Greenspan ungagged: days of cheap energy are over
Alan Greenspan may have stepped down as chairman of the US Federal Reserve last week, but aged 79 he’s not ready to give up the limelight just yet.
Alan Greenspan may have stepped down as chairman of the US Federal Reserve last week, but aged 79 he's not ready to give up the limelight just yet.
After 18 and a half years as the head of the world's biggest central bank, he has given his "first private-sector speech since being let off the leash of officialdom", says Leo Lewis in The Times. An audience of international investors in Tokyo watched Greenspan projected as a holographic image from New York blaming the threat of global terrorism for the soaring price of gold. He said it did not reflect inflation or the strength of commodities generally, but was solely due to fear among investors of a major geopolitical conflict.
He went on to discuss other topics, including the problems that had come about from a lack of oil-refining capacity. This, he said, meant that the days of cheap energy were "almost certainly over", says Lewis. In a rare display of humility, Greenspan admitted the Fed had failed to prevent the internet bubble of the late 1990s. He has already agreed to take on an advisory role for Gordon Brown and this hour-long speech is believed to have earned him $120,000 (£69,000). "Fierce debate and intense commercial rivalry" had been surrounding where and when Greenspan would first speak after stepping down. In the end, CLSA the Asian subsidiary of Credit Lyonnais won the bidding for its annual forum on Japan for investors.
"Giving a man £70,000 for an hour's chat does wonders for loosening his tongue," says Patience Wheatcroft, also in The Times. Gone is his old style of speech, which "inspired an industry of highly paid interpreters". Now he is trying out a "belated spurt of straight talking". But seeing what he costs for an hour, "luckily Mr Greenspan's advice to Gordon Brown is meant to be for free".