Feature

Business columns: Suddenly, Greenspanwon’t shut up

<span style="font-family: Verdana,Helvetica,Arial;"><span style="font-size: 12px;">I miss the old Alan Greenspan, said Allan Sloan in <em>Fortune</em>. During his legendary 18-year run as Federal Reserv

Allan SloanFortune

I miss the old Alan Greenspan, said Allan Sloan. During his legendary 18-year run as Federal Reserve chairman, Greenspan rarely said anything in public outside his mandatory testimony to Congress. And even those statements were so deliberately opaque, financial writers invented a new term for his obfuscatory jargon—“Fedspeak.” But the cryptic “oracle of the Fed” has morphed into “Greenspan 2.0.” This new Greenspan is “yapping in public and defending his record” as Fed chairman. On the one hand, that’s understandable. As Fed chairman, he was acclaimed as “the best central banker in the history of money,” but now, “amid a worldwide financial meltdown that just won’t go away,” his critics are growing louder and bolder. So Greenspan is talking back, in op-ed columns, speeches, and his best-selling book. But frankly, it’s unbecoming. Greenspan’s “new punchy public persona is overshadowing” his successor, Ben Bernanke—at a time that Bernanke needs all the credibility and influence he can muster. Greenspan has a right to defend himself, but he seems to care more about his own reputation than about the ability of the Fed to do its vital work. We expect better from an oracle.

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