Sunday Musings: Is This A conflict Of Interest?

No, I am not jealous. I don’t begrudge anyone for getting a job that pays somewhere in the neighborhood of a few million dollars a year, requires traveling around in a private jet, giving speeches, pressing corporate flesh and dining privately in first class facilities.

This is not a fantasy job description, but simply my interpretation of the one that former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan took when he signed up with bond powerhouse PIMCO a few weeks ago.

I am sure that he will be working in some capacity with bond guru Bill Gross, who oversees billions of dollars of PIMCO’s bond funds. I have no problem with that as long as Mr. Greenspan doesn’t use his new position, along with his remaining clout as ex-Fed Chairman, to make statements in public that move world markets and produce a desired outcome for his new employer.

After all, making a public statement by a figurehead with his reputation about, say, a weakening global economy could have very positive effects on his employer’s bond holdings.

That’s the problem I have with this scenario. Twice this year, after leaving office, we have seen Mr. Greenspan make comments in public that were, at least in my view, unsuited for an ex-Chairman because of their market influencing effect.

While he has not done so since taking on his new job, I sure hope that he is aware of the potential conflict on interest, and acts with a sense of responsibility that one should expect.

That brings up an interesting question to ponder. Should those public officials, who were appointed to powerful positions, such as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve (and others), be required to have a “quiet period” after leaving office?

About Ulli Niemann

Ulli Niemann is the publisher of "The ETF Bully" and is a Registered Investment Advisor. Learn more
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