As a college student, Paul Volcker didn't think much of President Harry Truman. But that was then.
"Events and maturity have completely changed my view of Harry Truman," the once-controversial former head of the Federal Reserve said on Friday in Kansas City. Volcker is now 82 and still active in national economic policy as head of President Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
Volcker praised the man from Missouri as he accepted the Truman Medal for Economic Policy.
"We had the national debt under control. Can you imagine that?" Volcker said of Truman's accomplishments.
Volcker's own path through history has included a turnaround in public opinion.
As head of the Fed in the early 1980s, he was widely pilloried for the double-digit interest rates and double-dip recession that accompanied his aggressive policies to fight persistent and economically corrosive inflation.
It worked, and national prosperity ensued, said Bill Nelson, the retired banker who heads the Harry S. Truman Library Institute and presented Volcker the award.
"He saved the country in my opinion, just as President Truman had in so many other ways," Nelson said.
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