Boom, bust, repeat. The history of the American economy is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but the United States remains a great power because its expansionary periods have proven robust enough to overwhelm the regular – sometimes wrenching – downturns. In this trenchant overview of American capitalism, former Federal Reserve head Alan Greenspan and journalist Adrian Wooldridge lay out America’s evolution from fiscal backwater to economic titan. With sharp prose, they explain what has driven three centuries of (mostly) financial progress and offer a diagnosis on what’s keeping 21st-century growth muted. Readers of any political persuasion can agree on most of the facts served up in this study, but one of its most striking features is how little new ground it breaks. Even casual students of American economic history are familiar with the broad trends and the smaller details that the authors cite, and the arguments over the girth of government feel as old as the American economic miracle itself. But considering Greenspan’s purposefully obfuscatory speeches as Fed chair, this book’s crisp language and clear message is a welcome change.
About the Authors
Alan Greenspan was chair of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006. Adrian Wooldridge, the Economist‘s political editor, writes the magazine’s Bagehot column.