The Unreality of the “Real” Business Cycle

Testifying recently before a United States congressional committee, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that the recent financial meltdown had shattered his “intellectual structure.” That structure turns out to be based on a bastardized version of the great economist Joseph Schumpeter's concept of "creative destruction" as the driving force of capitalism.

LONDON – Testifying recently before a United States congressional committee, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that the recent financial meltdown had shattered his “intellectual structure.” I am keen to understand what he meant.

Since I have had no opportunity to ask him, I have to rely on his memoirs, The Age of Turbulence , for clues. But that book was published in 2007 – before, presumably, his intellectual structure fell apart.

In his memoirs, Greenspan revealed that his favorite economist was Joseph Schumpeter, inventor of the concept of “creative destruction.” In Greenspan’s summary of Schumpeter’s thinking, a “market economy will incessantly revitalize itself from within by scrapping old and failing businesses and then reallocating resources to newer, more productive ones.” Greenspan had seen “this pattern of progress and obsolescence repeat over and over again.”

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