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Greenspan: The Man Behind Money Essay

883 words - 4 pages

Greenspan: The Man Behind Money

In Justin Martin's book Greenspan: The Man Behind Money, the life of Dr. Alan Greenspan, a man whose expertise in economics has dramatically influenced the state of the U.S. economy, is told from a historical perspective and in a semi-chronological order.

Alan Greenspan grew up in New York City's Manhattan. After his parents divorced he went to live with his mother and her parents. Greenspan's father rarely visited, yet when he did, Greenspan was extremely happy. This detail struck an emotional cord in that it was evident Greenspan strived to succeed not only for himself but also for the approval of his father. Greenspan's father was a NY Stock Broker and published a book entitled, Recovery Ahead, a book about President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the state of the economy. The book had the following inscription: "May this my initial effort with a constant thought of you branch into an endless chain of similar efforts so that at your maturity you may look back and endeavor to interpret the reasoning behind these logical forecasts and begin a like work of your own. Your Dad." (4) This would eventually become Greenspan's mission in life. Although he saw his father few times during his adult life, his father surely new of his son's success through all of the media attention Greenspan received over the years.

Greenspan was influenced by his mother, books, and by mentors in his life. While in attendance at Columbia University, Greenspan took a seminar on business cycles, taught by Arthur Burns. On the first day of class, Professor Burns asked the following question, "What causes inflation?" then said, "Excess government spending causes inflation." Greenspan having read John Maynard Keynes's General Theory now had conflicting theories to interpret. (28). Including his father's book which championed big government initiatives of FDR's New Deal (29). Greenspan began moving away from the benevolent government perspective, toward laissez-faire and limited government. (29).

That was the time when Greenspan was taking in as much information as he could, eager to learn and come up with his own theories later. When Greenspan joined Ayn Rand's: the objectivists group, it seems like he was influenced by new thought and ideas in general. His meetings with the group allowed him to expand his philosophies and to hear the perspective of those he viewed as intellectuals. Ironically, one of the discussion topics was, "The futility and destructiveness of central banks." (42). Ayn Rand was radical in her views, but Greenspan seemed to respect her perspective and defended her over the years, from public criticism. The objectivists held that capitalism was the key to a successful economy. They were strong...

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