Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Biography of Alan Greenspan

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It is somewhat inconceivable that a man often dubbed as the “second most powerful man in the United States next to the president himself”, was an undergraduate at the Juilliard School, studying the clarinet. A former member of a jazz band and perfectly capable of playing the saxophone, Alan Greenp is a name known in every American household, where a staggering statistic of 9 out of 10 American adults are acquainted with who Greenp is, as opposed to knowing who the Vice President of the United States is.

Born to a Hungarian Jewish family on March 6, 1926, Alan Greenp spent his formative years in Washington Heights, New York. Having an aptitude for numbers, Greenp was the one who was often left with the bands bookkeeping and his natural inclination towards business was what prompted his transition from studying musical arts to studying economics. Thus, enrolling at the New York University on September 1944, he went on to earn two degrees in economics, graduating summa cum laude in 1948 and attaining his MA in 1950.

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Although he was never able to finish his PhD at Columbia University owing to a lack of a dissertation, he attained it later on at NYU in 1977 without having to make the particular requirement as well as honorary Doctor of Commercial Science on December 14, 2005. Almost 40 years before his appointment as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenp’s professional career began as an economic analyst at the National Industrial [Insert Last Name 2] Conference Board, where he stayed on from 1947 to 1953.

He then proceeded to open, along with William Townsend, Townsend, Greenp & Company, an economic consulting firm in New York City where he served as the firm’s president and chairman for a little over 33 years. Having accepted the job as a coordinator on domestic policy under Richard Nixon during the presidential campaign in 1968 and later as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in 1974 to 1977 under Gerald Ford, the company was seen to be dwindling down from success.

Successors to the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve that was being vacated by Paul Volcker were being nominated and Alan Greenp’s name was among those in mind. Nominated by Ronald Reagan, Greenp’s nomination hearing went through on July 21 1987 and confirmed by the Senate on August 11, 1987. He was faced with his first ever crisis; the 1987 stock market rash which was one of the biggest crashes in the history of Wall Street.

His period serving at the Fed has allowed him to build credibility and flexibility in affecting the economy, combating recession by lowering the interest rates without so putting so much of a shock on the bond market. Serving as the chairman of the Federal Reserve for four terms under past presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Greenp was nominated by President George Bush to serve his fifth tem on May 18, 2004, an extraordinary feat that has yet to be surpassed.

Among his many awards and titles that he received during his service was the Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed upon him by President George W. bush in November 2005, Knight Commander of the British Empire in 2002 and Commander of the Legion of Honor. Having appointed another successor in the person of yet another former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to ensure a [Insert Last Name 3] smooth changeover, Greenp’s stay as a member of the board officially reached a close on January 31, 2006. Converted from being a logical positivist, he became an advocate of Objectivism due to the influence of Nathaniel Branden.

He was introduced to Ayn Rand, the Objectivist author who was to become his mentor and friend, by his first wife, Joan Mitchell. A supporter of Rand’s philosophy, Greenp wrote several literary pieces for the Objectivist newsletters as well as contributions for Capitalism; the Unknown Ideal, Rand’s book published in 1966 among which was an essay supporting the gold standard. A known advocate of laissez faire capitalism, a number of Objectivists find irony in the way that Greenp supports the gold standard in spite of the Federal Reserve's role in America's fiat money system and endogenous inflation.

Harry Binswanger claims that Greenp falls short of his support of the Objectivist and free market principles as evinced by his publicly expressed opinions and actions while working for the Federal Reserve. Following his retirement from the Federal Reserve, Greenp has a new company; the Greenp Associates LLC, working as an advisor, making speeches and offering consulting for other firms. He has written his own memoir.

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, which was published on September 17, 2007. In it, he tells of his history in the service of the U. S.government as well as issues, present and future, concerning global economy, where he voices out his criticisms of President George Bush, VP Dick Cheney and the Republican-controlled Congress. Having been given his third stint as a private adviser, Greenp was hired by Paulsen &Co in the middle of January 2008 to get his input on economic issues and monetary policies. As such, he will be advising them on issues the U. S. economy and the world financial markets.

Works Cited

  1. Sheehan, Fred. “Alan, We Hardly Know You’. 20 July 2007. Safehaven. 12 April 2008. < http://www. safehaven. com/article-8006. htm>
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