Alan Greenspan was born March 6, 1926, in the Washington Heights area of New York City to Herbert Greenspan and Rose (Goldsmith) Greenspan. His mother was of Hungarian-Jewish descent and his father was Romanian-Jewish and worked as a stockbroker and financial analyst in New York City.
Greenspan attended the George Washing High School, where he learned to play the clarinet and saxophone. One of his classmates that he played alongside was the famed musician Stan Getz.
After graduating from high School in 1943, Greenspan enrolled in Julliard, which is located in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, where he furthered his study of clarinet from 1943-1944.
In 1945, Greenspan transferred to New York University and begin his studies in economics, earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in this subject. In 1977 Greenspan completed his doctoral degree
During his time at New York University, Greenspan worked for Eugene Banks, a managing director of Brown Brothers Harriman, in the firm’s equity research department and between 1948 and 1953 he worked at The National Industrial Conference Board as an Economic Analyst.
In 1955 Greenspan was appointed as chairman of the Federal Reserve and was the chairman and president of Townsend-Greenspan &Co. Inc., a consulting firm.
Greenspan served on a number of different corporate boards, including Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa); General Foods and Mobil Corporation. He also helped coordinated the domestic-policy positions of Richard Nixon during his 1968 presidential campaign.
After Nixon’s victory, Greenspan remained active in politics, serving as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1974 to 1977 under Gerald Ford and as chairman of the National Commission on Social Security Reform under Jimmy Carter from 1981 to 1983.
Between 1982 and 1988 Greenspan served as director of the Council on Foreign Relations as well as being a member of the “Group of Thirty” in 1984, a highly influential Washington-based financial advisory body.
On June 2, 1987, Greenspan was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board; a position he kept until 2006, serving under both Republican and Democratic presidents.
During his time as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board he provided economic advice to Ronald Reagan, George H.W. and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and had an enormous impact on the country’s monetary policy.
Although Greenspan was widely respected for his knowledge of the economy, many critics accused Greenspan for the collapse of the dot.com bubble in 2000 by his repeated raising of interest rates; however, according to Paul Krugman (winner of the Nobel memorial Prize in Economic Sciences), “he didn’t raise interest rates to curb the market’s enthusiasm; he didn’t even seek to impose margin requirements on stock market investors. Instead, he waited until the bubble burst, as it did in 2000, then tried to clean up the mess afterward”.
On January 31, 2006, Greenspan’s fifth and final term as Chairman of the Board ended as he retired his position and was replaced by Ben Bernanke. Immediately upon retiring from the board, Greenspan established the economic consulting firm, Greenspan Associates LLC.
Under Greenspan Associates LLC, Greenspan has advised several investment banks, government agencies and corporations and accurately forecasted, on February 26, 2007 the economic a possible recession in the United States on or before Early 2008. The day after this announcement, Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 416 points and lost 3.3% of its value.
In May of 2007, Greenspan was hired by Pacific Investment Management Company as a special consultant participating in their quarterly economic forms and speaking privately with the managers regarding Federal Interest rate policies.
On September 17, 2007, Greenspan released his memoirs in a book titled “The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World”. In his book, Greenspan chronicles his part in shaping the government and economics in America as well as discussing capitalism and other economic system, the present global economy and the future of our global economy. In the book he criticizes President George Bush (and the republicans who controlled congress) for abandoning the Republican Party’s principals on fiscal conservatism, pointing out his refusal to veto spending bills with sent the country into increasingly deeper deficits and accuses him of “putting political imperatives ahead of sound economic policies”.
In his book, he praises Bill Clinton above all the other presidents he worked with while serving as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, writing about his “consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth”.
He recommends, in his memoirs, that in order to improve U.S. Economic Policy we must focus on improving our educational system. This, he says, would help to narrow the gap between high-income workers and lower class workers.
On April 30, 2009, appeared in front of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship to offer a defense of the H-1B visa program, stating that the visa quota is “far too small to meet the need” and that it protects U.S. workers from global competition, creating a “privileged elite”.
Greenspan has been married twice. His first marriage, which lasted less than a year, was to artist Joan Mitchell, through whom he met his second wife, novelist Ayn Rand. He married his second wife, journalist Andrea Mitchell, in a 1997 ceremony conducted by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.