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G7 heaps praise, gifts on Greenspan

Britain's Treasury chief Gordon Brown paid tribute Friday to outgoing U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, saying he had served his country and the world with distinction.
U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is free to herd sheep over London Bridge and walk around the city with a drawn sword after being honored with the Freedom of the City of London award.Toby Melville / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Alan Greenspan can now herd sheep over London Bridge after being rewarded with the Freedom of the City of London on Friday for his 18-year tenure at the helm of the world’s most powerful financial institution.

The 79-year-old Greenspan, who steps down at the end of January as chairman of the U.S. central bank, was heaped with praise and gifts in his final appearance as a key player at a Group of Seven conference in the British capital.

“I must say I am slightly disappointed I did not bring my flock of sheep in the hope I could shepherd them across London Bridge,” Greenspan remarked to laughter at the ceremony.

The ancient Freedom confers a number of privileges, including right to take sheep across London Bridge and to walk about the City of London with a drawn sword.

Greenspan joins a select band of dignitaries who have received the award, including Nelson Mandela, Dwight Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

Greenspan, widely acknowledged as the world’s most influential central banker, delivered an address on the dangers of trade protectionism and lack of budget control to a conference ahead of the formal start of a G7 session billed as partly a salute to the retiring fed chief.

British finance minister Gordon Brown presented Greenspan with a red ministerial box of the type used by British ministers to carry their formal papers to and from the office.

He also gave Greenspan an early edition of Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments and a handwritten record of the dividend paid by the Bank of England to George and Martha Washington for their share of a bond to pay the costs of keeping British forces in America.

More formal tributes to Greenspan were to come at a closed dinner on Friday night with the finance ministers and central bankers from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.