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Greenspan Launches Annual Lecture Series at Haas School

By Jacquie Frost & Jesus Mena
posted September 9, 1998

Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan spoke to an overflow crowd at the Haas School of Business on Friday in a highly anticipated speech following a tumultuous week on Wall Street.

A crush of reporters and photographers from news organizations including CNBC, CNN and CSPAN crowded into the Arthur Anderson Auditorium and several extra rooms set up to accommodate the 600 students, alumni, faculty and media representatives.

In his typically oblique fashion, Greenspan hinted that the nation's banks may consider lowering interest rates.

"In the spring and early summer, the Federal Open Market Committee was concerned that a rise in inflation was the primary threat to the continued expansion of the economy," said Greenspan. "By the time of the Committee's August meeting, the risks had become balanced, and the Committee will need to consider the potential ramifications of ongoing developments since that meeting."

Greenspan's comments were part of a carefully worded 50-minute speech in which he explored the question: "Is there a new economy."

While pointing out that U.S. economic performance "in the past five years has in certain respects been unprecedented," Greenspan said his initial inclination was to reject the notion that there has been "a profound and fundamental alteration of the way our economy works." He, nonetheless, said the ultimate answer to this question will come with the passage of time.

"I suspect our grandchildren, and theirs, will be periodically debating whether they are in a new economy," Greenspan said.

Greenspan's address opened the Haas Annual Business Faculty Research Dialogue, a lecture series featuring prominent business leaders.

Greenspan's presence at the business school signaled the closer ties to Washington D.C. wrought by Laura D'Andrea Tyson, who was appointed dean of Haas in May.

Tyson served as President Clinton's chief economic advisor before returning to Berkeley in 1997.

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