I was a teenage Gramlich

By JIM NEWELL  |  April 4, 2012

It's true that, in the harsh light of my young adulthood, I've been pretty hard on some of the Fed policies that we were largely rehashing to the judges in the balmier days of 2003. But joining the Fed Challenge team was the best extracurricular decision I made in high school. I developed a better-than-average knowledge of all the macroeconomic policies that I shouldn't subscribe to as an adult. The Alan Greenspan Fed taught me about the importance of teamwork and collective, rational decision making, and how easily they can be discarded when a single Randian ideologue is intent on destroying the world as part of a high-stakes social science experiment of his own devising. And I learned that adolescence not only never needs to end, but can lead to a top-notch appointment in the civil service, so long as you mute your private alarm over the sustainability of the latest get-rich-quick scheme, or the American economic system at large.

And nothing makes me prouder than the memory of my 89-year-old grandfather trekking to Washington to watch the finals and to get his picture taken in Alan Greenspan's chair. He was born in 1914, one year after the Fed's creation. He served in the Army, became a public school teacher and a principal, and made wise, studied investments in the stock market at a young age, providing him with the security to retire in his 50s and own a second summer-vacation home. He was a great role model, an American role model, and his good fortune never ran out: he died in 2005, at the peak of the housing boom.

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