NEW YORK – Alan Greenspan is in talks with major publishers about writing a memoir, which could net the Delphic former central banker more than $1 million, sources familiar with his proposal said Monday.
Greenspan is represented by Washington-based lawyer Robert Barnett, who negotiated an $8 million advance for Sen. Hillary Clinton with Simon & Schuster and a $12 million deal for former President Clinton's memoir, published by Random House imprint Alfred A. Knopf.
"Alan Greenspan was one of the most revered and successful public figures of our time, and there are many who are anxiously awaiting what he wants to say," Barnett told Reuters.
One Random House executive confirmed the publisher was among those looking at Greenspan's proposal.
Greenspan retired at the end of January after 18 1/2 years as Federal Reserve chairman. He became a household name for playing a key role during America's longest economic expansion in the 1990s.
Those familiar with the book proposal said it had not been decided whether Greenspan would write the book alone or hire a ghostwriter for the memoir, which will tell of his years as America's top central banker, the monetary and fiscal crises he handled and the people he met.
Greenspan, a symbol of integrity while in office, has raised eyebrows on Wall Street for speaking on the economy at private events just a week after leaving the central bank, charging more than $100,000 per appearance for his musings on the U.S. economy.
Publishers Weekly Senior Editor Charlotte Abbott said a $1 million advance would not be unreasonable, but said an advance of $5 million or $7 million would be hard to justify.
"While he's a figure of great renown and interest ... it's not like he's had a particularly interesting or dynamic life that people are dying to read about, or that there's some explosive secrets that he's going to reveal about how the Fed is run," Abbott said.
While Greenspan made global headlines for his Delphic musings, it remains to be seen whether he can produce a page-turning read after years in a job where he appeared to speak in cryptic financial terms.
Among Greenspan's best-known proclamations was his 1996 suggestion that the U.S. stock market might be suffering from "irrational exuberance." While that phrase went down in history, it was buried in a rambling, 4,000-word speech.
Anne Soukhanov, the U.S. editor of Microsoft's Encarta college dictionary, said his challenge will be "writing in a language the average person can understand."
"He sounds clear when he speaks," Soukhanov said. "But it sounds like gibberish to Joe Sixpack who is trying to figure out where the economy is going."
Greenspan has admitted his statements can be confusing, joking, "If you think you understood me, it's because I misspoke."