GREENSPANNING THE AGES
(FORTUNE Magazine) – We've grown accustomed to his furrowed face. Sworn in on Aug. 11, 1987, Alan Greenspan has been the Fed chairman through four Presidents, two wars, a pair of stock market crashes, and a steady stream of financial meltdowns, currency crises, and corporate scandals. But give or take a bursting bubble, things have generally worked out: The S&P 500 was up 12 out of 17 calendar years on his watch, and the country enjoyed its longest peacetime economic expansion. Here, then, are some notable ups and downs of the Greenspan era, as well as his smiles and frowns during 36 semiannual trips to Capitol Hill.
SWORN IN AUG. 11, 1987
Black Monday Just two months after taking the job, Greenspan remains calm in the face of the worst stock market panic since 1929.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH
It's the Economy, Stupid Starting in '89, the chairman cuts rates 23 times. It's too little, too late for Bush I.
Crossing the Aisle Under Greenspan's influence, Clinton and the New Democrats pass a major budget- deficit-reduction plan.
The Soft Landing The Fed raises rates in a preemptive strike against inflation. It works.
"Irrational Exuberance" With the S&P 500 up 60% in two years, Greenspan sounds a gentle alarm.
Damage Control After Russia devalues its currency, shaking world markets, the Fed approves the bailout of hedge fund Long Term Capital Management.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Chopping Wood The chairman begins cutting rates aggressively (11 times in 2001), setting the stage for an unprecedented boom in the housing and mortgage markets.
Et Tu, Alan? Greenspan also comes out in favor of tax cuts. Critics wonder what happened to the deficit hawk of yesteryear.
Froth Alert! With the nation in a tizzy over real estate, Greenspan declares a nationwide bubble unlikely but warns that home prices in some local markets are at "unsustainable levels."