Washington Babylon — August 15, 2008, 7:18 am

Alan Greenspan: The maestro has no wand

From today’s Washington Post:

It’s been nearly a decade since Greenspan’s stock hit its all-time high with the now-famous Time magazine cover during the Asian financial crisis — the one that featured Sir Alan, Bob Rubin, and Larry Summers as “The Committee to Save the World.” Since the committee disbanded, however, its members haven’t fared so well. Summers managed to get himself hired and fired as Harvard’s president, Rubin helped to steer Citigroup into the ditch, and Greenspan laid the foundation for the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Okay, so nobody’s perfect. But instead of acknowledging that he let his free-market ideology cloud his judgment as monetary steward and financial regulator, Sir Alan is out there trying to convince people how much better off they are because of deregulation, globalization and the dramatic booms and busts they have spawned. He reminds me of the politician who, having just been trounced in an election, blames it on the fact that his message “just didn’t get through.”

What’s so remarkable is how Greenspan can spin out his analysis without mentioning his own role in the creation of the massive housing and credit bubbles that got Fannie and Freddie into their current predicaments. Reading or listening to him, you’d never know this was the Fed chairman who kept interest rates too low for too long, who denied that there was a housing bubble until it burst and who refused to use the powers given to the Fed by Congress to prevent abusive practices by mortgage lenders and brokers… Nor would you have an inkling that this was the same regulator who didn’t notice that the banks under his supervision were moving hundreds of billions of dollars of assets into off-balance sheet vehicles for the sole purpose of evading regulatory capital requirements and keeping them hidden from investors.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2015

Come With Us If You Want to Live

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Problem of Pain Management

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Game On

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love Crimes

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Body Politic·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘He wrote all these love poems, but he was a son of a bitch,’ said a reporter from a wire service.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
Love Crimes·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If a man rapes a woman, she might be forced to marry him, because in Afghanistan sex before marriage is dishonorable.”
Photographs © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Agence VU
Article
Game On·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Come With Us If You Want to Live·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I was startled that all these negative ideologies could be condensed so easily into a positive worldview.”
Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:

36,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today