Greenspan: "I wouldn't put my money on it."
"I wouldn't put my money on it." was Alan Greenspan's answer to George Stephanopoulos' questioning if the United States could skirt an economic recession in 2008 or 2009.
He's right! I wouldn't put my money on it either!
But then he's also one of the most culpable contributors to America's current economic predicament.
- Greenspan supported repeal of the Glass-Steagall act which had regulated U.S. depository institutions in order to prevent off-balance-sheet (remember Enron?) Special Investment Vehicles (SIVs) that created the housing bubble and led to a credit collapse that has essentially taken America's investment banking system down and placed every single financial account and transaction in the world at greater risk.
- On January 25th, 2001, Greenspan testified before Congress in support of the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich that ultimately led to larger and every growing Federal Budget deficits under the Bush administration. Greenspan testified that the U.S. government should essentially be prevented from accumulate capital surpluses, because public accumulation of capital, even to pay down the National Debt, could limit economic growth.
- During the recession following 911, Greenspan approved lowering the Fed Funds rate to one percent which, adjusted for inflation, created negative Federal interest. Currency debasement in turn stimulated promiscuously irresponsible lending, spawning a carry trade arbitrage against the U.S. Dollar, whereby speculators like large hedge funds profited immensely, but briefly, simply by borrowing short from the U.S. government then lending and investing long outside the U.S. using 30 or 40 times leverage.
With friends like Greenspan and the Republicans, who needs enemies?
Above all else self evidently wrong with pandemic Wall Street and Washington synergy today, Greenspan's cheap money policy, coupled with unending cycles of Republican-led financial system deregulation, precipitated the bubble and current collapse in U.S. housing and banking and exacerbated off-shoring of U.S. factories and jobs through the carry trade. Such profligate and arguably corrupt leadership, leading to unsustainable levels of systemic risk, explains why a bear market in global equities and debt instruments has likely only just begun, as well as why the per-capita savings rate in this country, in contrast to creditor G8 nations and all BRIC nations, is negative. History shows that debt crises punctuate the decline of great nations.
Thus, today marks a unique opportunity for the Left with regard to the pursuit of a Real, Populist, Egalitarian American Democracy.
As the three legs -- jobs, homes and consumption comprising the stool that is American class aspiration crumble -- the same stool upon which Alan Greenspan would today not risk his own capital in support -- the probability rises, perhaps unlike any time since The Great Depression, that America's White, Male, pseudo-Christian, Ivy League educated aristocracy, comprising 2 or 3 percent of its population, will finally be called to account by the electorate for its crony capitalist hegemony. Perhaps Enough is [finally] enough!
So, despite obvious and growing economic anxiety and suffering, for which I do not rejoice, ironically I am compelled to thank Mr. Greenspan, today -- for rendering populist arguments for economic justice and real American Democracy so much easier to make!