February 15, 2006
When Alan Opes His Lips,
Let No Broker Bark
granted, he doesn’t actually have a job or any power over anything. But
Call your broker. Call your mother. Call Paris Hilton. People need to
know that Alan Greenspan had something to say about something.
erstwhile Federal Reserve Board chairman, just days into his retirement,
probably didn’t think it would make a whole lot of difference if he
showed up at a dinner for bankers and top hedge fund clients of Lehman
Brothers – a guy’s got to eat – and while he was there, why not give his
opinion about interest rates and the economy?
some reason, my opinions don’t send people scurrying to their phones.
And I have a job. In fact, I have more than one, which is more than one
more than Alan Greenspan has. But Wall Street doesn’t quite seem to have
caught on about that – and if I were Greenspan, I’d have this sinking
feeling in the pit of my stomach that maybe they never will.
Karydakis, chief fixed income strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management,
told The Financial Times: "By 7.30 a.m., two people [from Lehman] had
called us. Greenspan qualified his remarks in a number of ways, but
people tried to keep only the soundbites.”
Greenspan’s comments about this, that and the other thing have long had
the effect of getting people a little overheated. Interest rates sure
are low, Alan says over breakfast. The housing market goes ballistic.
Deficits are a concern, Alan says over lunch. Forty million American
send in voluntary contributions to the Treasury by 3 p.m. Inflation
looms, Alan muses over dinner. Wal-Mart reports a run on salsa.
Protectionism would be bad for the country, Alan remarks to a man on the
street. Union halls go up in flames across the nation.
all true when he was the Powerful Chairman Of The Federal Reserve Board.
Now he’s just an old guy killing time in the afternoon until 4:30 when
the early bird special starts at Grandma’s Diner. Is this going to go on
entirely possible that Wall Street just needs a few days to get used to
Greenspan’s new status as Mr. Andrea Mitchell. But to listen again to
Mr. Karydakis, one is not so sure:
it was somewhat innopportune on Greenspan's part to go to a forum that
he knew could cause ripples. It was inevitable, and Greenspan should
have known that. If he didn't, he could be accused of naivete."
traders echoed the theme that Greenspan was violating an unwritten
blackout on discussing such matters before his successor, Ben Bernanke,
presents the Fed’s monetary policy to Congress. But all Greenspan did
was give his opinion on some economic issues – not disclose the policy.
And yet, in
post-Greenspan America, that appears to be enough to melt phone lines,
crash e-mail servers and overheat Blackberrys like nothing since Janet
Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.
talking about stuff! You’re causing ripples!
that he doesn’t actually have a job, he only has that much more time to
talk, and cause more ripples. What if he starts talking about other
I heard a
rumor (OK, I’m starting the rumor) that he likes the Blue Jays as a dark
horse in the American League East this year. Phones go nuts in Vegas! I
heard Greenspan said clothes get really clean if you wash them in
Cranberry Snapple. Red tinted jeans everywhere! Oh, and those chunks in
bleu cheese dressing? Dead spiders. I heard that from Alan Greenspan.
More croutons with that?
it’s a sign that the Fed has a little too much power when we all hang so
determinedly on every word its chairman says. When we can’t stop doing
it, even after he retires, it may be a sign that we need to spend a
little more time thinking about stuff like – I don’t know – paint,
In fact, if
you want to paint your house, Alan Greenspan says it’s best to mix it
with ground-up sea shells. So chop chop, get on that.
© 2006 North Star
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