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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight that reveals a fundamental flaw in economic thinking
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...
Published on 8 Mar 2009 by The Partick Potter

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting memoir of former Fed Chairman beleaguered by current developments
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...
Published on 19 Mar 2009 by Gaurav Sharma


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting memoir of former Fed Chairman beleaguered by current developments, 19 Mar 2009
By 
Gaurav Sharma (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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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." However, in his defence, Greenspan explains how he kept the recession short via low interest rates following the dotcom bubble and kept them low until he saw an economic recovery.

His problem was that by the time the Fed raised the rates it was already too late and seeds of the current economic malaise had been sown. There is a bit of bravado in his writing which does unravel during current market conditions. For instance, he notes: "Many economists credit central bank monetary policy as the key factor in the last decade's reduction in inflation worldwide." With both economists and central bankers equally foxed and staring at deflation, such statements now seem to be a bit over the top.

Clinton and Greenspan both share some of the blame for the current crisis. This emerges in Chapter 7 of the book which is a fascinating read. Throughout the narrative Greenspan endorses repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act by Clinton in 1999 which ensured complete separation of between commercial banks and investment banks and so began the cycle of high risk taking for high returns.

Furthermore, Clinton's policy of beefing up the Community Reinvestment Act (1977) dwelling on relaxation of rules for mortgage lending fanned the subprime market, which hitherto accounted for less than 5% of all borrowing but rose to 30% by the time Greenspan penned the final thoughts for this book.

In summation, the author perhaps wanted this book to be the celebration of his career. Regrettably, it has rather become an insight into what and where monetary policymakers, bankers and those in financial circles tripped-up.

This should not discount Greenspan's work and his life in public service. He was player in what was to unfold and for the readers he provides a vivid account for them to draw their own inferences. I feel it is a decent book. However, it's prudent to mention that I did find myself frequently disagreeing with the great man's take on the World Economy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too driven by ideology to be credible, 14 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight that reveals a fundamental flaw in economic thinking, 8 Mar 2009
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 dot.com 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
5.0 out of 5 stars A central Banker reminisces, comments on present turbulence and reflects on the future, 27 Sep 2007
By 
Serghiou Const (Nicosia, Cyprus) - See all my reviews
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Turgid, self-justifying and inaccurate, 30 Dec 2011
By 
manager (london, england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (Paperback)
As Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Mr Greenspan's job was "putting in place the monetary conditions for maximum sustainable long-term growth and employment". Yet instead Greenspan put in place the conditions for the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Tens of millions lost their jobs and their homes. In his badly-written book, Greenspan tries to take credit for everything that went well during his time in office and then blames everyone else for the crash. This book is an attempt by a bureaucrat to avoid the blame for his total failure to do his job. It is inaccurate and not worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read: a look at the past, and a look into the future, 19 Dec 2008
By 
Nicholas Johnson (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (Paperback)
I found this book to be a great read, if a little dry to begin with. First of all, it can be split into two sections: the first half covers Greenspan's years growing up and most of all his career as an economist, particularly as chairman of the Federal Reserve, but also formerly as an economic consultant and as an advisor to Republican presidents; the second half contains his thoughts on what he sees as the major economic issues of the day, those that will face policy-makers across the globe in the near future. Having studied economics I was more interested in the latter so I read the second half first, and I do not think I lost anything by it.

Both parts of the book are compelling. The author makes clear that he is a strong supporter of free and open markets, balanced government budgets and a view of the economy which sees 'creative destruction' as essential to economic development. While I do not fully agree with his philosophy, he does make a case that markets have a tremendous power to modernise society and can be a great force for material gain. Even a final chapter (in the 2008 paperback edition) on the current financial crisis leaves him quite unmoved in his position. This was however written before the nationalisation of many of our banks and other such dramatic interventions.

The author makes reasonably clear his views on the US presidents he has worked with, though he is more subtle about George W Bush, not giving away too much except for his clear disapproval of the latter's budgetary policy.

The vast majority of the book then is about economic policy, which I find very interesting. But it remains a personal account, and is full of fascinating anecdotes. I would recommend it to anyone interested in macroeconomic and financial policy, US politics and world affairs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Peek behind the Curtain!, 31 July 2008
The Age of Turbulence is engaging, fascinating and educational. Watching Greenspan on television in the Senate Sub Committee meetings was interesting...but tough to know who the man behind the curtain was. This book opens the curtain and lets us see a motivated individual who is confident of his skills, but doesn't flaunt it.

In the first part of the book Alan Greenspan does an exceptional job of explaining what makes him tick and provides a peek into the world of the Fed Chairman. In the second part he talks about various parts of the world and spices it with a bit of crystal balling.

It is clear that Alan Greeenspan has strong Critical Thinking and Decision Making skills. He has been succeeded in many of his ventures. As with all humans he has his weaknesses as well. His honest candor in the book made it refreshing and useful.

There are some great topics in the book that let us get to know Alan Greenspan. Some of these are: City Kid, The Making of an Economist, Black Monday, The Fall of the Wall, Irrational Exuberance, Millennium Fever and Downturn. The second half of the book has equally excellent subjects: The Choices that Await China, The Tigers and the Elephant, Russia's Sharp Elbows, Latin America and Populism, Globalization and Regulation, The World Retires, Bit Can it Afford To, the Delphic Future an more.

Overall the book is insightful and a great read!

One final thought: I found that Age of Turbulence coupled with Revolutionary Wealth by Alvin and Heidi Toffler help to provide a look into possible futures and what we can do to make a great one for ourselves!

The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Panoramic, 9 Jun 2008
By 
N. Marik "Neelesh" (London) - See all my reviews
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For any global citizen looking to make a difference in any corporate or institutional context, this is a must-read, especially for students of economics.

While the bias of coverage is surely US centric, the author examines key global phenomena such as: the epoch making shift of about half the world from behind the walls of centrally planned economies to competitive free markets, the shifting age profile of the global population, the socio-economic implications of a terrorism-threatened landscape, the dilemmas associated with corporate governance, and the 'long term energy squeeze'.

What is missing is the impending dilemma of the petro-dollar vis-a-vis the petro-euro, not surprisingly

Interesting previews strewn aplenty, to what goes on in corridors of global power, for those who are interested.

And of course, the Ayn Rand connection was unknown to me before reading this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Economic Masterpiece!, 4 Dec 2007
"Creative destruction" for other economic writers... in general terms a friendly book that goes from Greenspan's early years to a bold forecast of how the economic world will look towards 2030, of course, passing through other 23 chapters (25 in total) of all of his (personal and professional) experiences as a musician, an economics entrepreneur, a political advisor, even a philosopher! His review of international economics is breathtaking... his remarks on what he considers the 3 essential aspects of global growth in any given country enlightening (1. Extent of competition and openess to trade. 2. Quality of institutions and 3. Success of economic policies). 505 pages of "creative destruction" you cannot afford not to read...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and timely book!, 23 Nov 2007
Greenspan calls 'The Age of Turbulence' a 'psychoanalysis of himself.' It begins (first half) with his early life, describing the events that provided his learning experiences (including his desire to become a baseball player, then a jazz musician), and then goes to his life of implementing those lessons. Undoubtedly the most interesting material included Greenspan's evaluations of the Presidents he had worked with. His observations were not the platitudes one might have expected. 'Nixon was very smart, paranoid,' and was an equal-opportunity disparager of all ethnic groups. Ford was the most normal, and sometimes looked past politics to focus on the ethics of an issue. Reagan's ability to spout seemingless endless one-liners and stories was an 'odd form of intelligence,' according to Greenspan.

Greenspan felt his relationship with Bush I was a disaster, with the President eventually blaming Greenspan for his losing the election to Clinton. Clinton, however, was most like a soul-mate to Greenspan - very intelligent, and one constantly working to soak up knowledge and understanding. Greenspan also labeled Clinton's '93 economic plan that focused on reducing the deficit as an 'act of political courage.' Finally, Greenspan's assessment of Bush II was that he was incurious about the effects of his own economic policy, and that Greenspan's biggest frustration with Bush II was his failure to veto any spending bills. Greenspan was told that Bush thought he could better control Speaker Hastert and Whip Delay by signing the spending bills they, however, were never reticent to spend more money to help assure more Republican congressmen.

Greenspan also added that he disagreed with Bush II's supply-side economic thinking, and that his endorsement of 'A' tax cut during 2001 was just that - not an endorsement of Bush's plan. Another problem was that the plan had no adjustment mechanism in the event assumptions did not pan out and the deficit began to rear up again. On the other hand, Greenspan does not tell the whole story. According to Paul Krugman (New York Times, 9/17/07), he could have clarified himself a few weeks later when he appeared before a Senate committee on the same topic and evaded questions on whether the proposed tax cuts were too large. Two years later when more cuts were proposed, Greenspan did not object, and in 2004 he expressed support for making the Bush cuts permanent - accompanied by cuts in Social Security beneifts that he assured Congress in 2001 would not be threatened by the cuts.

The most incendiary comment in the book was clearly Greenspan's conclusion that the Iraq War II was all about oil. However, Greenspan is now 'clarifying' his statement to Greenspan having told the White House that removing Saddam was 'essential' to secure world oil supplies, and now stating (Washington Post interview, 9/17/07) that securing global oil supplies was 'not the administration's motive.' Greenspan was initially elated when Bush II won, and brought in his old friends Cheney and Rumsfeld. However, he noted that 'they changed,' and that he did not agree with Cheney's 'deficit's don't matter.' There also seemed to be little value placed on rigorous economic policy debate or weighing long-term policy consequences - policy-making was firmly in the hands of White House staff (Rove, et al).

A result was that Bush II's first two Treasury Secretaries (O-Neill, Snow) were essentially powerless. Summarizing, Greenspan saw the Republicans in '04 as having swapped principle for power, ending up with neither, and deserving to lose in '06. The 'good news' was that they did not try to interfere with monetary policy. Greenspan has come under increasing criticism himself for the current housing collapse and preceding bubble. His defense, in 'The Age of Turbulence,' was that the risk of broadening home ownership was worth the risk, that he didn't realize shady practices had grown so prevalent, and had tried raising mortgage rates in '04 and '05 by hiking rates on ten-year Federal notes (no impact). Finally, looking to the future, Greenspan sees a need to raise taxes on energy to encourage conservation, and a risk of increased inflation - already prices are rising in China. As for ethanol, even if all U.S. corn was converted to ethanol, it would only provide less than 20% of our current oil usage!!! I would also recommend, if you missed reading Tino Georgiou's masterpiece--The Fates--go and read it.
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The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspan (Paperback - 9 Sep 2008)
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