“It was August of 1981 and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker was the most unpopular man in America.
Unemployment was 11 percent, the prime interest rate was 21.5 percent, the economy was in a tailspin and it had all been laid at Volcker’s feet. Car dealers mailed him the keys to cars they couldn’t sell. His face appeared on a wanted poster put up by a homebuilders’ association in Kentucky. A parade of farmers hamstrung by high interest rates drove tractors in the streets around the Federal Reserve (Eccles) building. A man armed with guns, a phony bomb and a knife almost made it into a Federal Reserve meeting room before a guard tackled him.
But two years later Volcker was being hailed as a hero. Runaway interest rates had been tamed to the single digits. Volcker would soon be gone from the Fed, departing half-lionized, half-reviled. The years haven’t always been kind of his legacy; some have blamed his policies for the Latin American debt crisis in the 1980s, and for the American savings and loans crisis in the 1980s and ’90s. However, today, the 85-year-old Volcker is perceived as the go-to man for journalists and bloggers who seek a “tell it like it is” commentator on domestic and international finance.”