It's no secret that for some time I've put much or most of the blame for the nation's prolonged economic anemia squarely on the shoulders of Federal Reserve Czar, er, Chairman Alan Greenspan. Admittedly, cataclysmic events like 9-11 and the war in Iraq also have contributed to the economic malaise. But the initial plummet, which started before President Bush took office, rests with Greenspan.
That's what I think. Here's what America thinks.
In our latest national survey, we asked 1,000 adults if they believe Greenspan should be renominated again as Fed chairman. There was certainly no "irrational exuberance" for returning America's economic guru to yet another term. Fifty percent said to keep Greenspan, while 18 percent said "no." Thirty-two percent said they didn't know enough about the man to form an opinion. That is remarkable, considering that Greenspan is likely responsible for the disappearance of their 401ks, or even their jobs.
Once again, let's set the record straight. It was Greenspan who in the late 1990s was unwilling to accept the concept that there actually could be a new and, yes, artificial manner by which we valued corporations. Stuck in his 1940s concept of economic growth, the toast of Wall Street made it clear that the only real cause for America's then-economic boom was the additional productivity created by new technology. He warned that technology would not be able to continue to promote such growth.
Next, he launched a crusade that seemed bent on ensuring that kind of growth indeed did not happen. By repeatedly raising interest rates during those heady days, Greenspan frightened the world of capital investors and forced scores of growing or emerging companies to their knees, taking hopeful investors down with them. Once he had gone too far, the chairman reversed course abruptly. He started a string of interest rate cuts.
Did any of this economic wizardry work? Let's see. Unemployment has soared to its highest level in years. The dollar is weaker than the euro -- yes, even the pathetic euro. Small companies can't qualify for any of the cheap money that all those interest rate cuts were supposed to trigger. And large corporations -- slaves to "Greenspeak" and afraid to show anything less than ever-increasing profits -- are not investing in needed technology upgrades, new employees or new products.