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The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New…

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (2007)

by Alan Greenspan

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    Capitalism and freedom by Milton Friedman (mercure)
    mercure: Alan Greenspan practiced what Milton Freedman preached.

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Very interesting account of Greenspan's life, why he became an economist, what he did in the government, and his thoughts for the future (all written prior to the TARP fiasco and Obama's election). ( )
  librisissimo | May 27, 2013 |
Alan Greenspan, as the head of the Federal Reserve, has been in an enviable position to witness the economic movements of the USA and the rest of the world. The book is divided into two parts, the first one is a chronological biography, and the second one is his views on the challenges facing the USA and the rest of the world.I was a bit disappointed with the publishing date of the book (it was published in 2007), as it was before the big global recession. I would have loved to read his views on the downturn, its causes, and his defence against the role he played in creating it, as a number of people have insinuated.Also a result of having been published earlier, there are a number of views he expresses, with which I now do not agree. He might have changed his views, had he witnessed the huge problems created in the USA.Some of the views and beliefs expressed in the book with which I disagree include:1. The current account deficit of the USA may not matter much.2. Hedge funds should not be regulated as they play an important role in stabilizing markets.3. Banks can regulate themselves much better than regulators can.4. Bank employees care for the shareholders, and so limit risk taking.5. Credit derivatives and mortgage backed securities make markets more efficient and better.6. Belief that regulation should restricted as much as possible.7. Belief that bubbles should not be popped.8. Belief that taking out home-equity loans was beneficial to the economy, and ignoring the risk of defaults.9. His endorsement for CDS as a way to redistribute risk, but ignoring their use as speculative instruments.10. Ignoring the risk of increased inter-linkages of financial institutions.Overall, the biographical section is very interesting, as it provides an insider view on the politics and policy-making of various US governments. The second section is a bit more general, where he outlines the problems, but refrains from clearly outlining workable solutions which could be implemented in order to overcome these problems.I found this book to be a quick read, and would recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the workings of the federal reserve and the US government from a practical viewpoint. ( )
  riteshkala | Nov 13, 2011 |
Pretty boring, frankly. ( )
  Mandarinate | Jan 17, 2011 |
This book is easy read. Remarkable because it covers very complicated events. It is very much a "day-in-the-life-of" kind of novel. Every student of economics could gain a greater understanding of how to put their economic training to practical use. It also raises a few interesting questions. For example, why do we collect taxes at all? Why not just run a deficit to pay for government spending? The answer to this question supports pay-go policies in government. Also, when government runs a surplus, why not just dump it all into the stock market, as the Clinton administration suggested? How much room is there for government in the private sector? The book also highlights conflicts between short-term and long-term financial policies that continue to cripple today's populist governments. ( )
  sagacious33 | Aug 12, 2010 |
Inside Alan's brain

With the timing of a senior trader in financial markets, Alan Greenspan chose both the moment of his retirement and the publication of this memoir perfectly. This book was published when confidence in financial markets was slowly eroding, but had not yet led to the demise of Lehman, or the massive support actions for AIG and other financial institutions across much of the Western world (strangely, no Asian or Southern European institutions were affected).

As chairman of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Greenspan presided over the Great Moderation, one of the longest economic expansions in modern history. The self-proclaimed libertarian Republican shared a well-accepted opinion that we should allow for creative destruction as much as society accepts, as it is good for economic growth, which is good for society. With the tool-set of the neoclassical Chicago School he cared mainly about inflation and the money supply. Debt levels, exchange rates, and current account deficits are basically ignored, as markets will correct them automatically.

The book chronicles Mr. Greenspan's development from nerdy business economist to head of the FED with dozens of friends in high places, plus a description of those parameters of the global economy he deems important for the coming decades. The first part is relatively short and sympathetic. I found the part about his years at the helm of the FED somewhat disappointing. We learn little about the inner workings of this organisation of global importance, as if Mr. Greenspan was only busy with inflation and trying to convince the Washington political machine to implement healthy long-term economic policies instead of pork (Congress and the Bush Administration are not spared). The part about future developments is interesting, as we see Mr. Greenspan at work, fitting real world developments into his theoretical framework. Compared to an article in the FT or the Economist, it is a relatively slow and somewhat cumbersome process, but depending on how well you read the financial press, you may find more or less new information here.

However, in 2010 we cannot but see this book in light of the developments of 2008 and 2009. In later interviews Mr. Greenspan has expressed his “shocked disbelief” in the behaviour of those playing the markets (his nerdy character has definitely been a disadvantage here, and I doubt if he had put so much trust in markets had he been experienced as a trader or a banker).

While Mr. Greenspan thought he could keep interest rates low and the money supply high at the same time, because globalisation and Chinese factory workers kept inflation in check, an 800-pound gorilla was maturing right under his eyes: the easy availability of money reduced the returns on traditional financial instruments and was an important reason for investors to accept high risk propositions (and it also reduced the rational for saving by private citizens). Mr. Greenspan argued that "real" prices of financial assets cannot be known, which is true to a large extend, but turned lethal .

Mr. Greenspan expanded his benign neglect to financial market supervision, where risky behaviour was slowly creating the conditions for an old-fashioned Kladeradatsch. He states in his book that supervisors cannot assess a counterparty as well as other market participants, a claim he does not substantiate. A supervisor has an asymmetric information advantage versus market participants, who base themselves upon reading financial statements, credit value at risk calculations, and ticking boxes like “under supervision [Y/N]”. Only the number and quality of staff (which is partly based upon the salaries the supervisors pay) can give supervisors such adisadvantage. Given his trust in market participants’ common sense and long-term outlook, the FED did not advocate any restrictions on mortgage quality requirements, executive pay structures or centralised clearing of standardised over-the-counter derivative trades.

So all-in-all it is an interesting book, but overtaken by a new reality that you can find explained much better by the likes of Paul Krugman (thanks for the link, Proximity1)or William White.

Mr. Greenspan responded to criticism here. ( )
  mercure | May 3, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
For a memoir from such a high-profile figure, it is surprisingly frank. Large parts of the book are downright entertaining. Its biggest failing — the reason it isn’t a great memoir — is Mr. Greenspan’s reluctance to be as forthright and penetrating about himself as he is about others.

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Einleitung: Am Nachmittag des 11. September 2001 befand ich mich an Bord des Swissair-Fluges 128 von Zürich nach Washington, auf der Rückreise von einem routinemässigen Bankertreffen in der Schweiz.
1: Wenn Sie im Westen von Manhattan in die U-Bahn steigen und nach Norden fahren, vorbei am Times Square, dem Central Park und Harlem, kommen Sie in den Stadtteil, in dem ich aufgewachsen bin.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143114166, Paperback)

In the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, in his fourteenth year as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan took part in a very quiet collective effort to ensure that America didn't experience an economic meltdown, taking the rest of the world with it. There was good reason to fear the worst: the stock market crash of October 1987, his first major crisis as Federal Reserve Chairman, coming just weeks after he assumed control, had come much closer than is even today generally known to freezing the financial system and triggering a genuine financial panic. But the most remarkable thing that happened to the economy after 9/11 was...nothing. What in an earlier day would have meant a crippling shock to the system was absorbed astonishingly quickly.

After 9/11 Alan Greenspan knew, if he needed any further reinforcement, that we're living in a new world - the world of a global capitalist economy that is vastly more flexible, resilient, open, self-directing, and fast-changing than it was even 20 years ago. It's a world that presents us with enormous new possibilities but also enormous new challenges. The Age of Turbulence is Alan Greenspan's incomparable reckoning with the nature of this new world - how we got here, what we're living through, and what lies over the horizon, for good and for ill-channeled through his own experiences working in the command room of the global economy for longer and with greater effect than any other single living figure. He begins his account on that September 11th morning, but then leaps back to his childhood, and follows the arc of his remarkable life's journey through to his more than 18-year tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, from 1987 to 2006, during a time of transforming change.

Alan Greenspan shares the story of his life first simply with an eye toward doing justice to the extraordinary amount of history he has experienced and shaped. But his other goal is to draw readers along the same learning curve he followed, so they accrue a grasp of his own understanding of the underlying dynamics that drive world events. In the second half of the book, having brought us to the present and armed us with the conceptual tools to follow him forward, Dr. Greenspan embarks on a magnificent tour de horizon of the global economy. He reveals the universals of economic growth, delves into the specific facts on the ground in each of the major countries and regions of the world, and explains what the trend-lines of globalization are from here. The distillation of a life's worth of wisdom and insight into an elegant expression of a coherent worldview, The Age of Turbulence will stand as Alan Greenspan's personal and intellectual legacy.

A Timeline of a Remarkable Career Mar. 6, 1926 Born in New York City 1936 At 10 sees Roosevelt campaigning; becomes expert on the 1936 Yankees 1938 Takes up clarinet at 12 1943-44 Studies clarinet at Julliard Mid 1944 Joins Henry Jerome Band 1948 Graduates (summa cum laude) from New York University. (He later earns a master's in 1950 and a Ph.D. in 1977, also from NYU.) Hired as economic analyst at the Conference Board. 1954-74 Co-founds Townsend-Greenspan & Co. Inc., an economic consulting firm in New York City. (He returns in 1977.) 1974 Nominated by President Ford as chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. 1983 Chair of bipartisan National Commission on Social Security Reform. June 1, 1987 Nominated by President Reagan for Fed Chair. Confirmed by Senate August 3. Oct. 19, 1987 Only 69 days into Greenspan's term, the Dow drops 508 points and 22%. July 10, 1991 Nominated by President George H.W. Bush to a second term as Fed Chairman. Later nominated to a third (February 22, 1996) and fourth term (January 4, 2000) by President Clinton. Apr. 6, 1997 Marries Andrea Mitchell May 18, 2004 Nominated by President George W. Bush for a fifth term as Fed chairman Jan. 31, 2006 Completes 18 ½ years at the Fed Feb. 1, 2006 Forms Greenspan Associates LLC, an economic consulting firm Alan Greenspan's Top 10 Classical and Jazz Favorites

Before Alan Greenspan embarked on his legendary financial career, he studied the clarinet at Julliard and played as a professional jazz musician (while doing tax returns for his bandmates). He chose 10 favorites for us from a lifetime of listening, including:

Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23

Vivaldi, Complete Cello Concertos

Coleman Hawkins, "Body and Soul"

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:49 -0400)

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After 9/11, Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, knew, if he needed any further reinforcement, that we're living in a new world--the world of a global capitalist economy that is vastly more flexible, resilient, open, self-directing, and fast-changing than it was even 20 years ago. It's a world that presents us with enormous new possibilities but also enormous new challenges. This book is Alan Greenspan's reckoning with the nature of this new world--how we got here, what we're living through, and what lies over the horizon, for good and for ill--channeled through his own experiences working in the command room of the global economy for longer and with greater effect than any other single living figure.--From publisher description.… (more)

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