Alan Greenspan, named yesterday to succeed Paul A. Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, is a conservative, politically savvy economist who believes that America cannot prosper with either too much inflation or government regulation.

Financial market participants reacted cautiously to Greenspan's appointment, partly because after nearly eight years as chairman, Volcker had become a known and widely admired figure. A recent poll conducted by economist Richard Hoey of Drexel Burnham Lambert showed nearly 90 percent of financial executives favoring Volcker's reappointment so he could continue his vigorous fight against inflation.

It was more a measure of the uncertainty created by Volcker's exit than doubts about Greenspan's own reputation as an opponent of inflation that caused the value of the dollar and prices of long-term government bonds to fall yesterday after the announcement, analysts said.

In the Drexel poll, Greenspan was the only second choice with significant backing.

Scott E. Pardee, vice chairman of Yamaichi International (America) and a former Fed official, said: "The whole financial community has been waiting for the word that Volcker was leaving to sell. Remember all the {repeated} rumors that he had resigned. Now it's the real thing.

"But in my eyes, once things settle down, it's a great {bond} buying opportunity," Pardee said. "We are dealing with another person who is just as committed to fighting inflation and is experienced in Washington."

At a joint press briefing at the White House yesterday, Volcker and Greenspan praised one another. In his remarks, Greenspan stressed the dangers posed by inflation.

"During the 1970s, there was increasing fear that inflation was destined to ratchet ever-upward, with ultimately disastrous effects and consequences to economic growth and employment," Greenspan said. "Under Paul's {Volcker's} leadership, inflation has been effectively subdued.

"It will be up to those of us who follow him to be certain that those very hard-won gains are not lost," Greenspan said. "Assuring that will be one of my primary goals."

Greenspan declined to answer specific questions on the future course of interest rates or the economy other than to say that he sees no evidence that the nation is close to a recession. "The economy, at the moment, looks reasonably strong and hopefully will continue so for the indefinite future," he said.

However, a very detailed economic forecast reflecting his views was sent late last month to clients of Townsend-Greenspan & Co., the New York economic consulting and forecasting firm Greenspan has headed for many years. That forecast shows the gross national product, adjusted for inflation, increasing at a 2.5 percent rate this year and slightly more in 1988 before rising inflation causes the Fed to tighten policy, boosting interest rates and producing a recession late next year.

The Townsend-Greenspan forecast also shows a continuing drop in the value of the dollar but at a much slower rate. In late April, the Fed was forced to tighten monetary policy slightly to increase interest rates and thereby make investments in the United States more attractive to foreigners who were worried that a drop in the value of the dollar relative to their own currencies would cause them to lose money. Higher U.S. interest rates provide a cushion against such a loss.

With the United States dependent upon foreign capital to finance its huge trade deficit -- and to some extent the even larger federal budget deficit -- many analysts believe the Fed has little room to maneuver, regardless of who is its chairman.

If the economy falters, it would be very difficult for the Fed to reduce interest rates without knocking the props out from under the dollar, the analysts said. Moreover, Greenspan's own analysis of economic activity on a worldwide basis has in recent years focused on changes in the dollar's value as a major determinant of growth.

Greenspan is a highly eclectic economist who belongs in no particular economic camp. However, he says he believes that monetary policy is a powerful and effective tool for establishing the conditions for sustained economic growth.

As chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Gerald R. Ford, he often argued that federal spending needed to be cut sharply. And he constantly pressed for cutbacks of federal regulation of many economic activities. Several economists said they expect Greenspan to be much more in favor of sweeping deregulation of financial institutions than Volcker.

Greenspan is considered less familiar with international matters than Volcker, and this drew the most reservations from economists interviewed. Economist Henry Kaufman of Salomon Brothers said the nominee is "most knowledgeable on the behavior of the U.S. economy, especially the business sector. His professional skills are much more limited in the international area. Consequently, although he is well-known abroad, his views on issues such as the less-developed country debt may initially carry less weight than have those of Mr. Volcker."

Volcker, though he has tried to deflect attention from his own role, has been deeply and personally involved in some negotiations concerning the debt problems of Mexico, Argentina and other Latin American nations. He came to the Fed chairmanship after previous service as undersecretary of Treasury for monetary policy during the early 1970s, when he helped formulate agreements under which the value of currencies floated rather than being fixed relative to the dollar and the price of gold.

While Greenspan has no similar international experience, he dealt regularly with foreign government officials when he was CEA chairman. In addition, if confirmed as expected by the Senate, he would bring to the job a great deal of experience in the politics of U.S. economic issues.

In 1982-83, Greenspan was the chairman of a commission on Social Security appointed by President Reagan that, largely though Greenspan's efforts, managed to achieve a consensus on the politically explosive issue of how to limit increases in benefits and raise payroll taxes to put the national retirement system on a much sounder financial footing.

Greenspan, 61, established a very close working relationship with Ford while at the CEA. Relying on the relationship, he often provided economic advice directly to Ford rather than through sometimes cumbersome official policy coordination machinery. And, relying on his own detailed knowledge of the U.S. economy, he sometimes bypassed the CEA professional staff, some of whom felt they had little to do.

At the Fed, the emphasis traditionally has been on collegiality in decision making -- even though previous Fed chairmen, such as William McChesney Martin, appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and reappointed by presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and Arthur Burns, named by President Richard M. Nixon, have been strong and sometimes autocratic leaders, according to economists and political scientists who have studied the central bank.

With the Greenspan appointment, President Reagan will have named six members of the seven-member board. There is one vacancy for a term that expires early next year, which the White House earlier decided to leave empty until then. While there was no specific announcement, presumably Greenspan will be named to fill the remainder of Volcker's term as Fed governor, which expires in 1992.

Volcker will continue as chairman until Greenspan is confirmed, a process that could take some time.