Administration officials said yesterday that they expect President Reagan to reappoint Paul A. Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board within the next few days.
These officials said Volcker had emerged as the only candidate for the job despite efforts by some members of the administration to promote Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Ford administration, for the Fed chairmanship.
Officials cited two reasons why reappointing Volcker serves the administration's interests. They noted widespread support for the Fed chairman in the business and financial community, which would view the reappointment as a sign of administration resolve not to give up its fight against inflation.
They also said the reappointment is important because of the necessity of dealing with the troublesome international debt crisis, which Volcker believes is an urgent problem.
White House spokesman Larry Speakes, traveling with President Reagan in Albuquerque, said last night that Reagan has not made a decision. Other officials agreed that, while no formal decision has been made, they fully expect Reagan to name Volcker to another four-year term starting in the first week of August.
There has been speculation that Volcker would prefer to serve less than the full term. Sources close to him have said he believes that he needs another 18 months to deal successfully with the debt crisis and other problems.
Speakes said there has been no agreement on a shorter term. One administration official said that it would be entirely up to Volcker how much of his term he would serve and that a president cannot legally bind a Federal Reserve chairman to serving only part of a term.
Volcker was unavailable for comment last night.
Almost all of President Reagan's top advisers have urged him to reappoint Volcker, who is associated with the tight rein on the money supply that has begun to restrain inflation but has not had as much effect on high interest rates.
This support was underscored last week when Sen. Paul Laxalt (R-Nev.), considered Reagan's closest intimate on Capitol Hill, expressed support of Volcker after earlier criticism.
On the previous day, after rumors, which proved unfounded, that Volcker had submitted his resignation, the stock market had taken a nose dive.
One administration official said a decision to reappoint Volcker would be the result of a process of elimination within top administration councils. "Volcker is a winner by default if he gets it," this official said.
Informed officials said the recent sharp increase in the money supply would not be a major factor in the president's decision. They added that the administration remains concerned over the surge in the money supply.
Earlier this year, it was considered almost a foregone conclusion that the president would replace Volcker, a Democrat appointed by President Carter, with someone closer to Reagan personally and ideologically.
But the administration soon learned that presidential favorites such as Preston Martin, a member of the Reagan Cabinet in California and of the Federal Reserve Board, did not command business-community support.
Then the focus shifted to Greenspan, a New York economist valued by administration officials for work he did as the chairman of the president's commission on Social Security.
However, Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan and others were privately critical of Greenspan's record in economic forecasting. In a recent meeting on the question, Regan supported Volcker's reappointment although he had been critical of the Fed chairman.
This apparently left Volcker as the only candidate. One official said, "You can't beat somebody with nobody."
A major argument for Greenspan was that he would be more politically responsive to the administration in an election year than Volcker. But even one of Greenspan's supporters suggested that this was a weak argument because, he pointed out, the decision was not "between a Reaganaut and somebody else" but between "a Carter man and a Ford man."