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Episode 9
Featuring Sebastian Mallaby
Demetri Kofinas speaks with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s biographer, Sebastian Mallaby. How responsible was Greenspan for the prosperity of the 90s? How much is he to blame for the financial crisis of 2008? Most importantly, what can his story teach us about the limits and dangers of human intervention, foresight, and power?

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas explores the history of the Federal Reserve under the chairmanship of Alan Greenspan with biographer Sebastian Mallaby. Sebastian is a writer, commentator, and chronicler of financial and economic history. He is the Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a contributing columnist for the Washington Post. His interests cover a wide variety of domestic and international issues, including central banks (the federal reserve), financial markets, and the intersection of economics and international relations. Some of his books include More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite, The World’s Banker, and The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan, Winner of the 2016 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.

 

Alan Greenspan is one of the most consequential and yet, least understood figures in American history. He was a libertarian turned technocrat. He was a self-described “side-man” who, nevertheless, managed to place himself front and center during one of the most crucial periods in the remaking of American finance. His early days in politics were spent as an active supporter of the Republican Barry Goldwater. In his later years, he became a fixture in the Ford administration. Later, he took on the role as an advisor to Ronald Reagan. Alan Greenspan’s role in public policy long predates his almost 20-year tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve System. His chairmanship lasted from the crisis of 1987 all the way through to the peak of the American housing market in 2006. How responsible was he for the prosperity of the 1990s? How much is he to blame for the catastrophic, financial meltdown of 2008? Most importantly, what can the story of Alan Greenspan teach us about the limits and dangers of human intervention, foresight, and power?

 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

Join the conversation at @hiddenforcespod

 

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Episode 17
Featuring Robert Johnson
Episode 17
Featuring Robert Johnson
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Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles
Episode 18
Featuring Samuel Bowles

Sebastian Mallaby is the Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An experienced journalist and public speaker, Mallaby is also a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, where he previously served as a staff columnist and editorial board member. He is the author of The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan, winner of the 2016 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and the 2017 George S. Eccles Prize in Economic Writing. His writing has also appeared in the Atlantic and the Financial Times, where he spent two years as a contributing editor.

 

Mallaby’s interests cover a wide variety of domestic and international issues, including central banks, financial markets, the implications of the rise of newly emerging powers, and the intersection of economics and international relations.

 

His previous book, More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite, was described by New York Times columnist David Brooks as “superb”; it was the recipient of the 2011 Loeb Prize and a New York Times bestseller. His earlier works are The World’s Banker, a portrait of the World Bank under James Wolfensohn that was named as an “Editor’s Choice” by the New York Times; and After Apartheid, which was named by the New York Times as a “Notable Book.” An essay in the Financial Timessaid of The World’s Banker, “Mallaby’s book may well be the most hilarious depiction of a big organization and its controversial boss since Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker.”

 

Before joining the Washington Post in 1999, Mallaby spent thirteen years with the Economist. While at the Economist, he worked in London, where he wrote about foreign policy and international finance; in Africa, where he covered Nelson Mandela’s release and the collapse of apartheid; and in Japan, where he covered the breakdown of the country’s political and economic consensus. Between 1997 and 1999, Mallaby was the Economist’s Washington bureau chief and wrote the magazine’s weekly Lexington column on American politics and foreign policy. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist: once for editorials on Darfur and once for a series on economic inequality. In 2015, he helped to found a startup, InFacts.org, a web publication making the fact-based case for Britain to remain in the European Union.

 

Mallaby was educated at Oxford, graduating in 1986 with a first class degree in modern history. After eighteen years in Washington, DC, he moved to London in 2014, where he lives with his wife, Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor in chief of the Economist.

 

@SCMallaby

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