The term ‘Greenspan Put’ was coined after the stock market crash of 1987 and the subsequent bailout of Long Term Capital Management in 1998. The Fed under Chairman Alan Greenspan lowered interest rates following the fabled event of default and life continued.
The idea of the Greenspan Put was that lower interest rates would cure the market’s woes. Unfortunately, the FOMC has since fallen into a pattern whereby longer periods of low or even zero interest rates are used to address yesterday’s errors, but this action also leads us into tomorrow’s financial excess. As one observer on Twitter noted in an exchange with Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari:
‘Central Bankers are much like the US Forest Service of old. Always trying to manage ‘nature’ and put out the little brush fires of the capitalist system, while they seem incapable of recognizing they are the root cause of major conflagrations as a result.’
When the Federal Open Market Committee briefly allowed interest rates to rise above 6% in 2000, the US financial system nearly seized up. Long-time readers of The Institutional Risk Analyst recall that Citigroup (C) reported an anomalous spike in loan defaults that sent regulators scrambling for cover. The FOMC dropped interest rates at the start of 2001 – nine months before the 911 terrorist attacks – and kept the proverbial pedal to the metal until June of 2004.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 27, 2017.