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Volcker: The Triumph of Persistence

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  127 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Over the course of nearly half a century, five American presidents --- three Democrats and two Republicans --- have relied on the financial acumen, and the integrity, of Paul A. Volcker. During his tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, when he battled the Great Inflation of the 1970s, Volcker did nothing less than restore the reputation of an American financial ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Bloomsbury Press
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The continuing economic crisis is not solely a matter of money - it also relates to a lack of trust. The reputations of many institutions and figures lie ruined, rubble on the fields of history.

For example - as hard to believe as it is now, the Federal Reserve was created separate from the government (despite the name), so as to prevent the influence of political parties from influencing monetary policy, and to remain an impartial and advisory body to prevent economic instability. This has not b
Nick Klagge
Jan 22, 2015 Nick Klagge rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
If you've ever read a Zagat restaurant guide, you know that they use quotes in a really weird way, so that the fact of them being quotes is almost irrelevant. Like, "This 'classic' downtown bistro serves up 'meat and potatoes' without any 'fuss,' though some say the decor is 'a little lacking.'" I kind of felt the same way about Silber's book. According to the author, he recorded a hundred hours of interviews with Volcker, yet I felt that the quotes he included tended to be completely unremarkab ...more
Daniel Taylor
Dec 16, 2012 Daniel Taylor rated it liked it
Until I got the press release from the publisher about this book, I had no idea who Paul Volcker was or the influential role he'd played in shaping the US -- and, therefore, the world's -- economy.

Volcker's public life centred around three crises: cutting the link of the US dollar's value to gold, curbing extreme inflation in the 1980s, and preventing the collapse of the US economy during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

This laudatory biography limits its probings into Volcker's life to thes
Sep 02, 2015 Nadia rated it it was ok
FYI- listened to audiobook
I enjoy discussions about economics, especially macro concepts that shape the national economy. This book requires a deep curiosity and determination to stick through lackluster story telling and horrible narration. The areas I was most interested in (high inflation in the 70s and the crisis of 2008) were glossed over which blew me away. I kept with the book hoping the 2008 crisis would receive more attention than the early 70s and in the end it did if only in terms of
Ryan Freeman
This biography is about Paul Volcker, who was the treasurer for the federal reserve for many years. This book is a bit dry and boring at times, however, the ideas are very interesting. If you are interested in history, and how the government operates, this is a book for you. This book talks about how Volcker revolutionized the treasurer position through persistence and intelligence. It talks about the stock market crash of 1989, how inflation works, and many other events crucial to understanding ...more
Harry Lane
The book is a substantial look at recent economic history of the US, delivered by following the career of Paul A. Volcker. I think it is largely successful in telling a difficult story well, particularly for anyone having an interest in the field. It is likely to leave those for whom economics is only a "dismal science" rather indifferent. On substance, I think the subtitle is amiss. Volcker was, and is, exceptionally persistent in that he has had a worldview and set of guiding principles throug ...more
Jul 12, 2013 Breakingviews rated it liked it
By Martin Hutchinson

William Silber’s biography of Paul Volcker is rightly sympathetic to the man whose determination and integrity conquered U.S. inflation. When needed, he overcame opposition from politicians and academic economists. Yet once his work was done, policy slid back and his abilities were wasted.

Silber traces Volcker’s career from his earliest days at the money market desk of the New York Federal Reserve. He was a Democrat when he served in the Treasury Department in the 1960s, but
Athan Tolis
Jan 15, 2014 Athan Tolis rated it it was amazing
Rather than a biography, this book is a blow-by-blow account of Volcker's life as a public servant. It is truly gripping. If you enjoyed books like "Too Big to Fail" and "Lords of Finance" or even "Barbarians at the Gate," beware of picking it up, you will not rest until you have finished it.

I sure couldn't.

While I was at it, I managed to pick up some international economic history. I already knew, for example, that by the end of the sixties the US was running out of gold to stand behind the con
Mar 15, 2015 Kristen rated it really liked it
Paul Volcker is the man that broke the back of inflation while serving as head of the Federal Reserve in the late 70s and into the 80s. This laudatory biography of the man known as "Tall Paul" is interesting and despite the arcane subject matter of monetary policy, William Silber keeps the discussion on point and explains things in a way that should be understandable to most readers. The book would make a nice companion to Bob Woodward's Maestro for those who have that book in their library.
Jan 18, 2016 M rated it really liked it
One of the few biographies I've picked up that I actually finished. The received wisdom is that macroeconomics is the glamorous part of economics. I never understood that, always finding (the study of, not the practice of) macroeconomics dull and removed from daily reality, unlike microeconomics and its cousins game theory, psychology and behavioural economics. This book changed my mind -- macroeconomics can be interesting after all. The book is also genuinely inspirational when it comes to the ...more
Effendy Yahaya
May 31, 2015 Effendy Yahaya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book after Greenspan's 'the map and the territory 2.0'. I like Silber writing on how research writing translated in relation to historical events to the impact on realizing its happened, will, and future forecast-ed events. It is like going back and forth dramatically. It is a good biography i ever read on economics.

My next reading hopes to cover on monetary policy in inflation and globalization reviews by next few writers. Financial specific books on next target for relation
May 14, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The author does a nice job explaining technical details of economics which is critical toward understanding the scenarios that central bankers face. It seems like the author is more interested in the statistical scenarios that Paul Volcker faced throughout his career rather than diverting attention on telling anecdotes of the personalities he worked with. In this case, although it makes for a more sobering read, I think the author was correct in fashioning his narrative in this matter. One sees ...more
Sep 29, 2015 Veronica rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hugh Carson
Nov 11, 2012 Hugh Carson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tour de force that illuminates exactly how the seeds of our own financial destruction were laid not only with Reagan's deregulating insanity but as early as back in the 60s. This was a great read since my dad was a Professor of Money & Banking at Columbia and became fast friends with Paul Volcker back in the 60s when both were at Treasury, he as Undersecretary for Monetary Policy and my dad in the Comptroller's Office. As a 12-year old I'd go down and add up national banking figures on an ...more
Nov 11, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
Not the fastest read in the world and a bit jumbled in places. Nice to see another Jersey Boy do the right thing for the U.S. I was amazed to see the financial hardship he and his wife endured while he was saving us from the demons of inflation. Hard to believe that only 30 years ago the world was so upset about crossing the $2 Trillion debt mark. We have added twice that just in the first 4 years of the Obama administration and are now at $16.2 Trillion. It was helpful to read this to understan ...more
Oct 05, 2013 Riley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a reminder of how monetary policy, like the theory of relativity, is one of those things that I can understand while I read about it, only to lose all comprehension of it afterward.

Parts of this biography approached hagiography, like this passage I underlined:

"Volker flourishes under pressure. His methodical reasoning slows everything down inside his head, the way a professional quarterback dissects the defense at the line of scrimmage. Crisis control is his favorite pastime."
Sep 25, 2012 Robin rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics, biography

This is a fine biography that confirms one's high opinion of the man who tamed inflation in the 1980s. There are also many parallels to the Fed's situation today - not least the need to resist political pressure.

The book is agreeably short and does a good job of explaining the economics. It does lose a bit pace as it goes on, however, and the author falls into some distracting patterns, such as ending every passage with a declarative sentence about what's coming next.
Nov 23, 2012 Ja rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to it because Paul Volker is one of my heroes and I grew up during the great inflation of the 1970s. Competent. Enjoyable. Well-written. I can't help thinking it could have gone further and reached elite status. But still, a good read and one I enjoyed. Filled int eh blanks for me and confirms what I knew was true about government spending.
Feb 07, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
Interesting to learn about a man that has been through the ups and downs of many presidencies. Held positions from the Treasury to the Fed under Democrats and Republicans. A book that paints a sympathetic portrait of Paul Volcker. However, unless you have interest in the gold standard and/or interest rates, there's not a great reason to pick this book up.
Derek Barnes
Nov 16, 2013 Derek Barnes rated it liked it
If, like me, you grew up never experiencing the spectre of inflation, seeing it through the eyes of former Federal Reserve Chairman and inflation-slayer, Paul Volcker, is a good place to start.
Dustin Witmer
May 07, 2013 Dustin Witmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A readable book on the most important banker in modern America. I like that it focused on policy and politics rather than on trivial personal details.
Jan 07, 2013 Natalie marked it as to-read
From Austan Goolsbee's article
Feb 26, 2014 Sue rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, ldr
LDR said too dense for him to enjoy.
Ed Wright
May 24, 2013 Ed Wright rated it really liked it
Good biography.
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Sep 01, 2016
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“Volcker relied on public opinion, integrity, and persistence to overcome the political pressure to finance government spending the easy way, by printing money rather than by taxation.” 0 likes
“The Federal Reserve promises to reverse field to contain inflationary pressures, but that commitment is suspect, with the memory of recession still fresh, unless Congress and the president agree to a balanced budget at full employment. Reckless fiscal policy threatens the dollar’s status as a reliable international store of value and the exorbitant privilege that confers on American consumers.” 0 likes
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