Toward the tail end of Tuesday night’s WaPo-Bloomberg debate, the Washington Post‘s Karen Tumulty asked Herman Cain who he felt was the most successful Federal Reserve chairman. Cain briskly responded with “Alan Greenspan,” saying that “the way he coordinated with all of the Federal Reserve banks” was admirable. Fellow candidate Ron Paul then (predictably) followed up with a blunt “Alan Greenspan was a disaster.”
Cain’s response warrants a double take: even Alan Greenspan publicly acknowledged that Alan Greenspan was an abject disaster. As David Corn reported three years ago, during a congressional hearing in October 2008, the Reagan-appointed, pseudo-Objectivist Fed chairman admitted that his libertarian worldview didn’t exactly pan out:
With members of the House oversight and government reform committee blasting Greenspan for his past decisions that helped pave the way for the current financial crisis, he acknowledged that his libertarian view of markets and the financial world had not worked out so well. “You know,” he told the legislators, “that’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I have been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.” While Greenspan did defend his various decisions, he admitted that his faith in the ability of free and loosely-regulated markets to produce the best outcomes had been shaken: “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”… Greenspan, one of the more ideological Washington players of the past few decades, essentially said that Ayn Randism had let him—and the entire world—down. It was truly a God that failed.
Along with his self-admitted record of failure, Greenspan, in his 2004 memoir The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, seems to mainly reserve kind words for President Clinton (whom he described as having a “consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth”), while heavily bashing Republican leaders from Richard Nixon to both Bushes. Anyway, read David’s whole piece.