Among the various Chairmen of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System over the years, Alan Greenspan stands out as a living legend. He began his nearly two decade term as Federal Reserve Chairman on August 11, 1987 and then served all the way through January 31, 2006. An unprecedented four different sitting presidents appointed Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Fed. During his time in the most important economic office in American, Greenspan made such ideas as “irrational exuberance” household phrases.
Alan Greenspan began his famed career working for the non profit outfit the National Industrial Conference Board. Here he analyzed the demand for aluminum, steel, and copper. During the years of 1954 to 1974 and 1977 to 1987, Greenspan served as president and chairman of Townsend-Greenspan & Company at the New York City based economic consulting firm.
President Gerald Ford brought Alan Greenspan into government service where he served from 1974 to 1977 as the President’s Council of Economic Advisers chairman. President Ronald Regan utilized his services in several capacities, first as the National Commission on Social Security Reform chairman from 1981 to 1983. Later he worked on the Economic Policy Advisory Board for President Reagan, as well as consultant to the CBO Congressional Budget Office.
Once Alan Greenspan took over as Board of Governors chairman for the Fed, he faced a crisis just months after assuming the post. This came in the form of the stock market crash Black Monday of October 1987. He moved rapidly to make certain liquidity continued to exist in the various markets. While head of the Federal Reserve, Greenspan led the nation through two recessions, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, and the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks.
During this lengthy tenure in office, Greenspan gained a reputation as being staunchly against inflation and concentrating his efforts and firepower on maintaining stable prices more than on delivering full employment. Numerous economists and historians give Greenspan great credit for overseeing and assisting the lengthiest economic expansion in American history. He earned a deserved reputation for his ability to build up consensus among his various colleagues at the Fed Open Market Committee where policy was concerned.
Alan Greenspan has served in numerous roles in both the public and private realms. He worked for several presidents on appointments that included the Commission on Financial Structure and Regulation, the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Commission on All Volunteer Armed Force, and also the Task Force on Economic Growth. Besides this, Greenspan has worked as a corporate director at a number of corporations. These include The Pittston Company, Mobil Corporation, Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, J.P. Morgan & Co., General Foods, Capital Cities/ABC, Automatic Data Processing, and Alcoa the Aluminum Company of America.
After Alan Greenspan resigned from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, he started up his own Greenspan Associates, LLC consulting firm in Washington D.C. He also published his official memoirs on his time in office in 2007 as The Age of Turbulence.
Greenspan is remembered for several of his famous quotes on irrational exuberance, money printing, and the gold standard. Regarding the ability of the United States to pay its mounting debts to its many creditors, he claimed, “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.” This reinforced the truth of a quote he had made decades earlier regarding inflation and the gold standard. “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.”