Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alan Greenspan

A quick word on Alan Greenspan. (I'll try to be real quick.)

As I write this, Mr. Greenspan sits before Congress getting grilled for his role in the current crisis.

It is beyond unfair to lay all this blame at his lap as if making him a scapegoat solves anything. For the past eight years America as a whole has thought it could do anything and not have to pay up. We thought we could do dumb wars with no negative consequences. We thought our housing prices would rise forever. We thought we could print money, print money, print money, and then print more money. We had a certain belief in the never-ending ability of America to do whatever it wanted. This belief was not Mr. Greenspan's alone. It was shared by all of us, from our Secretary of Defense to our President to our Federal Reserve to families who have maxed out their credit cards. We thought we could buy cheap Chinese products forever with no repercussions. We thought we could spend without saving, because our credit cards represented de facto savings accounts. The fact is, the time to pay up for these undisciplined behaviors is here. It is now. We should not hold one man, Alan Greenspan, to the fire. He was, after all, fulfilling his mandate: had he not been willing to cut regulation and print easy money, he would have been replaced. He would have been derided as radical and not with the times. To be sure, there were economists -- like Nouriel Roubini and Brad Setser -- who saw this crisis coming. To be sure, there were many political scientists who saw the stupidiity of the current war, including our president-to-be. And to be sure, there are many men and women throughout this country who have handled the era of easy money with restraint and discipline. They should be applauded, and listened to today. But Mr. Greenspan was a product of his social environment far more than he created that social environment. Let's treat him with respect, and ask him to learn from his mistakes. Like we all have to do.

There, that's my position and I am sticking to it.

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