Volcker: Cheap Cigars & Smart Politics

“I don’t want to protect institutions that are engaged in essentially speculative activity. The danger has been vastly increased by the reaction to the crisis where everybody was getting saved, to exaggerate a bit, whether they were banks, nonbanks, whether they were engaged in speculative activity or not. If they were big they got saved.”

-Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve Chair

Reuters takes a fascinating look at Paul Volcker in the delightfully titled Cheap cigars, politics and the Volcker Rule.

“I don’t want to be inhibited in what I say,” he said. “I’ve been inhibited all my life. It’s time to be uninhibited.”

No one would accuse him of holding back. Volcker has criticized what he calls the “reform lite” of congressional regulatory reform proposals. And he has kept a hectic travel schedule that belies his age, in Canada one day and Germany the next, as he seeks to drum up international support for a revamping of the financial system.

The people who know him best say outspokenness is part of the package. “He doesn’t temper his remarks as much as he might have in the past,” said his daughter, Janice Volcker Zima. “In his view, he’s old and it doesn’t matter anymore. He thinks (the risk of another crisis) is really dangerous and people need to do something about it.”

Friends say the former Fed chairman was surprised when Obama named the Volcker Rule after him. The president’s fiery, anti-Wall Street rhetoric in the Diplomatic Reception Room in January catapulted Volcker into the role of populist hero.

Well worth a few minutes of your weekend . . .


Cheap cigars, politics and the Volcker Rule
Caren Bohan and Kristina Cooke
Reuters, Mar 12, 2010 EST

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