The Age of Turbulence – Alan Greenspan – Part 1

I started reading this book shortly after it came out and read it in a few days. I generally thought it was interesting, but the quick read did not let most of the second half of the book sink in very far. I decided to read back through it again. I am still working on the second half, but I wanted to post a few thoughts on the first half.

The Age of Turbulence is really two books in one. The first half is more of a historical memoir. It goes into depth about Greenspan’s personal life and FED life as a means of providing a contest. Having read Bob Woodward’s Maestro, I thought Greenspan’s own recounts were not that much more insightful. For course, the reader does get a personal perspective on the events, but this section was written in a, for lack of a better word, “political” way. By this I mean, Greenspan plays up the events and the text comes off as rather sugar coated, rosy, with a little too much arrogance. I did not feel like I got a critical view of anything new. The comments on each of the presidents he worked with was interesting, but also that a sugar coated feel to the text.

The second half of the book is where the good stuff lives. I am not sure the first half is necessary, given the other work that is out there about Greenspan’s work at the FED. A two chapter introduction and starting the book at chapter 12 would have been fine with me. Although not as marketable, I am sure. The second half of the book really starts to dive into the underlying thoughts and perspective of Greenspan’s thinking on the domestic and global economy. Regardless of what you think about globalization, capitalism, etc., Greenspan’s insight is an important one to have. Mainly due to the fact that it has been a dominant force on the global stage for almost 20 years.

I want to tease the second half of the book out further here over the next few weeks. I want this to be a brief overview, leading into a more critical conversation about the second half of the book. If you are interested in economics, political history, or capitalism, I would encourage you to pick this up. Below are some of the MANY interviews Greenspan did trying to “sell” the book.

Tech

This is already all over the place, but I could not help but post it here.

HT: Lindsay Campbell

Chavez’s Venezuela

After what I considered to be a done deal, Sunday’s voting in Venezuela shocked more than a few analyst and has sparked a great deal of dialog about the voting out come. I have been closely watching the Venezuelan referendum unfold over the last few weeks. I heard the voting would be close and pre-vote polling was close, but my internal skepticism said this was all but a done deal. On Saturday, I would have said there was a 10% chance of the referendum not going through. Boy, was I wrong. The commentary and analysis will likely go on about this for some time, because of its significance in modern socialism. I wanted to post some comments from the FT (free subscription required).

 

Analysts suggest that the urban poor were unenthusiastic about the constitutional proposals that would have granted the president sweeping new powers, including the ability to be re-elected indefinitely, and accelerated the introduction of “21st century socialism” into Venezuela.

 

“Chávez was out of step with the wishes of the poorer sectors of the population that support him,” says Edgardo Lander, a leftwing political scientist at the Central University of Venezuela. “He had interpreted his election victory in 2006 as a kind of carte blanche to do whatever he wanted, but in reality it’s not like that.”

 

Others suggest that economic distortions resulting from price and exchange rate controls and a sharp fall in private investment in farming and manufacturing have hit the government hard. Despite the oil bonanza, in the state-run supermarkets where the poor shop many basic foodstuffs – such as milk and sugar – are in short supply.

 

Steve Ellner, a political scientist at the Oriente University in Venezuela, says the government may need to pay more attention to problems such as refuse collection and crime in poor areas.

 

“With all their lofty ideals the Chavistas are maybe paying less attention [than they should] to these tangible and specific things.”

 

In addition, although Mr Chávez last year won a strong popular mandate to press ahead with reforms, his radicalism has alienated many erstwhile supporters and created new opponents.

 

Source:

Overlooked poor bite back at Chávez
By Richard Lapper and Benedict Mander in Caracas
Published: December 3 2007 20:39

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