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The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan Hardcover – 11 Oct 2016

4.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (11 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408855771
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408855775
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 6.8 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

A fascinating and balanced study of arguably the most important figure of the post-war global finance scene (Mervyn King)

A brilliant account of Alan Greenspan's journey from radical idealogue to politically adept pragmatist, and an excellent analysis of how profound changes within the financial system generated challenges to which that pragmatism was ultimately an inadequate response. A must read (Lord Adair Turner)

Despite its nearly 700 pages of text, the book is hard to put down, thanks to Mr. Mallaby's knack for finding just the right example or sparkling quotation to illustrate his points . The Man Who Knew is a tour de force, the story not just of Alan Greenspan's career but equally of America's economic triumphs and failures over five decades. This carefully researched and elegantly written book will be essential reading for those who aspire to make policy and for anyone who wants to divine what drives the choices that our leaders make (Wall Street Journal)

A major achievement; it may well be the best biography we have ever had of a central banker (David Kynaston)

Alan Greenspan's story really is the story of modern finance - its brilliance but also its fatal flaws. Years of research and a keen eye for narrative detail gives Sebastian Mallaby all he needs to bring the tale to life. Alan Greenspan was a lot more than a central banker - and this book is a lot more than his biography (Stephanie Flanders)

Superb ... Sebastian Mallaby helps history make up its mind about Alan Greenspan (Economist)

A splendid biography - compelling, readable, provocative, richly researched, brimming with intelligence ... will surely become the definitive Greenspan biography (Roger Lowenstein, author of 'When Genius Failed' and 'Buffet')

Admire him or despise him, Alan Greenspan was the pre-eminent financial statesman of the post-war ear. But Sebastian Mallaby's magisterial biography casts him as something more (and more intriguing) than that: a masterly and mesmerising politician (John Heilemann, Author of 'Game Change' and 'Double Down')

One of the best of the year, even from just the first pages (Tyler Cowen Marginal Revolution)

Deeply researched and elegantly written ... Incomparable (Financial Times)

Despite its nearly 700 pages of text, the book is hard to put down, thanks to Mr. Mallaby's knack for finding just the right example or sparkling quotation to illustrate his points . The Man Who Knew is a tour de force, the story not just of Alan Greenspan's career but equally of America's economic triumphs and failures over five decades. This carefully researched and elegantly written book will be essential reading for those who aspire to make policy and for anyone who wants to divine what drives the choices that our leaders make (Wall Street Journal)

Mallaby's book is part biography, part political history and part inquest (The Times)

Meticulously researched (Sunday Times)

Colourful and exhaustive (Financial Times)

An impressive work of scholarship . A masterpiece of political economy and, above all, it's a great and enjoyable read (Lionel Barber)

'An engaging, sympathetic yet unsparing portrait' (Paul Singer Wall Street Journal)

'The best biography of 2016' (Martin Vander Weyer Spectator)

Book Description

WINNER OF THE 2016 FT & McKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD, this is the definitive biography of one of the most important figures in global finance

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover
This is an insightful account of Alan Greenspan, a financial guru who for some twenty years ran America's Federal Reserve, or central bank. From 1987 to 2006, Greenspan played a major role at the head of the world's largest economy. Mallaby has had access to Greenspan's voluminous papers and his colleagues in order to write this fine book. Some seventy hours of recorded conversations were also used. The author relates how his subject was a shy boy born in Northern Manhattan. His intellectual development which included a doctorate from the university of New York, his radicalism during a period when he supported the Russian Ayn Rand's views and thinking about state intervention are examined. Included also are memos to Richard Nixon about racial tensions in 1968. In those he blamed the riots on the government for handing out far too generous benefits. In Nixon's memoirs the President admits he found Greenspan's recommendations too extreme. Alan was shown this book in draft form and challenged very little.

Greenspan was very much in tune with Rand's views. She was a Russian émigré who believed in free market capitalism. She loathed communism. He had no time for post 1945 Keynesian demand management. He was much more interested in the innards of the US economy. Alan spurned mathematical models in favour of studying engineering journals to assess future demand for steel and aluminium. As a result his economic consultancy business boomed.

Alone of the most influential economists of his time, Greenspan spent many many years tackling the transformation of finance from the fixed and regulated system of the postwar era to a more free-for-all of the past 25 years. In many ways, Alan's story is the story of the making of modern finance.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written book, a very easy read despite its length, and chock-full of ingredients and of detail.

With so many ingredients presented in the book to choose from, I suppose it's easy to draw multiple conclusions, and to wonder about the particular conclusion that Mallaby himself hits upon himself. For example, Greenspan was the merely the CHAIRMAN of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve system, he wasn't its only Governor. There were the regional Fed Presidents as well. Surely, therefore, someone other than Greenspan should be sharing blame for the Fed's shortcomings in and around Greenspan's tenure. Were there too many economists on the FOMC, for example? As for the new-Keynesian ideology that came to dominate Central Bank thinking in the late 1990s, it certainly wasn't Greenspan's invention (actually it was much closer to Bernanke's): actually Greenspan may have been pushed around and boxed in by it much more than is commonly realised. Thus, as much as the Global Financial Crisis might be thought of as Greenspan's blunder, it was probably as much, if not more, the FOMC's blunder (Greenspan wasn't its only member who had been in situe for a long time in 2007).

But in the end this is a biography of Alan Greenspan and, as that, it easily deserves to be read, and to be highly praised. And if multiple conclusions are possible from the information presented, that's mostly only because the book is so rich in detail, and clearly was so meticulously researched.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a superb biography, a very well written book, very easy to read and which explains the technicalities of finance in terms which is non patronising.

Like many, my view of Greenspan before I read this book was unequivocal: he was a fallen idol, a man with feet of clay who was in fact a profound failure when all is said and done; he laid the groundwork for the crash of 2008.

This book paints a much more nuanced view of Greenspan whilst still not acquitting him of the main charges against him. At the end of the day it paints a picture of a powerful man but one who was, nevertheless, in actuality, constrained by larger forces which did inhibit his ability to do what he may have thought right. Even a man like Paul Volcker, who no one would ever accuse of tacking to the wind, was outvoted and did not get his way on a number of occasions and Greenspan was the same. As Sebastian Mallaby chronicles, the Balkanisation of regulation and the capture of the Congress by vested interests made (and makes) any sort of fundamental reform difficult, if not effectively impossible and the voice of the Chairman of the fed is just one voice, albeit a powerful one.

Anyone who wants to know about the history of the US economy and finance in the last forty or fifty years should have this book at the top of their list.
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Format: Hardcover
Went to see Stephen Mallaby talk about the book at the LSE. He said that when Greenspan became chairman of the Fed reporters rushed round to his university to see what he'd put in his PhD thesis. Disappeared! It now turns out he said that the biggest thing for central bankers to prevent is asset price bubbles! He also gave talks for Ayn Rand in which he said that the formation of the Fed was a disaster.

The famous 'Greenspan put' was keep the bubble going for goodness sake!!!! Farcical.
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