He was happy, even at the Fed, to wear crumpled suits, live in a students' apartment block and fly coach back to New York and the family at weekends. (His salary had fallen by half when he went from the New York Fed to Washington, and even when he returned to Wall Street in 1987, making $1m a year, he kept his old pinchpenny ways.) As for discipline, he smoked AC Grenadier cigars not only because they were cheap, at a quarter each, but also because he had trained himself to like only what he could afford.
Discipline was something he wanted banks to show, too. He battled to get them better regulated, though the weight of lobbying from the Washington swamp and, under Reagan, the pressure of the president's advisers, made this hard. He mightily defended the Glass-Steagall Act which, since the 1930s, had prevented banks from trading in securities, but lost. His failure to clamp down on reckless lending, either at home or to foreign countries, showed up in a string of debt crises during and after his tenure, culminating in the Great Recession of 2008-09.
At that low point he was called in again, the ever-reliable disciplinarian, to chair Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Although he much disliked having his name on things, it was pinned to the Volcker Rule of 2010, which barred banks from playing fast and loose with customer deposits just to boost their bottom lines. Behind almost everything he did lay concern about trust in the dollar, which also meant trust in America as the leader of the free world.