Alan Greenspan Essay

This essay has a total of 1784 words and 8 pages.


Alan Greenspan




Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, has always fascinated the financial
community. Whatever he says can make or break the markets. He is a highly educated
economist with many years of experience. People seek for his advice and obey his
judgments. His proclamations are repeated and expounded upon. Greenspan is loved,
feared, and never ever questioned. As a result of being a strong chairman of the Fed, he
has made a difference the U.S. economy through his way of dealing with inflation. Also,
the presidency no longer counterbalances or even criticizes the Fed. First of all, we
will consider his background.

Alan Greenspan was born on March 6, 1926, in New York City. He received a B.S. in
economics in 1948, an M.A. in economics in 1950, and a Ph.D. in economics in 1977, all
from New York University. Also, Dr. Greenspan also has performed advanced graduate study
at Columbia University (Board of Governors par. 2) He taught economics at New York
University from 1953 to 1955 and formed a consulting firm in 1954 called
Townsend-Greenspan & Co., Inc. Dr. Greenspan has received many honorary degrees from
Harvard, Yale, Pennsylvania, Leuven (Belgium), Notre Dame, Wake Forest, and Colgate
universities. Furthermore, he has received numerous awards such as the Thomas Jefferson
Award for the Greatest Public Service Performed by an elected or appointed official
in1976, and election as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, in1989 (Board of
Governors par. 9)

The novelist Ayn Rand influenced Dr. Greenspan. He was deeply influenced by her
philosophy of objectivism, which exalts laissez-faire capitalism and promotes “rational
selfishness,” the belief that people should live for their own rational self interest. At
Rand’s insistence, he became an adviser to Richard Nixon during the 1968 presidential
campaign. He advised President Nixon informally until he was made chairman of the Council
of Economic Advisers in 1974 under President Ford. He served during the Ford
Administration from 1974 to 1977. During this time, his policies were credited with
reducing inflation but leading to recession and may have contributed to Ford’s defeat for
reelection (Encarta par 1). From 1981 to 1983 he served as Chairman of the National
Commission on Social Security Reform. Other previous presidential appointments include
the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Commission of Financial Structure
and Regulation, the Commission on Financial Structure and Regulation, the Commission of an
All-Volunteer Armed Force, and the Task Force on Economic Growth (Board of Governors par.
5).

Dr. Greenspan has served in many corporate and noncorporte positions. In recent years he
has served as a Corporate Director for Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa); Automatic Data
Processing, Inc.; General Foods, Inc.; J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc.; Mobil Corporation; and The
Pittston Company. Some of his noncorporate positions include Member of the Board of
Trustees, The Rand Corporation; Director, Institute for International Economics; Member of
the Board of Overseers; and Vice Chairman and Trustee, Economic Club of New York (Board
of Governors par. 6,7).

There are a few interesting facts about his personal life and personality. He was a
newlywed at the age of 71, some 44 years after his first marriage was annulled. He was a
musician in the 1940s before turning to a life of number crunching. Although he is an
admirer of technology, he drafts his speeches in longhand. In addition, he is famous for
not speaking at parties. One hostess observed that he would nod a lot and at the end of
the night people say, “Wow! That man is brilliant,” even though he had never said anything
(Chait 22). In fact, one congressman’s wife observed him at a party and in 35 minutes of
chatter, he had only spoken 22 words. Most of the words were directed towards the person
serving the hors d’oeuvers. However, he still managed to leave a good impression because
the people who he had spoken to said that he was very “insightful”.

Currently, Alan Greenspan is serving his third four-year term, ending in June 20, 2000, as
Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. In addition, he serves
as Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee; the System’s principal monetary
policymaking body (Board of Governors par. 1) President Ronald Reagan appointed Alan
Greenspan as Chairman on August 11, 1987. A moderate Republican, he believed in
deregulation of the banking industry and opposed government intervention in the economy,
especially during the recession crisis of the early 1990s (Encarta par. 3). He was
reappointed to the Board to a full 14-year term, which began February 1, 1992. He
opposed tax cuts, believing that they would contribute to the growing federal deficit.
Also, he supported President Clinton’s 1993 deficit-reduction programs because he believed
that spending cuts were far better than tax increases (Encarta par. 3). In fact, he gets
along better with the Clinton Administration than he ever did with its GOP predecessors.
In February 1993, Hillary Clinton invited Greenspan to sit next to her while President
Clinton gave his first State of the Union address. This close relationship between
Clinton’s Treasury Department and Greenspan represented something new. “Instead of baying
at the moon, the president had reconciled himself to this own ineffectuality (Chait 24).”
Now, making disparaging remarks about the Fed is taboo. Clinton’s acceptance has
consecrated Greenspan’s exalted status.

Alan Greenspan has had a recent transformation in the public mind. In 1994, he was
engineering a series of interest-rate increases, and the Federal Reserve chairman was
called a “zealot willing to strangle economic growth in pursuit of a chimerical goal of
zero inflation (Church par.1).” Today, many people are giving him credit for the happy
state of the U.S. economy. Economist Allen Sinai said, “The Greenspan Fed is the
all-time champion in American history (Church par. 1).” In 1996 and 1997 he didn’t do
much of anything to the interest rates. From February 1996 to December 1997, the Fed made
only one change in interest rates: a quarter-point increase in March of 1997. He resisted
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