The Big Ideas of 2008

The Myth Maker

Alan Greenspan's thick weave of lies and deceit may mean the American economy never recovers.

There's a myth growing around Alan Greenspan. Just a year after he stepped down as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, he's now seen as some kind of financial wizard, economic genius and gifted virtuoso, who delighted in pure mathematics and jazz when he was young. Developing almost into folklore, it's said he learned some Promethean magic from the rational self-interest in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and then became the great macroeconomist who engineered the longest period of growth in American history.

For years, whenever he lowered the interest rates, the world gasped "ohhhh," and whenever he injected more liquidity into the markets, we all sighed "ahhhh." But it was all a bunch of bullshit. In reality, he was a man so blinded by the neoclassical money games that he couldn't see the forest through the trees. Despite a flurry of warnings over many decades, he never saw the ecological crisis coming – a changing climate, vanishing salmon runs, beetle infestations and fish disappearing from the seas. All these calamities were mere "externalities" to him – not a part of his world.

He could have been the man who shook up the world of economics. He could have started including ecological measurements into his fiscal calculations, put America's national accounts in order and redefined what economic progress means. But he didn't, and in that sense he is a grand failure, just another money man and bean counter who did not seize the moment. History will not be kind to him.

72 comments on the article “The Myth Maker”

Displaying 51 - 60 of 72

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Sam S.

Are you kidding me?

In normal dialogue, things will go along and you can pretty much say what you want unless you call the person a liar. Then it all breaks down. Here, you've naively thrown around pithy epithets and called the man's 19 years of public service a sham.

Also, just on a formatting note, you would expect the cover page feature would be more than a three-paragraph diagnosis of the state of American fiscal policy.

Ralph Mondi

I think it might be a little unfair to hang out Mr Greenspan as someone who could have changed the course of American and British capitalism. My view is that the reason he stayed in his job for the amount of time he did was purely due to the fact that he performed 'his duties' as prescribed by the big bankers of this world. Should he have gone against their ideas he would literally have been very short lived, indeed. There are many examples of what happens to men and women who dare to follow their own paths. But because men it seems cannot help at helping himself to riches and power at any price except his own life whenever such opportunity arises, I believe we have to look at the social structure as a whole and make changes in the constitutions of the different countries in an attempt to prevent big money and administrative power to go together. However, a glance at the middle class minded politicians and CEOs of our barbaric age does not offer any hopes that this would ever be a option for the decision-makers. It seems only an imminent huge natural disaster could cause a radical change in our thinking and behaviour.

Doctor Pii

This ARTICLE should have been a comment.

We could delve into the fact the Federal Reserve was created by rich powerful bankers to basically own the world, totally held by private interests, not our own government, but lets not. You wouldn't want to hear it, too afraid of what that might mean.


Uhh... is there more to this article? This is the first time I've been to this site, and based on this unsupported and subjective dribble, I'm questioning whether I should read anything here any further... maybe the rest of the article is in the mag?


I agree with most of the above thoughts. If you're writing such an article about a man who served his country as a public officer for many years, you need to put down something more than a 'saying'. You need to put evidince supporting your article.


This article is very bad, does not bring any evidence, and is the proof of what the progressists must not do otherwise they will never be taken seriously.


Well said people! Just make the connection to the True Cost Economics campaign and you'll realize that Lasn's comments are more relevant and timely than ever!

mike b.

well said kalle, the capitalist sycophants who are critical of your words are too busy choking on their WSJ puff pieces to engage in serious analysis, absolutely clueless as far as critical thinking goes. They want evidence of your claims? Where were they for the last 19 years?

Jeffrey S

The fact that this article was on the main page discredits the website. Do you want to give us a bad rap? Take that crap down and stick it below my comment.


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