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If recent press reports are indicative, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s successor, Ben Bernanke, will likely face some skeptics, just as Greenspan did (amazing as that may seem today) in his first few years on the job. But imperfect transitions at the Fed have ended up working out rather well over the past quarter century. It’s ancient history now–and few have reason to recall the event–but it may be instructive to note that Paul Volcker got off to a very shaky start as Federal Reserve chairman when in September 1979 he won a dangerously close 4-to-3 vote to hike the discount rate just six weeks into his tenure. And as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for the four years before becoming chairman, he had been a Federal Open Market Committee insider.

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