Alan Greenspan has been the single most powerful figure affecting the global economy since 1987. He had substantial influence before then as an economic adviser to Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford. Even retired, he will remain an important political force. He has been called apolitical, someone so detached from politics that he can always be trusted. Above all, he is the detached observer subservient to no political motive or operative. He is pure. He wants also to maintain the purity of the Federal Reserve System so as to insulate the Fed from the influence of politicians, who surely cannot be trusted.
Greenspans purityas with most self-consciously persistent claimsis a myth. Moreover, as we will come to know, the purity of the Federal Reserve System is a sham. In the instance of Mr. Greenspan, "purity" generally has meant selfless dedication to an objective view of economic conditions untarnished by decisions benefiting special interests. To the contrary, we best understand this wizard behind the veil of money through a realistic understanding of his aims as well as the supra-natural instincts of the Federal Reserve System. But, first, let us consider Greenspan.
Greenspans policies have always been directed at the protection of the greatest financial wealth holders. Whether it is dealing with stock market bubbles, currency crises or the bailout of giant financial institutions, his actions and those of the Federal Reserve generally have been forces shifting the income and wealth of Americans toward the top and away from the bottom and middle classes. Only through this prism can his policy positions and those inherited by his successor be understood. These effects go beyond the United States; it is a global strategy carried out not only though the Fed, but through multinational financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and private hedge funds. The Federal Reserve and the wizard have a unified defense for such policies: A central bank cant influence the configurations of family incomes and wealth. This is simply and categorically wrong.
Maestro Greenspans background ideally prepared him for his historic conducting of monetary policy. From his early days in New York City he quietly groomed himself for the uncompromising ideological stance he would take. Because of the imprint he leaves at the Federal Reserve, a shift in direction will require two things: the selection of a chair of opposite ideological leanings (unlikely in the age of President George W. Bush) and a severing of the intimate ties of the American central bank to the American and global financial community. Because of the co-dependency of the twothe setting of financial policy by the Fed and the use of financial markets to conduct these policies institutional reformwill require progressive forces at least as strong and effective as present day neoconservatism. We turn now to the maestro, the wizard, the oracle, and the Popes inevitability.