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10 Quotes by Fed Chief Alan Greenspan

By    |   Saturday, 11 July 2015 08:40 PM

Alan Greenspan chaired the Federal Reserve for nearly 20 years. While he led the country through the stock market crash of 1987 and two recessions, he also presided over the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. Some now blame his economic policies with leading to the mortgage crisis, which followed shortly after his departure from the Fed. Greenspan now consults.

Here are some quotes from this economic leader.

1. “Since I’ve become a central banker, I’ve learned to mumble with great incoherence. If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said.”
— in often-quoted testimony to Congress in 1987, via the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

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2. “Containing the pressures on labor and capital resources—while continuing to reduce our external imbalance—will require a slowing in domestic demand. Such an outcome will be facilitated to the extent that the federal budget deficit is reduced.”
— to the Joint Economic Committee, January 31, 1989, via the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research (FRASER)

3. “The movement toward nationwide banking that has been gaining momentum, the parallel globalization process of the world's financial markets, the technological advances and financial innovations that continue to come forth rapidly will all serve to maintain intense competitive conditions for depository institutions. And these same conditions will also serve to increase the riskiness of the environment in which institutions must operate.”
— in after dinner remarks at a Joint Inter-Agency Supervision Conference, March 28, 1990, via FRASER

4. “We are reminded almost daily of the potential for public cost of the deposit insurance obligation, made so painfully apparent by the failures and difficulties of so many thrift institutions Similarly, both the Congress and the Board repeatedly are reminded of the erosion of the competitiveness of our banking system both domestically and internationally The time has come when these issues must be addressed.”
— a statement before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs July 12, 1990, via FRASER

5. “We have long recognized the importance of self interest in promoting the well being of all. Most of the parks, libraries, and institutions of higher education in America's cities were founded by local businesspersons wanting to improve the local quality of life.”
— at the May 17, 1995 Social Compact Awards Luncheon, via FRASER

6. “But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade? And how do we factor that assessment into monetary policy?”
— At the Annual Dinner and Francis Boyer Lecture of The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, D.C., December 5, 1996, via the Federal Reserve website

7. “As economic policymakers understandably focus on the impact of the tragedy of September 11 and the further weakening of the economy that followed those events, it is essential that we do not lose sight of the policies needed to ensure long-term economic growth. … Technology alone is unlikely to restore the United States to the position of price leader, which characterized our role in world oil markets for most of the industry's first century.”
— to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, November 14, 2001, via FRASER

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8. “As you are aware, today's financial world is highly complex when compared with that of a generation ago. An understanding of how to maintain a checking and savings account at a local financial institution may have been sufficient twenty-five years ago. Today's consumers, however, must be able to differentiate between a wide range of products, services, and providers of financial products to successfully manage their personal finances.”
— to the JumpStart Coalition’s Annual Meeting on April 3, 2003, via FRASER

9. “In my more than eighteen years at the Federal Reserve, much has surprised me, but nothing more than the remarkable ability of our economy to absorb and recover from the shocks of stock market crashes, credit crunches, terrorism, and hurricanes—blows that would have almost certainly precipitated deep recessions in decades past. This resilience, not evident except in retrospect, owes to a remarkable increase in economic flexibility, partly the consequence of deliberate economic policy and partly the consequence of innovations in information technology.”
— On October 12, 2005 to the National Italian American Foundation, via FRASER

10. "I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."
— to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Oct. 23, 2008, via the U.S. Government Printing Office

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Alan Greenspan chaired the Federal Reserve for nearly 20 years. While he led the country through the stock market crash of 1987 and two recessions, he also presided over the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.
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