Recommended by Declan Hunt
A masterful biography of former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan, written by Sebastian Mallaby as the product of five years research and unparalleled access to his subject and close associates. The story of Greenspan is also the story of modern finance, both for better and worse. As one of the most influential economic statesmen of his era, Greenspan grappled with a momentous shift: the transformation of finance from the fixed system of the post-war era to the free-for-all of the past quarter century.
Greenspan translated his skills providing economic advice to industry into advising Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign, which led to a position on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and then to a dazzling array of business and government roles, from which the path to the Fed was relatively clear. A disciple of Ayn Rand in his youth who once called the Fed’s creation a historic mistake, Mallaby shows how Greenspan reinvented himself as a pragmatist once in power.
Alan Greenspan’s reputation suffered enormously in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Mallaby argues that the conventional wisdom is off base: Greenspan wasn’t a naïve ideologue who believed greater regulation was unnecessary. He had pressed for greater regulation of key areas of finance over the years, and had gotten nowhere. To argue that he didn’t know the risks in irrational markets is to miss the point. He knew more than almost anyone; the question is why he didn’t act, and whether anyone else could or would have.
Greenspan’s biography doubles as an excellent narrative history of monetary and fiscal policy during the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, and Bush Jr.
Full Book Details
The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan