Alan Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World Summary

The Age of Turbulence is a story about Alan Greenspan’s life from his roots growing up in New York City, to becoming a musician, to earnings his bachelors, masters and PhD in Economics from NYU. He spent most of his life dedicated to the love of economics, working for private companies and eventually nominated to the boards of some pretty big corporations like JP Morgan and Aloca. (In fact he was so busy with his professional life he didn’t get married until about 10 years ago!) From his success working for private companies near / on wall street, his reputation began to grow and he began to dabble in economics on a political level working with President Nixon and later Ford, as an economic adviser, to help their administrations through some of the tough economic crises of their day.

When President Ford left the White house he went back to his consulting firm Townsend-Greenspan (a firm he formed with William Townsend who at the time was a well known economist in his sixties, I believe, and Alan was just 28!) In fact William Townsend had died years later, but since he helped Alan get his start in the private practice, he kept the Townsend name on the company with the permission of William’s children. Anyways at this point Alan was known by a lot of people in both the corporate world and political world and when Reagan ran for president he was asked to worked as a adviser (non-paid). Years later when it came time to appoint a new fed chief, Reagan and his administration told Alan they wanted to nominate him and the rest is basically history.

Greenspan had a lot of influence with most of the past presidents from Nixon and Ford, to Reagan, 1st Bush, Clinton and 2nd Bush. He’s got a lot of interesting perspectives on all of them (his favorite was Ford because he was the most normal of all of them!) Also he explains what his role at the Fed was and in their meetings – his primary role was to set the agenda and take notes! (He did offer his sentiments on where the economy was headed in his opening minutes.) Greenspan’s influence has touched the hyper-inflation of the 70’s, fall of communism in the 80’s, to the dot-com bubble of the late 90’s and he explains how the Fed reacted and why. Everything he talks about has a foundation in his economic views like the force of creative destruction to explain why communism didn’t work.

Foreign diplomats from every country have come to his office to discuss economic policies that could help open their nation to the prosperity America has enjoyed. He has interesting / inside perspectives on countries like Russia, China, India; especially if you only listened to the news and had little other exposure to how their economies really worked. For example, he doesn’t believe China’s currency pegged to ours is as much of a problem as politicians would like us to believe. He believes it has worse problems for China because it will eventually cause hyper-inflation and it won’t ever break America’s habit of importing cheap goods – we will just find some where else to go!

The reason I like the book, is because it’s coming from “an expert” source and it’s an interesting, fresh perspective (as far as I’m concerned). Essentially the book is a learning experience, because the first half of the book presents us with the conceptual tools to follow him through the second half of the book into a more detailed analysis of the current global economy, regulation, different countries and their growth possibilties and drawbacks.