Without Paul Volcker's toughness and guts, we may never have broken the grip of rising inflation and declining productivity that plagued the United States during the 1970s. And we surely would not have been positioned to enjoy record economic growth in the 1990s. It would have been amazing to think in 1982, but now inflation barely registers as a concern in the United States. For that, Americans have to thank Paul Volcker.
At the start of the 1980s, America was suffering through its greatest economic crisis since I was a young boy during the Great Depression. In March of 1982, as Chairman of the American Stock Exchange, I put forward Wall Street's perspective on President Reagan's economic policies in an address at the National Press Club in Washington, buttressing my remarks with data from a poll of 400 leaders in the financial community. The results of the poll, conducted by the Exchange, were clear: Business leaders were losing enthusiasm for the president's economic plans, but they overwhelmingly supported Paul Volcker's stewardship of monetary policy at the Federal Reserve Board.
At the time, that was not an opinion shared by most Americans. As Joseph Treaster vividly describes in the following pages, Volcker was under intense pressure to reverse