Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan
  • Born: March 6, 1926
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Economist









Alan Greenspan is an American economist who served as Chair of the Federal Reserve of the United States from 1987 to 2006. He currently works as a private adviser and provides consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC. First appointed Federal Reserve chairman by President Ronald Reagan in August 1987, he was reappointed at successive four-year intervals until retiring on January 31, 2006, after the second-longest tenure in the position (behind William McChesney Martin).

Quote Topics Cited
A decline in the national housing price level would need to be substantial to trigger a significant rise in foreclosures. Housing
All market response results from a reduction of uncertainty. Business, Commerce & Finance
All taxes have a negative effect on economic activity. Taxes
Clearly, sustained low inflation implies less uncertainty about the future, and lower risk premiums imply higher prices of stocks and other earning assets. We can see that in the inverse relationship exhibited by price/earnings ratios and the rate of inflation in the past. But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions … Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs ;Social Sciences
Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth Budgets & Budgeting
Everybody trades off in some sense or another. Policy & Policy Making
Financial firms believed that if a crisis developed, the insatiable demand for exotic [financial] products would dissipate only slowly. They were mistaken. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Forecasting will always be somewhat of a coin toss. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Globalization has very materially improved the standard of living in the Unitied States... as it has for those countries that have chosen to operate with free trade…. Although none of us likes our competitors, competition has greatly improved our standard of living. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
Globalization is very difficult to understand and almost impossible to regulate. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
History counsels caution. History
History tells us that sharp reversals in confidence occur abruptly. Public Opinion & Polling
I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil …. Whatever their publicized angst over Saddam Hussein's 'weapons of mass destruction,' American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in an area that harbors a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
I can’t be in charge of people’s perceptions. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
I had made a mistake in presuming that the self interests of the organizations of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms. Regulation & Deregulation
I have always opposed subsidies to private corporations. Budgets & Budgeting
I have fervently been on both sides of that question at different times. Miscellaneous
I set out to understand how we got it so wrong and what can we learn from the fact that we did. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
I spend a substantial amount of my time endeavoring to fend off questions, and worry terribly that I might end up being too clear. Media, Journalism & The Press
I used to think that capitalism was human nature, but it isn’t at all. It’s culture. The same is true of democracy/ Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs ;Capitalism
I would be very distressed if we were to try to shut our doors to immigration in this country. I frankly don't envisage that happening, but I understand that there's always that tendency on the part of people who are here who, having come here four generations earlier, want to shut the door. And I don't think that's a good idea. Immigration & Emigration
I would engage in a sort of syntax destruction that would sound like I was answering the question but actually was not. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
If we enact laws that will produce very large budget deficits and we are not able to rein them in, it will do grave damage and destabilize the economy. Budgets & Budgeting
If you move up the timetable of when we disclose the transcript of our Open Market Committee, … you will affect what is said and the way that it is said. Secrecy & Transparency
In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. ... … Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. Money, Coins & Minting
Irrational exuberance Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
It is extremely difficult to rescind entitlements to which people think they are legally entitled. Taxes can easily go up and down. There isn’t the same political pressure. Policy & Policy Making ;Elderly, Aging. Old Age, Social Security & Pensions
It is important that any long term tax reduction or spending initiative be phased in. Management & Managing Government
It is the culture at the Fed [Federal Reserve Board] to seek consensus as distinct from merely recording one's vote.... Unless the chairman has everyone behind him, he can't go very far. Regulation & Deregulation
It turns out that we were all wrong Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
It was a remarkably reasonable compromise. It pleased nobody, but everybody signed on. Negotiating & Negotiations
It’s like eating peanuts. You just keep doing it and keep liking it. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
I've learned to mumble with great incoherence. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Particularly important in buoying spending are the very low levels of mortgage interest rates, which encourage households to purchase homes, refinance debt and lower debt service burdens, and extract equity from homes to finance expenditures. Fixed mortgage rates remain at historically low levels and thus should continue to fuel reasonably strong housing demand and, through equity extraction, to support consumer spending as well. Housing
Savings is the fundamental input for capital investment, and capital investment is the primary ingredient in productivity. Business, Commerce & Finance
Since I’ve become a central banker, I’ve learned to mumble with great incoherence. If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Social spending is going up at a tremendous rate. The irony is that it went up even faster during the “prudent” years of Republican administration more so than it did under the “spendthrift” Democratic administrations…. Political Parties & Machines
The debt ceiling serves no useful purpose. Budgets & Budgeting
The history of interest rates is really the history of inflation. When inflation is high, interest rates are high, and when inflation is low, interest rates are low. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The level of real income is not what determines whether they are happy or not. It’s their relative place in the pecking order. Human Nature
The one thing about markets is that they do not give any advance notice. If they did, they would be arbitraged away. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The only area in our society in which I favor more regulation is controlling fraud. Fraud harms markets and more important, fraud harms families. Regulation & Deregulation
The payment of Social Security benefits under law have little or nothing to do with the fiscal resources available. Budgets & Budgeting ;Elderly, Aging. Old Age, Social Security & Pensions
The real strength of the American economy is its extreme flexibility. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
The Republicans have lost their way. Principle has been swapped for power, and they have gotten neither. They deserve to have lost. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The size of government is not altogether that large in this country. Management & Managing Government
There is a fundamental trade off between a sense of security and a standard of living…. The Congress is the only institution that we have that reflects the value tradeoffs of the American people. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
There is double entry bookkeeping in this world, and we have to hear how programs are to be paid for.
There is no other agency of government that can overrule the actions that we take. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief Corruption
To pass a big idea in this town. You almost need social unrest Public Opinion & Polling
Value preferences of people change. Propaganda & Disinformation
Very low probability events occur very rarely, but sometimes they do happen. Management & Managing Government
We are one government. The Federal Reserve is not the foreign enemy. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
We implicitly or explicitly ration health care no matter what we do. Health, Healthcare & Medicine
We purchase goods from abroad because they are obviously better or cheaper than the goods we have at home …. It’s basically a choice of the American people of what we want to do with our purchasing power. Economics, The Economy & Fiscal Affairs
Were we to find ourselves in a world in which there was a very significant amount of dollarization, … it would be in the political interests of certain parties in other countries whose policies were less than perfect …, to blame us as the root of their problem. Money, Coins & Minting
You probably will always believe there should be a law against [financial market] fraud, and I don’t think there is any need for a law against fraud. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions. They seem to sense... that gold and economic freedom are inseparable. Freedom & Liberty
Any informed borrower is simply less vulnerable to fraud and abuse. Business, Commerce & Finance
Anything that we can do to raise personal savings is very much in the interest of this country.
At the outset of the creation of the euro in 1999, it was expected that the southern eurozone economies would behave like those in the north; the Italians would behave like Germans. They didn't. Instead, northern Europe fell into subsidizing southern Europe's excess consumption, that is, its current account deficits.
Before I met Ayn Rand, I was a logical positivist, and accordingly, I didn't believe in absolutes, moral or otherwise. If I couldn't prove a proposition with facts and figures, it was without merit.
Chinese productivity is the highest in the world but the way they do it is by borrowing the technology from abroad, either by joint ventures or other means. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is keep it to a minimum. No one has ever eliminated any of that stuff. Nature
Crony capitalism is essentially a condition in which... public officials are giving favours to people in the private sector in payment of political favours.
Diplomacy is really far less important than the stock movements within Russia.
Europe is very critical to the United States in the sense not only do we have a fourth of our exports there, but more importantly, a significant proportion of the foreign affiliate profits in fact, half of U.S. corporations, are in Europe.
Every economy exists, no matter what the level of democracy, has elements of crony capitalism. It's - given human nature and given the democratic structures, which we all, I assume, adhere to, that is an inevitable consequence. Nature
Fear and euphoria are dominant forces, and fear is many multiples the size of euphoria. Bubbles go up very slowly as euphoria builds. Then fear hits, and it comes down very sharply. When I started to look at that, I was sort of intellectually shocked. Contagion is the critical phenomenon which causes the thing to fall apart.
Fear invariably and universally induces disengagement, and disengagement is negative division of labor.
Fear is a far more dominant force in human behaviour than euphoria - I would never have expected that or given it a moment's thought before, but it shows up in the data in so many ways.
Finance is wholly different from the rest the economy. Business, Commerce & Finance
Forecasting our futures is built into our psyches because we will soon have to manage that future. We have no choice. No matter how often we fail, we can never stop trying. Future
History has not dealt kindly with the aftermath of protracted periods of low risk premiums. History
I always believed in animal spirits. It's not their existence that is new. It's the fact that they are not random events, but actually replicate in-bred qualities of human nature which create those animal spirits. Nature
I do not understand where the backing of Bitcoin is coming from. There is no fundamental issue of capabilities of repaying it in anything which is universally acceptable, which is either intrinsic value of the currency or the credit or trust of the individual who is issuing the money, whether it's a government or an individual. Trust ;Government ;Money, Coins & Minting
I don't know where the stock market is going, but I will say this, that if it continues higher, this will do more to stimulate the economy than anything we've been talking about today or anything anybody else was talking about.
I get so engaged when I have a problem you cannot solve that I just cannot break away from what I am doing - I keep thinking and thinking and cannot stop.
I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said.
I have found no greater satisfaction than achieving success through honest dealing and strict adherence to the view that, for you to gain, those you deal with should gain as well. Success
I stated that I'm a libertarian Republican, which means I believe in a series of issues, such as smaller government, constraint on budget deficits, free markets, globalization, and a whole series of other things, including welfare reform. Government
I think the whole issue of a debt ceiling makes no sense to me whatsoever. Anybody who is remotely adroit at arithmetic doesn't need a debt ceiling to tell you where you are.
I was a fairly good amateur musician, and I was an average professional. But the one thing I saw was that the big band business was fading. Business, Commerce & Finance
I was a fairly good amateur musician, and I was an average professional. But the one thing I saw was that the big band business was fading. So I made an economic decision, and it turned out the best judgment I ever made in my life. Life ;Business, Commerce & Finance
I was a good amateur but only an average professional. I soon realized that there was a limit to how far I could rise in the music business, so I left the band and enrolled at New York University. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Business, Commerce & Finance
I was sort of shocked when it all of a sudden turned out that I got all A's through college, with the exception of two B's in the first term. I never envisaged myself as summa cum laude.
I wasn't able to do much reading when I was chairman of the Reserve Board. The workload was too large, and the luxury of reading was not available to me. So I caught up a good deal when I left office.
If I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said.
If somebody had said to me in June or July of 1987, 'We'd like you to become chairman of the Federal Reserve, but you're never allowed to discuss any economics after you leave,' I'd have said, 'Forget it.' What do they want me to do? Become an anthropologist?'
I'm a free-market economist from years and years back, and I've never veered from that.
I'm not denying that monopolies are terrible things, but I am denying that it is readily easy to resolve them through legislation of that nature. Nature
In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. Business, Commerce & Finance
Increased jobs are the consequence of increased trade. Increasing jobs more than output implies a fall in productivity and standards of living. That surely cannot be our goal.
It is very difficult to predict when a bond crisis could happen.
It's hard to tell which assets will be toxic. The best way to ensure that only shareholders and banks feel it is have adequate capital.
It's only when the markets are perceived to have exhausted themselves on the downside that they turn. Trying to prevent them from going down just merely prolongs the agony.
I've always considered myself more of a mathematician than a psychologist.
I've been around long enough to know that a good deal of the praise heaped on me I had nothing to do with. The only thing I did object to was the fact that where the criticism was actually wrong. Did it bother me? Of course it bothered me. But I've been around long enough to have ups and downs. So you get over it.
I've been in and out of Wall Street since 1949, and I've never seen the type of animosity between government and Wall Street. And I'm not sure where it comes from, but I suspect it's got to do with a general schism in this society which is really becoming ever more destructive. Society ;Government
Look, I'm very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money. And the problem that we've gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day that proves disastrous. And my view is I don't think we can play subtle policy here. Money, Coins & Minting
Manufacturing capacity is not a rigid level against which one bounces. When you are dealing with a world economy, with a flexibility to employ production facilities other than one's own, then the concept of capacity is vaguer.
Markets do very weird things because it reacts to how people behave, and sometimes people are a little screwy.
Most high-income people in our country do not realize that their incomes are being subsidized by their protection from competition from highly skilled people who are prevented from immigrating to the United States. But we need such skills in order to staff our productive economy, so that the standard of living for Americans as a whole can grow.
Much fiscal policy is implemented, not through spending increases, but through tax credits and other so-called tax expenditures. The markets should respond to them as they do spending cuts, with little contraction in economic activity.
One of the major problems with China is that its innovation is largely borrowed technology. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
One of the problems with hedge funds is that they are changing so rapidly. If you have the balance sheet that closed business last night, by 11 A.M. this morning, that won't tell you very much about what they're doing. Morning ;Business, Commerce & Finance
People don't realize that we cannot forecast the future. What we can do is have probabilities of what causes what, but that's as far as we go. And I've had a very successful career as a forecaster, starting in 1948 forward. The number of mistakes I have made are just awesome. There is no number large enough to account for that. Future
Protectionism will do little to create jobs and if foreigners retaliate, we will surely lose jobs.
Putin probably, almost certainly, thinks that one of the great disasters of the 20th century was the demise of the Soviet Union. It's very obvious that he's trying to work its way back and maintain something similar to that sort of institution. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Revolutions are something you see only in retrospect.
Since 1948 I have spent every single day thinking how the economic and political worlds have changed.
The central focus of what we are doing at the Fed is to keep inflation from accelerating - and preferably decelerating.
The culture of Greece is not the same as the culture of Germany, and to fuse them into a single unit is extremely difficult.
The only thing that was economic, I might say, about my music career, aside from the fact that I did everybody's tax returns in the band, was the decision I made to leave the music business on economic grounds. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Business, Commerce & Finance
The only way to have several currencies from divergent nations lumped together is if they are culturally close, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. If they aren't, it simply can't continue to work. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The only way you get economic progress, real standards of living moving higher, is to have the savings of the society continuously invested in the cutting-edge technologies. And those technologies which are obsolescent get dropped out. Society
The person I liked the best was Gerald R. Ford. He was the most decent man in politics I ever had any relationships with. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The problem is you cannot have free global trade with highly restrictive, regulated domestic markets.
The purpose of a politician is to be a leader. A politician has to lead. Otherwise he's just a follower.
The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.
The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default. Money, Coins & Minting
The very nature of finance is that it cannot be profitable unless it is significantly leveraged... and as long as there is debt, there can be failure and contagion. Nature ;Failure ;Business, Commerce & Finance
There are winners and there are losers. And as much as we would like to help the losers, if we do it in the way that directs the limited capital of the society to support the low-productivity parts of the economy, it means that the rest of the economy - our overall standard of living - will not rise as much as it could. Society
There is a huge number of people outside our borders who would love to come here. In fact, many of them come here, get well educated, and then are required to leave... This is a factor in income inequality. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
There is a limit to how much the United States Treasury can borrow.
There's no other job in public life that is like chairman of the Fed. Life
To succeed, you will soon learn, as I did, the importance of a solid foundation in the basics of education - literacy, both verbal and numerical, and communication skills. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Unless you are willing to compromise, society cannot live together. Society
We need, in effect, to make the phantom 'lock-boxes' around the trust fund real. Trust
We really can't forecast all that well, and yet we pretend that we can, but we really can't.
We're a democratic society. Shutting down the government should not be on the agenda. Society ;Government
What a sound money system does is to stabilize all the elements in it, and reduces the uncertainty that people confront. And the one thing all human beings do when they are confronted with uncertainty is pull back, withdraw, disengage, and that means economic activity, which is really dealing with people, just goes straight down. Money, Coins & Minting
What I see in the corporate sector is very clearly an issue of a major shortfall in the issue of, what some people call confidence, but whatever you want to call it. Clearly people are looking out in the very distant future and they are saying that it is too complex. Future
Whatever you tax, you get less of.
When you go back and look at American history, it's not terribly different from Canadian history. If you weren't self-reliant on the prairie, you wouldn't survive. History
You have to really stretch your imagination to infer what the intrinsic value of Bitcoin is. I haven't been able to do it. Maybe somebody else can.

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