Alan Greenspan, the policy failure whose tenure at the Federal Reserve helped create the conditions for the largest financial crisis in nearly a century, was inexplicably given a major newspaper platform on Monday to opine about regulation, which he ideologically abhors.
So it came as a surprise to read the second paragraph of his Financial Times op-ed, wishfully describing an alternative history of 2008, if only there had been robust regulation.
“What the 2008 crisis exposed was a fragile underpinning of a highly leveraged financial system,” Greenspan writes. “Had bank capital been adequate and fraud statutes been more vigorously enforced, the crisis would very likely have been a financial episode of only passing consequence.”
Greenspan must have temporarily forgotten that he had the power to accomplish both of these priorities as Fed chair.
Before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Fed had primary responsibility over consumer protection, including rule-writing, supervision, and prohibition of unfair and deceptive practices. They even were charged with resolving consumer complaints.
Greenspan famously did none of this during the inflating of the housing bubble from 2002 to 2006, instead extolling the virtues of adjustable-rate loans and mortgage securitization, even as fellow Fed governors and the FBI publicly warned about looming fraud. The responsibility for vigorously enforcing fraud statutes, then, fell to Greenspan, and he ignored it.…The wizard behind the veil has no clothes.
Greenspan Imagines Better, Alternate Universe in Which Greenspan Was Not Fed Chair