No post-war figure has loomed over global finance as imposingly as Alan Greenspan, America’s Fed chairman from the booming 1980s until the eve of the 2008 financial crash. And no figure has been more paradoxical: a man who preached the virtue of the gold standard, yet came to embody paper money; a man who posed as a dry technocrat, yet was political to his core. From his debut as an acolyte of the cultish libertarian novelist, Ayn Rand, through his controversial relationship with Richard Nixon and successive presidents, Greenspan was the ultimate Washington wise man, the quiet God in the machine. But when global finance melted down, Greenspan’s reputation melted with it.
Drawing on five years of untrammelled access to Greenspan, his papers, and his professional and personal intimates, Sebastian Mallaby has written the definitive study of the preeminent financial statesman of the post-war era. Reckoning both with Greenspan’s monetary decisions and with his approach to financial regulation, Mallaby grapples with the central mystery that Greenspan’s life presents to us. Why did a man so universally celebrated forge a financial system that proved so fatally unstable? And how will his successors protect us from a future crash?
Sebastian Mallaby (@scmallaby) is Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Visiting Senior Fellow at the LSE. He is the author of a newly published biography of Alan Greenspan The Man Who Knew: the life and times of Alan Greenspan.
Charles Goodhart is Emeritus Professor of Banking and Finance with the Financial Markets Group at the London School of Economics, having previously, 1987-2005, been its Deputy Director. Until his retirement in 2002, he had been the Norman Sosnow Professor of Banking and Finance at LSE since 1985.
The Systemic Risk Centre (@LSE_SRC) was set up to study the risks that may trigger the next financial crisis and to develop tools to help policymakers and financial institutions become better prepared.
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