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Maestro: How Alan Greenspan Conducts the Economy

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  799 ratings  ·  68 reviews
In eight Tuesdays each year, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan convenes a small committee to set the short-term interest rate that can move through the American and world economies like an electric jolt. As much as any, the committee's actions determine the economic well-being of every American. The availability of money for business or consumer loans, mortgages, job ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published November 14th 2000 by Simon & Schuster (first published November 4th 2000)
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Frank Stein
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It's possible to call this book outdated, since it was published in 2000 at the height of Greenspan's popularity and with another six years to run in his chairmanship, but no other book about Greenpspan could possibly feature Woodward's astounding access to all the major players. In this work Woodward gives the reader an insightful and readable look at the inner workings of the federal reserve at what could be called its moment of peak influence (who remembers now the countdown clocks to the nex
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While certainly revealing, Woodward offers little more than a groveling dictation of his interview notes.
Oct 22, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of dry *ya think!?!* but fascinating to read after having read Bob Rubin's lengthier account as Treasury Secretary. This read like an Asimov Foundation series, where Greenspan is looking into the future, trying to predict the economy and keep it stable during Bush Sr and Clinton years. I learned more about the FOMC (which I kept reading as FOMO). The main question that I never got an answer to was the Productivity index. It was always wrong. Something wasn't right. That could be the science ...more
Dec 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
This was originally read as extra credit for my Intro to Macroeconomics class, but the question list was far too long and I got an A regardless. ;) All modestly, all the time, I know. But Maestro : Greenspan’s Fed and the American Boom was actually really good, and it generated within me a giant crush on former Fed Chairman Greenspan, so much so that for the rest of this I’m going to refer to him as “Ali G,” like Da Sacha Baron Cohen series. Kidding, Mr. Greenspan is far too dour-faced for that ...more
The biggest disappointment is this book stops at 1999, and thereby misses two major events of Greenspan’s tenure, the tech bubble bursting and the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis. I'm certain this book would have a different title if Greenspan's full record was considered.

Bob Woodward's narrative style is straight forward, which is refreshing in this highly editorialized age, but it does leave the personalities looking flat. It is in many ways a blow by blow accounting of interest rate deci
J. J. Arias
This is the first Bob Woodward book I've read, and I'm not crazy about his writing. It seems very simple, but not Hemingway-simple. I try to take the recreations of conversations with a grain of salt since he wasn't there when they took place. I already know a lot about the Fed but it was interesting to see how Greenspan began to suspect a productivity speedup which probably helped him avoid raising interest rates too much in the mid-90s. It was also interesting to see how firmly entrenched the ...more
Dewey Norton
Jul 22, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Needs to be rewritten now that there is a general understanding of collosal mismanagement of the Fed by Greenspan, how this was the primary cause of our current recession and how we almost had a depression. Woodward was so wrong about Greenspan, I have lost all interest in anything he writes, although his two books on Nixon were great then and still are great accounts, perhaps due to the contribution his collaborator Bernstein.
Mike Adamchuk
Snippets about the Greenspan era through the end of 2000. Author describes Greenspan's consolidation of power at the Fed, how skilled he is as a politician and his apparent genius at reading the numbers. He told Woodward that he thought up the "irrational exuberance" phrase while he was taking his daily morning bath. ...more
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book was assigned in 2016 for an economics class.

I found it to be outdated by then since the period covered by the book ended before Greenspan's infamous admission to Henry Waxman's Congressional committee that he had found to his dismay that his basic philosophical assumptions about human nature had been wrong.

I also found myself becoming annoyed at Woodward's style, his lining-up of tidbits into a sort-of story. The reader can just about picture Woodward's sequence of phone calls and lunc
Mike Shoop
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone not well-versed in economics nor the structure of our Federal Reserve, this book was very informative. Definitely hagiographic, but I really appreciated having a single focal point to talk through an entire period of our country. Other reviewers complain about the fact that this was basically a series of interview notes. That’s true, but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt that Woodward chose that style to veer closer to the truth and away from his own fabrications. To him this is mor ...more
James Edwards
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This was surprisingly good! You wouldn’t think a book about the complexities of world economics & the people who try to manage them would be that interesting to the lay person, but Bob Woodward does another excellent job of making the information understandable & fascinating.

I really enjoyed the behind the scenes intimate views of some of the biggest political, governmental & private industry leaders of our time. It’s both scary & exciting how close disaster & exuberance run together along our m
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting study of the power of one person and how that person played the political game. Lots of economics lessons.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty good review of Chairman Greenspan. Woodward is a pretty good writer, obviously.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maestro? Absolutely.

Overall good read. Book ends before housing crisis (2008) so its a little blind but overall very informative of Chairman Greenspan’s tenure.
Todd McQueen
About Greenspan, the Fed, and the economic boom. A little dry but some interesting lessons. C
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gave insight into how the Fed works behind the scene. I had some basic economic training at the time, but this book offered insight no text book can match.
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't just read Maestro, I studied it; I took notes. I felt I was back in school. I checked it out of the library about 10 times and am still wondering why I didn't just buy the book.
For years I have wanted to "know" more about what really went on in the huge NY Federal Reserve Board Room. I met several of the characters in Maestro and this book illumined my opinion of them. It also helped me to get a much better grasp on the concepts of inflation, wage and price increases, productivity, NAI
Oct 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce." ~James Garfield

I remember one day in the late 1990's, my professor in a macro-economics class said that Alan Greenspan was the most powerful person in the world. This intrigued me. At the time I knew very little about the Federal Reserve and nothing about Alan Greenspan. This particular book was published in 2000, which happened to be when I created my original to-read list. I decided I n
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was instrumental in the shaping of the late-century American economy boom. The book details his reign at the Fed, his working policy, intraoffice dealings with Fed governors and other economic advisors, and his advisory relationship to President Bill Clinton.

This book is primarily about Greenspan, whom I find to be fascinating, though it is also more than 10 years old and in some respects outdated: It is less a book specifically about Greenspan, and is more on the ope
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Narrator: James Naughton
Length: 4 hours 30 min. (abridged)

Publisher's Summary
Perhaps the last Washington secret is how the Federal Reserve and its enigmatic chairman, Alan Greenspan, operate. What do they do? Why precisely do they do it? Who is Greenspan? How does he think? What is the basis for his decisions? Why is he so powerful? What kind of relationships has he had with Reagan, Bush, and Clinton - presidents during the 13 years he has been Fed chairman? The Greens
Terry Filicko
With MAESTRO, Woodward provides a good overview of Greenspan's Fed. It's very useful for anyone who wants an understanding of how the Fed works, the dynamics between the political figures and Fed governors during Greenspan's tenure, and the policy perspectives of this particular cast of economic figures.

Reading about Greenspan's Fed as we are emerging from the 2007 Recession and as there is discussion about who will succeed Ben Bernanke was helpful for providing some "how we got here" context.
Aug 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
I didn't care for this book. It was most certainly outdated, having been published before Greenspan was even out of office, but it also failed to probe at any significant economic questions. I got the feeling that Woodward was trying to set up an interesting point when talking about tech and productivity gains, but he never quite got there... it was like a joke with all set-up and no punch line. The book was very journalistic, without adding much in the way of insight. The few interesting points ...more
Dec 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a Republican, I didn't think I was going to like this book as it focuses much of the content on the 8 years of the Clinton Presidency. You get a new appreciation of how Bill Clinton changed his ideology to truly reduce the federal spending to give the economy a boost that became part of his legacy. After one of his first briefings with Greenspan, Clinton was quoted as saying great, now I am going to have a Republican presidency... when realizing he couldn't implement his social programs.

The b
Aug 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While other reviewers point out that this book is outdated, I think it still has tremendous value today. The Federal Reserve is so important to US economic activity, and the worlds', that reading about its inner workings is always relevant. The drama here seems repetitive, will they raise interest rates or won't they, but the details that surround that issue are interesting to follow. The reader gets a desk-side seat to how Greenspan ran the Fed-- the data he used, how he followed it, and how he ...more
Bob Woodward books are like cotton candy -- they tend to be fluffy with just a wee bit of something that might pass for nutritional content. This one strikes me as lighter than most because of its economic topic, but it gives some insight (as always) into the various players who provide input into the book. While large stretches pass without much happening and the mechanism by which the Fed Open Market Committee actually implements interest rate policies could be better explained, it's a start. ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A hagiographic take on Alan Greenspan and his role in shaping the U.S. economy in the 1990s. The parts on the 1987 stock market crash, the relationship between Chairman Greenspan and President Clinton and Secretary Robert Rubin, and the collapse of Long Term Capital Management are all very interesting and demonstrate how real-time crisis management works. However, too much of the book is focused on Greenspan's interpetation of events without a larger discussion of economic forces outside of Wash ...more
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started getting really into this book and then went back to school so I am only about halfway through. But I am enjoying it so far. It goes into the behind the scenes conversations involved in the Fed's decision to raise or lower interest rates. It's a great book if you ever wondered how that all worked plus there's lots of drama involved when two powerful figures clash. And I enjoyed hearing the opinions on how much the various Presidents that were in office during Greenspan's terms really un ...more
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-politics
With Andrea Mitchell NBC-TV as his spouse, this could have been a really gossipy biography. Hard to make a serious biography of Greenspan not boring but Woodward takes a credible stab at it. Other than the political land mines that he had to deal with as Fed Chair, I didn't really feel like the reader got more than a fair look inside the Fed and Greenspan's thinking. Could have done without a few of the details of his daily life however as I don't really want these images flashing across my mind ...more
When historians talk about the late 1980s through the early 2000s, any discussion would be incomplete without reference to Alan Greenspan. As some would say, In Greenspan we trust. This biography is titled Maestro due to Mr. Greenspan's training as a musician at Julliard and his conducting of U.S. economic policy. Interesting times such as the 1987 stock market crash, the 1994 devaluation of the peso, and the largest peace-time economic expansion are all visted.

Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent discussion of what actually happens in and around Fed meetings. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of how the Fed makes decisions under uncertainty, and how Greenspan's pursuit of clarity around productivity gains was a long but ultimately fruitful effort.

Very much a "behind the scenes" look at a powerful institution.
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Robert "Bob" Upshur Woodward is an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post. While an investigative reporter for that newspaper, Woodward, working with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein, helped uncover the Watergate scandal that led to U.S. President Richard Nixon's resignation. Woodward has written 12 best-selling non-fiction books and has twice contributed reporting to efforts that collecti ...more

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