Alan Greenspan’s Money Isn’t Everything

Murray Rothbard had Alan Greenspan’s number a long time ago. (Many thanks to our old friend Marc Faber for bringing this gem to our attention.)

“I knew Alan thirty years ago,” Rothbard wrote in 1987, when Greenspan was first appointed to head the Fed. “and have followed his career with great interest since…Greenspan’s real qualification is that he can be trusted never to rock the establishment’s boat…at no time in his twenty-year career in politics has he ever advocated anything that even remotely smacks of laissez-faire, or even any approach toward it… Alan is a long-time member of the famed Trilateral Commission, the Rockefeller-dominated pinnacle of the financial-political power elite in this country. And as he assumes his post as head of the Fed, he leaves his honored place on the board of directors of J.P. Morgan & Co. and Morgan Guaranty Trust.”

It was pointed out that Greenspan had been a devotee of Ayn Rand, who had the quirky presence of mind to die on Alan’s birthday. But Randism is not laissez-faire-ism. Randism is looking-out-for-number-one-ism…a creed Alan Greenspan never forgot.

We are annoyed at Alan Greenspan, not because he set the U.S. middle class on the path to destruction but because his book, The Age of Turbulence , got so much more attention than the book we wrote with Lila Rajiva, Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets . Mr. Greenspan’s empty tome came out right after ours…and promptly knocked ours out of its brief moment in the limelight.

But now others are getting annoyed at Mr. Greenspan too – for more serious reasons. Says Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz:

“Alan Greenspan really made a mess of all this. He pushed out too much liquidity at the wrong time. He supported the tax cut in 2001, which is the beginning of these problems [deficits didn’t matter to him, either]…He encouraged people tot take out variable rate mortgages.”

The critique we leveled against the Greenspan Fed three years ago is now widely accepted; the feds saw the little recession of ’01…and panicked. They put out too much money and too much credit for much too long, causing bubbles all over the world. So free and easy were American banks and credit institutions during this period that bank robbers stopped wearing ski masks and carrying guns; all they had to do was to ask for the money like everyone else.

The free-floating loot produced a holiday atmosphere that looked to most people like real prosperity. “See,” they said to each other, “the free market works.”

“Greed is good,” said Gordon Gekko. Financial incentives were thought to be the key to everything – higher productivity, higher profits, growth…everything. You want an executive to perform? Give him stock options! You want an investment manager to make you money? Give him a piece of the action. You want to win over the poor and minorities? Let them get in on this great money making machine. Remember all those columns by Thomas L. Friedman that we made fun of? Friedman keeps telling us that the terrorists would come over to our side if they just had more financial incentives…if they had jobs…if they had university degrees…if they had credit cards and mortgages. But it emerged in England that of the terrorist suspects nabbed so far, the average one was a doctor working for the National Health Service!

Money isn’t everything. Especially the kind of money that the Fed creates.

Bill Bonner

Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

Latest posts by Bill Bonner (see all)

Leave a Reply

10 Comments on "Alan Greenspan’s Money Isn’t Everything"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

i still like ayn’s “capitalism the unknown ideal” and “we the living”. also, she wrote one long poem early in her career, and it never got made into a motion picture, for some odd reason !

looking out for # 1, was some guy in business, that could get in with the sports folks, or something like that. OH! Robert Ringer, good writer btw.

I have read Mobs, Markets and Messiahs and am 2/3 of the way through Greenspan’s book. Of the two, I have to say I enjoyed Greenspan’s book more. He covers in detail the fall of the USSR, stagflation in the 70s and the budget balancing problems of the Bush administration after 2001. The personal history is nice but not of much interest to me. Mobs/Markets/Messiahs however was one long skeptic’s rant against pretty much everything (but gold). The chapter regarding why people behave the way they do (basically, to enhance their ability to attract a mate) was interesting as was… Read more »
Jose Luis Navarro

I strongly disagree with you, Ayn Rand ideas ARE about laissez-faire.

What Alan Greenspan forgot was his own ideas about freedom, that he himself put on papper in his essay “Gold and Economic Freedom”.

This essay can be found in Ayn Rands book “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal”.

In this essay Alan Greenspan defends exactly the oposite of what he has been doing as president of the Federal Reserve.

Terje Petersen

For a softly softly move towards an Australian gold standard you may like to take a look at my modest reform proposal.

Of course given the opportunity I would go a lot further than this and in my more pure moments I don’t actually advocate legal tender laws. However I really wanted to offer up something modest that fits within our existing monetary paradigm and which could hopefully become an enabler for subsequent monetary reform.


poontang !!

can’t resist bringing up saint karl marx, who coined the term:
“lassiez-faire, lassiez passer”

essentially, it’s the sanctity of contract between labor and capital.

yet, we need gov’t, lawyers and insurance companies. is capitalism complex or are people greedy and dishonest at heart (imho, NO.)…..


why yes… alan greenspans “money” is everything you all know it’s true… credit and debt are expressions of money.. just as smiles and frowns are expressions of a face…. oh… want truth? integrity ? Only in gold you trust…?


me horny

edipus anonomous


IMO the “trouble” with policies of Greenspan et al is that they are designed to protect the moneyed in society. The proletariat are just pawns used to achieve the greater wealth of the few. Long-term betterment of the economy and society are of no consideration. Dropping rates through the floor to protect an over-priced Wall Street is one example. Brian


novosonic: For readability, could you please try and make sense when you post comments. I swear sometimes you seem like you have a clue and sometimes you’re barely there.
No offence intended.

HSL / Newsletter Sample 1984 October 2004 [establishment] bureaucrats, not Republicans, neocons, Democrats or liberals, to achieve what could not be achieved in normal times. I wonder how German Jews failed to understand the consequences of the rise of the 3rd Reich. This is not a political commentary as I see no change in present trends whoever becomes president. But ask yourself where this is going as US & other world citizens exchange their hardwon freedoms for some perceived yet illusionary protection. “It is illusionary because a trained killer can accomplish his deeds regardless of obstacles. Internal visas could easily… Read more »
Letters will be edited for clarity, punctuation, spelling and length. Abusive or off-topic comments will not be posted. We will not post all comments.
If you would prefer to email the editor, you can do so by sending an email to