Greenspan, Federal Reserve Bank chairman from 1987 to 2006, investigates the financial crisis of 2008 with a focus on economic forecasting, and he sets out to understand how we got it wrong and what we can learn from our mistakes. The author determines there is something more systematic about the way people behave irrationally, especially during economic crises, and this behavior can be measured and incorporated into economic forecasting and setting economic policy. Greenspan’s considerations include behavioral imperatives (fear, optimism, etc.) and their role in rational economic behavior and market outcomes; bubbles and their differences; and the roots of the crisis in securitized U.S. subprime mortgages. He identifies too big to fail as the most problematic trend from the recent financial debacle and strongly supports modern industrial capitalism, although he notes its inherent creative destruction in a system of winners and losers that imposes hardship on workers who lose jobs and homes. This challenging, thought-provoking book sheds an important perspective on events that triggered possibly the greatest financial crisis ever. --Mary Whaley
Larry Summers, Financial Times:
"No other American economic policy maker in the past half-century could have written so thoughtfully about the implications of the Enlightenment for economic policy or have attempted, as Greenspan did while in office and does again here, to compute the physical weight of all the goods that comprise American gross domestic product. The range of topics and arguments makes this book a very important statement, whether one ultimately agrees or disagrees with the author…..Greenspan’s range, vision and boldness is especially important at a time like the present, when Washington is preoccupied with the political and petty….Greenspan has written a major work ….[A] splendid book.”
Burton Malkiel, The Wall Street Journal:
“The Map and the Territory is a model of expositional clarity, with complex and recondite matters made accessible to the lay reader. The book should be must reading for anyone interested in the way our financial markets work—and sometimes fail to do so."
“Compelling and hugely enlightening…This exposition of a lifetime as a practicing economist is full of insights and lessons for financiers, security analysts, business students and public policy makers, especially Presidents, congressmen, central bankers and the FDIC, SEC, CFTC, FHLB. It should be required reading for some of the insights into the way markets perform.”
N. Gregory Mankiw, The New York Times Book Review:
“The book offers much wisdom….[Greenspan] sees the world through a different set of eyes than do many others in his field. He is driven less by theory, more by data and practical experience….Greenspan’s new book lays out his worldview in light of the financial crisis, the deep recession and the meager recovery of the past five years. His critics often condemn him as an ideologue, but the book demonstrates the unfairness of that accusation. On a wide range of topics—from monetary, fiscal and financial policy to productivity, inequality and globalization—he offers readers a thoughtful, nuanced and open-minded perspective, tempered by many years of having seen both business and public policy from the inside….Whether or not you’re an economist, you can’t help coming away from The Map and the Territory with greater insight into many of the crucial issues facing the nation. Greenspan’s path to fame may have been unconventional, but after reading this book, you’ll understand why five American presidents turned to him and made him one of the great economic policy makers of our time.”