(K. Brent Tomer),
The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan. By Sebastian Mallaby. Penguin Press; 781 pages; $40. Bloomsbury; £25.
THE former chairman of the Federal Reserve was once a hero. Now he is being called a villain. Yet it is too soon to be sure what history will say about him. In a superb new book, the product of more than five years’ research, Sebastian Mallaby helps history make up its mind about Alan Greenspan, the man hailed in 2000 by Phil Gramm, a former senator, as “the best central banker we have ever had”, but now blamed for the financial crisis of 2007-08. Even today, Mr Greenspan, who famously once told Congress that “If I seem unduly clear to you, you must have misunderstood what I said”, remains a paradoxical figure.
Mr Greenspan was a partisan Republican, who worked more closely with the Democrats under Bill Clinton than with either of the Bush administrations. He was a disciple of Ayn Rand’s libertarian ideology, but his forte was the mastering of data. He was a believer in the gold standard, but became the foremost exponent of discretionary monetary policy.
The former central…Continue reading