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View Diary: Open Source Research Project: Alan Greenspan (284 comments)

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  •  To clarify (3.50)
    There are many economists who consider Greenspan to be more lucky than good. His greatest achievement was jacking up the interest rate at the beginning of his term so high that is saved the value of the dollar from speculators. That in turn caused a lot of hardships for average Americans, but in retrospect it was the right thing to do.

    Since then he has managed to keep the economy on a relativly even keel. But now he has sold out the GOP over taxes. His views on SS aren't the scandal, his lack of objections over GW's tax cuts are. He has all but abdicated his moral authority by watching the debt sky rocket and say nothing.

    But he's at the end of the road. He testified on SS already and no one cared. He's getting no real press and isn't a factor is the overall spin of the issue.

    Devoting a large effort to dig up every bad thing he has ever done in a 20 year tenure is going to give him more attention than he currently deserve or could generate on his own.

    St. Alan is near the end of the road. Unless he starts getting major press over his views, which he isn't, this kind of smear campaign will become more of a story than his views themselves.

    •  And (none)
      it would take a long time to tear down Greenspan in the eyes of Main St America.  The average person understands very little about the role of the Fed or monetary policy.  But, Greenspan is laregely believed to be a fiscal genius by most "regular folks".

      If he is really getting little coverage, a smear campaign will generate very little good publicity for our side.  It will draw attention to his support of Bush (although his major caveats are always ignored by Bush Co.).  That cannot help us.

      We are better to let him quietly fade away (his term is up in a couple of years I think).  The Repulsicans are flailing in the wind on SS right now anyway.  Why throw them a bone by bringing up the support of a percieved genius?

      •  its not so risky (4.00)
        once you read Greenspans contradictory statements from the past 8 years.  They are totally embarrasing and telling; very easy to see the contradictions.

        Scroll down, some of them are already posted here.

        my $.02 for you.

        •  If contradictory statements mattered (none)
          Kerry would be President today.  Still too much economics and Greenspan-speak for people to figure out.
          •  You mean the press (4.00)
            Too much economics and Greenspan-speak for the press to figure out.

            The reason Greenspan is held in such high regard is because he is NEVER criticized in the press.

            And Democrats are always too timid to criticize anybody who isn't criticized by the press.

            Those times are gone.  We now have Howard Dean and Harry Reid running the show.  There's a new Sheriff in town.  Actually, two new Sheriffs.

          •  Half the country (none)
            Voted for Kerry.  Or at least half of reg voters.  And voter turn out was super high.  So there was definately progress made.  I think your statement is too cynical.
          •  and maybe (none)
            We'll get a better understanding, the people will get a better understanding of economics through this.  Fear is the worst enemy.  I love when we have to tackle traditionally complex subject matter - it helps everyone - the masses - understand better.  And that is a good thing.
        •  Contradictions from '99 (4.00)
          I posted this in an earlier thread, but I think it bears repeating here as well.

          I bet people can dig up more articles along these lines from '99, too.

          Financial Times (London,England) March 4, 1999, Thursday LONDON EDITION 3 SECTION: THE AMERICAS; Pg. 06

          LENGTH: 515 words

          HEADLINE: Greenspan sees little gain from Social Security plan

          BYLINE: By Gerard Baker in Washington

          DATELINE: Washington

          Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, clashed again with senior officials of the Clinton administration yesterday when he intensified his one-man campaign against their plan to invest a portion of public pension funds in the stock market.

          Mr Greenspan said shifting part of the accumulated surplus of Social Security, the state pension scheme, into equities from the Treasury bonds it now holds exclusively would not produce the big financial gains claimed for it.

          Nor would it raise the overall returns on the economy's assets needed to meet the long-term goal of raising pension incomes.

          "Investing Social Security assets in equities is. .. largely a zero-sum game," he told the House of Representatives' ways and means committee.

          The Fed chairman's remarks went further than his previous expressions of scepticism about the plan, which had been based largely on his concern that the new funds would be subject to too much political interference. Yesterday he challenged the economic assumptions of higher returns on which the proposal was based.

          But testifying before the same committee later, Lawrence Summers, deputy Treasury secretary, defended the plan, arguing it would increase returns.

          "Between 1959 and 1996 the average annual rate of return earned on stocks was 3.84 per cent higher than the rate earned on bonds held by the trust funds," he said. "We believe that it is important to give all Americans, even those of low and modest means, the opportunity to enjoy these potential benefits from stock market performance."

          However, Mr Greenspan argued the likely gains had been generally overstated. The process of shifting $ 600bn (£375bn) of public money away from bonds towards equities would in itself lower the price of bonds and raise the price of equities, reducing the return they produced.

          "If this is indeed the case, then the net increment to the government of investing the trust fund in equities on an ongoing basis presumably would be less than the historical rates of return suggest," Mr Greenspan said.

          Mr Greenspan said that since the measure would have no overall effect on national savings, any increases in the returns to be had from equities would be offset by lower returns for the rest of the economy.

          "The underlying economic assets in the economy would be unchanged, as would the total income generated by those assets. Any increase in returns realised by Social Security must be offset by a reduction in returns earned on private portfolios, which represent, to a large extent, funds held for retirement."

          Mr Summers dismissed Mr Greenspan's earlier claims that the proposal would lead to politicised decision-making about equity investments, reducing still further the likely rate of return. He said the experience of state and local governments did not support that argument.

          The Fed chairman restated his support for the broad thrust of President Bill Clinton's plans, which Congress is considering, to use most of the projected surpluses (invested in Treasury bonds) to shore up Social Security.

          LOAD-DATE: March 04, 1999

    •  Media (none)
      Devoting a large effort to dig up every bad thing he has ever done in a 20 year tenure is going to give him more attention than he currently deserve or could generate on his own.

      No way. Now, with a nobody like Jeff Gannon, there's no question that the blogosphere gave him more attention than he ever could have generated on his own.

      But we're talking about Alan Greenspan here. He gets scads of media attention no matter what. (Hell, CNBC even used to do a "briefcase watch" whenever he'd go to Fed meetings - if he had the briefcase, it meant he was going to raise rates, if he didn't, it meants rates would stay the same. Or something like that.) This guy has had biographies written about him. He's on TV whenever he opens his mouth. There's no way - just no way - that we'll be giving Greenspan any more undeserved media coverage.

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