(AFP) – Sep 14, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States is mired in a "once-in-a century" financial crisis which is now more than likely to spark a recession, former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan said Sunday.
The talismanic ex-central banker said that the crisis was the worst he had seen in his career, still had a long way to go and would continue to effect home prices in the United States.
"First of all, let's recognize that this is a once-in-a-half-century, probably once-in-a-century type of event," Greenspan said on ABC's "This Week."
Asked whether the crisis, which has seen the US government step in to bail out mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, was the worst of his career, Greenspan replied "Oh, by far."
"There's no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I've seen, and it still is not resolved and it still has a way to go," Greenspan said.
"And indeed, it will continue to be a corrosive force until the price of homes in the United States stabilizes.
"That will induce a series of events around the globe which will stabilize the system."
Greenspan was also asked whether the United States had a greater-than 50 percent chance of escaping a recession.
"No, I think it's less than 50 percent.
"I can't believe we could have a once-in-a-century type of financial crisis without a significant impact on the real economy globally, and I think that indeed is what is in the process of occurring."
The former Federal Reserve chairman also predicted that the financial crisis would see the failure of more major financial institutions, even as embattled Wall Street investment giant Lehman Brothers scrambled to find a buyer.
"In and of itself that does not need to be a problem.
"It depends on how it is handled and how the liquidations take place. And indeed we shouldn't try to protect every single institution."
On Saturday, Democrat Barack Obama's campaign seized on a warning from Greenspan about John McCain's tax plans to portray the Republican as economically reckless.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television Friday, Greenspan said the nation could not afford 3.3 trillion dollars of tax cuts proposed by McCain without matching cuts in spending.
Greenspan, a long-time friend of McCain and a Republican, said about the Arizona senator's plans to extend massive tax cuts imposed by President George W. Bush: "I'm not in favor of financing tax cuts with borrowed money."
McCain has said he would pay for his cuts by ending pet funding projects for US lawmakers' districts known as "earmarks."
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