The legendary Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker died on Sunday at 92, but he had a final warning for an American public that is losing trust in their government and one another.
On Wednesday, the Financial Times published the afterword in Volcker’s upcoming autobiography. The newspaper said it was written in September, three months before his death.
In it, Volcker condemned President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to juice US economic growth, already undergoing its longest sustained expansion.
“Not since just after the second world war have we seen a president so openly seek to dictate policy to the Fed. That is a matter of great concern, given that the central bank is one of our key governmental institutions, carefully designed to be free of purely partisan attacks,” the former Fed chairman wrote.
Volcker said he trusted that the members of the Fed would fend off any attempts to interfere in its monetary-policy decision-making so that it may act “free of partisan political purposes.”
Trump has repeatedly assailed Jerome Powell, the current Fed chair, for not cutting rates. In August, Trump called Powell an “enemy” of the United States comparable to China, The Washington Post reported.
The former Fed chair painted a very bleak portrait of the nation’s political environment, saying “nihilistic forces” were forcefully rolling back protections considered emblematic of American democracy.
“Increasingly, by design or not, there appears to be a movement to undermine Americans’ faith in our government and its policies and institutions,” Volcker wrote. “We’ve moved well beyond former president Ronald Reagan’s credo that ‘government is the problem,’ with its aim of reversing decades of federal expansion.”
He went on: “Today we see something very different and far more sinister. Nihilistic forces are dismantling policies to protect our air, water, and climate. And they seek to discredit the pillars of our democracy: voting rights and fair elections, the rule of law, the free press, the separation of powers, the belief in science, and the concept of truth itself.”
Volcker was best known for waging a campaign to subdue inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the Fed chairman. He later sought to keep regulations in place to oversee the financial industry and became an advocate of financial reform.