The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan, Author: Sebastian Mallaby.
By Sebastian Mallaby – Bernanke repeated his plan to commit $85bn of public money to the takeover of an insurance company.
“Do you have 85bn?” one sceptical lawmaker demanded.
“I have 800bn,” Bernanke replied evenly – a central bank could conjure as much money as it deemed necessary.
But did the Federal Reserve have the legal right to take this sort of action unilaterally, another lawmaker inquired?
Yes, Bernanke answered: as Fed chairman, he wielded the largest chequebook in the world – and the only counter-signatures required would come from other Fed experts, who were no more elected or accountable than he was.
Somehow America’s famous apparatus of democratic checks and balances did not apply to the monetary priesthood. Their authority derived from technocratic virtuosity.
The key to the power of the central bankers – and the envy of all the other experts – lay precisely in their ability to escape political interference.
Democratically elected leaders had given them a mission – to vanquish inflation – and then let them get on with it. To public-health experts, climate scientists and other members of the knowledge elite, this was the model of how things should be done. Experts had built Microsoft. Experts were sequencing the genome. Experts were laying fibre-optic cable beneath the great oceans. No senator would have his child’s surgery performed by an amateur.
So why would he not entrust experts with the economy?
How did Greenspan achieve this legendary status, creating the template for expert empowerment on which a generation of technocrats sought to build a new philosophy of anti-politics?
The question is not merely of historical interest. With experts now in retreat, in the United States, Britain and elsewhere, the story of their rise may hold lessons for the future. more> https://goo.gl/7rAAmg