If there's one thing you can say about Bloomberg's Caroline Baum, it's that she's not afraid to take a hockey stick to the knees of an 81 year-old man. Yesterday it was crotchety old Carl Icahn, tomorrow is anyone's guess. We're going with an outpatient at Sloan-Kettering. Today's recipient of Caro's best (and mostly successful) attempt at a Tonya Harding is, as the head would imply, Alan Greenspan. Basically, her point is that he's your crazy old grandfather/local homeless man who should've been put in a home/half-way house years ago, who won't stop talking to himself and gesturing wildly, who you should just completely ignore. Let him talk 'til he's blue in the face, you don't have time for his inanity and self-involved bull shit. He's basically a child but guess what? You've already got a baby and unlike Greenspan, he's rarely wets the bed anymore, if ever.
All the criticism of Greenspan issuing forecasts that conflict with the Fed's rosier outlook misses one key point. He can talk all he wants. You don't have to listen.
After 18 years as a civil servant, where his maximum salary was $180,100 a year, the man is entitled to earn a living. That his chosen metier is the same as it was before he became Fed chairman -- he was president of Townsend-Greenspan & Co., a consulting firm -- isn't surprising. He was not about to open Greenspan Plumbing & Heating Supply Co. at age 81. The problem is that you seem to care about what he says.
It's surprising that folks care so much about Greenspan's musings considering their less-than-pithy nature. Last week he told Reuters that the popular ``carry trade,'' wherein traders borrow Japanese yen at a low rate of interest to finance, or carry, higher-yielding assets, would turn ``at some point.'' His comment that shook the world two weeks ago was that a recession was possible by the end of the year. (Anything is possible.) What's shocking is that anyone would pay for these insights.
Look, Greenspan can talk all he wants. He can ramble on about oil futures prices and the federal budget deficit and the burden retiring baby boomers will place on the U.S. economy in the next decade. You don't have to listen. The press doesn't have to tail him. Let him be.
Also? When he was still at the Fed? People totally talked about him behind his back.
Not that anyone expected him to go quietly into the night. Greenspan's tenure at the Fed was devoted to the cult of his own personality. He nurtured his credibility at the expense of the institution's. Even his biggest supporters inside the Fed criticize him (off the record, of course) for that.
But that's probably because he was a total slut, and definitely had it coming. At least that's what Heather told Stacey who told Leah who told Lara who told me who made me swear on my limited edition Brandon Walsh doll that I wouldn't say anything. That's right ladies--I took the oath of sideburns.
Greenspan Can Talk More. You Can Listen Less [Bloomberg]