...for Paul Volcker who re-appeared in public life at the elbow of President Obama this week and in doing so confirmed the ascendancy of the over-80s previously noted in this column. Volcker held key economic positions in the Nixon, Carter and Reagan administrations and was chairman of the US Federal Reserve (America's central bank) from 1979-1987.

Volcker is thought to be the brains of the programme of bank reforms that Barack Obama announced on Thursday. He has always advocated the separation of retail and commercial banking which is one of the main features of the President's platform. He will not be deterred by the initially hostile reaction from the banking community. He is best known as the “inflation slayer” of the 1980s but did not kill the monster without first taking heavy criticsm for the way in which he went about doing it.

Paul Volcker's appearance at the side of President Obama at Thursday's press conference while the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner stood on the sidelines indicates a new and welcome phase in the struggle to make America's banking system more relevant to the nations needs.

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