Volcker's Future Becomes Touchy Economic Issue

THE JOURNAL RECORD, January 8, 1987 | Go to article overview

Volcker's Future Becomes Touchy Economic Issue


NEW YORK (AP) - Will 1987 be Paul Volcker's last year as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board?

That question is the subject of increasing conjecture in financial circles right now, as Volcker's second four-year term in the important policy-setting position approaches its end next August.

Volcker, who was originally named to the job by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, has come to symbolize in many people's minds the nation's often traumatic but successful effort to overcome a dangerous bout of inflation.

The power of the No. 1 official at the central bank in influencing monetary policy and the course of the economy is legendary.

On Wall Street, Volcker is generally held in high esteem, in large measure because investors around the world trust him not to permit a resurgence of inflation.

Many analysts say the ``credibility'' he enjoys has encouraged foreign investors to buy vast amounts of American securities, thus helping this country finance its wide year-by-year budget deficits without any severe disruption of the domestic economy.

In 1983, President Reagan appointed him to a second term, evidently influenced by Volcker's standing in the world's financial markets. Will he make the same choice again?

There has been friction at times between Volcker and administration officials, who on occasion have regarded his policies as overly cautious and detrimental to economic growth.

With the resignation of Henry Wallich from the Fed's seven-member board of governors in December, Volcker is the last holdover from the board before Reagan took office.

Reagan's Fed appointees to date have been ``somewhat more growth-oriented,'' in the words of Maury Harris, economist at the investment firm of PaineWebber Inc.

But Allen Sinai, economist at Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc., said recently he thinks the changing makeup of the board increases the chances that Volcker will be reappointed. …

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