Sunday, April 05, 2009

Taking Down Greenspan

We've referred to him as "Easy Al", following the lead of Ritholtz.

Now Forbes joins in the fray.

...But now, there's a newer Greenspan--a decidedly prickly and whiny one.

I'm talking about Greenspan's recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. A 1,500-word attempt to move blame for the financial crisis away from himself and onto ... China.

It was, writes Greenspan, Chinese growth that led to "an excess" of global savings. That growth kept long-term interest rates low, which fueled the housing bubble. As for himself, the lowly chairperson of the Fed, he says he was helpless. He only had control over short-term rates.

...In his Getting Off Track, a nifty little book, Taylor exposes, as plain as day, the culprit behind the financial boom-bust: Greenspan

In brief, the argument is that Easy Al should have popped the FedFunds rate back up to 5% a LOT earlier than he did--say around 2004, instead of 2006--and that the increase should have begun in 2001, rather than 2004.

Well, maybe.

Others argue that Greenspan was printing money like a madman--increasing M3 by 17%++ since 2002. We'll never really know that, because Greenspan also made M3 a secret at about that time.

What is certain is this: printing even MORE dollars and bonding even MORE debt will be deleterious, if not catastrophic, for the US.

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