Volcker - Book Review

Volcker – The Triumph of Persistence, by William L. Silber (2012)

 

 

SUMMARY THOUGHTS 

  1. Published in 2012, this book provides fresh (and timely) historical context on the causal factors affecting the US Dollar
  2. Monetary Policy Style: critical contrast between the McChesney/Volcker Feds and the Burns/Bernanke Feds #study
  3. The book’s mapping of the sequence of political decisions made prior to Gold’s top in 1980 is well done (Chapter 11, New Territory

 

CONTENT HIGHLIGHTS

  1. “Five American Presidents (3 Democrats, 2 Republicans), spanning nearly half a century, have called on Paul A Volcker to serve…” (pg 1)
  2. “Do not suffer your good nature to say yes when you ought to say no” –George Washington quote hanging in his father’s office (pg 15)
  3. “I never got along with the coach” –Volcker on his basketball coach @Princeton (1) #athlete (pg 17)
  4. Morgenstern… left his mark by turning Paul into a professional skeptic” #German born economist, author of Theory of Games (pg 17)
  5. “Martin thought economists’ forecasts rivaled the accuracy of fortune tellers” #WilliamMcChesnyMartin, one of Volcker’s heroes (pg 21)
  6. “Kennedy Pledges He Will Maintain The Value of The Dollar” @NYTimes headline #1960, Gold was $35/oz - #perspective (pg 23)
  7. “Gnomes are imaginary, but speculators are not.” #1960s roots of our friend @DougKass macro machinations? (pg 27)
  8. “All I can remember after that was a word flashing in my brain like a yellow caution sign: Bullshit” #Samuelson #Keynes policies (pg 31)
  9. “Hayek’s words forever linked inflation and deception deep inside my head. And that connection, which undermines trust in government” (pg 33)
  10. “Charles de Gaulle pursued Gold the way Henry VIII did wives.” #1965 context #zeigeist of the times very different than today (pg 42)
  11. “If the US could change the rules in March 1968 and stop selling Gold… it could amend them further” #1968, Martin #StrongDollar (pg 50)
  12. “Failure to maintain those promises undermines trust in America. And trust is everything.” #1969, epic #StrongDollar quote by #JFK (pg 53)
  13. “Preserving the Dollar’s status had been the focus of Volcker’s favorite committee” #1969 Volcker Group, de Gaulle resigned 1969 (pg 60)
  14. “Chairman Martin wants to raise the discount rate.” But #LBJ wanted nothing of it (neither did Nixon) #USD credibility 1969 (pg 69)
  15. “Soon after becoming Fed Chairman in February 1970, Burns began to ease…” sound familiar? #Bernanke, didn’t work either (pg 72)
  16. “We can’t afford to risk a downturn, no matter how much inflation” –Nixon #1970 w/ #Burns Fed, conflicted/compromised (pg 73)
  17. “August 15, 1971… Nixon stunned the world in a televised Sunday night address” #GoldStandard, gone – thanks Nixon (pg 79)
  18. “The Coming Devaluation of the Dollar” @NYTimes May 1971, yep #sad – where it all started #Burns/Bernanke (pg 101)
  19. “If I have to talk to Burns again I’ll do it. Next time I’ll just bring him in” –Nixon, goodbye “independent” #FederalReserve (pg 105)
  20. “I don’t give a shit about the Lira” –Nixon, #1972 Dollar Debauchery (pg 110)
  21. “The difficulty is that no one is ever prepared to move except in a crisis” –Volcker #1973 (Shultz announced a 10% USD devaluation) (pg 117)
  22. “Burns exploited Volcker’s fixation with public service to persuade him to accept the Presidency of the Federal Reserve of NY” #1975 (pg 125)
  23. “The public’s resentment made sense, considering that consumer prices surged by 12% during 1974”, #output of 1971 Policies To Inflate (pg 129)
  24. “Whip Inflation Now” #WIN buttons for Jimmy Carter, elected into office #1976 to do a job he didn’t accomplish; #1970s = Stagflation (pg 133)
  25. “It’s the same old story – lack of confidence in US government policies” –Currency Analyst (in #Frankfurt), sound familiar? (pg 139)
  26. “Volcker participated in the Dollar rescue by requesting an increase from 8.5% to 9.5% in the discount rate” #1978 (pg 140)
  27. “I am not particularly eager to make a major move now or in the fore-seeable future.” –Volcker #1979, so #Gold rallied one last time (pg 156)
  28. “I think there’s a need to come in here as inconspicuously as possible… at diverse hotels” –Volcker #1979, no #Bernanke style #leaks (pg 165)
  29. “The price of Gold hit an all-time high of $850 an ounce on Monday, January 21, 1980” #study history vs causal #Fed factor (pg 182)
  30. “Jimmy Carter ended his honeymoon with Paul Vocker on October 2 , 1980, a month before the presidential election” #compromised (pg 190)
  31. Partisan politics ought not be around the Dollar” –William McChesney Martin #Patriot #1980
  32. “Milton wants to abolish the Fed” –Arthur Burns #1980, the American #zeitgeist was very 2011 @RonPaul #libertarian (pg 194)
  33. “Do we really need the Fed” –Ronald Reagan #1980 message resonated with common sense (pg 195)
  34. “We obviously have a credibility problem – by “we” I mean the United States” –Volcker #1980 in “To Be or Not To Be a Central Banker” (pg 197)
  35. “People have to change their expectations and their behavior… that is always an uncomfortable process” –Volcker #1980 (pg 198)
  36. “I was very pleased to read a prediction that the price of gold will nosedive below $300/oz” –Reagan #1980 #StrongDollar leadership (pg 200)
  37. “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers” –David Stockman (#Reagan’s Budget Director) #classic (pg 209)
  38. “He now refers to you as Paul rather than Chairman Volcker” #Reagan understood #StrongDollar tax cuts #commodities (pg 214)
  39. “I think we’ll re-appoint Paul Volcker for about a year and a half. He doesn’t want a full term” –Reagan #1983 #winning (pg 233)
  40. “Having 2 or 3 $40B institutions in trouble is a horse of a different color” –Volcker in #1984 as #ContinentalIllinois was imploding (pg 243)
  41. “Keynesians such as Samuelson said it was impossible, monetarists such as Friedman said Fed was doing wrong” #1985 Volcker right (pg 247)
  42. “Volcker resigned twice, but only one stuck” post #1985, James #Baker politicized everything all over again #PlazaAccord (pg 252)
  43. “The role you have played has been invaluable” –Margaret Thatcher on #Volcker #1987 (pg 265)
  44. “I may be old but I am persistent” –Volcker #2010, #Volcker Rule
  45. “Foreigners hold Dollars because America has demonstrated fiscal and monetary integrity” #basic, pure #Constitution (pg 298)

 

An easy read that will educate people on how central planning has become so causal to American Purchasing Power (US Dollar) and inflation/growth expectations.

KM

 

Keith R. McCullough

Chief Executive Officer

 

 

 


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