In This Review

Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government
Keeping At It: The Quest for Sound Money and Good Government
By Paul A. Volcker with Christine Harper
304 pp, PublicAffairs, 2018

This frugal and charming autobiography is filled with illuminating stories from Volcker’s seven decades of public service. Volcker recounts the role he played in abandoning the last vestiges of the gold standard, his struggle with inflation as chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the time he spent dealing with the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath, and his examination of the UN’s oil-for-food program in Iraq. Following his father, who served for two decades as the city manager of Teaneck, New Jersey, Volcker has spent his life in public service. His career has been characterized by his extraordinary integrity—a term not now associated with either politicians or bankers. Volcker’s final reflections emphasize three public virtues: price stability, sound finance, and good governance. The necessary condition for the last, stressed by Alexander Hamilton, is not just sound policies but also wise management by well-trained, nonpartisan, experienced professionals. The book concludes with a plea to young Americans to devote themselves to public service.