I have been fascinated recently with the coverage of Ben Bernanke’s appointment to the Chair of the Federal Reserve. The Fed, along with the Supreme Court, has always been of particular interest. Some of that is due to the independent nature of the two, but I would also attribute much of my interest in the Fed to its outgoing Chairman Alan Greenspan.
I will be the first to admit that I am no expert on monetary policy or economics, and I certainly don’t follow closely the actions of the nation’s centralized bank. Greenspan, however, has been an institution since before I became interested in politics. Consider this: when Greenspan became Fed Chairman in 1987, I was 9 years old. By the time I was learning about him in High School he was already considered the nation’s second most powerful man by many.
I won’t pretend that I can list his strengths as a policy maker or his achievements during his tenure (check here for more on that). I was listening to a discussion on MPR the other day as I was driving. I was unable to catch the names of those involved, but what emerged from the discussion was the sense that all of the serious candidates for the nomination, whether liberal or conservative, would follow Greenspan’s example and govern monetary policy in a similar, if not identical way. That is quite a legacy.