2023-05-24 , 8812 , 104 , 69
美联储主席艾伦格林斯潘回忆录--动荡年代：勇闯新世界-the age of turbulence-54
My first meeting with President-elect Bush took place on December 18, 2000, less than a week after the Supreme Court decision that enabled him to claim his election victory. We met at the Madison, the hotel about five blocks from the White House, where he and his team had set up shop.
This was his first trip to Washington as president-elect; we'd met a few times over the years but had spoken at length only once before, on the dais at a banquet that spring.
The breakfast at the Madison included Vice President-elect Cheney; Bush's chief of staff, Andy Card; and a couple of aides. The situation had a familiar feel: I'd briefed five previous incoming presidents on the state of the economy, including, of course, the president-elect's father.
In this instance, I was obliged to report that the short-term outlook was not good. For the first time in years, we seemed to be faced with the real possibility of recession.
The deflation of the tech-stock bubble had been the great financial drama of the preceding months. The NASDAQ lost a stunning 50 percent of its value between March and year-end. The broader markets declined far less—the S&P 500 was down by 14 percent, and the Dow by 3 percent.
But while the total losses were small in comparison with the paper wealth that the bull market had created, these were significant declines, and the Wall Street outlook remained gloomy, putting a damper on public confidence.
Of greater concern was the overall state of the economy. For much of the year, we'd appeared to be entering a mild cyclical slowdown; this was to be expected as businesses and consumers adjusted to the effects of so many boom years, so much technological change, and the deflation of the bubble in stocks. Indeed, to foster this adjustment process, the Fed had tightened interest rates in a series of steps from July 1999 to June 2000. We were hoping we might achieve another soft landing.
But in the past couple of weeks, I said, the numbers had slipped badly.
There had been production slowdowns among automakers and other manufacturers,
lowered estimates of corporate profits, swelling inventories in many industries, a marked rise in initial unemployment claims, and a weakening of consumer confidence. Energy was putting a drag on the economy too: oil had spiked up to more than $30 a barrel earlier in the year, and natural gas prices were up.
Then there was the anecdotal evidence.
Wal-Mart had told the Fed that it was cutting back its expectations for holiday sales, and FedEx reported to us that shipments were below predictions.
You can't judge the health of the economy by the length of the lines to visit Santa at Macy's, but it was mid-December and anyone who had gone Christmas shopping knew that the stores were eerily quiet.
Despite all this, I told the president-elect, the economy's long-term potential remained strong. Inflation was low and stable, long-term interest rates were trending down, and productivity was still on the rise.
And of course the federal government was running a surplus for the fourth straight
year. The latest forecast for the 2001 fiscal year, which had just begun in October, had the surplus at nearly $270 billion.
As breakfast ended, Bush asked me aside for a private word.
"I want you to know," he said,
"that I have full confidence in the Federal Reserve and we will not be second-guessing your decisions."
I thanked him. We chatted a bit more. Then it was time for him to leave for meetings on Capitol Hill.
There were cameras and reporters waiting as we walked out of the hotel.
I assumed that the president-elect would just go up to the microphones,
but instead he put his arm around my shoulders and brought me along. An Associated Press photo from that morning shows me smiling broadly, as if I'd just gotten good news. Indeed I had.
He'd zeroed in on the issue of most pressing importance to the Fed: our autonomy. I wasn't yet sure what to think about George W. Bush; but I felt inclined to believe him when he said we weren't going to have fights about monetary policy.
I felt relieved that the election crisis had been resolved. In unprecedented circumstances, after thirty-six days of hanging chads, recounts, lawsuits, and bitter allegations of vote tampering and fraud that in other countries
would have caused rioting in the streets, we'd at least achieved a civil conclusion.
Though I'm a lifelong libertarian Republican, I have close friends on both sides of the political aisle, and I thought I understood the Democrats' dismay at seeing George W. Bush take the White House.
But it is worth focusing on how rare it is in world politics for a bitter political brawl
to end up with the opposing candidates wishing each other well.
Al Gore's concession speech ending the presidential race was the most gracious I'd
"Almost a century and a half ago," he said,
"Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the Presidency: 'Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you, Mr. President,
and God bless you.' Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country."
While I did not know where George W. Bush would lead us, I had confidence in the team that was taking shape. People wisecracked that America was witnessing the second coming of the Ford administration, but what was just a witticism to them meant a great deal to me.
I'd started my public service in the Ford White House, and looked back to those years as something special. Gerald Ford was a very decent man, thrust into a presidency that he had never sought and that he probably would never have been able to win on his own.
As he showed in his race against Jimmy Carter in 1976, he was not very good at the bare-knuckle politicking of a presidential campaign;
his dream had been to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Yet in the turmoil of a president resigning in disgrace, he'd proclaimed,
"Our long national nightmare is over,"
and gathered around him as talented a group of people to run government as I have ever witnessed.
And now, in December 2000, George W. Bush was staffing the core of his government with Ford administration stalwarts, a lot older and far more experienced.
The new secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, had been Ford's first White House chief of staff. Under Ford, Rumsfeld had proved exceptionally effective.
Called back by the president from his assignment as ambassador to NATO, he had quickly organized the Ford White House and ruled over it with great skill until Ford appointed him to his first turn as secretary of defense in 1975.
After he returned to the private sector, Rumsfeld took the reins of a faltering G. D. Searle, a worldwide pharmaceutical company.
I was brought on as the company's outside economic consultant and was fascinated to see this former U.S. Navy flight instructor, congressman, and government official fit so easily into the business world.
Another stalwart from the Ford administration was the new secretary of the treasury, my friend Paul O'Neill. Paul had impressed everybody as Gerald Ford's deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
His had been a midlevel job, yet we'd pulled Paul in for all the important meetings because he was one of the few with full command of the details of the budget. Leaving the government to join the business world, he'd risen to become CEO of Alcoa—I was on the board of directors that hired him. In twelve years in that job, he'd been a great success. But he was ready to retire from the company, and I was enthusiastic to learn he was at the top of the list for treasury secretary. Dick Cheney called to tell me that Paul had met with President-elect Bush and was feeling torn. "He's got two pages of pros and cons," Cheney said.
"Can you talk to him?"
I was delighted to pick up the phone. Using the same words with Paul that Arthur Burns had spoken to me in the waning days of the Nixon administration, I said,
"We really need you down here."
That argument had helped persuade me to leave New York and go to work in government for the first time, and it worked on Paul too. I thought his presence would be an important plus for the new administration. Would the president's programs and budgets foster the American economy's long-term prospects?
What would be the caliber of his economic advisers and staff? On those counts, it seemed to me that making Paul the man who signed the dollar bills was a major step in the right direction.
There was another consideration, partly professional and partly personal.
President Clinton had reappointed me early in 2000, so I had before me at least three more years as chairman. The Fed and the Treasury Department had made great music together throughout most of the 1990s.
(Granted, there had been the occasional discord over turf.)
We'd managed economic policy through the longest boom in modern U.S. history, improvised effectively in times of crisis, and helped the White House work down
the horrendous federal deficits of the 1980s.
My collaboration with Clinton's three treasury secretaries, Lloyd Bentsen, Bob Rubin, and Larry Summers, had contributed to that success, and we considered one another friends for life. I wanted to build an equally fruitful dynamic with the incoming administration—for both the Fed's sake and my own. So I was gratified
when Paul finally said yes.
The most important returning Ford veteran, of course, was the vice president-elect. Dick Cheney had succeeded Rumsfeld, his mentor, as White House chief of staff, becoming at age thirty-four the youngest person ever to hold that post.
With his combination of intensity and sometimes sphinxlike calm, he'd shown extraordinary skill in the job.
The camaraderie we built in those years following Watergate had not waned.
I would see him at Ford reunions and at other gatherings during his years as a congressman, and I was delighted when the first President Bush appointed him secretary of defense in 1989.
There is little overlap between the duties of the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Federal Reserve, yet we'd kept in touch.
So now he was vice president-elect. I knew that many commentators believed he would be much more than vice president; because Cheney was so much more experienced in national and global affairs than George W. Bush, they thought he would become de facto head of government.
I did not believe that—from my brief acquaintance with the president-elect, it was my impression that he was his own man.
In the weeks following the election, Cheney sought my input, as I'm sure he sought the input of other old friends. He and his wife, Lynne, hadn't yet moved to the vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory, so on Sunday afternoons I'd drive to their home in the Washington suburb of McLean, Virginia, where he and I would sit at the kitchen table or settle down in the den.
(未完待续, To be contd)