He's 82 and a little hard of hearing, but once again, Paul Volcker, the former Fed chair, has maneuvered his ideas to the top of Washington's agenda. Dubbed "the "Volcker rule," the Senate is now mulling over his principal contribution to the financial-reform debate. Volcker proposes that the government's safety net extend only to banks that take deposits and make loans, not to those that engage in proprietary trading for their own profit. Banks would be forced to give up such trading or surrender banking licenses. If they choose to retain proprietary trading, they would be allowed to fail. Despite the fact that Volcker has seen his stock rise and fall within the administration, his rule is now being considered by the Senate. Said one economist, "We're talking about changing the rules governing global finance for the next 25 or 50 years. Thought leaders like Paul Volcker help shape the accepted wisdom."