Paul A Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, who served for eight years from 1979, is tucked away in a corner office, surrounded by books, papers and some quirky family snaps, the epitome of the academic central banker, according to a global media report Tuesday.
Today he is probably best known for inventing the Volcker rule, a ban on banks wagering their own money on trading bets which is one of the key elements of America’s post-crisis Dodd-Frank legislation.
But as Wall Street lobbyists go into overdrive to try to ensure President Donald Trump stays loyal to his repeated pledges to deregulate the financial system, many are taking sharp aim at that rule.
It is hard not to see in the crumbling corridor outside Mr Volcker’s office a sad metaphor for the impending demise of his eponymous regulation.
Among the thousands of pages of Dodd Frank legalese, the Volcker rule is at least simple in its essence. As Mr Volcker and his supporters see it, this is one post-crisis law that makes sense to ordinary people. Banks that take in customer deposits, and only a few years ago relied on hundreds of billions of dollars of government support to survive, should not be allowed to risk their own money on dangerous punts - proprietary trading in the jargon. The buying and selling of securities should only be done on behalf of clients.