Greenspan’s dinosaur diary

Just reading Alan Greenspan’s autobiog and while a lot of the hardcore economics goes over my head by several thousand feet, there are enough interesting anecdotes about various politicos to sustain interest.

Although it smacks of the ghost-written glossiness that too many of these celeb books are infected with – all the interesting edges knocked off through a combination of excessive lawyering and over zealous editing – there are still some critical nuggets in there but not as many as there should have been. He didn’t get on too well with George Bush Snr but neatly sides-steps any direct criticism – even though Bush blamed him for losing the election to Clinton given the dire state of the economy at the end of his presidency,

The fact that the whole credit crunch thing happened after the hardback was published means it’s kind of like reading the survival struggle diary of a dinosaur published just before the meteorite hit. Stories of dodging another Tyrannosaurus attack don’t have the same impact when you know 80 percent of life is about to be wiped out. But it’s an interesting read nonetheless. 

The paperback version does have an extra chapter added on in which Greenspan does tackle the financial crisis but he manages to side-step any issue of culpability and the whole section has a sort of hasty and defensive edge to it. Mind you, he doesn’t seem to accept any blame for Black Monday either so that is not exactly surprising. Not sure if he should do but it feels a bit like when the market goes right that is down to decisive action by the Fed and when it goes wrong – well that is just the cycle of the market. Convenient. 

He does neatly sum-up where all the cheap cash came from which led to the credit bubble – namely that some of our present problems can be traced back to the fact that Chinese workers like to save cash. The expanding economy over there combined with this propensity to save flooded Asian markets with cheap cash which then flowed around the whole financial system – well at least that’s how I interpreted it which apart from probably being overly simplistic could also be completely wrong – but it’s a nice image.

I have only just got to the Clinton presidency so it will be interesting to hear what Greenspan makes of Slick Willy.

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