Alan Greenspan

Oracle of Wall Street

Alan Greenspan died earlier today at his office at the Fed, apparently of natural causes.

Trading was suspended on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq after the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell more than 97% when rumors of Greenspan's death leaked out.

Most banks closed as well, faced with throngs of frantic people rushing to withdraw their money.

On the commodities market, the price of gold skyrocketed, and the 82nd Airborne Division was dispatched to Fort Knox to prevent looting.

In Washington, the President issued a statement saying that Mr Greenspan's death was a tragic loss for the nation, and he ordered flags on all government facilities to fly at 10% mast until further notice. A source close to the President, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, reports hearing the President mutter under his breath, "Oh, sh*t, now what am I going to do?"

The Vice President was taken to an undisclosed location, and fighter jets were scrambled at air bases across the country.

This reporter has learned that the CIA and FBI were engaged in a top-secret project to cover up Greenspan's eventual death by developing a method to use television and supercomputers to produce a virtual Greenspan that would serve in perpetuity as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Greenspan died before the project could be completed. Earlier tests of the system produced only a virtual Groucho Marx. Several members of the Senate have promised a thorough investigation.
Alan Greenspan

It's just not good for a nation to rely so much on one mortal person. I'm speaking, of course, of Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. The Fed had better be making some serious plans for Greenspan's succession. Born March 6, 1926, he's already 77 years old. In the grand scheme of things, 77 is not that old, but Greenspan's influence on the economy of the United States, and the world, is absolutely enormous, and he's not going to live forever.

Alan Greenspan

This man with the sorrowful, basset-hound face is said by some to be the most powerful person in America, if not the world. Wall Street and the Washington Beltway hang on every word Greenspan says. He was mentioned in nearly one hundred articles in the NY Times in just the first four months of this year. Reporters felt it was significant to report that he would not be under general anesthesia for his prostate surgery, so he could still make decisions during surgery, if necessary. The stock market soars or swoons on his latest news.

Alan Greenspan

When he speaks it is with carefully phrased, exquisitely vague precision. He is a master of understated, oblique language, and of the double-negative. He says things like, "That is not inconsistent with...."

Alan Greenspan

In late April, we witnessed a bizarre courtship dance between President George W. Bush and Greenspan. First, Bush commented that he would be "willing to nominate" Greenspan again. Then, Greenspan issued a statement saying "If President Bush nominates me, and the Senate confirms his choice, I would have every intention of serving." (NY Times, 24-Apr-03, "Greenspan Agrees To Another Term Leading the Fed")

Alan Greenspan

Think how much simpler it could have been if the two had just spoken to each other:

"Hello, Alan? Dubya here. Your term at the Fed is set to expire soon; you interested in servin' another one?"

"That would not be inconsistent with my desire to serve my country."

"That's it then, I'm fixin' to nominate ya."
Alan Greenspan

True, not everyone is enamored of Alan Greenspan. From time to time he manages to arouse the enmity of politicians on both the left and the right. He must be doing something right.

Alan Greenspan

Not to take anything away from Greenspan. Anyone — even an economist and a banker — who can come up with a phrase like "irrational exhuberance" gets my respect. But surely he's not the only person in the entire United States who is capable of running the Fed.

It might give people warm fuzzies in the shorter term to know he's signed up again, but we might be better off in the longer term to get used to the idea that the Fed can be led by someone else. We're addicted to Greenspan, and I fear that the eventual withdrawal is going to be very painful indeed.


Elvis Live At Five, by John Paxson, is a "good-read" dealing with way television news is blurring the distinction between what's real and what's not real. Since Paxson is a fairly high muckety-muck in the TV news business, there's a chilling possibility that what he describes in his story is more truth than fiction.