federal reserve

Janet Yellen: The new Federal Reserve chair

Alan Greenspan
Alan Greenspan © Photo by The Aspen Institute

Current position:

  • President of consulting firm Greenspan Associates.

Education:

  • B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from New York University.

Professional background:

  • Federal Reserve chairman, 1987-2006.
  • Headed National Commission on Social Security Reform, 1981-1983.
  • Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers under President Gerald Ford.

His legacy: After holding the chairmanship for five four-year terms, Greenspan is viewed as the quintessential Federal Reserve chairman, Moy says.

"He communicated well so as not to rock the markets unless he meant to," says Moy. "But now that more research has been done, some people think that maybe his easy-money policies contributed to the (2008) financial crisis."

During his tenure, Greenspan is credited with using monetary policy to keep inflation low and with steering the economy through multiple global economic crises and the 2000 dot-com bubble. He also led efforts to encourage lending after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

But while Greenspan's terms as Fed chairman laid the foundation for tremendous economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s, Yun says he neglected to pay enough attention to the dangers of rapid appreciation in the housing market.

McBride agrees. "Alan Greenspan was looked at as a deity when he was Fed chair," he says, "but his reputation took a hit when he left because his policies helped fuel the housing boom and bust."

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