Alan Greenspan

In a fabricated investigative story published in The New Republic and crafted briefly before his exposure as a fraud an subsequent fall from grace, the journalist Stephen Glass imagined the following:

...another bond-trading outfit has turned an empty office into a Greenspan shrine. Dozens of news photographs of Greenspan adorn the walls; glass casing encloses two Bic pens Greenspan supposedly used in 1993.
Quotations from more than 30 of his speeches are posted under a sign that reads “Greenspan’s Teachings.” The centerpiece is a red leather chair that sits in the middle of the room, surrounded by blue velvet ropes. A placard perched on the armrest says Greenspan sat in the chair in 1948—at the time, he was still in college. “Some nights when we‘ve lost money,” trader Brent Donalds confides, “I come in here and sit in the chair and think. It gives me inspiration.”
Many trading houses use a software program which translates any Greenspan sentence into a predicted market reaction, using a database of all his public remarks. The program bills itself as the “Talmud of the Federal Reserve—interpreting his every word!”

What at the time was an invention by a fabulating and fraudulent journalist has now become reality: Alan Greenspan’s successor Jerome Powell is being worshipped and has been immortalized by meme culture. There certainly are shrines built to the man in the digital realm. Whether he is prayed to is not known. True is also that Greenspan himself was a cult follower: He was a staunch believer in “objectivism,” the philosophy of Ayn Rand, communicated mostly through her fiction writing, her most famous novels being “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”). Rand’s radical libertarian positions were picked up by the highly influential Chicago School of Economics and implemented in economic strategies later subsumed under the term “neoliberalism.”

Greenspan’s phrase “irrational exuberance” has itself become a legendary statement, up there with Rand’s “Who is John Galt.”


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