BOOKCASE : The Age of Turbulence

• Alan Greenspan • Penguin Books • RRP $65.00

In his own words… he may not “know all the answers” but, having spent over 18 years at the helm of the world’s largest economy, Alan Greenspan is better placed than most to offer his take on the new global economy.
Unfortunately this is the least accessible part of his book. Fortunately he doesn’t begin the discussion until the second half of the weighty tome – the first 200 pages being devoted to his own story and learning curve.
Greenspan was born in New York, studied music (the clarinet at the Juilliard School), and worked as professional musician before picking up his interest in economics – an interest which saw him holding the reins of monetary policy through the 1987 stock market crash, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dot-com boom – and bust – and the emergence of China as an economic powerhouse, to name just few.
It’s not all easy going, it’s big book and my knowledge of world politics and economics was sorely tested at times. Greenspan’s assessment of the US presidents he worked with in various roles (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush Snr, Clinton and Bush Jnr) is fascinating, albeit in vaguely disturbing vicarious way. The dips into economic theory and global case studies are certainly interesting, but not always easy.
The book ends with Greenspan’s thoughts on the world economy in 2030 and reminder from him that the US Federal Reserve’s independence is not set in stone. That would be big change.
Reactions to the book will vary and depend on how you view Greenspan’s legacy to, not only the US economy, but to the whole world. While some applaud his handling of changing world, others castigate him for overstepping the bounds of monetary policy.

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