Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Greenspan calls on the wisdom of Sherlock Holmes

Lifted in part from the Associated Press on Monday:
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) -- U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Monday that as an economic detective he has long found inspiration in the wisdom of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

Greenspan's comment came in a speech at the University of Edinburgh, where he received an honorary degree in a ceremony led by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

Wearing a gown of scarlet cloth with gold trim, Greenspan, 78, praised the University of Edinburgh, "whose traditions of academic inquiry and innovation run so very deep through the history of this land and perhaps inevitably the history of the world.

"As an economic detective of sorts, I find kinship in the words written by this university's world-renowned alumnus, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes -- while speaking of the art of detection -- unknowingly unlocked the well kept secrets of monetary policy making."

Greenspan said that Conan Doyle's famous character spoke of "balancing probabilities" and the "scientific use of the imagination."

"He sounds like a stock portfolio manager of one of Edinburgh's premium investment houses. What is true for detectives and financial risk managers is true for monetary policymakers, and is, I am certian, also true for the young minds taking shape here on these grounds."
My dad introduced me to the great Conan Doyle stories more than 40 years ago, and I've been a diehard Sherlockian since then. In the 1970s, I was a very active member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of Los Angeles and even edited their newsletter for awhile. In the 1980s, I founded my own Holmes society in the L.A. area, The Blind German Mechanics (named for Von Herder, the inventor of the air-gun used in an assassination attempt on Holmes in "The Adventure of the Empty House"); I relaunched that group here on the Central Coast last summer. For the past decade, I've been a member of the Hounds of the Internet email list. I have re-read the 56 short stories and four novels that make up the Holmes Saga again and again. And I can tell you this...

Sherlock Holmes knew about everything from Indian swamp adders, to the distinctions between tobacco ashes, to the tracing of footsteps, to bee-farming. But he didn't know shit about economics.


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