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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

27 October 2005

The Volcker report

Today Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Fed, will issue the final portion of his investigation into the oil for food program. I had the chance to hear him speak yesterday and wanted to offer some reflections. My first impression was awe: Mr. Volcker is a towering figure, literally and metaphorically. He exudes confidence and integrity like few others. And he is very likeable. I have a sense that this helped the investigation a lot. It will be much easier to accept comments coming from a man such as Paul Volcker; it is almost impossible to not be swayed by his power and charisma, and this was surely an asset for the investigation.

I found his take rather interesting. He received a lot of help from the UN secretariat and had uninhibited access to UN records. (Humoring, he advised against criminal wrongdoing after having seen the enormous paper trail left behind for investigators to look through). He was also excited about the cooperation of foreign governments although less so about certain bodies within America. This contrasted with the general perception that this is an American-driven effort. This is not the angle I got from listening to Mr. Volcker (audio link here).

But whatever my sense from listening to him, I retain my initial view on this: that the likely effect will be that certain forces in America will seize on the report to further their anti-UN agenda (I can almost hear the Wall Street Journal editorial page emphasizing the inadequacy of the UN), and that other countries might rebuff the report’s useful comments simply because they disapprove of the matter in which Americans made use of the investigation. Let’s hope I am proven wrong in this.

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