Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve for Life, continues to be upbeat about the economy and is spear-heading a new campaign to return consumer confidence. Project, "So, You Think You've Got it Bad?" features chances to win free trips to countries benefiting from job outsourcing in order to, "put things in proper perspective for the American worker". Touring countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines, Americans are immersed in the dire poverty and profound depression right at the source. "After seeing textile workers making 12 cents and hour working 18 hour days, the U.S. worker can return home feeling much better about their petty lives," Greenspan remarked, nudging up the interest rate another quarter point. "We call it an economic attitude adjustment."
Greenspan is counting on these "free trips" to boost his sagging public image and refute his detractors who refer to him as the Crypt-Keeper of the Federal Reserve. Greenspan suffered a loss of credibility when the 10-year economic expansion came to an end with overpriced IPOs, the ensuing dot-com bust and subsequent recession. He further eroded trust when he declined to even utter the word "recession" until it reputedly ended a couple of years later. Waffling on Bush's 2001 tax rebate plan that was supposed to help the economy by making people spend more, he belatedly backed the plan, even though the average consumer failed to prop up the economy as much as hoped with those $350 checks. "Can't buy a Hummer with that," said one recipient, now unemployed and searching for work. "I put the money in the bank. I feel terrible about letting the economy down like that," she said. While relying on the consumer as the major driving force in this economy, Greenspan nonetheless treats allegations of increased joblessness and declining wages as the illusionary concerns of an undereducated, ungrateful working class without jobs.
Candidly blunt, it's probably not the first time the Chairman has issued an insulting statement… but it's most likely the first time anyone ever "got it". "We can't flog ‘em anymore, so sending them abroad to see how real poor people live is the next best thing," he continued.
Another example of the irrational fear that Greenspan sees include recent worries of a "housing bubble bust", described as the paranoid fears of fiscal troublemakers who lack any significant real estate holdings to speak of. "House ownership is at a record high 70%. We've got another 30% of growth potential before we get to any possibility of a bursting bubble. Do the math. People fear what they cannot understand," Greenspan said, sitting poolside, sipping a frothy martini from Paris Hilton's barely worn $5000 virgin leather pump from HERMES.
"Oh, I understand perfectly well", said a recently downsized technical support manager of 12 years, gulping bootleg bathtub gin from a rubber boot. "You want to outsource my good high-paying job abroad and then price me out of the domestic employment picture by using illegal Mexicans. Yeah, I understand completely," he said. "Now get the hell out of my house…uh…I mean dumpster." Greenspan vehemently downplayed concerns that the economy would suffer if housing prices were to start declining. "Business capital investment will take up the slack created by slowing consumption", he contends. However, capital investment hasn't exactly bellied up to the bar recently, so some question the veracity of that assumption. According to some critics, given a slowing global economy, rising energy prices and interest rates, companies now have little incentive to boost expenditures. "Oh, yeah?" Greenspan said defensively. "Well, it ain't your money anyway."
In an obliquely related story, as the specter of much higher energy costs continues to rear its ugly head, some economists question if the invasion of Iraq played any part in the current energy crisis. "Well, when Hussein was selling oil illegally on the black market in his reputed ‘oil for food' scheme, he had one thing we don't have…..oil to sell," said one energy trader. Greenspan dismissed the accusations as idle speculation, but menacingly suggested, "If he thinks gasoline is so damned high, perhaps we should send him to Baghdad and let him check out the price at the pump over there."