Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, known for his steady hand during times of crisis, admitted Friday that he was "essentially incommunicado'' on Sept. 11 -- but that the Fed functioned quite well without him.
Greenspan said that when the terrorist attacks occurred, "I was halfway across the Atlantic, essentially incommunicado'' on a commercial flight that was diverted back to Zurich, Switzerland. The Fed chairman had to wait until the total ban on flights over the U.S. airspace was lifted.
Greenspan made his remark in response to New York Stock Exchange Chairman Richard Grasso who, introducing Greenspan for a speech, said the 1987 market meltdown was the first of a number of times when the nation has benefited from Greenspan's steady presence at the central bank.
Friday was the 14th anniversary of the Oct. 19, 1987, stock market crash, when the Dow Jones industrial average suffered its biggest percentage loss in history, a drop of 22.6 percent.
Greenspan said when he finally landed in Switzerland and was able to reach Fed officials in Washington, he found that Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson, the only Fed board member in Washington that day, made all the right moves to respond to the market disruption.
``The Federal Reserve has got a remarkably deep bench,'' Greenspan said.
Ferguson ``went through the various things he had done, and as far as I was concerned, I could have just kept flying and it really wouldn't have mattered all that much,'' Greenspan said.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.