Is He Really Dr. Greenspan?

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[Financial News]

IN ALL LIKELIHOOD, ALAN GREENSPAN has more honorary Ph.D.s than any living economist, which is no mean feat -- regardless of the chortling chorus of critics who suggest he played midwife to the first great economic crisis of the 21st century and thus is overly lionized as a financial genius.

He has honorary degrees enough to fill a fair-sized wall, including parchment from Yale, Harvard, Notre Dame, Colgate, Wake Forest, Pennsylvania, Edinburgh (Scotland). The Doctor-Doctor also received an honorary knighthood in 2002 at Balmoral from Queen Elizabeth II. Sorry to say, this accolade did not come with a suit of armor.

Greenspan, who left the Fed in 2006 but is still consulted as a genius, might find a metallic exoskeleton exceptionally comforting come May, when the University of Texas Press publishes an unflattering book by Robert Auerbach entitled Deception and Abuse at the Fed: Henry B. Gonzalez Battles Alan Greenspan's Bank.

Auerbach, a veteran Fed basher, portrays Greenspan as a real-life Professor Marvel -- who, through double-talk or "garblement," transformed himself into a mighty economic wizard à la Oz. Auerbach strongly implies that Greenspan's 1977 Ph.D. from New York University was obtained in a few months with little more rigor than a matchbook-cover art degree and that Greenspan has kept his Ph.D. thesis secret in order to protect his vaunted academic reputation.

Although Auerbach's evidence is circumstantial, it certainly is provocative. For years, NYU told the public that, at Greenspan's request, the thesis was locked away from public view in a vault at its Bobst Library. Auerbach himself was told this in January 2004 when he tried to obtain a copy.

"Normally," writes Auerbach, "a Ph.D. dissertation in a field such as economics must be in a form sophisticated enough to be usable in research, must make a contribution to the existing body of knowledge, and must be original, unpublished work. When approved, the Ph.D. candidate is normally required to supply a bound copy of the dissertation, which remains in the university's library and is available for future researchers to consult."

Auerbach, who has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago (Nobel laureate Milton Friedman was his thesis adviser), kept requesting access to the papers until NYU's provost, David McLaughlin, finally admitted in August 2005 that, "I can tell you that it was the practice of the business school, during the 1970s, not to deposit dissertations with the library. Thus, a copy of Greenspan's dissertation is not in the Bobst Library. We suggest that you contact Greenspan directly in order to obtain a copy of his dissertation."


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