Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul A. Volcker ’49, who led the effort to suppress inflation throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, has died at the age of 92.
The former Federal Reserve Chairman, who served in the post from 1979 to 1987 under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, passed away in his home in NY on Sunday, Dec. 8, according to his daughter, Janice Zima.
Born on Sept. 5, 1927 in Cape May, NJ, Paul Adolph Volcker Jr. was a grandson of German immigrants; he was the oldest of four children and only son of his father, Paul Sr., and his mother, Alma Louise.
Volcker graduated summa cum laude from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at the University in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree, having wrote a senior thesis titled “The Problems of Federal Reserve Policy since World War II.”
Volcker later studied at the Littauer School of Public Administration at Harvard University (now the John F. Kennedy School of Government), receiving a master’s degree in political economy. Volcker then attended the London School of Economics through a Rotary Club scholarship with a plan of completing a doctoral thesis, which he never wrote.
Volcker was named a senior fellow by the Wilson School in 1975 and later served as a charter trustee of the University from 1984 to 1988. He joined the faculty of the Wilson School in 1988, becoming the first Frederick H. Schultz ’51 Professor of International Economic Policy. He transferred to emeritus status in 1997.
Having served under four different presidential administrations, Volcker’s long career in government included posts in the Department of Treasury, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
The effort he is perhaps most well known for in Volcker’s two terms as Federal Reserve Chairman was his tenacious effort against the high inflation that plagued the U.S. economy throughout the 1970s.
Volcker’s Federal Reserve drove up interest rates and, in turn, the unemployment rate, forcing the economy into a recession in the early 1980s despite deep unpopularity, likely contributing to President Carter’s defeat in his reelection campaign. Since then, Volcker’s forceful crusade against inflation has attracted admirers and gained him a reputation characterized by the political independence of the Federal Reserve.
Volcker is survived by his son, James, his daughter, Janice, and his second wife, Anke Dening.
This story is breaking and will be updated with additional information as it becomes available.