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The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World Paperback – 9 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 563 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (9 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143114166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143114161
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 15 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,854,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gaurav Sharma VINE VOICE on 19 Mar 2009
Format: Hardcover
In light of the credit crisis, many blame former US Federal reserve chairman Alan Greenspan for the current malaise in the world economy. However, the man himself chooses to describe it as a once in century type event. Caught in the debate is this memoir of his which went into print barely months after credit bubble burst.

Greenspan unquestionably played a key role in how the US economy as well as the world economy has panned out for over the last five decades. Bearing that in mind this book deserves respect and it does not disappoint. It is engaging and interesting. The author clearly acknowledges that he conveys his understanding of the world in context of his own experiences.

Essentially, the book dwells on Greenspan's illustrious career in the first half and his thoughts on the economy and monetary policy in the second. A trawl through Greenspan's career is highly readable containing bits about how he found his way into central banking and dealt with not just a succession of US presidents from Ford to Bush, but incoming and outgoing administrations as well. It is packed with anecdotes about anything in government circles from Greenspan meeting Margaret Thatcher to conversing with Rush Limbaugh about the Mexican crisis.

From there on to the latter stages of the book, one gradually gets an insight into the former Fed Chairman's thoughts, the influence of Adam Smith on him and his vivid description of the "failure of Keynesian economic models." For those claiming Greenspan had a preference for keeping rates artificially low, there's plenty on ammunition as he admits his liking for "cutting interest rates to make it easier for people to borrow and spend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By on 14 Mar 2011
Format: Paperback
I found this a very disappointing book. It does contain a lot of interesting comments on the workings of economics, but in the end Greenspan's ideology simply leaves out anything that is inconvenient, and for me the overall effect was to undermine the credibility of the entire book.

For example, the chapter on Latin America actually made me laugh out loud when he attributed populism to European colonialism, having dismissed US involvement in a couple of paragraphs. Really, Alan? Hundreds of thousands of deaths at the hands of right-wing dictators supported by the US over all those years has NO effect on populism?

Cuba is mentioned once, I think, disparagingly - the fact that it has suffered an illegal economic embargo since 1959, been invaded by a neighbour many times its size, been subject to acts of terrorism and attempts to assassinate its president - none of these seem relevant to its economic position in Greenspan's view, though he was worried about the effect that the single act of 9/11 might have on a country the size of the US. Consistency would be useful.

Greenspan is simply dismissive of anything he doesn't like, which means that the reader does not get the full picture in any of his subject areas.

He comments on the Asian Crisis of the late 90s, mostly in a slightly patronising tone, but if you read Joe Stiglitz's book Globalisation and its Detractors, you get the detail filled in about the role of the IMF in destabalising one economy after another through the same ideology that Greenspan promotes. Greenspan, however, hardly mentions the IMF, preferring to blame it all on the countries themselves.

The Washington Consensus has by now been pretty much trashed as an ideology - it is within this context that this book should be read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Partick Potter on 8 Mar 2009
Format: Hardcover
The first part of the book takes you through Greenspan's working life and reminds us that financial crises occur rather frequently and although circumstances change two factors appear to be constant: the greed of the financial community and their sheep like behaviour in following others into, for example, SE Asia prompting the financial crisis there in the 90's or high tech stock driving the bubble. No surprise then that the current crisis (a level 5 crisis according to the definition provided early in this book) is a consequence of reckless pursuit of high risk investment.

In the second part of the book Greenspan shares his thoughts on economic theory across a range of subjects (and in doing so loses some of the writing fluency from the first part as too much technical jargon is employed - losing a star in the process!). In this section he reveals, unwittingly, a fundamental flaw in his economic thinking. Greenspan's view is regulation needs to be minimised to allow markets to grow most effectively and that control in the market will come from self interest. The fundamental flaw is the self interest of the CEO, who sets the strategy for a company, is not necessarily the same as the self interest of the company i.e. the CEO gets rich while the company goes bust (RBS...!).

Overall a great read - full of stacks of relevant and valuable information.
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55 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Serghiou Const on 27 Sep 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve for almost two decades was at 'the commanding heights' of policy making in the world's most powerful economy. During his tenure the American Economy enjoyed remarkably good health which contributed to the almost iconic status of the author.

Interestingly for a banker, the book is excellent in that it is both intelligently written and pleasantly read. On occasions it is lively and candid. In this regard the author criticises President Bush for not exercising restraint in public spending while asserting that the Iraq war was largely about oil.

The first half of the book comprise reminiscences of the author while in the balance he reflects on the main economic issues which will confront governments in the decades to come.

The author relates America's economic history since the 1950s through his experience in business and in government and at the Federal Reserve Board. He comments on America's Presidents from Nixon to Bush and British Prime Ministers from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair.

Compared to only twenty years ago, the new financial world is turbulent - hence the title of the book - more flexible, resilient, open and fast changing.

Reflecting on the future the author speculates on China's prospects, Russia's prospects, Latin America's prospects, demographics, corporate governance, inequality, energy and the like.

Mr Greenspan has been criticised for not acting pre-emptively by keeping interest rates low for too long and thus precipitating bubbles in the stockmarket and real estate. He acknowledges the criticism but maintains his stance.

This popular book should appeal to a wide readership interested in World Economics
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