Does Greenspan Get It?
Summary: An apt description of Maestro Greenspan: "Uncle Al, Wall Street's Pal." I wonder, though -- Does Uncle Al understand how foolish he is now being made to look by so many of the folks to whom he has been so extraordinarily generous?
Greenspan is now a "legacy player," since he will leave the Fed in less than a year. This is because his full 14-year term as a governor, not to be confused with his current four-year term as chairman, expires on 1/31/06. Under current Fed rules, he may not be reappointed to another term as a governor.
So for the time that remains, it becomes more and more about legacy. You can be certain that among several unpleasant things Mr. G. would like not to be remembered for, a meltdown in the Treasury carry trade is high on the list. Which means -- the war of wills is on. This entails trying to get the unwinding done on a gradual, orderly basis (if that is any longer possible), versus something far more traumatic.
It would appear that congressional testimony, admonitions delivered in various speeches, the minutes of the December 14th Federal Open Market Committee meeting, etc. have not succeeded in moving the unwinding process along very much. Which means that increasingly, we are dealing with an "in your face, Alan" situation. Or, put in other terms, there is nothing like biting the hand that has fed you so very well -- or, for so very long, too!
There's a way to cut this arrogance down to size rather emphatically. (1) To wit: for the FOMC to raise the Federal Funds Rate not by 25 but by 50 basis points at the FOMC's March 22nd meeting, and (2) to begin immediately to get hints of such a possibility in circulation.
But this is Greenspan and the Greenspan Fed, making the chances of such a bold action quite remote. It simply smacks too much of something a genuine, serious central bank would do.
And thinking such thoughts always brings me to memories of my great Fed hero as well as someone with whom I was privileged to have occasional vocational dealings, William McChesney Martin, Jr.
The following link will take readers to an article I wrote about Mr. Martin in June of 2004. It was entitled, "William McChesney Martin, Jr -- a Real 'Five Termer.'" I believe that after reading it, many people will have a response something like, "where are people of this quality and accomplishment when we need them so very, very badly?" http://www.gillespieresearch.com/cgi-bin/s/article/id=195