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KAI RYSSDAL: A few words now about the man who used to run the Federal Reserve. Alan Greenspan’s memoirs were released today. He’s been making the rounds to plug the book. All 544 pages of it. You can flip through it all you want. But you won’t find the answer to the economic question of the day anywhere in there. Are we headed for a recession? Matt Lauer asked him that on the Today show this morning.
ALAN GREENSPAN: The evidence so far is not yet. The economy at this stage, despite this fiscal problem, despite the financial problem, is still holding up.
As so often happens with Mr. Greenspan, though, you have to check and double check to make sure you understood what he said. In a print interview with Reuters that hit the wires this morning, he said a recession’s more likely now that it was a couple of months ago. Back then he guessed the odds were about 30 percent.
And lest you think he’s just a sour, old economist with no sense of humor, he made a little inside joke last night on 60 Minutes when Leslie Stahl asked him why the economy’s slowing down.
GREENSPAN: It’s a freezing up that occurs basically because, if you’ll excuse the expression, there’s a long period of irrational exuberance going on.
RYSSDAL: I don’t know if you could hear it, but he was smiling when he said that.
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