AP source: Volcker leaving Obama advisory group

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker is ending his term as chairman of President Barack Obama’s economic advisory panel next month, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

Volcker is a highly regarded voice on financial policy and has been an occasional outside counselor to the White House both as head of the recovery advisory board and as an advocate of tougher banking regulations.

Obama gave the advisory board a two-year mission that expires next month and is considering whether to extend it. But Volcker has told colleagues that he will not stay on.

The source told The Associated Press that Volcker planned to continue to advise Obama as needed. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not been officially announced.

The 83-year-old Volcker was the champion of the so-called Volcker Rule in last year’s financial regulation overhaul, drawing criticism from the banking sector. The provision limits the ability of banks to make profits by engaging in speculative trading with their own money.

But while Volcker’s influence was prominent in helping shape the legislation, the advisory board did not live up to its initial billing partly due to legal constraints on its ability on provide private counsel to the president. Obama was weighing whether to retain the panel, give it a new mission or let it expire.

Volcker, who was Fed chief from 1979 until 1987 under presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, still commands attention when he comments on economic matters.

In November, he drew headlines by declaring that he saw no short-term easing of the high U.S. unemployment and that slow growth should be expected for the next year or more. At the time, he was speaking at a meeting in Beijing of the International Financial Forum, a group of bankers and finance officials from the United States, China and other countries.

He’s primarily remembered for tackling double digit inflation in the 1980s with a dose of high interest rates.

The White House did not comment on Volcker’s decision.

Obama faces a series of staffing decisions in the coming days related to economic policy. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama on Friday will announced a new director for the National Economic Council to replace Lawrence Summers. The slot is expected to go to Gene Sperling, a Treasury official who served in the same role during the Clinton administration.