Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, a top outside adviser to President Barack Obama, said time is “growing short” for the U.S. to address problems ranging from its budget deficit to Social Security obligations.
“We better get started,” the 82-year-old former central banker said in a speech yesterday in Stanford, Calif. “Today's concerns may soon become tomorrow's existential crises.”
Mr. Volcker, speaking hours after the euro fell to a four-year low against the dollar, said Europe demonstrates for the U.S. the hazards of “uncontrolled borrowing.” The European currency slid below $1.22 for the first time since April 2006 as a ban by German authorities on certain bearish investments fueled concern the region's sovereign debt woes will worsen.
“Little has happened to allay my concerns” raised five years ago that “dangerous and intractable” problems were rising in the U.S., said Mr. Volcker, chairman of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
“Intractable not just because of the combination of complicated issues, but because there seemed to be so little willingness or capacity to do much about it,” he said during a dinner at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
Mr. Volcker said in an interview yesterday it will take “years” to restore economic balance in Europe following the debt crisis. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet has been “particularly effective in maintaining the credibility of the euro,” he said.