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The Fed: The Inside Story of How the World's Most Powerful Financial Institution Drives the Markets Hardcover – June 11, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 11, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068484740X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684847405
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,298,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Martin Mayer's engaging examination of the much-talked-about but little understood U.S. Federal Reserve begins with the dramatic events of October 1998, a month in which the market closed "lock limit down" for the first time in almost a decade. At the same time, Alan Greenspan, the Fed's chairman, began radically reinventing his agency's role and its influence on the market. Indeed, while most of the rest of the world's countries were diminishing the role of their central banks, Congress was granting new powers and responsibilities to the Fed. Mayer's book--part history, part journalistic report, and all detailed analysis--looks at the significance of those powers, their benefits and risks, and what they mean to the markets. He also devotes chapters to the day-to-day inner workings of the Fed, its influence in international financial matters, and its possible role in coming years.

As a prolific author and respected economics scholar, Mayer has been immersed in the financial world for decades and provides both bird's-eye and long-range views of money's complicated maneuverings. Without his excellent storytelling abilities and fluid writing style, this book would be heavy going for anyone who doesn't speak the language of high finance. Though it is most definitely dense (and its structure somewhat erratic), Mayer manages to make a complicated subject accessible for those with more interest than actual knowledge. An informative look at a hitherto enigmatic but influential institution. --S. Ketchum

From Publishers Weekly

To most investors, the Fed is one person Chairman Alan Greenspan whose job is to set interest rates. In this entertaining and enlightening account, popular financial journalist Mayer (The Bankers; The Greatest-Ever Bank Robbery) traces the evolution of the Federal Reserve from a sleepy regulatory agency to the most powerful economic institution in the world. Created in 1913, the Fed was designed to regulate banks in an era when they, and not the government, were assumed to control the economy; interest-rate setting was only a minor part of the agency's job. With the rise of a global economy in which individual banks no longer wield their former influence, the Fed has completely reinvented itself. Mayer, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, tells of turf battles with the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, in addition to conflicts with bankers and foreign institutions. Although his tale involves extensive discussion of topics like check clearing, reserve assets and regulatory accounting, and most of the protagonists are staid, Mayer livens things up with irreverent character sketches, flamboyant prose (considering the subject matter) and canny storytelling. At the same time, he presents the historical and economic details accurately. (June Forecast: Written with the verve of a Vanity Fair magazine article, and supported by a 20-city radio satellite tour, this very topical book should attract fans of Mayer's previous books, in addition to investors who wish to make sense of the Fed's role in the market.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By RAS on December 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will be enjoyed by those who want to see the Fed as a very human institution with its own quirks and foibles. It helps to add a dimension of knowledge about the Fed that is hard to get anywhere else.
If you are a hard core economist with strong political views or an ardent fan of Friedman or Greenspan you won't like it. It shows the human side of many of the major figures.
I thought it was well done and enjoyed it immensely. I have read most of the major books on the Fed and read their open market operations briefs every day, and spend a lot of time on the various Fed websites.
This book is generally sound, and although there are those who would tend to dismiss Mayer, as he is not an economic scholar, the great strength of this book is that Mayer realizes that the Fed is not a university seeking truth. It is a political and financial institution not above the day to day fray, with its own sort of organizational politics.
I have also read most of the major books about Greenspan, and this one adds a dimension to his persona that connected the dots for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By framzimpet on August 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Martin Mayer has been writing about banking for decades. He has held positions in government, and testified as an expert in various governmental committees. He has known personally many of the people about whom he is writing in this book.

His writing style is dense. He often assumes the reader is familiar with banking terms or processes (or can go look them up). If you can get through this, the information he provides is priceless. I came away from reading this book with a variety of insights into banking and the federal reserve that will continue to inform me for years to come. I have read a number of books on the fed, and this is certainly one of the best (along with Greiders).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vitya on April 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you are starting out in finance and want to know how the Fed works, this is the best book for you. It's not the easiest or the smallest, but it is the most illuminating. This book was very helpful to me when I started on Wall Street. It's a bit long (to be fair I'm still about 100 pages away from finish) but will make you understand why, as of April 23, 2007 "The 13 1/4 percent bond due in 2014 that the government sold on May 15, 1984, returned an annualized 24 percent. The S&500 returned 13 percent, including dividends, during the same period. Bonds gained more than shares of Motorola Inc., DuPont Co. and Duke Energy Corp." - this is from today's Bloomberg.

This and reading Pimco's McCulley/Gross monthly pieces is a must if you want to understand what's driving world capital markets.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Steve Fast on July 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains a lot of excellent information about the development of the Federal Reserve System with many incidents that I had never heard of. However, the writing style is poor since the book is FILLED with cliches. Also the material is not well-organized with a lot of jumping from incident to incident. Lots of fascinating inside stories, but disappointing overall.
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Format: Hardcover
This book hardly lives up to the "inside track" into the Fed. In fact the author states about how transparent the Fed has become which you can deduce that there really isn't a need for a book that ever claims to "go inside" now. This book's insight into the Russian debt crises was the only really interesting part to me. In summary, I'm not sure I would recommend that you spend your valuable time reading this book.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are an investor and you need to know how the Fed influences the stock market among others...
If you bought and read "Secrets of the Temple" by William Greider and maybe "Leadership at the Fed" by Donald Kettl...
If you understood them and knew who the named people were...
Then you should buy this book too.
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