The Man Who Knew by Sebastian Mallaby
The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews

...as Mallaby closes by noting, Greenspan was not wholly averse to regulation, made financial calls that were seen as sound at the time, and may not have been able to ward off a crisis that was many years in the making. A well-crafted, thorough biography sure to interest students of the modern economy and financial system.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The definitive biography of the most important economic statesman of our time
 
Sebastian Mallaby's magisterial biography of Alan Greenspan, the product of over five years of research based on untrammeled access to his subject and his closest professional and personal intimates, brings into vivid focus the mysterious point where the government and the economy meet. To understand Greenspan's story is to see the economic and political landscape of the last 30 years--and the presidency from Reagan to George W. Bush--in a whole new light. As the most influential economic statesman of his age, Greenspan spent a lifetime grappling with a momentous shift: the transformation of finance from the fixed and regulated system of the post-war era to the free-for-all of the past quarter century. The story of Greenspan is also the story of the making of modern finance, for good and for ill. 
 
Greenspan's life is a quintessential American success story: raised by a single mother in the Jewish émigré community of Washington Heights, he was a math prodigy who found a niche as a stats-crunching consultant. A master at explaining the economic weather to captains of industry, he translated that skill into advising Richard Nixon in his 1968 campaign. This led to a perch on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and then to a dazzling array of business and government roles, from which the path to the Fed was relatively clear. A fire-breathing libertarian and disciple of Ayn Rand in his youth who once called the Fed's creation a historic mistake, Mallaby shows how Greenspan reinvented himself as a pragmatist once in power. In his analysis, and in his core mission of keeping inflation in check, he was a maestro indeed, and hailed as such. At his retirement in 2006, he was lauded as the age's necessary man, the veritable God in the machine, the global economy's avatar. His memoirs sold for record sums to publishers around the world.
 
But then came 2008. Mallaby's story lands with both feet on the great crash which did so much to damage Alan Greenspan's reputation. Mallaby argues that the conventional wisdom is off base: Greenspan wasn't a naïve ideologue who believed greater regulation was unnecessary. He had pressed for greater regulation of some key areas of finance over the years, and had gotten nowhere. To argue that he didn't know the risks in irrational markets is to miss the point. He knew more than almost anyone; the question is why he didn't act, and whether anyone else could or would have. A close reading of Greenspan's life provides fascinating answers to these questions, answers whose lessons we would do well to heed. Because perhaps Mallaby's greatest lesson is that economic statesmanship, like political statesmanship, is the art of the possible. The Man Who Knew is a searching reckoning with what exactly comprised the art, and the possible, in the career of Alan Greenspan.
 

About Sebastian Mallaby

See more books from this Author
SEBASTIAN MALLABY is the Paul Volcker Senior Fellow in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published October 11, 2016 by Penguin Press. 800 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The Man Who Knew
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Jul 31 2016

...as Mallaby closes by noting, Greenspan was not wholly averse to regulation, made financial calls that were seen as sound at the time, and may not have been able to ward off a crisis that was many years in the making. A well-crafted, thorough biography sure to interest students of the modern economy and financial system.

Read Full Review of The Man Who Knew: The Life an... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Justin Fox on Nov 06 2016

...there are many other juicy stories about Greenspan’s subsequent rise from chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Ford administration to informal minister without portfolio in the early Reagan years to boss of the Fed.

Read Full Review of The Man Who Knew: The Life an... | See more reviews from NY Times

Rate this book!

Add Review
×