Invasion Greenspan

Why is a book promotion blitz getting the same royal treatment his utterances as Fed chairman received?

Topics: U.S. Economy, Globalization, How the World Works, Alan Greenspan,

No wonder they call him the Maestro. A review by Bob Woodward in the Washington Post and interviews with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and “60 Minutes” accompanied the release on Monday of Alan Greenspan’s memoir, “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World.” And even though Carolyn Baum’s skeptical Bloomberg review reports that there is not much that’s newsworthy in a light and breezy read, the financial press has been treating Greenspan’s slam on George Bush and his acknowledgment that, yes, there was a housing bubble, like starving sharks going after bloody chum.

The econo-blogosphere, as one might predict, is in a frenzy. For minute-by-minute coverage, Mark Thoma and Felix Salmon are your best Greenspan aggregators. Dean Baker is reliably scathing. Brad DeLong is doing double-duty, blogging and reviewing the book in the dead tree press at the L.A. Times.

Out of all the coverage, my favorite snippet comes by way of an interview with Krishna Guha in the Financial Times.

Mr Greenspan is more certain than ever before that central banks should not try to burst bubbles once they begin to inflate. “I am coming to the conclusion that bubbles are inevitable,” he says. “Human beings cannot avoid them … They cannot learn.”



More ions than anyone can count have already been spilled over the question of whether Greenspan’s easy money policy of the early 2000s kicked off the housing boom. That won’t be settled here. But the change in rhetoric — for a long time, Greenspan avoided using the word “bubble” to describe what was happening to the real estate market in the U.S. on his watch, but now he says that when he talked about “froth,” he really meant bubble — is being treated as an earthshaking event.

Whatever. A year ago, he told us “the worst was probably over” for the housing bust. He was about as wrong as one could possibly be.

But he sure seems to be right about the humans never learning part. For two decades Wall Street and the financial press have hung on every word the man breathes, treating each utterance as an infallible proclamation from the pope.

One could make a case for such reverence during his 18-year term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. But the spectacle is a little less compelling when the job at hand is a public relations campaign aimed at selling enough copies of a book to earn back a rumored $8 million advance.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>