Oct

7

Alan Greenspan's autobiography "The Age of Turbulence" provides a snapshot of establishmentarian economic thinking, including a panoramic view of of how we got here, what "here" is, and how one very clever man prospered in a variety of challenging settings.

We hear the well-known story of Greenspan's rags-to-knighthood ascent from Washington Heights to Washington's heights. Students of the Beltway memoir genre will recognize the name and venue dropping.

The latter portion of the book, Greenspan's critique of the current economic/political landscape, would be familiar to anyone who has followed his work, and kept up with the musings of bien penseurs.

Miscellaneous nuggets:

1) "Forecasting is simply a projection of how current imbalances will ultimately resolve." (p. 48)

2) Institutional capture upon becoming Fed chair: "The staff prepared a series of intensive tutorials diplomatically labeled 'one-person seminars,' in which I was the student — senior people from the professional staff taught me my job." (p 100)

3) Still a libertarian? "Unqualified democracy, where 51 percent of the people can legally do away with the rights of the remaining 49 percent, leads to tyranny." (p. 345)

4) A climate doomster? "There can be very little doubt that global warming is real and man-made." (p. 454)

5) Inflation fatalist: "For the most part, the American people have tolerated the inflation bias as an acceptable cost of the modern welfare state. There is no support for the gold standard today, and I see no likelihood of its return." (p. 481)

Folks seeking initial compass points on the intersection between the Beltway and Broadway will learn a lot about the current state of play.

Cynics like me can troll for amusing anecdotes, marvel at the near adoration offered a certain impeached ex-President, and shelve the book for future reference.


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