I thought it was never going to happen after reading a series of books about Alan Greenspan and The Federal Reserve. Prior books seemed to have had as their goal convincing any reader that a PHD in Pure Math was required to understand The Federal Reserve. Those who felt readers needed to have the English Language explained to them authored a book I recently reviewed. Just as I believe there are literally millions of Americans who have learned more about The Electoral College in the last 10 days than they did during how ever many years of school they attended, anyone who reads this book will find that The Federal Reserve while far from a simple agency performing simple tasks, it is understandable to anyone who has an interest in learning.
Mr. Bob Woodward has assembled a highly readable book, together with a brief index of terms, which makes this work invaluable. This would be so at any point in our History. But as we now have more Families and individuals whose finances are directly related to the financial markets, the book is important for everyone to read.
During the campaigns the voters are warned/scared into thinking of the evil that will befall them if a given Candidate becomes President, and appoints Supreme Court Justices. The congress that will assemble in January is so balanced, especially the Senate, that no matter who eventually wins, what was an election and now is a disgrace, is not going to get any judges confirmed that are at either end of Constitutional Interpretation.
But what of The Chairman Of The Federal Reserve? Mr. Greenspan is currently in the midst of a remarkable 4th term as Chairman, and many would argue a Chairman whose performance has been unprecedented. At 74 years of age how much longer will he want this position? He comments that having the job "is like eating peanuts" in that a person cannot stop, and I hope he does not. However I don't believe immortality is amongst his skills, and whoever is President when he ceases to be The Chairman, is going to have a huge problem.
Mr. Woodward explains why this is so by using some of the very public, and some not so public events/crises that any reader will have knowledge of, if not all, then some of the events he describes. October 1987 is familiar, it also moved into the background rather quickly for such an event. This book will rewrite those days of 1987, and explain just how close to a true financial disaster it was. After you read what went on to restore the markets, you will be pleased that firstly, you didn't know how bad it really was, and secondly, that Mr. Greenspan was at the helm.
Other events that are reviewed are, Mexico's idea of running an economy, and the US Bankers that lent your money to the Country, and how that situation was delicately finessed. The LTCM near disaster, while perhaps not as familiar to some, lays bare the wonderful world of arbitrage. For it is here that 5 cents gets you a dollar, winning is spectacular, and the consequences of losing are almost difficult to fathom. If you count stocks as a form of gambling, arbitrage make stocks look as safe as keeping the money in your mattress.
The book is full of actual transcriptions of various Federal Reserve meetings. This brings the reader into the room as a witness to a Chairman who not only clearly understands the economy better than anyone, but who is also a master politician and consensus builder. Universally liked he is not, as several Vice Chairman learned. The Federal Reserve has become Mr. Alan Greenspan, and since he was first appointed by President Reagan, then President Bush, and finally President Clinton, you will learn why.
I found his relationships with the Presidents he served to be fascinating, and I was surprised by the President he felt best understood the economy. The material if accepted by the reader may cause one to reevaluate some long held beliefs about a variety of powerful Washington figures.
This book works as Bob Woodward is as knowledgeable about Washington D.C., and has access to the players that is possibly without peer. He has earned the credibility he brings to his work over decades of writing, and the meticulous notes he includes give even more validation to the reader who requires it.
A book for all to read, for when was the last time a specific Supreme Court case directly and immediately affected your life? When was the last time The Chairman of The Federal Reserve changed your net worth with 2 words?
Remember "Irrational Exuberance"?