December 9, 2019


The most surprising encounters we had with Volcker were at dinner. One was at the apartment Volcker shared with his second wife, Anke Dening, in Manhattan. Near the door was a display of gear for Volcker’s beloved sport of fly fishing. Inside, the towering central banker (he was 6’, 7”) was dressed in a Japanese kimono, right down to the white socks and sandals.

Another was at our own home, where a table of a dozen guests were arranged around him. The dinner was clocking along amicably enough, when, suddenly, a spat erupted between Volcker and the person seated next to him, our older daughter, aged 15. It flared so fiercely — the topic was baseball — that the rest of us sat and gawked. Then it blew over.

After dinner, we helped our eminent guest on with his coat and gave him a copy of a book of the Sun’s editorials on the gold standard. He put his hand on our shoulder as we walked him to the door. “Just remember,” he said, “you can’t go back.” It was the closest we ever got to a policy prescription from the great man.

In the morning, our 15-year-old descended for breakfast. “Do you know who Paul Volcker is?” she demanded. Yes, we exclaimed, he’s one of the great central bankers of all time. “No, no,” she said, “that’s not who Volcker is.” So we asked who he was. “He was on the baseball blue ribbon commission!” she exclaimed — nailing the fact that one of the reasons Volcker will be so widely missed is that was a man of many parts.

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