Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Brits Blame Greenspan For Global Financial Crisis

Everyone is looking for the person responsible for the economic mess the world is in, or at least a fall guy we can blame everything on. According to a recent web poll, Brits believe that former Fed chief, Alan Greenspan, is the man. Truth is no one person is solely responsible for all our economic problems, however, it is still interesting to see who people think the biggest culprits are. Tim Iacono from The Mess That Greenspan Made looks closer at this poll and adds some thoughts of his own, in the blog post below.

It is not at all clear what, if any, significance the survey results attached to this story in the U.K.'s Times Online hold but, when asked which of ten individuals to blame for the current financial mess, fingers were pointed squarely across the Atlantic Ocean at the guy who ran the Federal Reserve for almost two decades.

Are the British that attuned to monetary policy in the U.S. or are they, perhaps, more willing to look overseas for a culprit rather than on their own soil?

(BTW - that little radio button thingy is my vote, just in case anyone was wondering.)

The much better known local boy, Gordon Brown, comes in a distant second (for very good reason, actually) and George W. Bush is even further back in third place.

Interestingly, the three individuals who were probably more responsible than any politician in the world - Fuld, Paulson, and Mozilo - filled the next three spots.

As for the other four, the British are probably about as familiar with the name Hank Greenberg as Americans are with Sants, Goodwin, and Corbert, though, after reading the descriptions provided, these three clearly deserved more votes than they received.

Here's what they had to say about former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan:
Alan Greenspan was feted for his management of the US economy while he stood in charge of the US Treasury, but has since been put under the spotlight. He was responsible for cutting interest rates to near zero in the US in the aftermath of September 11, flooding the world with cheap and easily available money. Did this pave the way for a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami"? In October last year he said: “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organisations, specifically banks and others, was such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders.”

Allan Meltzer is a professor of political economy at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said: “Alan Greenspan was much too afraid of a slowdown or other recession…he allowed the credit to expand too rapidly."
The confusion about the Fed chairman heading up the U.S. Treasury Department may be understandable as we Americans are often confused by the British position of Chancellor of the Exchequer which we'd be just as likely to say headed up the Bank of England.

This post can also be viewed on themessthatgreenspanmade.blogspot.com.

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