Skip to comments.Alan Greenspan: Where the Economy Went Wrong, Where He Went Wrong—and Ayn Rand.
Posted on 10/20/2013 3:38:49 AM PDT by lbryce
Complete Title:Alan Greenspan: What Went Wrong The Former Fed chairman on Where the Economy Went Wrong, Where He Went wrongand Ayn Rand.
Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, goes to a lot of parties. He and his wife, the TV journalist Andrea Mitchell, "sort of get invited everywhere," he says, sitting in front of the long bay window in his office on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C. Lately, though, cocktails and dinners seem to have guest lists drawn almost exclusively from one political party or the other. "It used to be a ritualistic 50-50 at partiesthe doyennes of culture and partying were very strict about bipartisanship," he adds. "That doesn't exist anymore."
In his new book "The Map and the Territory," to be released on Tuesday, Mr. Greenspan, 87, goes on a hunt for what has gone wrong in American politics and in the U.S. economy.
He doesn't blame the current administration for today's partisan divide. The culprit? "It's the benefits," he says, pointing to the disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over how to deal with the growth of entitlements. In the book, he also ponders why the Fed failed to predict the financial crisis, where he himself went wrong and how that discovery has completely changed his worldview.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
When things are riding high and everything is going far beyond your wildest dreams, it is not part of human nature to question the good fortune, boom times, all that seemed to be going right because, we all, particularly Mr. Greenspan, believed it was all part of the economic cornucopia that was the American dream.
Reading through the article I got the impression that Greenspan really didn't know what he was doing, that he simply happened along at the most lucrative period in American history that would remained essentially the case no matter what decisions he made. The worst, most tragic mistake was that he believed he knew what he was doing and took the accolades, credit for it all, until it ended, circumstances which made him all the more confused and baffled, and along with it unanimity in which he was discredited, blamed for what happened.
Now, he's back trying very hard to concoct the unseen economic mechanisms that were lurking in the darkness in desperation to restore of his vainglorious ego in the hope he can exonerate himself. But, my sense is that he doesn't come across very convincing.
I've been in FreeRepublic for a few years, and in all that time I've read perhaps hundreds of 'after the fact' "reports" of what;
went wrong, went right, could have been, should have been
etc. .... you get the picture.
....and it is always ... after the fact.
The men that initiated the momentum that birthed the United states were sober and wise and really DID have a good idea ... and they really believed men would follow them and produce the greatest land on the planet.
We've apparently devolved from wisdom to mediocrity to cartoon because people supposedly wise ... are not ... supposedly capable ... are not ... supposedly mature ... are not.
Sadly ... men that were supposed to be religious ... are not and THAT is the root of our downfall.
We no longer believe in God (as a nation), for if we did, we would HAVE the spirit of discernment and KNOW whom to elect and whom to eject.
I believe we'd also have the righteousness of God in our hearts as we warred against the enemies of America.
As it is ... we do nothing ... we are dead and don't know it ... or we DO know it ... and don't care.
God have mercy and help us our unbelief.
Greenspan acts as though he himself discovered the role of human nature in economics. This is the arrogance of most economists who consider their discipline a ‘science’. Human systems cannot be forecast with any precision solely by mathematics. It’s like a meteorologist who never looks out of the window.
He seems to have learned little from his friendship with Rand. I never bought into her Objectivist philosophy, but her insights into and portrayal of the grubbing nature of moochers and politicians is dead on and timeless.
...sorry for typo...conscience...
The article associated with the link has been removed.
I got the same impression. All those models they used don't work. And Ayn Rand philosophy of the irrational side of human behavior all of a sudden seems full of wisdom and was right after all. He's shock he could have been so wrong! I wondered if he see the mistake he made in marrying Andrea Mitchell.
Ayn Rand used to call Alan Greenspan “The Undertaker”. That was when he was in his twenties.
Usually you can judge a man by whom he marries.
Yeah .. I noticed ... don’t know where the dupe is.
Sorry, thread has been pulled - can’t see what you wanted to show me.
Young Andrea Mitchell “latched” onto old man Greenspan knowing that by doing so, she was elevating herself socially and politically from an OK journalist to the “wife of the Chairman”. Nuff said...
Can you expand on that theory, at least in terms of Greenspan and what can be said about other scenarios? What about a woman, how can she be judged?
I recall widespread concern and near-panic in many circles regarding the very obvious distortion and misallocation of the housing sector from 2003 - 2007, begging him to back off the rate stimulus before the bubble inflated to dangerous proportions. This he did not do until derivatives started to unravel due to “unanticipated” defaults and he over-corrected even at that, making a bad situation with largely speculative, interest-only ARM loans even more dire.
I recall thinking at the time that the old fool really never got over Ayn Rand as most students enamored of her writing do after entering adulthood, and that he was intentionally doing this in a mistaken attempt at crashing the insufficiently libertarian old economic order.
I recall hearing Bernanke prattling on about inequitable distribution of incomes during his confirmation hearings, and knew then that the socialist eggheads had seized the reins.
Greenspan was and is a fool, but a lucky one. Well, with one exception. Angrea Mitchell. Being married to that sour harridan has to be pure living hell.
Had he adhered to the precepts of the Randian school of thought, which he embraced as a young man, we mightn't be in the fix we're in.
He could see her face and hear her voice - it should have been obvious.
It is called the Peter principle.
In our youth, many swear by Objectivism but what changes as we age? Why have so many leaders been impressed by Rand but always fail to apply her philosophies? Why is she so revered by college kids but then dropped by so many aging adults?
“...critics have said the increased money supply and low interest rates during his tenure at the Fed from 1987 to 2006 led to bubble investments.”
Take it from someone that was on the front lines of the housing bubble...increased money supply and low interest rates were the EXACT reason the bubble expanded and exploded (well, if you don’t include greed).
Most people are not going to purchase a home with 100% financing (or even more), and feel any remorse at walking away from the home/loan if things go sour.
Teaser rates, subprime mortgages and other lending chicanery proved to be too much for the low-economic-info homebuyers, and they were swept up into the massive clarion call of “everyone has a right to own a house”. Anyone that could fog a mirror, was told where to sign and Voila!...they were homeowners.
When the realty sunk in, and the newly anointed homeowner was faced with making a house payment or buying that widescreen TV...guess which one lost?
Greenspan babysat and watched that situation unfold...for years...and did nothing about it.
I think Alan Greenspan is lying and trying to cover up (yes, AFTER the fact).
He is far too intelligent NOT to know that a major crash was coming.
And, just who are YOU to question him?
This is why I prefer to get forecasts from John Williams at shadow stats: http://www.shadowstats.com/.
And, I continue to buy gold and silver despite what government pundits say about them being “junk.” Looking at how this government has shaped up, I continue to follow the anti-government advisers who suggest investing in precious metals, iron and war industries (makers of ammunition and guns for war and personal use) and anything else that hedges against the constant debasement of the currency. Gold has doubled in price since obama came to office.
I’d like to see Greenspan’s portfolio and investment profile — think he’s got a some precious metals in there somewhere?
Greenspan did worse than nothing. He inexorably undermined the dollar causing people to convert their dollars into bubble investments. He did that in the name of "stimulating" the economy, but all he did was fuel various unsustainable consumption binges and commodity bubbles.
Bernanke is doing the same and essentially preventing and dissuading people from committing dollars to long term investments. Even worse Bernanke is printing money to buy treasuries which only enables the politicians to continue their consumption binge which is arguably even less sustainable than Greenspan's consumer-led binges.
The case of consumers consuming houses was made possible by ridiculously low rates that failed to account for the lack of creditworthiness that those consumers had. There were diminishing job prospects except within the real estate bubble and related industries, there was the inflated prices themselves leading to a diminishing supply of greater fools, and there was imminent inflation which is only being staved off by normal post-bubble deflation.
In the case of politicians consuming America's capital and resources, there is no conceivable way that we can pay back our debt either by raising taxes or reducing spending. The interest rates that the US pays are currently a small fraction of the rate we should pay based on our country's prospects (sliding into socialism), based on the undermining of the dollar, and the end of the supply of greater fools (e.g. Japanese) for our debt.
Over the long run it's the undermining of the dollar by both Greenspan and Bernanke that does the most damage. It prevents and dissuades people from making long term beneficial investments in favor of short term speculation in various bubbles.
Libertarian and Objectivist worldviews have a fatal flaw, and that is Pride. Pride and confidence are exalted as virtues in those systems when they are actually hubris and folly.
We are finite and fully understand nothing, and are continually surprised and dismayed. That is why we should conform our decisions to God's directives and principles, even when it is not convenient. We do not have, nor will we ever have, all the data points.
Wisdom comes from God; not from Harvard , Columbia, or Alan Greenspan.
As the maxim says, “All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
This friend had a masters in accounting and had been a successful CFO for a couple of major corporations and several smaller ones. I had a fairy good MBA. We often served together on boards and financial advisory groups for local non profits.
In spite of his excellent back ground and my fairly good economic background, we never understood what he said. It got worse when the other power wonks in the various Feds tried to interpret his comments.
We labeled his comments as Pure GreenSpam! Which no one understood.
The realization that she was a wonderful critic and observer, but didn't have any ideas as to how to displace regulatory government.
Graphene may replace a major fraction of the industrial demand for silver, possibly copper too.
Instead of pondering “what went wrong”, we should be pondering what’s about to go wrong. We are at near depression level unemployment (if you count the people who are working age and able but unemployed), yet the stock market is a record highs.
This is probably not an indication of a healthy economy.
His adoption of rational economic determinism is straight from Karl Marx.
His "success" was because, unlike today's partisans, he did try to please both Democrats and Republicans, thus keeping the balls in the air.
This quote reveals far more than it seems to:
"It used to be a ritualistic 50-50 at parties the doyennes of culture and partying were very strict about bipartisanship," he adds. "That doesn't exist anymore."
Well said. Total ignoring by both parties plus the Tax party. Democrats main aims are abortion and gas marriage, the GOP pushes for free trade and those on Cruz control dwell on Obamacare. Our problem is our own people yet we dabble in costly wars and nation building while exporting our jobs and factory economy to the world and look for ways to cut more from American citizens.
This is probably not an indication of a healthy economy.
I agree, and nor should it be, the very least deviation from their comfort zone and they, collectively, will react like chickens when a Fox has entered their coup.
“And, I continue to buy gold and silver despite what government pundits say about them being junk. Looking at how this government has shaped up, I continue to follow the anti-government advisers who suggest investing in precious metals, iron and war industries (makers of ammunition and guns for war and personal use) and anything else that hedges against the constant debasement of the currency. Gold has doubled in price since obama came to office.”
Contrarian buying is very often the right move.
Unlike stocks, nothing fundamentally changes with gold (or similar commodities). When the price dips, that’s a buying opportunity. The suckers are the ones who “buy high, sell low”.
Gold is poised to make a heck of a comeback, IMO.
“Libertarian and Objectivist worldviews have a fatal flaw, and that is Pride. Pride and confidence are exalted as virtues in those systems when they are actually hubris and folly.
We are finite and fully understand nothing, and are continually surprised and dismayed. That is why we should conform our decisions to God’s directives and principles, even when it is not convenient. We do not have, nor will we ever have, all the data points.”
With all due respect, what is God’s prescription for an optimal economy?
The principle of free and open markets is fully in line with self determination, free will and other core Christian values. Surely far more so than socialism and central control of the economy...
Greenspan has a Platonic epistemology, he divides theory from reality.
“politics is broke.”
He doesn’t seem to understand that there are two diametrically opposed world views in politics today - those wanting a restoration of our constitutional republic, and those wanting a full-blown socialist state. We will either have a civil war, or one side will give up.
Zero blame on the Banks and their Real-Estate assessor toadies.
Greenie is showing himself to be yet another bank-crack licker.
Now I don’t blame it entirely on the banks - the benefits and the easy money have alot to do with it also.
You don’t have to work so hard if you have tons of bennies.
And why save to buy something in the future when easy money policies allow you to borrow and get what you want today?
There’s more than enough blame to go around.
But no doubt Congress, who has a RESPONSIBILITY to “coin money and regulate the value thereof”, has miserably failed, almost to a treasonous level!
Exactly. When looking at the models and making decisions, he should have been asking himself, “If this is the model, how can people take unfair advantage of it? How much damage can they do? How can we avoid it?”
He said in the article that fear about the economy has more influence upon it than euphoria. That makes sense. Fearful people either horde their wealth as if their lives depended on it or spend it as if there were no tomorrow. Euphoric people invest and spend and may even keep a reserve.
An earlier poster suggested that when a person is in a role or position for a long time, the person and the role become one thing: they are an institution unto themselves. That makes sense to me, too. If the captains and pundits turned to Greenspan and saw he was not shaking, they drew their confidence about the future of the economy from himwhether it was warranted or not. But the upside is that it can work for awhile.
It’s funny, too. Greenspan gives full credit to Rand that you cannot rely on models that do not account for genuine human behaviorespecially irrational behavior. People don’t have economic models and forecasts in their hands when making a decision about their own money. Economics is hardly a concern when they make the tiny decisions that, when taken as a sum, become big decisions that producers and consumers make about the future of the economy.
Too late, he understood that easy credit makes for easy spending. And in a society where the information bar of the average citizen becomes progressively lower and lower, the one big thing they understand is that money is being extended to them, so why save? Spend it! And so we have debt and liabilities for decades into the future measured in the trillions.
Rush talks about it often. He recently said that in many ways, people never mature beyond high school and that most people reach a point in their lives where they settle and the social fabric begins to mirror one that you might find in high school. That is, the problem is that people simply want to be liked and often compromise themselves in the hopes of being liked and being part of the club.
If you’re the decision-maker and an enterprise hinges by your decision and it alone, logical and rational choices are tough decisions, but easier to make than if you’re part of a decision-making process that requires input from a group. Now the illogical and irrational enters into the equation and you have to either persuade people to your way of thinking with logic and arguments (tougher still) or compromise the decision-making so that everyone remains “friends”, gets along, and the blame and rewards are shared.
Too, when you’re young, you’re usually not given the opportunity to make independent decisions. Or the ones you can make only affect yourself. Easier to be an Bbjectivist then. Then you start making a wider circle of friends, co-workers, family. Very, very tough to be an Objectivist (especially a declared one) when everyone else has their own ideas and ways about doing things. And then the peer pressure hits and you’re in high school again...
“You wanna be one of the cool kids, doncha?”
He certainly didn't. Rand based her economic philosophy on Ludwig Von Mises's Austrian School. Greenspan acts as if he's never heard of it -- and probably hasn't.
It's amazing to me just how incurious some people are. Yet they gain tremendous power and wealth.
“I never bought into her Objectivist philosophy, but her insights into and portrayal of the grubbing nature of moochers and politicians is dead on and timeless.”
Same here. Randists are annoying little dogmatists, who never bother to question a premise, so long as it’s Rand’s. In the middle of Fountainhead, I just put the book down and never looked at it again, though I did endure Atlas Shrugged and Anthem (ok. We, The Living was pretty good). But did she ever sock it to the pomos, psuedo-intellectuals and power-mongers!
God's quiet, persistent voice in our ears. Once a person is finally all alone in the dark with nothing but objectivism to hold on to they usually realize something big and important is missing from their lives.
Alan Greenspan destroys America by urging more home owners take out adjustable rate mortgages...and then hiking those rates by 4.5% in the next 6 months. Thanks Alan!
He’s right. The entitlements and benefits are the main cause of the outrageous pile of debt, and prostitutes who’ve sold themselves portions of it won’t like that kind of statement from any man.
Hes right. The entitlements and benefits are the main cause of the outrageous pile of debt, and prostitutes whove sold themselves for portions of it wont like that kind of statement from any man.
[I forgot the word, for. It’s a necessary word.]