Following is a sample of comments about the economy over the past several years by Alan Greenspan, who was named last week as President Reagan's choice to succeed Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker:

"I got the impression that somebody pulled the plug on the American economy." -- May 1980

"We are in one of the major economic contractions of the past 50 years." (But asked if he would call it a "severe depression" as presidential candidate Ronald Reagan had, he said, "No, I wouldn't describe it as such.") -- August 1980

Commenting on Reagan's economic plan to balance the budget, cut taxes and increase defense spending, Greenspan said it would "restore vitality and incentives to the economy. . . . " -- September 1980

"Recently, Fed officials have been emphasizing their determination to hold rates as high as necessary in order to achieve their anti-inflation goals, even if this acts as a modest depressant on business. While this could become a more severe problem in the weeks and months ahead, they need not face this conflict immediately. . . . " -- January 1981

"Remember what the nature of these {Reagan administration economic forecast} numbers is. It is what you would expect to occur if all the president's program is initiated as recommended. There is a tendency when one looks at the numbers to say they are out of the ballpark. They are not." -- February 1981

"If somebody had told me two or three years ago a president could cut a budget like this, I wouldn't have believed it." -- April 1981

The administration "has done a job {on the budget} that any of us with experience in Washington would have said had only one chance in 100 of succeeding. But you have to evaluate it in the context of what they need to do. Have they resolved it? No. Have they made progress? Unquestionably. Have they more to go? Yes, sir." -- July 1981

"This recession was caused by the disequilibria generated by inflation and exacerbated by the rapid rise in interest rates which began shortly after the 1980 recession came to an end. The continuation of record levels of interest rates for more than six months in 1981, while inflation slowed but did not disappear, inevitably took its toll on an economy that appeared resilient but was not robust by any means.

"A prospective sharp expansion in federal outlays left the Federal Reserve to fight inflation with monetary policy alone. This clearly was inadequate and it impelled the Fed to adopt a more stringent course than it might otherwise have pursued. . . . " -- November 1981.

The odds that there will be "no significant recovery" this year are 1 in 3. -- January 1982

"If the recovery has not begun, it is imminent." -- January 1983

"The threat of an interest rate escalation stems less from the emergence of any massive volume of short-term domestic credit demands than from a potentially significant reduction in the planned flow of financial capital into the United States by foreigners. . . . Should the inflow on capital account decline, interest rates would have to rise sufficiently to induce foreigners to maintain their rate of fund flow into the United States in order to finance our current account deficit. Interest rates would rise to the level required to rebalance the overall supply and demand for funds in the United States. The Federal Reserve, of course, could supply reserves adequate to offset the foreign shortfall, but the inflationary implications of such an action, with a lag, would raise inflation premiums embodied in interest rates, nullifying the Fed's intent." -- August 1984

"If Congress should fail to address the deficit seriously, the Fed is likely to conclude that it must continue to carry the main responsiblity for an effective anti-inflationary policy. Once it is clear that the economy is not slipping into recession, the Fed is likely to acquiesce to somewhat higher interest rates." -- November 1984

"Ours is a highly complex economy, closely interrelated with economic and financial developments throughout the world. No single monetary or credit aggregate has an invariant relationship with the diverse economic and financial strands of our society. Therefore, no single monetary or credit aggregate can stand alone as the sole target of monetary policy. . . .

"The Fed must be free to conduct monetary policy on the basis of an assessment of the forces which appear crucial at any particular time. Clearly, when the economy is faltering, it is necessary to maintain credit and monetary growth. But if the economy and money supply appear to be accelerating in an unsustainable manner, they must be reined in before a new inflation wave is generated. Appropriate monetary policy requires a weighing of the various relevant financial and economic developments. But above all, the inability to judge the vagaries of credit demands requires stable growth rates in the monetary aggregates." -- March 1985

"We are learning that our worst fears about the inability of our institutions to function are turning out to be right. It's not that I think the president is wrong on the issue of taxes. In the longer-term sense, he is right in that the issue is really spending. Taxes are only a stopgap solution. . . .

"What's happening to us is something akin to a Greek tragedy, where we seem to be drifting in a direction that is dangerous to the economy's longer-term future and we don't seem to have the ability to divert it." -- August 1985

"Most protectionist legislation is supposed to save jobs in the United States and/or punish foreign competitors. It probably does neither." -- October 1985

"Rigidities created by rising debt burdens make the economy and financial system less shock-resistant. Hence, the risks to the economy are greater than at any time since the end of the war. A lasting reduction in the federal debt could reduce interest rates and diminish financial pressures. . . . " -- December 1985

"{By} any objective measure of Federal Reserve monetary posture, a projected favorable shift in the path of the {budget} deficit would reduce today's inflation premiums {in interest rates} and, hence, reduce long-term rates without action by the Fed. . . . I don't understand the current notion that the Fed must ease in advance of the reduction in the actual deficit or even to ease contemporaneously. In almost all credible scenarios, it is not only unnecessary, but may prove inflationary and, hence, counterproductive." -- February 1986.

"We may be at one of those periods in history where policy has very serious limitations. You can hope that positive elements emerge. But my concern is that much of what policy can do is already in place." -- July 1986

"Fed policy remains extremely accommodative, but the easing which began last April appears to have been completed. . . . The pause in Fed policy is consistent with comments by Vice Chairman {Manuel H.} Johnson that this was desirable in view of signs that economic activity might be firming. He also noted increased concern about inflation, as evident in the rise in bond yields." -- September 1986

"I certainly think we need to look at something that will stabilize the {international financial} system. What concerns me is that the claims in dollars are now so huge that it's going to be very difficult to get a fix on gold, though if we can, I would certainly agree that's the ideal system to reach.

"Even though I would like to see that happen, at the moment it's a type of thing that's going to be very difficult to achieve. Having said that, the alternatives don't strike me at the moment as very propitious either." -- December 1986