Alan Greenspan The Honorable Alan C. Greenspan, PhD, KBE (Born March 6, 1926) is an American economist and former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve of the United States. Following his retirement as Fed chairman, he accepted an honorary (unpaid) position at the UK Treasury.
First appointed Fed chairman by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, he was reappointed at successive four-year intervals until retiring on January 31, 2006, at which time he relinquished the chairmanship to Ben Bernanke. Greenspan was lauded for his handling of the Black Monday stock market crash that occurred very shortly after he first became chairman, as well as for his stewardship of the Internet-driven, "dot-com" economic boom of the 1990s. However, this expansion culminated in a stock market bubble burst in March 2000 followed by a recession in 2001-2002. He has been increasingly criticized since 2001 for some statements seen as overstepping the Fed's traditional purview of monetary policy, and others viewed as overly supportive of the policies of President George W. Bush. Greenspan is nonetheless still considered by many to be the leading authority on American domestic economic and monetary policy.
Greenspan was born to a Jewish family in New York City. He studied clarinet at Juilliard from 1943 to 1944 and is known as an accomplished saxophone player. He then attended New York University (NYU), and received a B.S in Economics (summa cum laude) in 1948, and an M.A in Economics in 1950. After NYU, Greenspan attended Columbia University, intending to pursue advanced economic studies, but he would subsequently drop out. Much later, in 1977, NYU also awarded him a Ph.D. in Economics. He did not complete a dissertation, normally required for that degree. On December 14, 2005 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science from NYU, his fourth degree from that institution.
Greenspan has been married to NBC television journalist Andrea Mitchell since 1997.
During the 1950s and 1960s Greenspan was a friend of author-philosopher Ayn Rand and a proponent of her Objectivist movement, which among other things advocated unfettered capitalism as a social and economic philosophy. He wrote articles for Objectivist newsletters, and contributed several essays for Rand's 1966 book Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal. More recently however, he has been criticised by Objectivists for his actions (see below).
From 1948 to 1953, Dr. Greenspan worked as an economic analyst at The Conference Board, a business and industry oriented think-tank in New York City. From 1955 to 1987, Dr. Greenspan was Chairman and President of Townsend-Greenspan & Co., Inc., an economic consulting firm in New York City, a 33-year stint interrupted only from 1974 to 1977 by his service as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Gerald Ford. Greenspan also has served as a corporate director for Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa); Automatic Data Processing, Inc.; Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.; General Foods, Inc.; J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc.; Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York; Mobil Corporation; and The Pittston Company.