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The Fed: The Inside Story How World's Most Powerful Financial Institution Drives Markets Paperback – June 25, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (June 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452283418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452283411
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,661,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Martin Mayer is a premier financial journalist with more than thirty books to his credit, including The Bankers and The Greatest-Ever Bank Robbery. Mayer is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, and a popular columnist for OnMoney.com.

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The invention of money is surely one of our more fascinating achievements. Money inevitably generates credit, and credit creates the uncertainty of risk. Risk, of course, is an open entity whose most extreme manifestation is chaos and destruction.

National financial risk management was contrived to prevent the chaos of a monetary end-game, the sort of disasters that have torn the social fabric of post-Soviet Russia and lately, Indonesia. In the United States that assurance is provided by the Federal Reserve Board, a quasi-independent institution that has quietly evolved since its inception on November 16, 1914.

The history of the Fed's rise and current pre-eminence is fully detailed in Martin Mayer's new book, "The Fed." Mr. Mayer is both objective observer and intimate insider, an author of remarkable energy who has tapped his network of bankers, politicians, investors and financiers to assemble a history of the Fed from its innocuous debut to an international power centre rivaling the Supreme Court, Congress and the Presidency.

The book opens with a drama focused on the Fed's current Chairman, Alan Greenspan, then back-fills the text with an extended narrative of the Fed's history. At the book's conclusion, readers will sense the full extent -- and responsibility -- of the Fed's influence in an age of instant communications and global capital flows.

The unlikely composition of the Fed (comprised of several regional Federal Banks, each "owned" by commercial banks) is depicted as a piece-work creation, a purposely de-centralized, ham-strung agency designed to ensure the stability of the nation's currency through times of war, inflation, depression and expansion.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Judah on February 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was written in 2001, and after nearly a decade of middle class recession in the USA, I was hoping for an insight into how the FED could let that happen. Instead all I got was a densely written history (with occasional politics) telling me how good the FED is for the elite and wealthy. I was not impressed.

This book is not about how the FED's actions led to economic reactions. Why? Because the FED's actions have generally led to *bad* economic reactions, and only the 'good side' of the FED is presented. In fact, if you look at the history, the FED has been wrong every single time, when it acts to prop up the economy. Why? It only props up the elite, not the general economy. Give trillions of dollars in secret bank loans to huge banks? Sure! Support a single federal mortgage modification... no thanks!

In this book, you won't get any analysis involving major economic impacts, but you will get a lot of 'short-term triumphs' which made some bankers mountains of money. Mayer goes into excruciating detail on these coups, but the impenetrable banking jargon is hard on the reader without a specialized MBA.

If you hate Friedman and dislike Greenspan, this book is right up your alley. If you expect an unbiased viewpoint, look elsewhere. If you want a rational analysis of global trade and the role of the FED, this book isn't it. The Japanese 'carry trade' is misunderstood in this book. Derivatives are also explained only in arcane banking terms, not in 'shell game' terms.

Mayer does try and write the FED as a jockeying political organization, and does give a historical perspective well. (He doesn't focus on how the FED is a *private* institution with little government oversight.
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By consumer on November 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
I can't imagine anyone not in the banking or investment community enjoying, much less understanding, this book. I found no concise and understandable explanations of economic concepts necessary for one to form their own conclusions about the events and actions described. To the extent that banks in general and the fed in particular engage in obfuscation, this book has continued the tradition!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book sat on my dresser for 6 months before I finished it. It is dense, and the concepts and history behind the Federal Reserve system can get a little boring at times. However, the information in this book is among the best. It has influenced my professional success for the better, and it is the first book I recommend that new hirees read.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By MarkyMark on September 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Reading this book felt a bit like listening to the pompous diatribes of an elitist that is so self absorbed about his own knowledge that he does not care to take the time to explain anything. I'm sure there is lots of good information to be had if I had a solid understanding of how the fed worked already, but then that would have defeated the purpose for which I bought the book!
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