BACK FROM THE BRINK by Steven K. Beckner


The Greenspan Years
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 A detailed and sometimes fawning account of Alan Greenspan's chairmanship of the Federal Reserve Board. Two caveats: First, Beckner (a Market News Service reporter who has covered the Fed for 20 years) writes as an unabashed admirer of Greenspan, an enthusiastic champion of the Fed, and a supporter of conservative Republican politics. This is not the place to look for a balanced assessment of alternative economic goals and perspectives. Second, readers lacking knowledge of the economics and institutional setting of monetary policy will find this inaccessible. The purpose here is to chronicle events, not explain the system. Anyone not discouraged by the foregoing and possessing a keen interest in the complex world of the Fed will find this volume fascinating. Beckner's blow-by-blow account of recent Fed history is drawn from his past work as a journalist, interviews with principals, and transcripts of policy meetings. The result is a near-insider's look at the least understood yet arguably most influential body of decision-makers in the country, and the one Washington institution that rivals the Supreme Court in its addiction to secrecy. Highlights include what Beckner describes as ``Herculean'' efforts following the 1987 stock market collapse, the ever-vigilant war against inflation, and hand-wringing over the decline of the dollar. Especially interesting is the continual balancing act undertaken by Greenspan and the Fed: They make decisions loaded with political as well as economic implications while striving to appear independent and apolitical. Unfortunately, the account of the budget fiasco during the winter of 199596 is marred by partisan disgust directed at Clinton and the Democrats and adds little to previous knowledge. On the whole, however, this volume is packed full of stories that will inform and entertain the interested reader. No doubt Alan Greenspan will be one of the most appreciative of those readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 1997
ISBN: 0-471-16127-6
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Wiley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1996