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What's it all about Alan?
After Fed chief Alan Greenspan's term is up, there's a lot of guessing about what he'll do next.
October 21, 2005: 12:51 PM EDT
By Paul R. La Monica, CNN/Money senior writer
This is a sight you're probably not going to see at your local unemployment office.
This is a sight you're probably not going to see at your local unemployment office.
Photo GallerylaunchSee more photos

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Coming soon to Monster.com?

Resume: Alan Greenspan, Washington, D.C.

Recent Work Experience

Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: 1987-present

Helped steer U.S. economy through period of unprecedented prosperity (save for a few hiccups.) Raised interest rates a bunch of times. Lowered rates a bunch of times. Fought inflation, "irrational exuberance" and "conundrums."

Education

B.S. in economics, summa cum laude, 1948, New York University; M.A. in economics, 1950, New York University; Ph.D. in economics, 1977, New York University. Go Violets!

Work skills

Proficient with numbers. Works well with others. Looks good with a briefcase. Master obfuscator and all around Maestro.

Other interests

Playing and listening to jazz, reading Ayn Rand, tennis and watching a certain NBC News correspondent.

Where will Alan go?

Yes. Alan Greenspan's tenure as chairman of the Fed will end on Jan. 31, 2006. And while there has been a bunch of speculation about who will succeed him, it's almost more interesting to think about what Greenspan will do once his term is up.

"He can do just about anything he wants -- there's nobody he wouldn't be attractive to, whether it's a university, a think tank or a board of directors. He can write his own ticket," said Eric Vautour, area manager of the Washington, D.C. office for Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the world's largest executive recruiting firms.

Vautour said that he's heard from people close to Greenspan that Greenspan is not considering any offers until his term is officially up. But that doesn't mean that people aren't speculating about what he will do next.

It's possible Greenspan won't wind up joining an established firm. He could simply become a freelance economic consultant.

After all, he was chairman of Townsend-Greenspan & Co., an economic consulting firm in New York, from 1954 to 1974 and 1977 to 1987. (Greenspan served as President Ford's chief economic adviser from 1974-1977.)

"My guess is that after a cooling-off period, he probably will go back into consulting again. He does that well and he enjoys it and he can make a ton of money," said Lyle Gramley, a former Fed governor and now senior economic adviser with the Stanford Washington Research Group.

John Challenger, chief executive officer of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, expects that Greenspan won't commit full-time to one position.

"He probably will write a book and make selective speaking engagements," said Challenger. "I don't think he's going to do something like join the board of Goldman Sachs or become a university president."

Vautour agreed that there's no reason for Greenspan to settle into one job. "My suspicion is he'll have a portfolio of activities. He may do some writing and lecturing. He might affiliate himself with a Wall Street firm but I doubt that."

But Greenspan could wind up as an adviser to one of the numerous Washington think tanks, said Michael Farr, president and chief investment officer with Farr, Miller & Washington, an investment management firm based in Washington. Many think tanks will court Greenspan, Farr added, saying two leading contenders could be The Center for the Study of the Presidency and The Heritage Foundation.

"There would be sort of a Greenspan Good Housekeeping seal of approval that he would imbue on an institution by selecting it. He can go anywhere he wants. So if he decides to choose you, that would be exceptionally flattering," Farr said.

Challenger also said a think tank could make sense for Greenspan since he believes the outgoing Fed chief will probably want to remain "a powerful influence" in Washington, a "mentor to people in power."

Still the Maestro

But has Greenspan's appeal dimmed in recent years?

Some critics say Greenspan and the Fed should have raised interest rates more aggressively in the late 1990s to cool off the torrid stock market. If the Fed had done so, the bubble might not have burst in such spectacular fashion, these detractors say.

More recently, some have been skeptical of Greenspan's decision to keep raising rates this year even though few think the economy is in danger of overheating. Naysayers were particularly vocal after the Fed resisted pressure from investors to hold rates steady in September because of economic disruption from Hurricane Katrina.

Still, most people think Greenspan's reputation is still strong, especially since he helped steer the economy through the 1987 crash, a recession, the savings and loan crisis in the early 1990s, the meltdown of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management and the slowdown after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"After this many years and having gone through a crash in 1987 and the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management, I don't think you're going to tarnish this star," said Farr.

Vautour agreed that Greenspan is not going to find too many people that can find fault with his overall track record at the Fed. "There may be a nick or scratch or two but the Maestro uniform is pretty well intact," he said. "People are going to be lined up 30 deep to talk with him. They'll be stacked up like cordwood."

But there also may be the issue of Greenspan's age. He will be 80 in March, so it's not unreasonable to suggest that he might want to take it easy. But Vautour said he doubts Greenspan will want to sit on a beach sipping mai tais and reading "Atlas Shrugged" for undoubtedly the millionth time.

"That's a personal question for Greenspan. But I've seen him around town and he looks terrific so I don't think age makes much difference," Vautour said.

Needless to say, it's highly unlikely that Greenspan will need to be waiting on the unemployment line on Feb. 1.

"Greenspan will be at the top of the list as one of the most highly sought after men in America, right up there with Bill Clinton," said Challenger.

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