Volcker and de Larosière: the end of giants?
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It is common, even among highly educated people, to hear public administration lambasted, to hear government workers labeled as “lazy,” or “work-shy”; public servants are thought to go through the motions for a paycheck they do not really deserve. Smart people, it is assumed, go into business, or—in a pinch—academia. This nasty stereotype is hugely wide of the mark. It is a parody that bears no resemblance to the lives of Paul A. Volcker and Jacques de Larosière, whose careers overlapped, as colleagues and collaborators in crisis management, as effective government administrators, and as leading central bankers.
Volcker and de Larosière are colossi of American and European central banking and public administration. Both committed themselves to public service long after the end of their storied central banking careers. We are all better off as a result. Readers are lucky that both decided to publish their memoirs, at ages 91 and 90 respectively, providing historians, budding government...