• The Age of Turbulence

  • Adventures in a New World
  • By: Alan Greenspan
  • Narrated by: Robertson Dean
  • Length: 20 hrs
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (1,178 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"This book is in part a detective story. After 9/11 I knew, if I needed further reinforcement, that we are living in a new world - the world of a global capitalist economy that is vastly more flexible, resilient, open, self-correcting, and fast-changing than it was even a quarter century earlier. It's a world that presents us with enormous new possibilities but also enormous new challenges. The Age of Turbulence is my attempt to understand the nature of this new world: how we got here, what we're living through, and what lies over the horizon, for good and for ill. Where possible, I convey my understanding in the context of my own experiences. I do this out of a sense of responsibility to the historical record, and so that listeners will know where I'm coming from.

"The book is therefore divided in halves: the first half is my effort to retrace the arc of my learning curve, and the second half is a more objective effort to use this as the foundation on which to erect a conceptual framework for understanding the new global economy. Along the way I explore critical elements of this emerging global environment: the principles governing it; the vast energy infrastructure that powers it; the global financial imbalances and dramatic shifts in world demographics that threaten it; and, despite its unquestioned success, the chronic concern over the justice of the distribution of its rewards. Finally, I bring together what we can reasonably conjecture about the makeup of the world economy in 2030.

"I don't pretend to know all the answers. But from my vantage point at the Federal Reserve, I had privileged access to the best that had been thought and said on a wide range of subjects. I have not been inhibited in reaching for some fairly sweeping hypotheses."
-Alan Greenspan

©2007 Alan Greenspan (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Economists beware

The narration is excellent. The book is downloadable in three parts. The content is disappointing and a bit smug. Ideal, for anyone who hasn't spent much time studying Economics. Economists can buy it to help them get to sleep.

Greenspan has decided to take many of the headline topics in the history of economic doctrines and couch them in everyday words, reinforcing the concepts by adding his own highly general comments. As one would expect, the poorly read mainstream media has already installed Greenspan as a genius -- a term with which he feels entirely at home. I was astounded at the naivite of his knowledge of modern Economics. For example, he claims he was influenced by H. De Soto when the two met. It was de Soto that led him to think that establishing a dedicated system of property rights could lead to an expansion of wealth in the Third World. But, property rights have been on the table in economics since at least Coase's time in the 1930's and have long been a well known specialty at schools like UCLA, the University of Virginia, and VPI. Giants in economic thought like Buchanan, Tullock,Demsetz, Alchian, and Hirchleifer have always emphasized the essential nature of property rights. I was taught this 30 years ago. How come it took Mr. Greenspan so long to get it?

When he gets to Adam Smith he finds someone worthy of apotheosis. Yet, he misses the most
important part of Smith's analysis -- namely that "free international trade" can expand the scope of the market and allow the otherwise limited division of labor and specialization of industry. R. Coase and G. Stigler have much more penetrating insights into Smith than Mr. Greenspan. But, they didn't serve as the head of the US central bank. They didn't enjoy making routine speeches to jet-setting, caviar filled bellies at Davos.

In summary, I expect the book will be justly panned at our major universities. Mr. Greenspan is in danger of breaking his own arm patting himself on the back.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Non Partisan Truth

Buy, listen, suggest. He knows more than most of us. I believe him and you should make your own evaluation.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Basics for wide audience

If you are not very familiar with macroeconomics and would like to know Alan Greenspan's take on economic forces, principals and issues of modern times, this is a great book. You will find plenty of historical examples, future projections as well as eloquently explained economic and political relationships and trends that shape our world as we know today. Just as interesting is the authors' opinion of many prominent public figures he met during his career.
The book is intended to be an "easy read" for an average reader, so do not expect it to be of much academic value or any in-depth research/analysis that can be used for, say, investment purposes.
The narration is excellent, arguments are persuasive and easy to follow, the amount of material covered is also quite substantial.
Ideally, I would suggest this book to an average voter who wants to understand the economic impact of various public policies. Policies like "more taxes for the rich", "more power to the unions", "deport immigrants", "erect a trade barrier with China", "freeze gasoline prices" not only have a profound economic impact (mostly negative) on everybody, but also have a long history of prior attempts that we can learn a lot from.
Lastly, as much as Greenspan tried not to come across this way, but he surely seems to be riding a rather high horse. His opinion of self-importance and self-righteousness could use a trim..

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not worth the time

I like Greenspan, but unfortunately this book is not worth the time. It's really two books in one, the first being a banal but amusing autobiography and the second an eye-lid dropping overview of the current economic state of the world. As is typical of former public figures with friends still in high places, the book treads very carefully - even in ripping Bush AG takes no great risks. This book is liking watching a team with a 20 point lead play out the fourth quarter - we're all good, let's not do anything to lose our place in history. Boring and safe. The last part of the book is so stuffed full of econ-speak that it will make your eyes glaze over - I started to understand why they call it the dismal science, even though I enjoy the subject. Geez, I even made it through the Wealth of Nations but AoT makes WoN look like a bastion of clarity at times. I'm going to take my nominal rate of time return and invest it in another information growth vehicle since this one exceeded the net present value of my current patience balance.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You Want Opinions from the Grandmaster

You would not travel to the ends of the earth to consult a great oracle and then ask for just the facts so you can draw your own conclusions. When consulting a grandmaster in any field the most useful thing to seek are the opinions that represent a synergy or summary of the 200K hours of work that went into becoming grandmaster (grandmasters don’t work 40 hour weeks).

Greenspan obliges. The book is nothing but onions from the first page to the last. But they are the opinions that are in his opinion the most important, which in the end may be the most important opinion to solicit from a grandmaster.

The result, however, is a very pleasant survey of economics. The kind of thing every citizen should know. His bias is decidedly modern and he’s slightly conservative. He seems to think of himself as an economic rebel, and I’m sure that was true when he started his career (before most readers were born), but today his views are the new mainstream.

This is really a book written for the average person, not the serious scholar. It succeeds at its goal, very well.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Tripled my understanding of our economy

Never even took economics in school, but Greenspan talks about the economic history of America since he began his career after World War II. Fascinating even if you don't understand it all. Explains how capitalism really works, why it's the best system in the world so far, and what it is that keeps thirdworld countries so destitute (hint: unenforced property rights). The last chapter explains how gross domestic product is increasingly based on intellectual property rights, and what that means for our future.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding

OK, I do not have an economics background, so the level of this discussion was perfect for me. I thought this was one of the most interesting and gripping books I have listened to. The narrator has a great voice which actually sounds a little like Greenspan.

but on to the content. Having been a casual, but not formal, student of economics since the Reagan years, it was great to relook at the last 25 years through the eyes of someone who played a key role in decisions made through the years. Furthermore, the economic insights were the insightful, considered, logical, and unemotional thoughts you might expect from Greenspan. As a non-economist but who has a great interest in human psychology and sociology, the level this book was written at was perfect. The interplay between psychology, economics, social structures, and politics is great great reading. i do not think this was targetted at people who are economics professors, and the book should not be criticized for this: it's targetted at the general readership.

sometimes you listen to books and you find that your mind has wandered for a few minutes and you have lost the train of thought. That never happened to me during this read. I found it rivetting.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wish He Was Still Fed Chair

This book gives great background on a man whose interests and talents are much more diverse that I'd ever realized. Contemporary issues and the evolution of our current financial markets are lucidly explained. To have the inside story from such an important character in our modern world is fascinating. Folks who don't follow the markets or the fed may find that this book gives them more information than they want and prefer the written version. I found the reader's voice a perfect match for the author and the material.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Total nonsense from a con-man

If you are wondering why most citizens in the U.S. and even worldwide are hurting, you need look no further than the author. This is the biggest bunch of nonsense I've ever heard. Talk about trying to rewrite history and cover your tracks; he may fool some people, but not me. Lots of con-men have done this in the past, though none as eloquently as this guy. He belongs right up there with the thieves from Enron, Worldcomm, etc. Don't waste your time with this gibberish.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An inspiring and eye opening experience

I can't say enough positive things about this book. In the beginning I was immediately drawn in by the description of the 9-11 crisis from an global and domestic economic standpoint.

I was inspired by the life, and humility of Greenspan. It was a true pleasure to learn more about him, where he came from, and how he lived such an incredible life.

I was truly educated on the macro economics of the world (I don't have an economics background). He presented history, present, and future predictions with a tremendous amount of background detail and supporting evidence.

Coming away from reading this book I feel inspired by the work Greenspan has accomplished; I have a better understanding of the workings of our government on economic matters; and I have a tremendously better understanding of globalization, free markets, and the future of the global marketplaces in our society.

I found it a pleasure to listen the the book from end to end and strongly recommend the unabridged version of this book, I can't imagine leaving out a single word.

If you pass on this book you will be missing out on one of the most insightful and educational works available today.

3 people found this helpful