The Age of Turbulence
|September 17, 2007|
|Pages||544 (1st ed.)|
(1st ed., hardcover)
|332.1/1092 B 22|
|LC Class||HB119.G74 A3 2007|
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World is a 2007 memoir written by former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan. Published on September 17, 2007, the book debuted at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover nonfiction.
The first half of The Age of Turbulence is an autobiographical chronology of Greenspan's life. This portion of the text permits readers a view of the people and circumstances that helped shape and guide Greenspan. From hours of clarinet and saxophone practice as a child, to living room philosophy with Ayn Rand, his major influences are all detailed.
The second half of the book retells several major economic events (primarily within the U.S.) that have occurred over the past half century. His economic endeavors and personal observations while serving under various U.S. Presidents are detailed, and often inter-mingled with these events. The latter half of the book also includes an analysis and brief history of major global economic constructs (of yesterday and today), along with a somewhat subjective measure of their success (or lack thereof). The economic systems discussed include Marxist Communism, Populism, and various mutations of Market Capitalism.
On free market capitalism
In Greenspan's view, free market capitalism is the economic approach that "trumps" other forms attempted thus far in human history. His support of Adam Smith's "invisible hand", i.e., people's motivational self-interest, is foundational to his view of creating a successful, growing economy. He discusses the rapid historical growth of the U.S. economy under market capitalism as well as its benefit to foreign adopters, albeit with persistent dis-functions. His support for market capitalism is not without criticism. This includes the anxiety often expressed within a society as "creative destruction" plays out. Greenspan also decries the lack of quality public secondary education for the "masses", particularly in mathematics and the sciences, and how this problem contributes to the divergence of rich and poor within the U.S.
On presidential economic influence
Greenspan's criticisms of President George W. Bush include his refusal to veto new Federal legislation, thus increasing spending with unprecedented ease. In Greenspan's opinion, Bush's approach to dealing with the congress has been one of "conflict avoidance", and fulfilling political promises/agendas with little room for compromise or reason. Greenspan writes, "[Republicans in Congress] swapped principle for power; they ended up with neither ... they "deserved to lose" the 2006 election. Of all the presidents with whom he worked, Greenspan praises Gerald Ford above all others, but also has high praise for Bill Clinton. His opinion of Clinton's governance was one which maintained "a consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth."
The Economist considered the book to be "first-rate", noting that "it engages on different levels: it is intelligent in a way that few popular books on economics manage or even try to be; and, wonder of wonders, it is a good read." The New York Times said, "For a memoir from such a high-profile figure, it is surprisingly frank. Large parts of the book are downright entertaining. Its biggest failing — the reason it isn’t a great memoir — is Mr. Greenspan’s reluctance to be as forthright and penetrating about himself as he is about others."
- "Best Sellers; Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times Book Review. October 7, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- Felsenthal, Mark (September 15, 2007). "Greenspan criticizes Bush policies in memoir". Reuters. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- Ip, Greg (September 15, 2007). "Greenspan Book Criticizes Bush And Republicans". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- Andrews, Edmund L.; Sanger, David E. (September 15, 2007). "Fed's Ex-Chief Attacks Bush On Fiscal Role". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2011.
- "Alan Greenspan's memoirs: The Undertaker's story". The Economist. September 20, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- Leonhardt, David (September 18, 2007). "Economist’s Life, Scored With Jazz Theme". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
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