Yale School of Management

Yale Program on Financial Stability Publishes Interview with Late Fed Chair Paul Volcker

Paul Volcker at a Yale Program on Financial Stability event in 2017
Paul Volcker at a Yale Program on Financial Stability event in 2017

The Journal of Financial Crises, a publication of the Yale Program on Financial Stability (YPFS), has published a wide-ranging interview with Paul Volcker, who served as chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987. The interview was conducted by Andrew Metrick, Janet L. Yellen Professor of Finance and Management and the director of YPFS, and the YPFS staff in March 2019. It was one of the last interviews with Volcker, who died in December 2019. 

The interview was part of YPFS’ “Lessons Learned” oral history project, which gathers insights from key participants in past financial crises. Among the topics discussed are the independence of the Federal Reserve; Volcker’s view of derivatives; the evolution of the Fed’s supervision of banks; fighting inflation; and the rescue of the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company in 1984, a crisis that spawned the concept of “too big to fail.”

“We are very thankful to Mr. Volcker for making time for this interview,” said Metrick. “His memory for the details of these events was remarkably sharp.  I was particularly struck by his nuanced and honest response to the issues of ‘too big to fail’ and Continental Illinois. The country has lost one of its greatest public servants, and we should all be inspired by his example.”

The interview is being published in cooperation with the Volcker Alliance, a nonprofit organization founded by Volcker that “advances effective management of government to achieve results that matter to citizens.” 

Thomas W. Ross, president of the Volcker Alliance, said, “The lessons Mr. Volcker imparted from his experiences leading our nation through some of its toughest financial challenges are especially timely today. As our country grapples with the impacts of COVID-19, Mr. Volcker’s leadership is an example for today’s public leaders of how to search for solutions to crises while always maintaining a strong commitment to the public good.”

Read the interview in the Journal of Financial Crises.