Blog Archives

Alan Greenspan explains “Fed-speak” and the art of constructive ambiguity

Have you ever listened to the public words of a government official and wondered just what the hell it is that he or she is trying to say? Or rather, not to say? Have you ever suspected that government figures deliberately speak in opaque and confusing terms, the better to “say something” without really saying anything, so that they can give the appearance of communicating to the public while actually withholding and concealing anything of real substance?

Now you need wonder and suspect no more, because Alan Greenspan has laid it all on the line. In a recent interview with Businessweek, Greenspan explains the origin of “Fed-speak,” his famous (notorious) method of speaking like an ersatz Zen master issuing impenetrable but profound-sounding riddles. It’s not that he hasn’t talked about such things before, but that he explains it here, so baldly and concisely, in one of America’s most popular business publications, that makes the whole thing a needle-scratching “Say what?” of a moment.

Read the rest of this entry