. Volcker to head the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a task that finished in February 2011. Mr. Volcker also served as chairman of the Trilateral Commission and chairman of the Trustees of the Group of 30.
Educated at Princeton, Harvard, and the London School of Economics, Mr. Volcker was a recipient of honorary doctorates from each of his alma maters, as well as a number of other American and foreign universities.
Listen as Alice Rivlin Introduces 2012 Moynihan Prize Winner Paul Volcker; Volcker Makes Acceptance Remarks