Friday, October 24, 2008
That House committee hearing was about a four-hour ordeal yesterday and I only got through about two hours of it. Apparently, since it fits neatly into their job descriptions, others had to stick with it for the duration, resulting in little more for their efforts than what appeared here yesterday in the transcription of questioning by Henry Waxman (D-California) that opened the session.
The role of government regulators leading up to the current financial crisis was the subject of yesterday's gathering of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and, just in case you're a real glutton for punishment, our government has made the entire transcript available in .pdf form - all 201 pages of it. Your tax dollars at work...
In today's WSJ account of what happened, Kara Scannell and Sudeep Reddy noted the same overall tone that struck me - Greenspan Admits Errors to Hostile House Panel.
The title for the story that was filed shortly after the panel concluded went by the name Greenspan Admits Some Mistakes Amid Grilling by House Lawmakers. Apparently, they felt the need to raise the ante for today's print edition (the two articles appear to be one-and-the-same).
Anyway, there's an online poll that accompanied today's story. I'm not sure if I should be surprised or not about the results - that first question is a little vague.
Maybe if they'd have asked something like, "He is more to blame than any other single person", then maybe the results would have been different. Many would probably respond that the credit rating agencies are more to blame or that homeowners are more to blame without identifying any individual.
Not that the distinction is all that important...
That's the way I've always looked at it, though I must confess that given what has come to light over the last three or four years, it is now clear that he had a lot more help than first thought.
In the WSJ report, it was the closing paragraph that really brings this sad chapter in American financial history to something of a close. As some may have thought yesterday while listening to the proceedings, it really wasn't all that important what the old man had to say anymore - what was more telling was how he was being addressed and how his stature has been so diminished.
The treatment was a striking contrast with one of Mr. Greenspan's last appearances before Congress as Fed chairman, on Nov. 3, 2005. "You have guided monetary policy through stock-market crashes, wars, terrorist attacks and natural disasters," Rep. Jim Saxton (R., N.J.) told him then. "You have made a great contribution to the prosperity of the U.S. and the nation is in your debt."Quite a fall from grace.