Paul Volcker was feeling a bit forgotten in late 2017 when he started working on his memoir, which I was helping him write. Inflation was no longer feared, exchange-rate crises weren’t big news, and his longtime campaign to improve public administration seemed more quixotic than ever. So the 90-year-old former leader of the Federal Reserve started his book with a self-deprecating joke about a wise old parrot known as “the chairman,” and insisted the title should be The Wise Old Parrot Speaks.
Understandably, the publisher’s marketing staff wasn’t keen on that. Eventually, I threw out the phrase “sustained commitment,” which I’d spotted in some old Fed minutes. Volcker’s face lit up as he translated it into plain language: “Keeping at it!” We had our title.