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Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  606 ratings  ·  62 reviews
William Greider’s groundbreaking bestseller reveals how the mighty and mysterious Federal Reserve operates—and manipulates and the world’s economy.

This ground-breaking best-seller reveals for the first time how the mighty and mysterious Federal Reserve operates—and how it manipulated and transformed both the American economy and the world's during the last eight crucial ye
Paperback, 800 pages
Published January 15th 1989 by Simon Schuster (first published 1987)
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 ·  606 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
It's always fun to observe values changing over time, depending on the needs of society. William Greider, in Secrets of the Temple, a history of the Federal Reserve System, relates how usury was once considered a heinous offense against the church. There are perhaps a dozen clear prohibitions against charging interest in the Bible. It was considered an immoral way to make money, as it resulted from no work. The wealthy had an obligation to help those less fortunate, without profiting from their ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it liked it will gain nothing from this review.

This is a book that exposed my cerebral limitations and I am not going to blame Greider for it. I forced myself to read every page...kind of like (I assume look at me and you will know that I don't force myself to run long distances!!!) a marathon runner. For me, it became a test of endurance..."finish the tome" I chanted to myself! Why? In the final analysis... For the sake of finishing. I kept waiting for the fog to clear, for the "s
Ironman Ninetytwo
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
In the first 2/3 of this book, Greider set the scene for the economic unfolding of the 1980s. He explained the forces in the economy that led to the need for the central bank, and reviewed economic and financial development up until that time. A significant conclusion was that confidence in fiat money was important, and growth would be difficult without it.

Then the second 2/3 of the book was a ridiculous and tedious tail chasing, criticizing every Fed decision from the alternate point of view, w
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finance
I slogged through most of the 700 dense pages (not including appendix). This could have easily been two books: one about the history of the Federal Reserve and its place in the financial and political history of the US, and another book about the story of Paul Volker as head of the Fed during the Carter and Reagan years. For the most part this is a fascinating book especially in light of the current financial situation. The really intriguing aspect of the book is the author's assertion that the ...more
Andrew Fairweather
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
"In the magnificent boardroom of the Federal Reserve, the chairman listened to the farm representatives argue for easier money, for lower interest rates and an end to the price deflation. His response chilled them.
'Look,' Volcker said [to the Congressmen], 'your constituents are unhappy, mine aren't'"

This book primarily focuses on Paul Volcker's time as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, from his time of appointment under Carter, to the end of his term under Reagan. In short, it is about Volcker's
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lately the drums have begun to sound again, the war drums against the supposed evils embodied by the Federal Reserve system. Ron Paul and his band of followers have called for the disbandment of the system. In this excellent work, Greider examines the Federal Reserve, its origins and history and how it does business, all against the backdrop of perhaps the most turbulent period of the recent history of the Federal Reserve - the stag-flation period of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Fed began
Feb 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Weighing in at 717 pages, not counting reference notes or appendices, "Secrets of the Temple" is part history, part sociological text, part political narrative, and part economic analysis, and it succeeds, to a greater or lesser degree, in all these tasks. It focuses on the history of the Fed during the reign of Paul Volcker, using this as a focal point to reference a more extended history of both the Fed and the overall economy of America.

As a whole, this is interesting stuff, and I learned a
Jeffrey Payne
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research-books
While researching Far From The War I wanted a good book about the Federal Reserve, one that would give a lot of detail, show some of the inside baseball, without being conspiratorial. Thankfully, the title sounds a lot more conspiratorial than the content within.

I wanted something credible and scholarly -- this fit the bill perfectly. Learned a ton of how the Fed works and in particular about how Reagan used the Fed to deflect blame for the recession -- wait two recessions -- that happened duri
Krisette Spangler
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
O.K., so I only read 1/2 of it. I did learn some interesting things about how the Fed controls our economy through manipulation of the money supply. I didn't like the way the information was presented. It kept jumping back and forth through different periods of history, which made it difficult to follow.
Beth in SF
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very good attempt at explaining the mechanics of controlling the capital of an empire of capitalism. Complicated and eye opening.
Raewyn Honeycutt
A long read, the author gives a more detailed view of the mechanics of the American economy, the players, the manipulators. Working through from the formation of the Federal Reserve, the crash of 1929 up until the crash of 1987, the delicate dance between inflation and the fiscal wellness of consumers is revealed. Greider illustrated how the American capitalist model works, and doesn't work. As someone I know has said before, "it's working as well as it should". The revelation of having to have ...more
David Riseley
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Very long.
I didn't appreciate his musings on how he felt Monitorism was like a religion and how Sigmund Freud had theories connecting money with poop.

I did appreciate the historical narrative parts of the book but he approached the story from different angles in different chapters which made it very difficult for me to keep the timeline straight.
Kim Freitas
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
blah, blah, blah
Ken Schaefer
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excerpts from this tome can be seen at my facebook note
Sep 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People determined to understand our money system
Shelves: money
I didn't finish this because I had to return it to the library, but here's what I learned:

1. Over time, money has become less tied to anything real or practical, BUT it has always ultimately been based on agreement between people about value. For example, when money was cattle, people agreed that the value of a service or whatever was so many cattle and not more or less.

2. The gold standard did not guarantee price or economic stability. The value of gold and silver always fluctuated based on how
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A rewarding read that engages with all of the major theories and personalities that have shaped our economic situation, this book gets my highest recommendation.

Beginning with Paul Volcker's ascension to the role of Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, we gain a rare perspective on a tumultuous period in the Bank's history (not surprisingly, it takes place after all formal record-keeping has been abolished, thus making the Fed one of the most secretive and least understood governmental institu
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
This book is right up there with Caro's "Power Broker" in its scope, ambition and power. Required reading for anyone who truly wants to understand how our national and global economies actually work. Greider takes the economy of the late 1970s and the 1980s, and shows how one man - former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker - essentially dominated presidents, lawmakers and banks to get his way in a single-minded mission to crush inflation.
It's one of those books that exposes the depths of one'
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This hefty tome portrays Paul Volcker's Federal Reserve Chairmanship in the 70's and 80's and the monetary policy he used to reverse the tide of inflation, which threatened to destroy the currency. Volcker's Fed eventually does control inflation, but not before causing a nasty recession that inflicted pains on borrowers (lower and middle classes, consumers, small businesses) to the benefit of lenders (banks, high net worth individuals, Scrooge McDuck). This book is a little out of date, especial ...more
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
It took me forever to read this book. Frequently, I'd get so mad that I'd have to walk away from it.

Time and time again, banks have failed. The winners have been the financiers and the losers have been the general American public, whether they lost their savings, their jobs, their homes or paid taxes used to bailout the banks. It seems that often these failures have been caused by out-of-control speculation followed by defaulted loans. The Federal Reserve then bails out the banks so that they d
Feb 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Man, I learned all kindsa stuff reading this book! Here are three instances of the droppage of science done by the Greider! And I only had to read 150 pages to learn all this awesome shit!

1. The Fed either is or is not a government body. Mr. G does not say whether it is or not, but he let me know that it either is or is not.

2. Inflation is good for one segment of the population (low-income borrowers). This makes it cool for the Fed to inflate the money supply for everyone.

3. If you are skeptical
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
Reading 'Secrets of the Temple' is a commitment; its like deciding to run a marathon. 800 pages dedicated to the intricacies of of 100+ years of American financial history is not exactly light reading material.

Yet, miraculously, Greider somehow managed to craft a brilliantly readable book that leads you (safely!) through the mindboggeling minefield known as modern finance and central banking.

Some sections merit skim reading (specifically, the accounts of various Fed meetings, which were much to
Pierre Lauzon
Nov 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a large and, at times, a tedious book. It is, however, very educational in that I did not know in detail why the Federal Reserve does what it does. I learned why the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is one of the most powerful individuals in the country and the world.

The book traces the origins of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve Act. It also goes into the tenures of various chairmen and their influence and some of the mistakes that were made. The influence of the Federal Reser
Dec 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Don't let the sensational title fool you. This is a fascinating, deep, sober exploration of the history of the Federal Reserve, especially its attempt to control inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it briefly flirted with Friedmanist monetarism. Good historical and conceptual analysis of monetarism, Friedmanism, laissez-faire libertarianism, Keynesianism, the relationship between the legislative and executive branches of the government and the Federal Reserve, etc, etc. Also provid ...more
Carol Garvin
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found it interesting to learn how Fed. Chair, Paul Volcker, was chosen by Pres. Carter, and that after that, Carter basically lost control of his Presidency. Volcker was not a team player, more like a dictator, a numbers man, who didn't seem to care about the impact of his policies on real people, such as mortgage rates that went all the way up to 21% at the highest point. I remember those days, having lived through them. People were "lucky" to get an adjustable mortgage for 9.5% if they were ...more
Craig Adamson
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent historical account of Volker Fed appointment. Basically a precursor to the 2007-08 Banking Crisis. Federal government comes to aid of big banks... Citibank, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, etc. right out of our pockets of us -the American Taxpayer.

Dry read, but I like history and economics so it was great for boring people like me. Adds some historical context to how Fed developed over the year, and what happens behind the scenes to form the economic and monetary policy.
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: westend, own
Greider emphasizes the distributional effects of interest rates.

This is interesting.

But by the end it starts to feel like there is no correct answer -- even in a given situation. Too high, too low. Too quick to respond, too slow.

Ultimately it's more complex than just one or two variables and the author should have owned up to that.

Some of the reporting is good. Some of it is pretty dry stuff.
Seaby Brown
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I sincerely enjoyed every minute of readin this book. Of course, I also loved Samuelson's Economics that my father gave me when I was teen, and I adored Keynes masterpiece... so that should scale my reaction for you.

It has both good bones and meat. That is to say, it covers history and enough theory to be a good bones to hang the meat of the then contemporary issues of monetary policy and politics. That may make it a bit dated today, but still worth the read.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
the author brings a certain bias to this book that was too difficult to avoid. that being said, i was fairly ignorant on this topic so that's why i bought this book. i wanted to better understand the federal reserve and that part of the economy and this book managed to bring me up to a level where i could converse with people who were in the know, so that's why it gets 4 stars. but i wouldn't recommend this book to anyone else. i was just very motivated at the time to learn.
Martin Valdes
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Key to understanding the Fed and if you don't understand the Fed you don't understand anything about our financial system and if you don't understand anything about our financial system you don't understand anything about the debate in Congress and if you don't understand anything about the debate in Congress you don't understand anything that is going on and if you don't understand anything that is going on you are pretty ignorant. :)
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Maybe the best introduction to macro ever? Seriously, I find it difficult to understand macro without the political background as context, and after reading this one can really develop an intuition for the economic and political machinations between the Fed and the White House. This is a must read for anyone navigating their way through the thorny land of interest rates, quantitative easing, and the Fed's independence.
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