Dec 23, 2007

Gene Epstein on Greenspan the drug dealer

CAN FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE chairman Alan Greenspan be blamed for the current crisis in mortgage debt? The question is like asking whether the recently departed Mafia lord in charge of pushing drugs might be responsible for the fact that a lot of folks got addicted, and eventually overdosed.

Now suppose this same Mafia lord also manages the major methadone clinics and rehab facilities. This is good for his organization, which wants to sell to users whose habits are kept under control. It all makes for a system that runs like a well-oiled machine.

The "drug" in question is money and credit, which the central bank dispenses. And it's the ready availability of money and credit that lures the irrationally exuberant into committing finance capital to unsustainable projects that eventually bring on the sort of crisis we're now in.

~ Gene Epstein, "Study History, Mr. Greenspan," Barron's, December 24, 2007

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