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Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve Hardcover – January 16, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

PRAISE FORGREENSPAN'S BUBBLES

“After reading Greenspan's Bubbles you will have no respect for the Fed! It's a must-read…in it, the authors demystify the belief that the Fed 'solves' problems when, in fact, it is directly responsible for a colossal destruction of wealth of the median household and of the U.S. currency through its irresponsible monetary policies.”
-Marc Faber, editor of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report

“Greenspan for Mt. Rushmore? Not if Bill Fleckenstein has anything to say about it.”
-James Grant, editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer

“In his typically engaging style, Bill Fleckenstein pops the Greenspan bubble…presenting compelling and convincing evidence that the former Fed chief got us into this mess...”
-Herb Greenberg, Senior Columnist, MarketWatch.com

“Before Ben Bernake shovels more cash into the U.S.'s money trap, he should read Greenspan's Bubbles, a damning account of how his predecessor inflated two asset bubbles that mutated into $11 trillion in home mortgage debt.”
--Bloomberg News

“Alan Greenspan was dubbed history's greatest Federal Reserve chairman upon his retirement in 2006, but the housing bust is prompting renewed criticism of his laissez-faire brand of monetary policy. Hedge fund manager William Fleckenstein is among the loudest critics. Fleckenstein is the author of Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve. He views Greenspan's legacy as a litany of too-low-for-too-long interest rates that created the dot-com and housing bubbles.”
--US News & World Report

“I suggest that you read Greenspan's Bubbles, a recent book by William Fleckenstein. It'll knock your socks off.”
--Copley News Service

About the Author

William A. Fleckenstein is president of Fleckenstein Capital, a money management firm based in Seattle. He writes a daily Market Rap column for his Web site, Fleckensteincapital.com, as well as the popular column Contrarian Chronicles for MSN Money.

Frederick Sheehan is a former Director of Asset Allocation Services at John Hancock Financial Services. He has written for Marc Faber's Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, Whiskey & Gunpowder, and the Prudent Bear Web sites.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (January 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071591583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071591584
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Arlen on February 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The reason I wrote this book was so that the average person could understand the scope of the housing bubble, and what its bursting was going to mean and...where blame should be placed...at Greenspan's Fed, specifically," posits William Fleckenstein, who has keenly observed Mr. Greenspan's comments and actions in lucid daily commentary on the economic environment and investing practice for over a decade. By the end of Fleckenstein's crisp account, I craved that "The Maestro" had succeeded a fraction as well in HIS calling: Fleckenstein makes the story accessible to the average American, and his clarity stands in bold contrast with Greenspan's oft-obfuscating "Greenspeak."

Given the current state of the housing market, readers of 'Greenspan's Bubbles' might be prompted to ask whether Greenspan feels any culpability for luring unsuspecting homeowners into adjustable mortgage rates. Fleckenstein observes, "Greenspan was extolling the virtues of floating rate mortgages when interest rates were at the lowest they had been in over 50 years," suggesting that Greenspan ought to, even if he does not.

Certainly, today Greenspan expects Americans to believe he really didn't mean what he said when he endorsed ARMS. However, this book asserts that Greenspan blew serial bubbles in the stock market and real estate by keeping rates too low too long, thereby inviting reckless speculation.
Fleckenstein likens normal cycles of economic ups and downs to going to a party, imbibing in a few drinks, and feeling kind of shaky the next day. However, Greenspan's take on the economy was to entice Americans to throw down fifty metaphorical shots of tequila to keep the party going.
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69 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Ramona Ray on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Bill Fleckenstein makes it painfully clear that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan bumbled our economy as badly as he mumbled his own words. This book is an eye-opener in that it systematically exposes Greenspan's own hubris and successive wrong turns in managing the U.S. economy. Oops! Too late to take it back. The dollar is on its way to parity with the peso and the Fed is caught with little wiggle-room to keep the economy propped up in the face of two bubble busts.

Managing a $13 trillion economy is an awesome responsibility. Surely we need a Fed Chairman who has exhaustively studied fiscal history and who can recognize important inflection points so that he can maintain economic moderation and stability. Sadly for us, Greenspan wasn't that guy. It was Greenspan's loose monetary policies - the Greenspan Put! - that spawned the right conditions for bubble development. And we didn't have just one bubble -- the stock market bubble that burst in 2000 was the first we'd had in over fifty years -- we had two, a stock market bubble AND a real estate bubble . . . and they were both enormous! We'll be feeling the effects of Greenspan's irresponsibility for a long time to come. As Fleckenstein explains so well, the current subprime debacle is yet another example of bubble fallout. This is why this book is invaluable. If you truly want to process how we arrived at this juncture, then here's your guide.

Fleckenstein is a colorful writer. For what could have been a boring, complex, and even technical dissertation, Fleckenstein manages to make it understandable in a wit + candor style. The first two chapters are somewhat tedious and might I even suggest, "numbing," but don't let that dissuade you. The content rich middle and concluding chapters absolutely sing. The book is informative, thought-provoking, and just the right amount of information to digest. To me, that's five-star worthy.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Many laud Alan Greenspan as a master of the modern economy. Fleckenstein, however, sees Greenspan as nothing less than a serial bubble-blower - the market crash of '87, the Savings and Loan crisis, the crash of the Russian ruble and Long Term Capital Management, the 2000 tech bubble, the supposed Y2K disaster, and the credit bubble and real estate crisis of 2007. Prior to Greenspan's arrival, excluding the brief mania for commodities and precious metals in late '79 and early '80, the U.S. had been bubble-free for over 50 years.

"Greenspan's Bubbles" points out that he supported S&L deregulation as a paid consultant for Lincoln S&L (costing over $100 billion for taxpayers to bail out). During his '87 confirmation, Senator Proximire pointed out that Greenspan's forecasts at the Council of Economic Advisors were way off, and in some years, the worst of all.

Greenspan helped cause the mid-90's stock market bubble by lowering interest rates when it was not required; instead of admitting this as a mistake, Greenspan declared the market's level as indicative of Wall Street's wisdom on new ways to value stocks. Further acerbating the situation, Greenspan participated in and led efforts to change inflation measures (lower), thus appearing to call for less money tightening.

Contrary to Greenspan, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker observed in 1999 that the stock market's growth was dependent on 50 stocks - half of which had never reported any earnings. (Definitely a "bubble-seer.")

In 2005 Volcker also pointed out that the housing market had become a vehicle for borrowing as much as a source of financial security. Greenspan, however, saw rising subprime loans as the "benefit" of increased lender productivity through the use of new technology.
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