With the ability to alter economies and a crowd once following his every move, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan knows how LeBron James feels. The coverage of LeBron in his titanic free agency is breathless–where will he go? Home to Cleveland–a prodigal son? Back to Miami, where statisticians say his odds of winning may be dwindling? West to Mark Cuban’s formidable Dallas Mavericks? What are those moving trailers outside his Miami home there for? Is he wearing red? Is he wearing black? What color is his website code? (Huh?) What does it all mean, crystal ball? Hundreds of sports (and business) reporters trail James and anyone connected to him–his agent Rich Paul is the second most watched man in America.
In the late 1990s Alan Greenspan’s actions commanded the same kind of attention. During Greenspan’s long tenure, the financial world would grow atwitter (and this was before actual Twitter) about the sphinx-like Fed Chairman’s every move. Markets would swell or swoon depending on whether Greenspan carried a briefcase to a meeting. Had Alan Greenspan shined his shoes? Then he’s sure to cut interest rates again, went some typical speculation. Today’s LeBron James speculation–though magnified by the Internet–is cut of the same cloth. Only Greenspan and his close circle knew what was coming then, and same goes now for King James and company. The rest is just part of the publicity game, in which both men have been willing–even giddy–participants, as they court the world’s wonder about their decisions. Whoever lands LeBron will be hoping that at the end of next season they are up a point. Up a point: it’s just what some Wall Street speculators used to hope Greenspan would do to the interest rate. Will Greenspan play for the Bears or the Bulls? Is he wearing a green tie, or blue?