|Since 1982, this publication has
devoted its efforts to providing a strong foundation for the customer
interaction industry. Our pioneering efforts since that time have helped
the nascent call center industry evolve into a multibillion-dollar
industry known today as customer interaction, which encompasses contact
center/CRM solutions. For the last 19 years, I have always addressed in
this editorial column the needs of our industry and the latest industry
trends. But due to the fact that I feel that a great injustice has been
done to the American economy, which was otherwise experiencing by far the
greatest sustained economic expansion and prosperity ever known to
mankind, I feel I must change my focus in this editorial and get off my
chest what I have believed for the last several years. I feel that the
best interests of the United States are more important than focusing only
on industry matters every single issue!
The assistance and research conducted by the editors of Customer
[email protected] Solutions magazine was instrumental in preparation for
this Publisher's Outlook. My intention is to be brutally honest in
expressing my views, as I believe that the U.S. economy deserves better
Dr. Alan Greenspan was appointed as the Chairman of the Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System by Presidents Reagan, Bush and
Clinton (his current four-year term as Chairman ends June 20, 2004). His
re-appointment to the Board for a full 14-year term began February 1,
Indeed, in his career, Dr. Greenspan has been appointed chairman or
board member to various Presidential economic policy advisory boards and
boards of directors of various corporations. To say the least, Dr.
Greenspan's resume is impressive. Reading through his resume, I discovered
that he spent from 1954 to 1974 and from 1977 to 1987 as Chairman &
President of Townsend-Greenspan & Co., Inc., an economic consulting
firm in New York City. Dr. Greenspan's academic achievements in economics
are indeed prominent. He graduated with a B.S. in economics (summa cum
laude) in 1948, an M.A. in economics in 1950 and a Ph.D. in 1977, all from
New York University. As you can see, from an academic standpoint, as well
as serving on various advisory boards, Dr. Greenspan's record is perhaps
second to none.
What I don't see in Dr. Greenspan's record is being on the firing line
of a small or large entrepreneurial business, where the founder and/or the
CEO learns the business inside and out by doing literally everything in
the company and gaining practical, "real world" and
"firsthand" experience about what business is really all about.
Having come to this great country of ours with $50 in my pocket and a
vocabulary of a grand total of four words in English (and those were yes,
no, okay and Wednesday), I have a much different view of what the
"REAL" world is all about. I have undergone many hardships, such
as my first job, where I was responsible for high-quality plastic products
at a young age. I worked 16-hour shifts for $1.50 an hour in a plastic
manufacturing factory located in Patterson, New Jersey, where we toiled in
horrible working conditions and the temperature in the factory reached 115
degrees in the summertime. I then worked my way up the corporate ladder
and eventually started Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) in 1972. TMC
has since become the leading independent publishing/trade show company
covering cutting-edge technologies in the high-tech communications fields.
(Visit www.tmcnet.com.) So you see, I
have a completely different background than that of Dr. Greenspan.
Academically, I cannot begin to compare to Dr. Greenspan's admirable
and prestigious background in serving on so many prestigious boards.
However, I have learned through many years of firsthand experience and
hard work that theoretical knowledge does not run a company, a country or
an economy successfully. Through my 30 years of business experience, which
started as a research chemist at DuPont to the current Chairman & CEO
of TMC, I have learned that members of the board of directors of companies
often have no clue about the nature of the business for which they serve
on the board.
I am reminded of a great advertisement, which I saw back in 1982, about
a Japanese-made photo copier. The headline read, "Finally, we have
invented a copier which is so easy to run, even members of the board of
directors should be able to run it!" Those of us who have worked with
members of several boards of directors know for a fact that except for a
few rare cases, these people are simply on cloud nine and have no clue
about how to run a business successfully!
The U.S. economy, as everyone knows, has economic cycles like the
economy of any other country. In the past, we have had our ups and downs,
recession followed by a great growth. However, the latest economic growth
and prosperity of the United States, which began in the last few months of
President George Bush Sr.'s presidency, has been by far the longest and
most prosperous of any economic upswing in world history. While many
politicians, including Bill Clinton, Al Gore and many Congressmen on both
sides of the aisle, gave themselves credit for the prosperity, or gave
credit to Dr. Greenspan or others, in reality, all savvy business people
know that none of the above people had a damn thing to do with this
prosperity. The number one reason the U.S. economy enjoyed so many years
of unparalleled prosperity without interruption was the performance of
America's brilliant high-technology scientists and engineers who developed
the hardware, software and IT technology that increased workers'
productivity at a phenomenally high rate on a sustained basis. Period. End
of story. No one else deserves the credit more than the high-tech
companies whose hard work was solely responsible for this phenomenal
increase in productivity, which translated into many years of economic
I am reminded of a statement President Ford once made in response to a
treaty negotiation with the Soviets early in his presidency. President
Ford had spent many hours, indeed many months, negotiating with the
Soviets on the reduction of nuclear missiles, and he felt he had
accomplished a significant win-win situation. Some individual in the
administration or in the Congress was in total disagreement and was on the
verge of breaking up what should have been in the country's best interest.
In response to this individual's actions, President Ford stated, "It
takes a carpenter, masons, electricians and many other construction people
about a year to build a barn. It takes a jack-ass five minutes to kick it
all down!" I used this phenomenally clever response by President Ford
not to show any disrespect toward any of the aforementioned people, but to
point out the fact that one can draw the conclusion that while none of the
people who claimed credit for the unparalleled U.S. prosperity and
economic growth are responsible for it, one must admit that any one of the
above people could take an ill-advised action and destroy the prosperity
Robert Reich Deserves Enormous Credit
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, in a commentary broadcast March
16, 2000 entitled "A Plea to Alan Greenspan," addressed the fact
that Dr. Greenspan's economic assumptions are based on an old model and
that raising interest rates yet again will be detrimental for the new
Alan, Alan -- listen to me. You're about
to make a big mistake. You and your Open Market Committee are almost
sure to raise interest rates again when you meet next Tuesday. Alan,
don't do it. You'll regret it. We'll all regret it.
You're worried about inflation. But,
Alan, there's no inflation. The core Consumer Price Index is up less
than 2 percent since a year ago. That's the lowest increase since 1991.
Exclude food and energy, and consumer prices are actually down from a
year ago. The producer price index is flat.
You think inflation is just around the
corner, that the economy's growing too fast. But Alan, this is a new
economy. Look at what companies are doing with computers and the
Internet and business-to-business auction Websites. They're ripping out
their entire cost structures. Demand is not outrunning supply because
the productive capacity of the country is exploding. Meanwhile,
competition is fierce. No company dares raise its prices.
Alan, get hold of yourself. Raise
interest rates too much now, you're gonna create a recession. High oil
prices are already hurting the economy. And look at what's happening to
the stock market.
I trust you can see that indeed Mr. Reich was 100 percent right and Dr.
Greenspan chose to ignore him and continued to raise interest rates 6
consecutive times for absolutely no reason and thereby he literally
screwed up the economy and caused investors and corporations to lose
trillions of dollars (not to mention an economic downturn, continued
losses for everyone and massive layoffs of hundreds of thousands of
people!). Who in their right mind can possibly call this man an economic
genius? Forget his academics; look at his actions! And...we all know that
actions speak louder than words.
Could This Be The Time For A New Federal Reserve Chairman?
We Mean Someone Who Understands "The New Economy." We Think
So! And The Record Speaks For Itself!
Or Cut Bait: Will Alan Greenspan Kill The New Economy?" (April 4,
2000, Redherring.com), Peter D. Henig expressed many of the same themes.
After stating that, "Alan Greenspan doesn't get it," and
explaining how "efficiencies now argue for higher multiples on
high-growth stocks," Henig continued, "Can Mr. Greenspan adapt
to an entirely new economy essentially in startup mode, letting growth run
its course rather than fretting about inflation? The learning curve may be
beyond him...." Henig points out that while Dr. Greenspan is a master
of the old economy, by applying the principles of the old economy to the
new, "The Fed chairman is trying to pour old wine into new
The bottom line, about the only conclusion that one can make from all
of the above, is that with all due respect to the many great
accomplishments of the past by Dr. Greenspan, the new economy necessitates
a new leader, one who clearly understands the new economy and simply does
not prescribe old solutions for a totally new problem. We hope that Dr.
Greenspan will give some thought to what is in the best interest of not
only the U.S. economy, but also the best interest of the global economy,
and resign. Also, at 76, he's 11 years past the retirement age!
May I recommend Robert Reich as a candidate who understands the new
As always, I welcome any comments and suggestions from the valued
readers of Customer [email protected] Solutions magazine to this
Executive Group Publisher
To March 2001 Table Of Contents ]