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Photo of Alan  Greenspan

Alan Greenspan

  • Chairman, Board of Governors, 1987–2006

Alan Greenspan served five terms as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He originally took office as chairman on August 11, 1987, to fill an unexpired term as a member of the Board of Governors. His last term ended on January 31, 2006. He was appointed chairman by four different presidents.

Greenspan was born in New York City. He received his bachelor’s (summa cum laude), master’s, and doctoral degrees in economics, all from New York University. Before receiving his doctorate, he studied economics at Columbia University in the early 1950s under Arthur Burns, who would later become chairman of the Board of Governors.

Greenspan’s first job, in 1948, was with the National Industrial Conference Board, a nonprofit organization where he analyzed demand for steel, aluminum and copper. From 1954 to 1974 and from 1977 to 1987, Greenspan was chairman and president of Townsend-Greenspan & Co., Inc., an economic consulting firm in New York City. From 1974 to 1977, he served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President Gerald Ford, and from 1981 to 1983, as chairman of the National Commission on Social Security Reform. In addition, he served as a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board and was a consultant to the Congressional Budget Office.

Shortly after assuming office as chairman of the Board of Governors, Greenspan was faced with the October 1987 stock market crash and acted quickly to ensure liquidity in the markets. During his tenure he also led the Federal Reserve through several events with major economic repercussions, including two US recessions, the Asian financial crisis of 1997, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He had a reputation for being strongly anti-inflation, focusing more on controlling prices than on promoting full employment. Many credit Greenspan with facilitating the longest official economic expansion in US history. He was also known for his skill at building consensus among members of the Federal Open Market Committee on policy issues.

After leaving the Board of Governors, Greenspan began his own Washington DC-based consulting firm, Greenspan Associates, LLC. His memoir, The Age of Turbulence, was published in 2007.

Over the years, Greenspan also held many roles in the public and private sectors. His previous presidential appointments include the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Commission on Financial Structure and Regulation, the Commission on an All­-Volunteer Armed Force, and the Task Force on Economic Growth. In addition, he served as a corporate director for a number of firms, including Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa); Automatic Data Processing, Inc.; Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.; General Foods, Inc.; J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc.; Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York; Mobil Corporation; and The Pittston Company.

Greenspan is married to journalist Andrea Mitchell.

Written by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. See disclaimer.