Sometimes he hits dazzlingly, sometimes he misses, but the guy has a scary-swift brain that turns over all kinds of rocks, and makes rapid sharp interpretations. The effect is to get my brain firing well too. (And his work in print has that quality.) It's fun to listen to that overclocked processor in his head, wired so well to his mouth, at work. I hope he is working on a book on the contemporary Supreme Court.
I have read dozens of books in this genre. Yet, here I had many "gee whiz" moments, understanding in new ways (and sometimes clearly for the first time) how many of these dots connected between personalities, groups in society, financial innovations and eras, and various world players affecting, and affected by, Wall Street. The explanations are sensible and clear, and flow sensibly across time and through these overlapping factors. Many books have picked up some segment of this, and I have heard many of these stories in a fragmented way, but these fragmented books tended to wander into details that can lose the thread of important facts and ideas, or to start and stop at arbitrary points. Half a dozen segments here could be books in themselves.
As for the narration, at first I thought it a bit on the relaxed and plodding side, but as time has passed, I have found it very listenable, and able to hold my attention.
This professor is passionate, obviously engaged with his subject, clear and accessible. This survey moves across many big books full of ideas pretty quickly, so naturally it does not get into the more abstract and technical fine points. But to readily get a good basic feel for these ideas and thinkers (and their writing, which is critiqued a bit, and explained in light of the prevalent ideas of their times), one couldn't start at a better place.
It was a pleasure to listen to this. I never found myself zoning out or wondering (as I often do) when the speaker will cut through the fuzzy jargon and get to the point. The points are all set out. This has helped me think more clearly in my own decisions, and express myself more clearly in my own business teaching.
This is a wide-ranging tour of ideas and history that have been capturing Mr Greenspan's attention since he left the Fed, and he thereafter admitted before Congress as the Great Recession unfolded, that some big assumptions and models he was using hadn't worked. I like to listen to his mind working, as, for example, he loosely cobbles together an economic model in front of the reader, or walks through a stretch of history, lucidly pointing out big salient features of how we got here. Like many very smart people I know, he shows a gift sometimes for displaying (what seem to me glaring) gaps in his reasoning, or for ignoring a 900-pound factual gorilla looming in the situation. (This is the reputed libertarian Ayn Rand disciple who yet worked in and around government much of his adult life, openly disliked government's solutions, yet became arguably the most powerful individual inside government, whereupon he showered cheap credit into the banking system for a very extended period (meanwhile refusing to exercise his statutory powers to regulate various mortgage finance practices) as a vast unstable housing bubble heaved up and (soon enough after he left the job) collapsed into the worst mess since the Great Depression.) This wouldn't be the first time models worked well until they didn't. But, aside from some sidestepping perhaps, he intrepidly wrestles with some big questions. For example, he tackles why this recovery was seemingly this tepid and slow. I don't agree with all the answers he finds, but along this journey I find this book has helped me clarify and sharpen and update my own views and opinions. And for that, I give Mr Greespan credit and thanks. In that light, I think this work is a success.
I've seen reviews that complain about the wide range of sub-topics. But all of them are interesting to me, and I like the way the guy describes things.
I'm finding this series habit-forming. I like the quickness of each little vignette: it introduces an idea or new phrasing or view of things that may be novel to me (great!) or not (fine, it's not too long). From time to time one hears a very gifted explainer: it introduces me to authors whose full-length books I also read.
Take a reasonably interesting idea: e.g., the Yap islanders' use of largely stationary stones as money (seen many times in other books), and various interesting implications of that. Repeat it ad nauseum, as if the listener was too dense to get the simple logic of it. (How many versions and iterations of this simple explanation must I hear? Did you think I forgot since the last Nth time you repeated it? Is there an editor in the house?)
Lard on all sorts of low-information padding, strings of words roughly in the nature of 'you might be astonished to hear ...', interrupting the flow of actual information, which add bulk and a wordy pseudo-academic sound, but no meaning. (At least it is read in a clear and pleasant voice!)
Purport to challenge various common ideas and traditional (and quite useful) understandings about money, but don't really raise an effective challenge; just say they are wrong. Insert colorful descriptions of such things as long-dead peoples' intentions in doing certain acts, without good evidence. Pretend that a few easy inferences about money (apparent to any clear thinker who has done much of any reading in the field) are new or clever ideas, while these are often repackaged truncations of existing ideas or obvious inferences.
Dress it up, perhaps in a UK-centric style, try for a gravitas-but-wide-audience-snappiness reminiscent of Clarke's 'Civilisation' or Ferguson's 'Ascent of Money' (anticipating a TV special maybe?), with colorful stories and a lofty British tone. Now you are getting close to sensing some of what goes on here.
So what do I like about this book? It is a nice fit for walking around my river park, reflecting, pondering certain stories and features of money and credit, without being taxed too hard mentally. It gives nice gentle nudges to the imagination from lots of angles about these topics. Since this subject is of great interest to me, it doesn't hurt to do walk-throughs from lots of viewpoints. Here and there a novel phrasing of some idea is a nice fit with my growing knowledge. It is a pleasant presentation and, for someone with an interest in this (and perhaps not quite as far along the scholarship curve), and subject to some of the above issues, time pretty well spent.
I have many business students from various of these countries, and I feel much better informed about the settings they are coming from. Of course, a book this short must be a summary, but I appreciate having a much better sense of the identities of these individual nations/emirates. It is certainly not "one size fits all."
I like this series. This one does not disappoint. I teach business law, and wanted a nice walk-through just as a refresher and to catch some details I might have left out of my lectures. This author seems well-informed and bright, and has put together a good succinct presentation. The perspective seems to be primarily from Britain, but many can benefit, even US locals. I am also raising the quality of the international aspects of my course by listening to various of the international versions of this series.
This version adds almost nothing to the movie, and it lacks the imagery of the movie. I read the unabridged version long ago (before the movie came out) and enjoyed it. But this seems chopped down too much.
I am not Jewish. However, my scholarly interests mix so often with Jewish history that some closer, focused look at it was inevitable. As a first introduction to some of the history and background, this work is satisfactory. However, I just bought an actual volume of Talmud and it is a large and complex work, not thoroughly described or demonstrated in this audio. As a legal scholar, I can now see what people are referring to with their common aphorisms about the detail of Talmudic scholarship. I guess all this indicates I am growing more scholarly, and I'm seldom satisfied with a "lite" version of anything anymore. That is not the author's fault here; I think, given the length and scope of this presentation, the author did fine work. But anyone with a serious curiosity about the Talmud might quickly survey this and move on.
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