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The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World Hardcover – Unabridged, September 17, 2007

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In the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, in his fourteenth year as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Alan Greenspan took part in a very quiet collective effort to ensure that America didn't experience an economic meltdown, taking the rest of the world with it. There was good reason to fear the worst: the stock market crash of October 1987, his first major crisis as Federal Reserve Chairman, coming just weeks after he assumed control, had come much closer than is even today generally known to freezing the financial system and triggering a genuine financial panic. But the most remarkable thing that happened to the economy after 9/11 was...nothing. What in an earlier day would have meant a crippling shock to the system was absorbed astonishingly quickly.

After 9/11 Alan Greenspan knew, if he needed any further reinforcement, that we're living in a new world - the world of a global capitalist economy that is vastly more flexible, resilient, open, self-directing, and fast-changing than it was even 20 years ago. It's a world that presents us with enormous new possibilities but also enormous new challenges. The Age of Turbulence is Alan Greenspan's incomparable reckoning with the nature of this new world - how we got here, what we're living through, and what lies over the horizon, for good and for ill-channeled through his own experiences working in the command room of the global economy for longer and with greater effect than any other single living figure. He begins his account on that September 11th morning, but then leaps back to his childhood, and follows the arc of his remarkable life's journey through to his more than 18-year tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, from 1987 to 2006, during a time of transforming change.

Alan Greenspan shares the story of his life first simply with an eye toward doing justice to the extraordinary amount of history he has experienced and shaped. But his other goal is to draw readers along the same learning curve he followed, so they accrue a grasp of his own understanding of the underlying dynamics that drive world events. In the second half of the book, having brought us to the present and armed us with the conceptual tools to follow him forward, Dr. Greenspan embarks on a magnificent tour de horizon of the global economy. He reveals the universals of economic growth, delves into the specific facts on the ground in each of the major countries and regions of the world, and explains what the trend-lines of globalization are from here. The distillation of a life's worth of wisdom and insight into an elegant expression of a coherent worldview, The Age of Turbulence will stand as Alan Greenspan's personal and intellectual legacy.

A Timeline of a Remarkable Career
Mar. 6, 1926 Born in New York City
1936 At 10 sees Roosevelt campaigning; becomes expert on the 1936 Yankees
1938 Takes up clarinet at 12
1943-44 Studies clarinet at Julliard
Mid 1944 Joins Henry Jerome Band
1948 Graduates (summa cum laude) from New York University. (He later earns a master's in 1950 and a Ph.D. in 1977, also from NYU.) Hired as economic analyst at the Conference Board.
1954-74 Co-founds Townsend-Greenspan & Co. Inc., an economic consulting firm in New York City. (He returns in 1977.)
1974 Nominated by President Ford as chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors.
1983 Chair of bipartisan National Commission on Social Security Reform.
June 1, 1987 Nominated by President Reagan for Fed Chair. Confirmed by Senate August 3.
Oct. 19, 1987 Only 69 days into Greenspan's term, the Dow drops 508 points and 22%.
July 10, 1991 Nominated by President George H.W. Bush to a second term as Fed Chairman. Later nominated to a third (February 22, 1996) and fourth term (January 4, 2000) by President Clinton.
Apr. 6, 1997 Marries Andrea Mitchell
May 18, 2004 Nominated by President George W. Bush for a fifth term as Fed chairman
Jan. 31, 2006 Completes 18 ½ years at the Fed
Feb. 1, 2006 Forms Greenspan Associates LLC, an economic consulting firm
Alan Greenspan's Top 10 Classical and Jazz Favorites

Before Alan Greenspan embarked on his legendary financial career, he studied the clarinet at Julliard and played as a professional jazz musician (while doing tax returns for his bandmates). He chose 10 favorites for us from a lifetime of listening, including:

Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23

Vivaldi, Complete Cello Concertos

Coleman Hawkins, "Body and Soul"

From Publishers Weekly

Greenspan offers a revealing yet monotonous look at the inner workings of the Federal Reserve and his career. Beginning with his childhood in Manhattan, where he learned percentages by memorizing Yankee batting statistics, Greenspan relates his tremendous passion for economics and politics that propelled him to become chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve for nearly 20 years. While various tales about his often-troubled relationships with former presidents and their administrations will appeal to history buffs, the material is presented in a manner that makes the narration long-winded and dreary. As a biographical work, narrator Dean has little room for lyrical improvisation, and his solitary voice drones. An endless spew of facts and figures takes away from the more interesting aspects of the book, such as Greenspan's criticisms of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq. While his pitch and clarity is perfect, Dean's voice becomes nagging and repetitive. It's disappointing that the author-read introduction included in the abridged audio version is not used here to provide a brief change in tone. The uninspired text and dialogue makes listening a tedious exercise by the halfway point. Simultaneous release with the Penguin Press hardcover.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press (September 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594201315
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594201318
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (328 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Alan Greenspan was born in 1926 and reared in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. After studying the clarinet at Juilliard and working as a professional musician, he earned his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from New York University. In 1954, he cofounded the economic consulting firm Townsend-Greenspan & Co. From 1974 to 1977, he served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Gerald Ford. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed him chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, a position he held until his retirement in 2006.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Reaction to Alan Greenspan's much-anticipated memoir will undoubtedly vary widely depending upon the audience. "The Age of Turbulence" is part autobiography of the former Federal Reserve Chairman's professional life and part exposition of his views of the global economy, united by Greenspan's ongoing efforts to understand this new economy that is "vastly more flexible, resilient, open, self-correcting, and fast-changing than it was even a quarter century earlier." The book is written with the curious layperson in mind. In contrast to Fedspeak, Greenspan's style is straightforward and as fluid as it can be considering that he toils in the world of facts and figures. As a primer on the global economy, it is too long but basically good providing you don't take it as gospel.

Greenspan takes us through his Washington Heights childhood, his admiration for the ideas of Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, to his career in macroeconomic forecasting, then through 4 decades in public service, including nearly 19 years as Chairman of the Fed. If you're looking for the rationale behind the Fed lowering the fund rate 3 times in fall 1998, mid-tech stock bubble, or decreasing the rate to 1% in 2003 and leaving it there for a year, precipitating a housing and credit bubble, well....there's not much here. He justifies 1998 with some nebulous notion of a "small by real risk" of global malaise. He justifies 2003 as an urgent effort to avert deflation. That's funny, because if the CPI were calculated by the same method as when Greenspan raised rates to combat inflation in 1987, his first action as Chairman, the inflation rate would have been 4%. By "funny", I mean "disingenuous".

In the second half of the book, Greenspan presents his conclusions about the state of the global economy and its future.
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Format: Hardcover
Greenspan's "The Age of Turbulence" is a tour de force, an incredibly engaging, insightful, and detailed look, not only at the life and history of the most famous economist of the U.S., but of the key economic events that have shaken, molded, and served as the crucible for the global economy of the 21st century. Make no mistake about it: this is a book that will easily become a de facto standard of the genre, and will remain so for years to come.

From the opening pages of Greenspan's introduction we immediately become aware that this book is exceptionally and surprisingly well written, and that Greenspan has somehow managed to coalesce the mountains of knowledge and experiences he has accumulated over some six decades of public life into an imminently accessible and, yes, understandable, text. The book opens up with Greenspan's flight back from Switzerland on 9/11, and the interruption of that flight with the news of what had happened in New York City that day. Greenspan peels back the history and lets us in on his many thoughts as his flight made an emergency return to Zurich, and then, subsequently, during his interactions in the weeks that followed with persons at all levels of the government and the banking system. As he lays out his story, we are introduced to numerous asides which explain to us many aspects of the economic system with which we may not yet fully understand or comprehend, and Greenspan deftly intertwines such didactic content in with these life events in a manner that makes us learn as we go, all the while not even realizing we are being educated as we proceed.
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