The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World Paperback – September 9, 2008
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aMichael Kinsley, "The New York Times Book Review"
a Entertaining and insightful . . . [Greenspan] is an oracle smart enough to know what he doesnat know. . . . Such humility, coming from someone as powerful as Alan Greenspan, is disarmingly refreshing, as is this interesting and edifying book.a
a"The Boston Globe"
a [Readers] will find that Greenspanas well-informed musings offer much more food for thought than the usual Washington memoir.a
a With his book, [Greenspan] finally lets us know what heas thinking. . . . surprisingly frank . . . downright entertaining.a
aDavid Leonhardt, "The New York Times"
a First rate . . . ["The Age of Turbulence"] is intelligent in a way that few popular books on economics manage or even try to be . . . An enjoyable read.a
The most unexpectedly charming Washington insider memoir since Katharine Graham s a decade ago.
Michael Kinsley, "The New York Times Book Review"
Entertaining and insightful . . . [Greenspan] is an oracle smart enough to know what he doesn t know. . . . Such humility, coming from someone as powerful as Alan Greenspan, is disarmingly refreshing, as is this interesting and edifying book.
"The Boston Globe"
[Readers] will find that Greenspan s well-informed musings offer much more food for thought than the usual Washington memoir.
With his book, [Greenspan] finally lets us know what he s thinking. . . . surprisingly frank . . . downright entertaining.
David Leonhardt, "The New York Times"
First rate . . . ["The Age of Turbulence"] is intelligent in a way that few popular books on economics manage or even try to be . . . An enjoyable read.
?The most unexpectedly charming Washington insider memoir since Katharine Graham's a decade ago.?
?Michael Kinsley, "The New York Times Book Review"
? Entertaining and insightful . . . [Greenspan] is an oracle smart enough to know what he doesn?t know. . . . Such humility, coming from someone as powerful as Alan Greenspan, is disarmingly refreshing, as is this interesting and edifying book.?
?"The Boston Globe"
? [Readers] will find that Greenspan's well-informed musings offer much more food for thought than the usual Washington memoir.?
? With his book, [Greenspan] finally lets us know what he's thinking. . . . surprisingly frank . . . downright entertaining.?
?David Leonhardt, "The New York Times"
? First rate . . . ["The Age of Turbulence"] is intelligent in a way that few popular books on economics manage or even try to be . . . An enjoyable read.?
About the Author
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In his epilogue he seems at a loss as far as preventing another 2007 economic disaster. Summarized ‘these things only happen once or twice in a century and that does not justify central control’. I agree with the latter inclination but suggest that we adopt a play from the medical malpractice handbook. CEO’s and governing boards SHOULD NOT be immune for deviating from ‘best practices’ and therefore liable for taking excessive risk. I would go further and force the biggest investors in a default to take on the lion’s share of the losses (if indeed it is not a total loss). Such institutions would likely find it necessary to secondarily insure for liability. Perhaps the equivalent of Lloyd’s of London for conceptual purposes. Regardless, that company would find it in their interest to keep close tabs in order to assure ‘best practices’. A privatized solution that avoids centralized ‘one size fits all’ and puts decision makers (as well as those who have the greatest influence on them) at risk.
As someone who was a titan in the business and consulting world and then held the post of the federal reserve chairman, (one of the top five most powerful positions in the world) for over two decades, he has a tremendous story to tell. The first half of the book which talks about his professional life, largely provides a historical glance into 20th century America, from the great depression till date. The second (part), delves into his take on issues such as world economics, corporate governance, inequality, globalization, capitalism, market forces, deregulation etc. In most, if not all instances, he offers a convincing argument and explanation for his stances.
At times his language is a little difficult to grasp but overall it is a fantastic read.
I recommend heartily.
The first several CDs cover Mr. Greenspan's early life and give a great deal of insight into how his views developed. They are very light, laced with dry (but quite amusing) humor and move along very quickly. Upon learning of his close friendship with Ayn Rand, much of his manner and opinion comes into clear focus.
Namely, Mr. Greenspan is a unapologetic Free Market Capitalist. His arena is Global Macroeconomics and he embraces "Creative Destruction" wholeheartedly. While he does address the hardships of this, it is in a purely pragmatic approach. I get the feeling he does care about the socioeconomic fallout but this is not the purpose of these CDs.
The middle CDs are sometimes difficult for a lay person to follow but are worth repeating to gain a better understanding. His explanations of Developing Markets, Populism, and the demise of Central Planning are very detailed and interesting.
I found I enjoyed the last CDs the most as they address current global uncertainties. The spike in oil prices, the fall of the dollar, accounting scandals, changing labor markets, and need to address energy consumption. You may not agree with him on principal but he presents solid arguments in his favor.
I recommend this collection to lay people interested in gaining a better understanding of Global macroeconomics and, oddly, those opposed to Globalization. While the latter may sound odd Mr. Greenspan presents his argument clearly and concisely. There are no vaguaries in his points and this allows reasoned response to to these issues.
Top international reviews
His theories are well presented but they did not work the way there were supposed to be.
This shows, with hindsight, how difficult it is to read the world economy.
Not sure lessons have been learned as we seem to be near another dot.com bubble with internet companies being hugely overvalued.
Originally the book went to press in June 2007, this updated edition went to press in June 2008, three months before Lehman went bankrupt on September 15th, 2008.
Before, I have studied 15 books written by various experts – two journalists (Walter Bagehot), economists and policy makers. The last one before “The Age of Turbulence” was “The Courage to Act” by Ben Bernanke, the successor of Alan Greenspan.
This book is a must read for those interested in the subject of financial crises in general and the financial crisis 2007/2008 which is still affecting the European Union as well as Europe as a whole.
Alan Greespan’s remarkable personality and career, his responsibilities and insights into economic affairs of the USA and far beyond, his working experiences with seven US Presidents – Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sen., Clinton and Bush Jr., - as well as with top ranks all over the world, his view as an economist and chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank provide very interesting and revealing details of an incomparable VIP.
It is very advantageous that we can read Alan Greenspan’s book finished in June 2007 (Introduction, Chapters 1-25) and twelve months later when he added his “Epilogue” (Pages 507-532) which went to press in June 2008.
In this new chapter – the “Epilogue” - Greenspan covers the beginning of the financial crisis: "On Thursday, August 9, 2007, the French bank BNP Paribas suspended trading in three of its mutual funds, saying it could no longer value the funds’ assets because the market for them had evaporated. Within hours, short-term credit markets around the world had virtually seized.” (P. 507). This event was followed by “the first run on a British bank since Victorian times” when “savings customers of Northern Rock “gathered outside branches from Dublin to Brighton … to withdraw their nest eggs. (P.514).
Greenspan commented the following collapse and bailout of Bearn Stearns in March 2007 as follows: “Such government bailouts must be extremely rare …” (P. 526).
Thus, we can compare his view just before the beginning of the financial crisis – he was chairman of the Federal Reserve board until January 2006 – with his view of the sudden and surprising upheavals following his tenure.
Obviously he had no clue of what would follow three months after his updated edition.
“On September 7, 2008, Fannie and Freddie clearly were insolvent;
On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy;
On September 15, 2008, Merrill Lynch, another big broker-dealer, was acquired by the Bank of America, basically saving the firm from potential collapse;
On September 16, 2008, AIG, the largest multidimensional insurance company in the world, came under enormous attack from people demanding cash;
On September 25, 2008, Washington Mutual, one of the biggest thrift companies, was closed;
On October 3, 2008, Wachovia, one of the five biggest banks in the U.S. came under serious pressure and was acquired by Wells Fargo, another large mortgage provider. …
All the firms I am talking about were among the top ten or fifteen financial firms in the United States, and similar things were happening in Europe.” (Quoted from “The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis” by Ben Bernanke, published in 2013, P.72ff.).
For many reasons this book is a historic document provided by one of the top economists, policy makers and executives in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century completed at the right time just before the economic world changed significantly.
It helps to imagine and speculate how Greenspan would have behaved during the financial crisis 2007/2008 and compare his view with Ben Bernanke’s term as chairman of the Federal Reserve board between February 2006 and February 2014.
Below you find some original quotes selected from Greenspan’s book that should inspire to read it; my comments are marked MC.
“On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I was flying back to Washington on Swissair Flight 128, returning home from a routine international bankers’ meeting in Switzerland. (P.1.)
It’s the psychology that leads to panics and recessions. … They offered to show videos of the Twin Towers coming down and the fires at the Pentagon, but I declined. I’d worked in the neighborhood of the World Trade Center for much of my life and had friends and acquaintances there. (P.3)
But to this day, I feel ill at ease in the spotlight. Extrovert, I am not. (P.9)
My early training was to immerse myself in extensive detail in the workings of some small part of the world and infer from that detail the way that segment of the world behaves. That is the process I have applied throughout my career. (P.37)
Objectivism championed laissez-faire capitalism as the ideal form of social organization; not surprisingly, Ayn Rand abhorred Soviet communism, in which she had been schooled. She saw it as the embodiment of brutal collectivism. And at the height of Soviet power, she held that the system was so inherently corrupt that eventually it would collapse from within. (P.40)
Rand persuaded me to look at human beings, their values, how they work, what they do and why they do it, and how they think and why they think. This broadened my horizons far beyond the models of economics I’d learned. I began to study how societies form and how cultures behave, and to realize that economics and forecasting depend on such knowledge – different cultures grow and create material wealth in profoundly different ways. All of this started for me with Ayn Rand. (P.53)
As chairman I was an unusual choice, because I didn’t yet have a Ph.D. and because I looked at the economy differently from most academicians. (P.64)
The job seemed amorphous, the type of task in which it is very easy to be wrong even if you have virtually full knowledge. Forecasting a complex economy such as ours is not a ninety-ten proposition. You’re very fortunate if you can do sixty-forty. All the same, the challenge was too great to turn down. I told the Bakers that if the job were offered, I would accept. (P.99)
The Fed chairman has less unilateral power than the title might suggest. By statute I controlled only the agenda for the Board of Governors meetings – the Board decided all other matters by majority rule, and the chairman was just one vote among seven. Also, I was not automatically the chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, the powerful group that controls the federal funds rate, the primary lever of U.S. monetary policy. … While the Board chairman is traditionally the chair of the FOMC, he or she must be elected each year by the members, and they are free to choose someone else. I expected precedent to prevail. But I was always aware that a revolt of the six other governors could remove all of my authority, except writing the Board agendas. (P.101)
The Federal Reserve and the White House are not automatically allies. In giving the Fed its modern mandate in 1935, Congress took great care to shield it from the influence of the political process. (P.110)
I was saddened years later when I discovered that President Bush blamed me for his loss. “I reappointed him and he disappointed me,” he told a television interviewer in 1998.
His bitterness surprised me, I did not feel the same way about him. His loss in the election reminded me of how voters in Britain had ousted Winston Churchill immediately after the Second World War. As best I could judge, Bush had done an exemplary job on the most important issues confronting the United States, our confrontation with the Soviet Union and the crisis in the Middle East. If a president can earn reelection, he did. But then, so did Winston Churchill. (P.122)
Just four weeks later, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. (P.130)
Controlled experiments almost never happen in economics. But you could not have created a better one than East and West Germany, even if you’d done it in a lab. (P.131)
The fall of the wall exposed a degree of economic decay so devastating that it astonished even the skeptics. The East German workforce, it turned out, had little more than one-third the productivity of its western counterpart, nothing like 75 percent to 85 percent. The same applied to the population’s standard of living. (P.132)
“I fear that if we act today, our move may be the one we turn out to regret,” said Janet Yellen, a governor who would later become chairman of Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors. She was the most vocal advocate for shifting to a stance of wait and see. (P.156)
August 9, 1995, will go down in history as the day the dot-com boom was born. (P.164)
We generally did not talk about the stock market very much at the Fed. (P.165)
This wasn’t quite OK Corral, but there was plenty of friction. The Treasury and the comptroller’s staff felt that all the regulatory authority should belong to them, and the Fed staff felt the same. (P.199)
Even if the Fed were to decide there was a stock bubble and we wanted to let the air out of it, would we be able to? I wondered. We had tried and failed. (P.200)
We’d be killing the patient to cure the disease.
After thinking a great deal about this, I decided that the best the Fed could do would be to stay with our central goal of stabilizing product and service prices. (P.201)
I’d come to realize we’d never be able to identify irrational exuberance with certainty, much less act on it, until after the fact. (P.202)
My first meeting with President-elect Bush took place on December 18, 2000, less than a week after the Supreme Court decision that enabled him to claim his election victory.
The deflation of the tech-stock bubble had been the great financial drama of the preceding months. The NASDAQ lost a stunning 50 percent of its value between March and year-end. (P.206)
Recessions are tricky to forecast because they are driven in part by nonrational behavior. (P.212)
The post-9/11 recovery had a dark side, however. It was marred by a disturbing shift in the concentration of income.
Two-tier economies are common in developing countries, but not since the 1920s have Americans experienced such an inequality of income. (P.232)
To my mind, Bush’s collaborate-don’t-confront approach was a major mistake – it cost the nation a check-and-balance mechanism essential to fiscal discipline. (P.235)
The budget discipline that had served us so well was effectively dead. (P.236)
“Deficits don’t matter,” to my chagrin, became part of Republicans rhetoric. (P.237)
Armey had it exactly right. The Republican Congress lost their way. They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose. (P.244)
While the debate over property rights and democracy will doubtless persist, I was taken with an observation made by Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winner in economics; “In the terrible history of famines in the world, no substantial famine has ever occurred in any independent and democratic country with a relatively free press. We cannot find exceptions to this rule, no matter where we look.” (P.253)
It is striking to me that our ideas about the efficacy of market competition have remained essentially unchanged since the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, when they first emerged, to a remarkable extent, largely from the mind of one man, Adam Smith.
Born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, in 1723, Smith lived in an era influenced by the ideas and events of the Reformation. For the first time in history of Western civilization, individuals began to view themselves as able to act independently of ecclesiastic and state restraint. (P.260)
He offered the first comprehensive examination of why some countries are able to achieve high standards of living while others make little progress.(P.261)
A recent poll shows that 71 percent of Americans agree that the free-market system is the best economic system available. Only 36 percent of the French agree. Another poll indicates that three-fourths of young French men and women aspire to a job in government. Few young Americans express that preference. (P.273)
I do not doubt that the Marshall Plan helped, but it was too small to account for the remarkable dynamics of the postwar recovery. I would regard the freeing of product and financial markets in 1948 by West German economics director Ludwig Erhard as by far the more important spur to the postwar recovery of Western Europe. (P.281)
Most French reject market competition, the very basis on which capitalist economies function. It is views as uncivil, or the “law of the jungle,” in the words of Balladur. Yet they protect the institutions of capitalism – the rule of law and especially property rights – as well as any other developed nation. (P.287)
Karl Marx was wrong in his analysis of the way people can organize to successfully create value. (P.300)
What is remarkable in all this is that it took so long for Illarionov to be demoted. Eventually he was relieved of his role as presidential representative to the G8 heads of government, and in 2005 he resigned, stating that Russia was no longer a free country. (P.325)
Populism tied to individual rights is what most people call liberal democracy. “Economic populism” as used by most economists, however, refers implicitly to a democracy in which the “individual rights” qualifier is largely missing. Unqualified democracy, where 51 percent of the people can legally do away with the rights of the remaining 49 percent, leads to tyranny.” (P.344)
MC: The UK Brexit vote – 51.9% pro Brexit, leaving the European Union – without the involvement of the Parliament is a very strong warning in context with Greenspan’s observation.
“A recent financial innovation of major importance has been the credit default swap.” (P.371)
MC: Credit default swaps (CDS) brought AIG to its knees, contributed significantly to the financial crisis 2007/2008 and required the public bailout of AIG.
“I had long argued that the Glass-Steagall Act, which in 1933 separated the business of securities underwriting from commercial banking, was based on faulty history.” (P.375)
MC: According to some commentators, this deregulation in the last phase of the Clinton government contributed to the financial crisis 2007/2008. Ben Bernanke in his excellent book “The Courage to Act” published in 2015 does not agree and explains why the deregulation “helped stabilize the two endangered investment banks.” (P.439)
“In my experience, another significant factor in excess CEO compensation occurs as a result of a general rise in stock prices, over with the average CEO has no control. (P.426)
I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.
Until industrial economies disengage themselves from, as President George W. Bush put it, “our addiction to oil,” the stability of the industrial economies and hence the global economy will remain at risk. (P.463)
As this book goes to press (June 2007), evidence of a rebound in measured productivity growth or the rate of price decline for high-tech equipment is lacking. But history tells us that such a turn will take place. It always has. (P.473)
I regret to say that Federal Reserve independence is not set in stone. FOMC discretion is granted by statute and can be withdrawn by statute. (P.478)
I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s perception of Americans, who “can always be counted on to do the right thing – after they have exhausted all other possibilities.” (P.483)
Markets have become too huge, complex, and fast-moving to be subject to twentieth-century supervision and regulation.
Financial regulators are required to oversee a system far more complex than what existed when the regulations still governing financial markets were originally written.
Regulation, by its nature, inhibits freedom of market action, and that freedom to act expeditiously is what rebalances markets. (P.489)
Undermine this freedom and the whole market-balancing process is put at risk.
In today’s world, I fail to see how adding more government regulation can help. (P.490)
We have no sensible choice other than to let markets work. (P.492)
The elaborate counterparty surveillance procedures of bank loan officers have long been the financial system’s first line of defense against breakdowns. Yet there is persuasive evidence that in this crisis, those in charge of counterparty surveillance have failed. (P.524)
If history is any guide, new regulations will focus mainly on the causes of the current crisis: lax and fraudulent mortgage lending practices, the indiscriminate securitization of credit products, and over-reliance on risky short term funding for long term assets. (P.525)
The only alternative would be for commercial banks to hold significantly more capital all the time at levels that might be needed only once every one hundred years. Bankers strongly resist that approach; apparently they prefer to risk bankruptcy once a century.
No one knows for sure, of course, but the evidence is quite persuasive that the current crisis is one of those rare, once in a century or half century events. (P.526)
Our country has long since abandoned the notion that we should leave crises to be resolved solely by the marketplace.
We need laws that specify and limit the conditions for bailouts – laws that authorize the Treasury to use taxpayer money to counter systemic financial breakdowns transparently and directly rather than circuitously through the central bank, as was done during the blow-up of Bear Stearns. (P.527)
If material well-being is our goal, I see no alternative to global market capitalism. Its Achilles’ heel is the widespread perception that its rewards are not justly distributed. That issue, as I have argued in chapter 21, sorely needs to be addressed. (P.529)
Peter Petre has been my collaborator in the writing.” (P.535)
MC: On the frontispiece of “Father SON & CO. – My Life at IBM and Beyond” published in 1990 you find Thomas J. Watson Jr. AND Peter Petre as the authors.
Problematisch oder hilflos wirkt das Buch, wenn es um mehr "kleinskalige" Zusammenhänge geht. Da ist einerseits die Betonung des (empirisch im Kontrast zur diktatorischen Zentralplanungswirtschaft) gut belegten Zusammenhangs von individueller politischer Freiheit und wirtschaftlichem Erfolg. Globale Ungleichgewichte in den "Sparneigungen" der verschiedenen Weltengegenden und Staaten werden genannt, die grad auf das *Fehlen* des Faktors Freiheit zurückzuführen sind. Oder kann man die hohe "Sparrate" der sog. Neuen Russen bzw. Neuen Chinesen anders denn als Ergebnis (verdeckt) gewaltsamer oder betrügerischer Aneignung interpretieren? Dort spart niemand der 99 % freiwillig. Diese Länder mit einem Begriff wie "Sparneigung" zu beschreiben ist irreführend.
Ein zweiter zentraler Widerspruch ist der Hinweis auf die Notwendigkeit von Freiheit und Herrschaft des Gesetzes für wirtschaftlichen Erfolg. Auch dies ist mindestens irreführend, weil zu allgemein: Wir alle stimmen zu, von der FDP über Attac bis Occupy Frankfurt. Es kömmt aber darauf an, *welche* Gesetze herrschen sollen: Greenspans Widerwillen gegen Regulation der Märkte beißt sich also mit seiner gleichzeitig geforderten Herrschaft des Rechts in den Märkten.
Natürlich ist die oft behauptete Vorstellung von ausgeglichen Märkten irreal, weil sie an Vorgägngen wie dem black Friday vorbeigeht und auch theoretischen Unfug bildet. Greenspan wiederholt diese These unverfroren. Für ihn sind die transitorischen Relaxationsvorgänge in den Märkten Analoga physikalischer Vorgänge; manche seiner Beschreibungen erinnerten mich an Molekülensembles in (turbulenten) Fluiden, die gelegentlich auskristallisieren oder bei erhöhtem äußerem Druck oder veränderter Temperatur umkristallisieren etc. Um diese Sichtweise teilen zu können, muß dem Betrachter zuallererst egal sein, dass die Moleküle lebende Menschen sind, denen Würde zukommt. Dann aber muß er auch der Idee folgen, dass die mikroskopisch-ökonomische Ebene so extrem simpel funktioniert wie ein Molekülensemble, obwohl selbst auf dieser Ebene schon Begriffe wie z.B. Selbstorganisation, Strukturbildung, Bifurkation und Chaos eine Rolle spielen. Um wieviel mehr jedoch auf der Ebene des menschlichen Akteurs! Hier erweist sich sein systemtheoretisches Fundament als nicht mehr zeitgemäß.
Es bleiben viele politische Tagesfragen bei Greenspan offen, obwohl er seine Vorlieben nicht verschweigt, sie aber so locker formuliert, dass die zuweilen schlicht-orthodoxe Marktdogmatik zumindestens mich nicht sonderlich gestört hat.
The second half of this book is far less readable as a multi-part economics lecture (really for economics addicts only). Nonetheless I am sure is of very high quality but of which I, and I suspect many readers, will not have the patience or be able to sustain the interest levels to be able to read it.
For that reason there is no real ending to the autobiograpihical part which simply peters out with little satisfaction for the reader.
However that is no reason not to read this book which I would say was essential reading for anyone who reads the Wall Street Journal or Financial Times regularly. It is also very enjoyable (the first half anyway).
In this book you will find very few cryptic remarks. Instead it is written in an understandable style, which is not normally associated with members of the banking profession.
The book comes in two parts. In Part One (chapters 1 to 11), Mr. Greenspan recounts his life from birth right through to the end of his tenor as the Fed's Chairman in 2006. His early years are dealt with rather quickly. The more interesting bit starts in the 1950's as Greenspan starts his career as an analyst. At that point the books is no longer really a memoir but a course in American economic history. I also liked his observations and opinions on all US Presidents from Nixon to the present occupant of the White House.
Part Two (chapters 12 to 25) are a collection of Mr. Greenspan's thoughts on various aspects of the world economy. In detail, he covers virtually all important economic powers and regions in the world telling us how their economic growth has been driven in the past and what they must do in future to ensure increasing prosperity. Many a politician would be well advised to take note of what Mr. Greenspan has to say, but there is scant chance of that happening.
He also covers the debt markets, globalisation and regulation, equality, pensions, corporate governance and the energy squeeze.
Finally, Mr. Greenspan looks into the future of the US economy and other major global players. The title of his book gives us an idea as to what might be in store for us.
This is an excellent book although I personally prefer the second part over the first part. This is not a book for economic addicts, but it is for everyone with an interest in economic matters.
Er übersieht nicht den bemerkenswerter Widerspruch zwischen den in den letzten Jahren oft guten wirtschaftlichen Zahlen und den eher ungünstigen Umfrageergebnissen. Arbeitsplatz-Unsicherheit bedrückt auch diejenigen, die stets einen guten Job finden. Vom schumpeterschen Prinzip der "schöpferischen Zerstörung" sehen viele nur die "Zerstörung", sagt er an einer Stelle, wohingegen sich das "schöpferische" in Form steigender Produktivität im volkswirtschaftlichen Zahlenwerk niederschlägt.
In einem eigenen Kapitel 21 untersucht er die seit den 80er Jahren in den USA rasch zunehmende Einkommensungleichheit. Er sagt: "If material well -beeing is our goal, I see no alternative to global market capitalism. Its Achilles' heel is the widspread perception that its rewards are not justly distributed. That issue, as I have argued in chapter 21, sorely needs to be addressed." Greenspans Darstellung des Ausmaßes und der Entwicklung der Einkommensungleichheit deckt sich im wesentlichen mit derjenigen von Paul Krugman in "The Conscience of a Liberal". Die Ursache sieht er jedoch vor allem im schlechten Niveau der amerikanischen Schulen. Deren Abgänger genügen nicht dem, was heute der Arbeitsmarkt verlangt. Das ist sicher nicht falsch, erklärt aber das Ausmaß der Zunahme der Einkommensungleichheit allenfalls zu einem kleinen Teil, wie z.B. Paul Krugman klar deutlich gemacht hat. Überhaupt nicht geht er auf die in den letzten Jahren stark von den Republikanern bestimmte Steuerpolitik als mögliche Ursache ein. Als ob er die republikanische Partei schonen möchte. Das ist unnötig. Er sieht sich durchaus als eher kritischer Parteianhänger.
Geschickt entwickelt sich der Schwerpunkt im Buch vom Lebensrückblick zu einer Kollektion von Essays, so gewissermaßen vom "wie wurde ich der ich bin" zum "was denke ich". Dieses ist Gelungen und wirkt durchaus nicht als unzusammenhängendes Sammelsurium. Greenspans Sichtweisen klingen ungewohnt für einen, der, wie ich, seine Ansichten aus dem Politikunterricht, aus den Tagesthemen, der Zeit, dem Spiegel oder den großen deutschen Tageszeitungen entwickelt hat. Gerade das, macht sie aber interessant.
Alan Greenspan comes across very much as a "Techie" / "Geek" with a very academic, data orientated view of the world and Economic policy.
You won't find any great vision here but a really fascinating view of the "real world" application of Economic Policy.
While Greenspan is clearly an "uber-master" of his subject, I couldn't help occasionaly raising an eyebrow at some of his views - thinking that maybe here lies some of the root cause of the troubles we suffer today.
A good companion book to read with this is the "History of Money" by Niall Ferguson - although he has nothing like the depth of Knowledge of Greenspan.
And the Prognosis ? The great moderation of Inflation and improvement in living standards of the last decade is a consequence of a period of rapid Globalisation involving China whihc is now comig to an end. Expect the reurn of (moderate) Inflation. Sounds a bit like "Back to the Seventies...."