March 23rd 2009
The Age of Turbulence. Adventures in a new world. Alan Greenspan.2008.ISBN 9780143114161.
Reading this book immediately after The Snowball, I was struck by the similarities in world view between Buffett and Greenspan. They both believe in free market capitalism, they are both mathematical wizards and they grew up personally protected from the Great Depression , and yet they followed very different paths. Buffett went on to be the premier capitalist and Greenspan became a consummate public servant.
The history lessons in this book are terrific and give another side to many of the events that Buffett discussed. The real gem in my mind is Greenspan’s analysis of the BRIC, South American and EU nations plus their challenges. Taking his projections and todays’ events you see pretty well exactly how things will progress, some of it already. If you are doing business world wide you must read these chapters as well as the McKinsey work (and the Economist stats tables weekly) if you desire to succeed (survive) in these markets. Greenspan’s 40 years at the tiller and numerous interactions at G7 and G20 meetings are invaluable.
I believe he is right. Inflation will return, as will higher oil prises. The US has an education (k-12) , Retirement and unfunded Medicare, Social Security crises ahead of it. He makes telling arguments against propping up old manufacturing industries. His analysis of the current meltdown rises above todays’ politicizing. As well his is the first logical voice that shows the dangers of populism in politics, raising a fear that Obama may get himself into some dreadful morasses.
Surprising to me that this was such an easy to read book. He does mention that learning Fed Speak meant the loss of the use of English umtil he left. Good for a back and forth coast to coast plane ride. You will want to savour this one.
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