'This Week' Transcript: NEC Director Larry Summers

He -- he has an op-ed in today's New York Times in -- in which he questions whether or not you should be taking him more seriously. And he says, "Mr. Greenspan should use his substantial intellect and unsurpassed knowledge of government to ascertain and explain exactly how he and other officials missed the boat. If the mistakes were properly outlined, that might both inform Congress's efforts to improve financial regulation and help keep future Fed chairmen from making the same errors again."

Why are you not more interested in hearing what he has to say?

GREENSPAN: Well, on the contrary -- first of all, I was not referring to him specifically. There are three -- three -- three (ph) groups of people, those who got -- those who got it wrong about what the complexity was about to emerge in the -- that's the vast majority of people, myself included.

TAPPER: Right.

GREENSPAN: Then there's a group -- a relatively small, but not negligible group, who got it surely by luck. And then there's a very small group -- most of whom are my friends -- who got it right for the right reasons and that have done it time and time again.

I don't know Mr. Bury (ph). But he basically may very well be in that third group. I don't know that.

But the problem is, he in that article, which I read quickly this morning, is actually making the case that it's a very small group, because he says effectively that no one agreed with him. Well, he made his money -- properly, in my judgment, and I think very successfully -- by effectively selling subprimes short. Now, if nobody...

TAPPER: He was betting against subprime mortgages working.

GREENSPAN: Exactly. And if everybody agreed with him or a large proportion of people agreed with him, he wouldn't have been able to sell those contracts, the short contracts, so to speak, which worked their way through credit default swaps and technical jargon. There would be nobody to buy it, because they would agree with him.

So it required a very large proportion of the investing public, sophisticated investing public, to disagree with him. And I think -- I don't know whether or not he is in that extremely small group, which may -- may, in fact, be really exceptionally adroit at these things.

As I said a minute ago, I know four or five people who are really good. I don't know six, seven, eight or nine.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Alan Greenspan, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for coming...

GREENSPAN: My pleasure.

TAPPER: ... and talking to us today. The roundtable is next with George Will, Matthew Dowd, Karen Finney, and Robert Reich. And later, the Sunday funnies.


FALLON: Hey, guys, baseball season starts next week, and President Obama is going to throw out the first pitch at the Nationals game. Meanwhile, Joe Biden will be on hand to make the first error.




(UNKNOWN): The Republican National Committee approved nearly $2,000 in expenses at this West Hollywood sex-themed nightclub...

(UNKNOWN): The one person who was not there was Michael Steele.

(UNKNOWN): There's people involved with really bad judgment. It's something that should not have happened. It's on Michael's watch.

ROVE: Somebody ought to lose their credit card, their RNC credit card. Pull that. Find that pervert and get his card.


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