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The "Greenspan Put" refers to the monetary policy that Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Board, and the Fed members fostered from the late 1980s to the middle of 2000. During this period, when a crisis arose, the Fed came to the rescue by significantly lowering the Fed Funds rate, often resulting in a negative real yield. In essence, the Fed pumped liquidity back into the market to avert further deterioration. The Fed did so after the 1987 stock market crash, the Gulf War, the Mexican crisis, the Asian crisis, the LTCM debacle, Y2K, the internet bubble burst, and the 9/11 terror attack.
The Fed's pattern of providing ample liquidity resulted in the investor perception of put protection on asset prices. Investors increasingly believed that when things go bad, the Fed would step in and inject liquidity until the problem got better. Invariably, the Fed did so each time, and the perception became firmly embedded in asset pricing in the form of higher valuation, narrower credit spreads, and excess risk taking.

Greenspan's decisions and the artificially low interest rates were a big part of the problem.
 

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From the New York Times, September 30, 1999:

"Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

"In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

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"In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's."
 
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