Fed Head Cautions Congress

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WASHINGTON: Alan Greenspan, arguably the second most powerful man in America, is starting to sound just like your mother. "The exemplary performance of the U.S. economy in 1997 will be hard to match," he warned Congress Wednesday. "We must remain cautious about extrapolating recent favorable tax inflows into the future."

OK, not exactly like your mother. But the message was very down-home: Start saving for a rainy economy. Greenspan urged Congress, in crafting the 1999 budget, to keep the tax-cut goodies out -- and sock the extra money away until the impact of the Asian crisis on U.S. prosperity can be fully appreciated.

"These uncertainties underscore the need for caution as you move ahead in your work on the 1999 budget," Greenspan said. "There is no guarantee that projected surpluses over the next few years will actually materialize." And eat your vegetables -- or he'll raise interest rates.