Friday, January 30, 2009

Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand

While reading Alan Greenspan's book, ' The Age of Turbulence' I am pleasantly surprised by his earnest tribute to the philosophy of Ayn Rand which had impacted heavily on his ideas of free-market capitalism. Upon knowing the influence Ayn Rand had on him I straight away searched books that I had by Ayn Rand in my library. I found two as shown above. These books were bought in 1974 when I was a university student in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I read them consummately at that moment of my life I like to categorise as ' The Young Man as Artist' period. Ayn Rand's philosophy emphasised reason, individualism and enlightened self-interest . She was an emigre to the US from Russia.

Alan Greenspan had been appointed by President Ronald Reagan as Chairman of The US Federal Reserve Board in 1987 and finally retired in 2006 during Bush's tenure. Alan Greenspan wrote glowingly about Ayn Rand in his book and shared some key ideas about the importance of mathematics and intellectual vigour, laissez-faire capitalism, the innate nobility individuals have and their highest duty to flourish them into full potential. Only after discovering Ayn Rand did Alan Greenspan realised that ' all my work has been numbers-based, never values- based' ( pg.52). Ayn Rand persuaded him to look at human beings, their values, how they work, what they do and why they do it, and how they think and why they think. These broadened his horizons far beyond the models of economics he learnt. In his words Alan Greenspan wrote, " I began to study how societies form and how cultures behave, and to realize that economics and forecasting depend on such knowledge - different cultures grow and create material wealth in profoundly different ways. All this started for me with Ayn Rand. She introduced me to a vast realm from which I'd shut myself off".( pg.53)

Reference: Greenspan, Alan ( 2008) The Age of Turbulence, Penguin Group (USA), New York.

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