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Greenspan Put


The Greenspan Put refers to the monetary policy that former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan used during his tenure. He would lower interest rates at times of market stress or anticipated downturns, thus encouraging borrowing and spending to stimulate economic growth. The term “put” is derived from put options in finance, which give the owner the right to sell assets at an agreed price, offering a sort of insurance against falling prices.


The phonetics for the keyword “Greenspan Put” would be: /ˈɡriːnspæn pʊt/

Key Takeaways

  1. The Greenspan Put refers to the monetary policy that the Federal Reserve (under Alan Greenspan’s lead), adhered to in order to contain or delay financial crises. Whenever there was an economic downturn or the stock market showed signs of intense decrease, the Federal Reserve would reduce interest rates to stimulate economic growth and stabilize financial markets.
  2. Despite giving investors more confidence about investing in riskier assets due to the expected support from the Federal Reserve, Greenspan Put has been criticized for creating moral hazard. This term is used to describe a situation where a party is more likely to take risks when the potential risks or costs will be shouldered by others. Investors were more tempted to invest in riskier assets, assuming that the Fed would always come to the rescue in the case of a financial downturn.
  3. Greenspan’s policy is often credited with prolonging the economic expansion of the 1990s and early 2000s, but it has also been blamed for inflating the subsequent housing bubble. This bubble was one of the main root causes of the 2007-2008 financial crisis, which shows that the Greenspan Put, while offering short-term relief, can potentially lead to severe long-term negative consequences.


The Greenspan Put refers to the monetary policy that former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan employed during his tenure. It became prominent for its perceived implication that the Federal Reserve would lower short-term interest rates to bail out financial markets during periods of crisis or downturns. Market players assumed a sort of insurance against economic catastrophe, hence the term “put,” which in finance is a contract that allows, but does not obligate, an entity to sell a specific volume at a certain price before a particular date. Therefore, the “Greenspan Put” is significant because it both symbolizes and implicates a proactive Federal Reserve that steps in to prevent market crashes, which can lead to a moral hazard or a false sense of security among investors who might take on more risk believing that the central bank will provide a safety net.


The Greenspan Put refers to a monetary policy strategy implemented by Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, which involved lowering interest rates in response to significant market downturns to boost investor confidence and stabilize the economy. The purpose of this approach was to protect equity investors from the full brunt of market risk, creating a perceived market floor, or a “put option” , thereby encouraging a higher level of risk-taking in the equity markets.Greenspan’s Put was mostly used during times of financial crisis or drastic market downturns. The idea was to use these lower interest rates to encourage borrowing and investing, thereby propping up asset prices and in turn, the broader economy. This approach guided global monetary policies for almost two decades and played a considerable part in managing several significant crises. However, the Greenspan Put approach has also been viewed critically, as some argue it has encouraged excessive risk-taking and may contribute to inflationary bubbles.


The “Greenspan Put” refers to the monetary policy that former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan used during his time in office to cut interest rates when the economy faced negative economic shocks. The goal of this tactic is to avoid potential economic downturns. The term “put” is borrowed from options trading, where a put option gives you the right to sell an asset at a predetermined price. Here are three examples of this strategy:1. Asian Financial Crisis (1997-1998): When Asian markets began to crash in 1997 due to heavy foreign debt, the contagion began to affect other markets across the globe. In response, Greenspan cut interest rates aggressively to avoid a true bear market and revitalize economic growth, delivering a significant boost to the U.S. equity market.2. Dot Com Bubble (2001): Following the burst of the dot-com bubble and the recession that hit in early 2000s, Greenspan once again used the strategy of reducing interest rates. This move was made to add liquidity to the markets that were absorbed by the bursting of the bubble, attempting to maintain investor confidence and stabilize market conditions.3. Post-9/11 Economic Slowdown (2001): In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. economy showed significant signs of slowing down. Greenspan responded by implementing a series of aggressive rate cuts aimed at warding off the bear market until the economy began to show signs of recovery. This decision was another instance of the “Greenspan Put”.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Greenspan Put?

The Greenspan Put refers to the monetary policy that the Federal Reserve (Fed) and its former chairman Alan Greenspan adopted. The strategy used interest rate cuts to support the market, enabling it to recover from downswings. The aim was to create a more stable economy and foster continuous growth.

How did the term Greenspan Put come about?

The term derives from the fact that, under Greenspan’s policies, the Fed often opted to reduce interest rates during periods of market stress or downturns—similar in concept to a put option, which provides holders with protection against falling prices.

When was the Greenspan Put first implemented?

Greenspan first implemented this concept after the Black Monday stock market crash in 1987 by cutting interest rates to prevent further market decline.

What is the impact of the Greenspan Put on the economy?

The Greenspan Put generally leads to an immediate boost in the economy because it lowers borrowing costs. It can also cause a rise in asset prices because investors often react to low rates by buying more assets.

Did the Greenspan Put become a standard Federal policy?

While this was a significant part of Greenspan’s policy, it’s not seen as a permanent Federal Reserve policy. The use of interest rate cuts to rescue the market varies depending on the chairman and the condition of the economy.

Are there any criticisms of the Greenspan Put?

Yes, critics argue that these policies can lead to asset bubbles and moral hazard. This means that investors may take higher risks, assuming that the Fed will always intervene to prop up the economy.

Has the Greenspan Put contributed to any major economic events?

Some critics believe that the Greenspan Put contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. They argue that its low interest rate policy led to an overheated housing market, which consequently led to the crisis once the bubble burst.

Related Finance Terms

  • Central Bank Intervention: A regulation or action undertaken by a central bank to stabilize or stimulate the financial system or economy.
  • Monetary Policy: The policy adopted by the monetary authority of a nation to control either the interest rate payable for very short-term borrowing or the money supply.
  • Stock Market Crash: A sudden and significant decline in the value of stock in the market, often triggered by panic selling.
  • Interest Rates: The proportion of a loan that is charged as interest to the borrower, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the loan outstanding.
  • Put Option: A financial contract giving the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell a specified amount of an underlying asset at a specified price within a specified time-frame.

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