Last night at dinner, a friend said that she and her husband love to travel, and do so extensively (and constantly). She pointed out that she and her husband didn’t buy a house because they preferred not to be strapped down by property ownership. I said, “…and aren’t you glad of it now?” It got a laugh, but it’s really, of course not funny “ha-ha”, but that uncomfortable giggle that accompanies gallows humor.
The joke got darker when Bloomberg reported this morning that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, on his extensive, continuous world tour, said in Oslo that he has “no particular regrets. The housing bubble is not a reflection of what we did, as it is a global phenomenon.''
He goes on – this man who was touted as the financial Buddha – to say that the collapse of the U.S. subprime market ''was a shocker because no one expected it.'' What’s that, Kreskin? NO ONE? Some of us have been anticipating it for five years!
In spite of the fact that anyone actually living in this economy, which, naturally, excludes the Gilded Sultanstm of the Empire - like Greenspan and his wife, General Electric spokesperson NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell - knows we recessing into a depression. After all, Mrs Greenspan, it turns out, has been dissembling and shilling for Bush’s costly war – and she knew exactly what she was doing. I say this, because she’s too smart and too connected to be quoting false pro Republican statistics and lying about the Valerie Plame affair unless she had some more sinister, cynical interest. She’s just an emblematic part of the problem.
Bloomberg quotes Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who, erring on the side of prudence, recently said that there is a 50 percent chance that the U.S. will slide into a recession after the ''mess'' left by Greenspan.
Greenspan, however, said on Nov. 7 there is a ''less than 50-50'' chance of a U.S. recession, reiterating remarks made in late October. But he hasn’t updated his actuarial odds this week.
The report points out that “declines in sales and prices signal the housing slump that began in 2006 may extend into its third year, matching the slowdown 18 years ago that ended in the 1991 recession.” Is it just me, or did anyone else notice that that year corresponds to the penultimate year of George H.W. Bush’s presidency, just as this is the same point of his son’s administration.
Mr. Greenspan’s Fed chairmanship spanned both presidents’ terms. His actions served to mask the disastrous economics of both men’s Adventures in Iraq, but he got credit for the strong economy of the Clinton era. In fact it was Greenspan who encouraged the loosening of lending standards and ridiculously low interest rates that enabled housing prices to skyrocket, debt to balloon, and the whole damn mess to blow up like a zeppelin filled with anthrax.
No regrets, Al? No shame, more likely.