Response to Susan Lee
By David Henderson
Economist and economic journalist Susan Lee has written an attack on Alan Greenspan and a review of John Taylor’s recent book that is implicitly a response to my defense of Greenspan and review of Taylor’s book.
You can read both and see what you think. I won’t bother repeating my arguments but I will point out two things:
1. One of the occupational hazards of being an economic journalist is using emotive language to bias your case, language that, unfortunately, can substitute for argument. Susan does this. Consider this sentence, “But now, there’s a newer Greenspan–a decidedly prickly and whiny one.” You might think that she would give evidence of his prickliness or whininess, right? Well, she doesn’t. The closest she comes is to point out that he defends his own actions and argues that low interest rates were not due to his policies, but, rather, to increased savings from China. Of all the nerve! Actually defending himself when it’s just possible that he thinks people are saying things about him that are not true. It reminds me of the old French saying, “Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l’attaque, il se defend.” Translation: “What a wicked animal; when attacked, he defends himself.”
2. Susan doesn’t point out that Greenspan originally made his point about interest rates being low due to increased savings from China in his book, The Age of Turbulence, which was published in 2007. Given the lags in publishing, it’s quite conceivable that the section on Chinese savings was written in early 2007 or even 2006, well before it would have made sense for Greenspan simply to be deflecting blame. (H/T to Jeff Hummel for this second point.)