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Greenspan's Course: Steady but Ready

Ever since the idea of a New Economy dawned in the mid '90s, Alan Greenspan's adherence to its nostrums has made him the undisputed ruler of the roost at the Federal Reserve. Sure, as chairman of the central bank he has always been the first among equals, especially when it comes to setting monetary policy. But his willingness to throw many time-honored economic theories aside in the belief that the U.S. was entering a new era of productivity-powered growth, helped cement his position as policymaker nonpareil.

Now, though, as the U.S. struggles to recover from the excesses of the bubble economy of the late '90s, other Fed officials have been emboldened to question Greenspan's grasp on the interest rate reins. In the runup to the Tuesday, Mar. 18, meeting of the Fed's Open Markets Committee (FOMC), Greenspan has tried to downplay the need for further rate cuts, arguing that the economy's recent weakness is mainly a case of Iraq-induced geopolitical jitters that'll clear up once the war is won.

MOVE AT ANY TIME. Other monetary mandarins aren't so sure. They fear that the economy is still fig

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