atop the financial world like a latter-day Zeus, but compared with Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr., he is positively mortal -- in terms of net worth.
Public financial disclosure reports show that Mr. Levitt is worth $21.7 million to $100.8 million and has a big stock portfolio. The former chairman of the American Stock Exchange has 19 separate investments valued at more than $1 million each, 14 of them in mutual funds.
Mr. Greenspan's worth falls between $3.6 million and $10.6 million. He does not own a single share of stock. Virtually all his savings are in short-term Treasury securities.
"No wonder he's always raging against 'irrational exuberance,' " one accountant observed. "He's not sharing in it."
To deter conflicts of interest, high-ranking government officials and their spouses must disclose all income-producing assets worth more than $1,000. In the interest of privacy, the public figures are not required to list the value of their primary residence or provide exact values for each asset or income source. Instead they report broad dollar ranges, such as "$500,000 to $1 million."
In addition to the disclosures for 1998 by Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Levitt, American Banker reviewed those of Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr., Office of Thrift Supervision Director Ellen S. Seidman, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna A. Tanoue.
The documents showed striking differences in net worth, liquidity, and investing style.
Mr. Levitt, the wealthiest of the group, is worth 12 to 144 times as much as Ms. Tanoue, a bank attorney and former state regulator whose portfolio range of $701,000 to $1.8 million is the lowest of the six.
A similar gap separates the SEC chief and Mr. Summers, a former Harvard University professor and World Bank official worth between $831,000 and $1.8 million.
Mr. Hawke, who after years of practicing banking law joined the Treasury Department in 1995, is the third wealthiest, after Mr. Levitt and Mr. Greenspan, at $1.6 million to $4.1 million. He invests mostly in mutual funds, many of them managed by Fidelity Investments or Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. He rounds out his portfolio with several commercial real estate partnerships.
Ms. Seidman, former special assistant to President Clinton for economic policy, is worth $1.3 million to $3.1 million. Her diverse portfolio includes mutual funds, nearly 25 municipal bonds, and a Fannie Mae pension worth close to $200,000.
Cash flows tell a similar story. All six regulators earn about the same salary, somewhere in the low $100,000's.
Mr. Summers was the most dependent of the six on his government paycheck. According to the disclosure documents, he earned $153,000 to $177,000 in 1998, including his Treasury salary. Ms. Tanoue, who joined the FDIC in mid-1998, earned $165,000 to $192,000.
Mr. Hawke had considerable outside income. His pension from the Arnold & Porter law firm, where he was a senior partner, paid him $108,000 last year. He took in another $100,000 or more from mutual fund investments, putting his income at $345,000 to $554,000. Close behind was Mr. Greenspan, who earned $283,000 to $601,000, much of it from interest on Treasury bills.
Mr. Levitt earned $1.7 million to $9.4 million. Much of his income came from mutual funds, with seven yielding $100,000 to $1 million each. His stock exchange pension paid him an additional $76,000.
Mr. Levitt sold just one asset in 1998: shares of M&T Bank Corp. of Buffalo, where he once was a director. Last Oct. 30 he exercised an option to sell shares worth $331,000. Four days later he sold $250,000 to $500,000 of common stock. He still owns more than $1 million of the bank's stock, however.
Ethics laws permit Mr. Levitt to invest in the stock market but not in broker-dealers, entities directly regulated by the SEC, an agency spokesman said.
Three of the regulators -- Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Hawke, and Ms. Tanoue -- are debt-free. Mr. Summers is paying off two five-year loans, one a 6% loan from a personal friend, Jeremy Bulow of Stanford, Calif., the other from his Harvard pension. Each has a balance of $15,000 to $50,000.
Ms. Seidman took out a 15-year mortgage last year on a vacation home in Spruce Head Island, Maine. Norwest Mortgage of Springfield, Ohio, made the $100,000 to $250,000 loan at 7.125%.
Mr. Levitt has a revolving line of credit with Citibank for more than $1 million. He pays the prime rate on the account, which was opened in 1986.
Mr. Greenspan sits highest in one respect: his dedication to avoiding conflicts of interest.
Under the Fed's own ethics rules, Mr. Greenspan is free to invest in any stock or bond except those associated with deposit-taking institutions or their affiliates. But to assure the public that his votes on the Federal Open Market Committee are free of selfish motives, he invests only in short-term securities that are relatively insensitive to interest-rate fluctuations.
"He's chosen to go beyond statutory requirements," a Fed spokesman said.