Greenspan’s Ritual

Stalked by cameras, his every utterance dissected by a hungry-eyed journalists, Alan Greenspan is understandably press-averse.

The chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, unlike many Washington policymakers, never hangs around to answer media questions after a speech. He gives no interviews, stays away from the Sunday morning talk show circuit, and does not send out self-serving press releases.

All of which makes the ritual known variously as “the Greenspan walk,” “the briefcase walk,” or just “the walk,” that much more peculiar.

On Tuesday, at a quarter to eight in the morning, about two dozen cameramen and reporters formed a tight phalanx on C Street, packed together on the sidewalk between the double doors of the Fed’s Marriner S. Eccles Building. Their cameras rested on the ground or were slung over their shoulders, but they all pointed roughly at the same target half a block away: the corner of 21st and C.

The pack was waiting for Mr. Greenspan to arrive for one of the eight yearly meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee, whose members were expected to announce a cut in interest rates that afternoon.

At 8:04 a black Lincoln made its way down 21st and turned left on C Street, stopping near the corner to let the Fed chairman, clad in a dark suit and clutching his black briefcase, step onto the sidewalk and start moving toward the door — and the cameras. A security guard, lugging a much larger pile of papers, stepped out after him and followed several steps behind and off to the side. The driver of the Lincoln kept pace with the chairman, while a black sports utility vehicle at the far end of the street, with another security man behind the wheel, began a slow crawl down the street to meet the Lincoln in the middle of the block.

It should be noted here that the Fed has an underground garage, and that Mr. Greenspan, strictly speaking, can get out of his car anywhere he feels like — walking the half-block to the door of the Fed is purely optional.

The clicking of shutters and the whir of auto-winders reached a crescendo as the chairman came near. Without breaking stride he nodded at the crowd, offered a crisp “Good morning,” and stepped past two more security guards and into the building.

Asked if he shows up in front of the Fed building every time the Open Market Committee meets, a disheveled-looking cameraman nodded, “Mm-hmm.” Does Mr. Greenspan ever stop and talk to the reporters? He looked momentarily puzzled. Then, shaking his head dismissively, he chuckled and said, “No,” before turning back to his equipment.

Radical Dudes

Two former Treasury Department hands from the Clinton administration, Gary Gensler and Gregory A. Baer, are still working together — this time on a book about investing that they hope to publish next year. It’s going to be called “Radically Safer Investing.”

“Much of the book strives to help readers understand the real risks and returns of the most common investment approaches,” Mr. Gensler, a former undersecretary for domestic finance, said last week by e-mail. He and Mr. Baer, a former assistant secretary for financial institutions, have signed a deal with a division of Random House, which reportedly beat out seven other publishers. The two are just a month or two from finishing the manuscript.

“Just about all of the evidence shows that the average American, whether using mutual funds or picking individual stocks, under-performs the market,” Mr. Gensler said in his message. “Thus, the book is driven, in part, by a desire to broaden financial literacy as it relates to the stock markets and to offer readily available and better alternatives for investors.”

Switching Sides

Two communicators for bank lobbying groups are moving off the industry payroll.

Elizabeth Rhea Gregory, the communications director of the Financial Services Roundtable, will become associate under secretary of economic affairs at the Commerce Department on Sept. 4. She will handle communications and legislative affairs for the under secretary of economic affairs, who produces social and economic data for the department.

And Edward F. Smith has been named the vice president of membership and banker relations of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. Mr. Smith joined the group after almost 27 years with the American Bankers Association, most recently as the director of member communications.

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