45 Years, 45 Days: Murray Rothbard on Alan Greenspan


For the next 45 days, we'll be celebrating Reason's 45th anniversary by releasing a story a day from the archives—one for each year of the magazine's history. See the full list here.

Writing in Reason's October 1974 issue, economist Murray Rothbard weighed the pros and cons of President Richard Nixon appointing Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. "Since Greenspan is a one-time contributor to The Objectivist, was–and perhaps still is–a leader of the Ayn Rand movement, and has written on behalf of the free market," Rothbard wrote, "the Greenspan appointment was hailed in conservative and libertarian circles as a highly significant move on behalf of the free market and sound economics by the Nixon Administration. But is it; are hosannas really in order?"

Rothbard thought not:

It is an open secret that Nixon was relying for his political life (and perhaps, even, for staying out of jail) on conservative support in Congress. And since conservatives have historically been more impressed by rhetoric and personnel than by actual policies, what better way to insure conservative votes than by throwing them such sops as a Greenspan appointment? In the immortal words of P. T. Barnum, "there's a sucker born every minute," and conservatives have long shown themselves to be suckers for that sort of political ploy.

It will be instructive for all of us to keep close tabs on Greenspan in high office, particularly to see (a) if his public statements and official reports will be any better than those of Stein, Shultz and the rest, and (b) if he has any appreciable free market impact on government policy. My strong guess is a firm No to both questions.