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

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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 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 years. Based on extensive interviews with all the major players, Secrets of the Temple takes us inside the government institution that is in some ways more secretive than the CIA and more powerful than the President or Congress.


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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 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 years. Based on extensive interviews with all the major players, Secrets of the Temple takes us inside the government institution that is in some ways more secretive than the CIA and more powerful than the President or Congress.

30 review for Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    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 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 generosity. In fact, until the late Middle Ages, anyone charging interest would be immediately excommunicated. Capitalism, which required capital to create wealth, changed the church's values. The rise of Protestantism further weakened the traditional stance of the church against usury. But it wasn't until the 1970s, with the inflationary pressures on interest rates that states were forced to repeal usury laws, laws which had been enacted to actually legitimize charging interest and to control "excessive interest." Interestingly, Islamic countries have had to deal with this issue in a different way. The Koran is equally strict in its prohibition against charging interest, and this was considered a serious impediment to the rise of capitalism in the Middle East. They get around the uncompromising religious prohibition by creating a risk-sharing environment. Both "partners" in a venture share in profit or loss, just not equally. Bankers routinely consult religious advisors to make sure no profits could be considered "interest" earned on the money used in the venture.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Constantine

    Warning....you 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 here...one 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 Warning....you 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 here...one 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 "secret" of the temple to be revealed to me. When I finally read the last page, I was convinced of one thing only....I don't know what the Fed is doing or why I should care. Again...not Grieder's fault...you can't blame Grieder for my lack of understanding. I will say this....it seems that the Fed has been as dazed and confused (at times) as I was when I finished this book. Economics and Physics....reading in these realms is bad for my self esteem....I am truly bothered by my limitations. A humbling experience to say the least. My apologies for this..."review?". It offers no insight because I am in over my head here. I've read other of Greider's books...and they were more within my grasp. He is, obviously, a powerful thinker...wish I could have hung with him on this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ferris Mx

    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 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, with zero consistency. However, because the Fed generally pursued a tight policy, Greider's net criticism was that this tightness, while eliminating inflationary pressure, led to maintenance of financial values at the expense of no longer using inflation as a means of ameliorating debt by the "borrowing class.", as if economics were a zero sum game. The Fed had to make a choice between a stable currency that increased confidence and provided a backdrop for growth and an inflationary currency that acted as a continual transfer of wealth from lenders to borrowers but generally inhibited investment. Could have been said so much more briefly, and much better supported, instead of repeating the same unsupported point ad nauseam. It's quaint what they considered a large deficit way back in the 1980s.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Byron

    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 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 Fed is a parallel political power that can determine the economic climate and direction of the country in spite of what our elected bodies and presidents want. The reason for this is the almost total lack of knowledge of economics and the workings of the Fed by the general public and, more importantly, almost all elected officials. He uses the Volker scenario to drive this point home.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Fairweather

    "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 "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 war on inflation after the "stagflation" decade of the 1970s. Though "Secrets of the Temple" was written 30 years ago, there are many familiar strokes in these 700-odd pages. After all, it was this period which was to see the Democratic Party moving away from its former position as the party of ideals which had a vision for the future. A harmony of ignorance of monetary matters and embarrassment at inflation which caused the weakening of the U.S. dollar in world markets during the Carter administration was to set the stage for Volcker's stone-cold monetarism—In Greider's own words, "Liberalism, it seemed, was turned upside down. Every important aspect of the 1980 legislation—repealing usury laws, authorizing interest on checking accounts, abolishing rate ceilings—involved the same exchange. The Democratic Party was abandoning the egalitarian agenda that it had embraced for nearly fifty years. [...] The party of liberalism, one could say, was apologizing for inflation. The Democrats were offering redress to those who had been hurt most, the owners of financial wealth, large or small, whose assets were eroded by nearly fifteen years of price inflation. [...] The financial deregulation legislation proved to be an appropriate prelude to the 1980s. What Democrats had begun reluctantly, a new Republican Administration would continue with relish." The abandonment of the Keynesian model for a Friedmanesque one played out in devastating ways. While low unemployment had been a focus of the Keynesian model (for, low unemployment meant more purchasing power) it could not accommodate or make sense of high unemployment coupled with inflation. Basically, Keynesian policy could easily expand purchasing power, but couldn't contract it. As a result, unless the nation found itself in a war, it was difficult to increase taxes. This left only the decrease in public expenditures. As a result, Volcker's policies would not have such an emphasis on the unemployed or on a broad base of purchasing power. Instead, what mattered was money, growth, sheer transaction, abstract exchange. After all, it seemed that any emphasis on social responsibility involved falling back on track to rampant inflation. Under such a program things like unemployment not only did not necessarily hurt, but helped increase nominal GDP in many cases—after all, a surplus of labor would force wages down... In essentials, Volker's Fed was less concerned with the well-being of Americans and more concerned with the reputation of the Fed and its influence on America's role in global finance which, in turn, would inspire confidence in the markets. In Volcker's world, all that mattered was the favor of big money, a constituency whose favor he felt the Fed needed to gain after 15 years of non-stop inflation. Yet, from here on, things begin to sound very familiar— "When these bankers urged the Fed to tighten its money control, to tolerate high rates and recession, and, above all, to ignore the inevitable "political" complaints from other interests, they were in fact arguing for the policy that would enhance their own profits." From its inception, Federal Reserve was *meant* to have a "disinterested" attitude towards politics. Surely, we can all agree that assuming a bracketed stance towards politics and society is at best naive, and at worst, deliberately masks manipulation... Contrary to the disinterested posture of the Fed, it usually found no reason to get tough with banks unless a "general political climate" would support such action—and getting tough usually amounted to no more than a shake of the finger. Though many who pushed for a stable currency would evoke the image of the elderly saver whose savings had been diminished by rising runaway inflation, it was relatively easy to find a holder of a large accumulation of wealth behind this image who was perturbed by lesser returns on their financial assets. Or, as Greider says, "Their loss amounted to this: their financial wealth did not breed still more wealth as fast as it would have if money's value had been stable." Not really such a wellspring of pity, I must say. Not to mention Congress usually had no idea what the Fed was actually trying to accomplish, especially under the Regan Administration who seemed to want two fundamentally irreconcilable things at once—tighter money and faster economic growth... or vast increases in military spending coupled with tax cuts. Clearly, such an administration was a little confused as to what it really wanted in real terms... And of course, we could always count on Congress to retreat from the showman-style confrontation with the Fed after a cycle of "bad times" had come to an end. Essentially, Congress did not and does not wish to fundamentally change a damn thing, just get reelected. In can be argued back and forth whether certain times called for a tightening or easing of money, but to me it seems the true problem was a lack of regulation. Aggressive lending to third world countries was never stopped by the Fed. Instead, the 70s saw banks castigating the Fed for not tightening money, while adding to the dangerous and untenable buildup of world debt. This played out very badly in the 80s after Volcker actually *did* become tight with money after 1979 to combat inflation. The example of Penn Square, a small bank in Oklahoma whose network of risky lending during the 70s was so vast, it nearly took down Mexico's economy with it, and most certainly led to the insolvency of an even larger bank, Continental Illinois, who was forced to write off more than 500 Million in loans from Penn Square. The book is rife with such mind-splitting shenanigans, essentially the result of a small, well endowed group of people wanting more things all at once. Meanwhile, a stronger dollar as a result of Volcker's tightening made U.S. exports proportionately more expensive for overseas customers, while simultaneously making foreign imports cheaper for the U.S. buyer. Oftentimes, the Fed (and the U.S government) seeks out to coddle the interests of the wealthy for the sake of a pale stability over against the quality of life of its own citizens. During Volcker's term, finance received inordinate protection from harm while the productive economy and export markets were allowed to tank. Indeed, Greider points out the the imbalance was so great that America, "the most abundant farm country in the world" would become a net importer of agricultural products by the year 1986. In short, Volcker's guidance saw America shift from a producing nation whose policies favored income equality, to a nation of finance, where income inequality would begin grow larger and larger... These are but a few pieces to a complicated puzzle which I still have not grasped in its entirety, I am sure. Greider's history is fascinating—and I am not someone who is usually thrilled by books which discuss economics in such brutal terms! Usually, I need some esoteric philosophy//poetic license to distract me from the dryness of it all. Though Greider is most definitely not radical by any stretch of the imagination, (his advocation of an "activist money policy" which would counteract things like deflation and contraction during recession doesn't seem to me to nearly go far enough...) 'Secrets of the Temple' is still a great way to begin to understand the strange and unique power of the Federal Reserve.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Walter

    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 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 as a Progressive innovation masterminded by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913 as a guard against bank failures and a way to stabilize the supply of currency in the economy. Since then, the Fed has played a tremendous role in the US government's efforts to stabilize the economy. The Fed's ability to control the key Federal Reserve interest rate is a very important way to control the money supply. This allows the Fed to make more money available to the economy to allow businesses to expand in times of recession, while also allowing the money supply to dry up during periods of inflation. The Fed has also backed the legitimacy of American banks by allowing stressed banks to draw on cash supplies in times of bank runs. In "Secrets of the Temple", Greider focuses on Paul Volcker, the man who chaired the Fed during the critical years in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the economy was gripped by a recession that caused unemployment to surge to over 10% while inflation simulataneously increased to the point where prices were increasing at a rate of over 12% per year. Greider examines Volcker's personality, his economic policies and his willingness to entertain new policies based on the economic school of University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. He looked at the political aspects of the fight against stagflation that culminated in the 1980 election and the defeat of President Jimmy Carter. And he examines how the economy recovered from the recession in the years of the first term of President Ronald Reagan. Greider does a good job at examining all aspects of the economy and not just those controlled by the Fed. His narrative is lively and interesting despite the fact that this book is about economics. While "Secrets of the Temple" is probably not entirely accessible to readers who are not trained in economic theory, it is a very interesting background to the Fed which should be read by anyone with an interest in monetary theory and economics. I would highly recommend this book for any readers with these interests.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hundeschlitten

    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 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 lot from reading it. The fact this rather complex tome, which interweaves a series of narratives and a wealth of source material with fairly sophisticated economic theory, was a best seller back in 1987 shows how far the intellectual capabilities of the average American reader have fallen in just 23 years. If an historical analysis of the Fed were to become a best seller today, it would almost undoubtedly involve half-backed conspiracy theories, be affiliated with a political campaign, or be promoted by a blowhard on cable TV. The good news is that, while so much of what the unwashed masses are offered these days is half-witted bullshit, you can still get get Greider's comparatively thoughtful text at your local bookstore. My one caveat is that, while the history here is well-argued and researched, the same cannot be said for Greider's solutions, which boil down to typical lefty claptrap about govermental mandates for full employment, augmented by the forming of coalitions demanding the reinflation of prices, as a way to curtail the power of the Fed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Payne

    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 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 during his first term. I can see this book as a gateway to conspiratorial thinking however, as the documented truth is often scary enough.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Krisette Spangler

    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. 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Beth in SF

    A very good attempt at explaining the mechanics of controlling the capital of an empire of capitalism. Complicated and eye opening.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Llewellyn

    An absolute tome of a book on a topic few know much about: the undermining of the economy through the push for deflation by the Volcker Fed. Under the assumption that inflation must be stopped at all costs, Volcker institutes almost usurious interest rates. Greider doesn't hold many punches back in criticizing the catastrophic affects of the policy. But it's not all Volcker, it just seems like almost everybody was on board that this was the way to go. Reagan demanded it. Same with various senator An absolute tome of a book on a topic few know much about: the undermining of the economy through the push for deflation by the Volcker Fed. Under the assumption that inflation must be stopped at all costs, Volcker institutes almost usurious interest rates. Greider doesn't hold many punches back in criticizing the catastrophic affects of the policy. But it's not all Volcker, it just seems like almost everybody was on board that this was the way to go. Reagan demanded it. Same with various senators. Friedman demanded monetarism. But so many people were just wrong. Painfully wrong. Even as the cause of inflation--the Vietnam War--goes unspoken. And the high interest rates and strong dollar demolishes US industry, benefits international finance. It sets the stage for the junk bond crisis. Punishes agriculture, enables vulture capitalism. But some balked. Kudlow comes off as prescient when he calls the forecasts "complete garbage." Eventually Friedman admits his models didn't really predict what he thought they would. Really the book could have been trimmed down, but hard to criticize what is otherwise an essential history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    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 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 'x' amount of people unemployed at pretty much any given time, the issue of living wages, versus low wages, debt to income ratios, the wealth all reverting to the top and how that is truly unsustainable in a consumerist society. An interesting introduction to economics and capitalism in the United States and how it has and does affect other nations, I would recommend it. It's a long read, but it's also insightful and I'm still mentally re-ordering some of the things I read to apply them to the world I live in now.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erik Riker-Coleman

    A brilliant book. Amazing reporting, great historical context. I’d been meaning to read this for about 20 years and finally made it happen. What is starkly evident is that in 1987 Greider—who in 1981 managed to get David Stockman to straight-up admit that Reaganomics was a total fraud—understood what the conservative program portended for America’s future better than anybody else at the time, and far better than most people today. Reading how dead-on he called it today is pretty depressing. His A brilliant book. Amazing reporting, great historical context. I’d been meaning to read this for about 20 years and finally made it happen. What is starkly evident is that in 1987 Greider—who in 1981 managed to get David Stockman to straight-up admit that Reaganomics was a total fraud—understood what the conservative program portended for America’s future better than anybody else at the time, and far better than most people today. Reading how dead-on he called it today is pretty depressing. His point that 1870s-1890s protest parties far better understood the politics of money than 20th—and certainly 21st—century Americans is hard to argue. I hate to make common cause with the Federal Reserve paranoiac conspiracy theorists, but Greider’s account does suggest the Modern Monetary Theory people are not nearly as “out there” as the usual suspects insist.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Digs_JJ

    This was a surprisingly good read. One reviewer said something along the lines of them being surprised that a book which covers such a large amount of rather difficult economic theory managed to be a best seller when it came out, and I have to say that I agree. Most of this material is at least on par with undergraduate level economic theory: supply and demand, inflation, currency exchange rates, interest rates, international debt, etc. All of this weaved into a text that has a very thorough gra This was a surprisingly good read. One reviewer said something along the lines of them being surprised that a book which covers such a large amount of rather difficult economic theory managed to be a best seller when it came out, and I have to say that I agree. Most of this material is at least on par with undergraduate level economic theory: supply and demand, inflation, currency exchange rates, interest rates, international debt, etc. All of this weaved into a text that has a very thorough grasp of the workings of the political system.

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Pinckney

    I would give this book a much higher review if the editor had only done his job. The book is way to long at somewhere around 700 pages. The material and subject was excellent. It may have been hard to make it half that length, but certainly more appropriate. The author goes on for pages on something that could have been covered in sentences or at most, paragraphs. I am glad I stuck it out and read the whole thing.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Ismail

    "Secrets of the Temple" is an interesting book written by a very good writer, William Greider. Although it was published more than 20 years ago, he makes points that are somewhat relevant today. The book is largely about the Federal Reserve Board (or "FED") under chairman Paul Volcker from 1979 to 1987 although there is a good deal of history on the FED prior to Volcker's appointment as chairman by President Jimmy Carter. "Secrets of the Temple" is an interesting book written by a very good writer, William Greider. Although it was published more than 20 years ago, he makes points that are somewhat relevant today. The book is largely about the Federal Reserve Board (or "FED") under chairman Paul Volcker from 1979 to 1987 although there is a good deal of history on the FED prior to Volcker's appointment as chairman by President Jimmy Carter.

  17. 5 out of 5

    David Riseley

    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. 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.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kim Freitas

    blah, blah, blah

  19. 4 out of 5

    Human Being

    A must read and not just for people who like tin foil!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    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 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 much of each was being mined, and while their value in comparison to each other was supposed to be stable based on this ancient alchemical relationship, in reality that changed a lot too. 3. During the Civil War, Lincoln issued "greenbacks" for the first time in US history. This was money not based on gold, backed solely by gov't promise. This caused a boom, because there was more money available for people to start or expand businesses. After the war, gov't went back to the gold standard, causing massive deflation, hitting farmers hard. Also, because the gold standard limited the amount of money available, frontier banks did not always have enough cash reserves to back loans farmers asked for seasonally, as well as their deposits. This caused 'bank runs" - when rumors flew that a bank was running out of cash, people raced to withdraw their money so they wouldn't lose it when the bank failed. Farmers organized the Populist movement, which wanted gov't to go back to greenbacks and abandon the gold standard. They called for an "elastic currency," which would make credit available when it was needed, rather than being tied to gold markets. They demanded democratic control of money, thru elected gov't. They were scorned as hicks by the East Coast banking industry, who saw a threat to their control over money. Wm. Jennings Bryan was kind of Populist, but watered down. 4. The Federal Reserve System started because of the problems the Populists identified. It wasn't born from their movement, but gov't and East Coast bankers eventually figured out that an elastic currency was necessary to create more stability in the economy (because credit demands are seasonal). The big NY banks used to cooperate (under JP Morgan's leadership) to bail out failing banks, but around the 1900s, this happened a lot and they even had to bail out the gov't. Eventually they realized they needed elastic currency. The Fed was a compromise between private banking interests and public democratic interests. The privates made out way better. The Fed is HIGHLY anti-democratic - its structure is based on distrusting public opinion about monetary policy. Its culture tries to maintain the "mystique of central banking," the attitude that these things are too complicated for normal people to understand. The Fed is not "privately owned," though part of its governance comes from private banking. It is protected from gov't oversight by the length of its governors' terms and by the freedom they have to determine monetary policy. Basically, it's like the gov't said, "We appoint you to do this job, but we won't tell you how to do it or hold you accountable for how you do it." 5. The Fed controls how much money/credit there is by adjusting interest rates and by buying and selling gov't securities. Money is created and destroyed simply by entering and erasing numbers in an electronic ledger. One Fed chairman described the Fed's role as "leaning against the wind" -- the Fed should moderate growth and contraction in the economy by adjusting monetary policy to slow speculative investing or to boost flagging investment. An important question that doesn't get addressed directly is who benefits? The US has 2 classes - creditors and debtors. Inflation actually aids debtors, as long as wages rise at the same or higher rate, because loans they take out during an inflationary period, they pay back in depreciated dollars. That's all I can remember now.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    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 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 institutions in the U.S.). As the Fed's policies deal the Carter administration its deathblow, we pan out and move from the history of monetary policy from primitive capitalism to the moment Reagan enters office (where we learn how little control our elected officials really have over our economic well-being). A rare feat of editing, the sweeping narrative told by Greider manages to take a dense, difficult concept and not only render it understandable, but also create a riveting story about where our democracy is heading. Peppering detailed analysis of the mechanics of the Federal Reserve system with speculative insights from sociological, historical, psychological, and feminist lenses, Greider does the reader a tremendous service: he makes a subject rife with abstract, arcane incantations become what it once was - a subject of passionate political debate that doesn't depend on expert knowledge. The brief aside about the Freudian interpretation of money is fitting because Greider is attempting nothing less than bringing to consciousness what we have repressed as a governed population - that monetary policy is not a neutral science, it is a political act of deciding winners and losers. Walking through real life refutations of economic theories and breaking down the flawed, ahistorical assumptions of monetarists (Milton Friedman), supply-siders (Jack Kemp), and gold bugs (Ron Paul), this book is an essential read for anyone who wants to become an informed participant in their country's affairs.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

    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' 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's ignorance. It puts the lie to the notion that Reagan's America was prosperous. It shoves a stake into the heart of Milton Friedman's economic theories and illustrates just how wrong-headed the supply-siders were about how the economy works. Ahead of its time, the book coins the phrase "too big to fail," in explaining how Volcker worked to prop up failed mega-banks at the expense of average Americans, small businesses and farmers. After reading this book, I now fully realize that many of the economic maladies of our day - huge income disparities, a government ruled by Wall Street, a decimated middle class - grew their deep and lasting roots in the 1980s under the authority of a man (Volcker) who was more interested in protecting the value of the dollar than helping out the actual economy. It's all here: the human misery caused by purblind economic policies, the indifference of Volcker and others to people's suffering, the blunt and disturbing facts about our political economy. To read it now, amid the lingering effects of the Great Recession - triggered by grotesque gambling by Wall Street - is to further understand something the author James Howard Kunstler once wrote: History doesn't repeat. It rhymes.

  23. 4 out of 5

    adam

    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 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, especially considering the Fed's authority has only grown more crucial in the Greenspan and Bernanke years, but the scholarship is so good and thorough that it's worth reading for anyone interested in how our economy works. Throughout the Volcker narrative, the author weaves in fascinating threads from other literatures such as American political history, economics, psychology, and even philosophy, to further explain why the concept of money is so central to our social existence. What it does is set a somewhat dry story about banks controlling the money supply against the bigger questions of how people are affected by their systems of commercial exchange, and vice versa.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

    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 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 don't fail. Wall Street and the banks have learned that they can take on high risks and that the public will underwrite that risky behavior. Therefore, we have set up a system for repeat economic collapses. Knowing history should help us learn. Therefore, based on the importance of the issue, I'm ranking this four stars. We need regulation that protects the tax-paying public from the worst of the speculative practices. Argh.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    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 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 about central banking, you hate the Jews. I should thank Mr. Greider for teaching me a lesson about a fundamental lesson of the Economics! This lesson is the "opportunity cost"! The lesson is: the opportunity cost of this book for me was two six-packs of Storm King Imperial Stout. And, after finishing the six-packs, I would have damaged fewer brain cells than I would have had I finished this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    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 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 too detailed for my liking), but Greider always leads the reader, without fail, to a wider, fascinating, well articulated explanation or argument. If you want to understand how 'money' works in the modern America, 'Secrets' is a magnus opus that doesn't require an economic degree to decipher.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carol Garvin

    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 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 unlucky enough to have to move for a job. This system is not one that answers to we the people. We need Monetary change...haven't changed my mind about that.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pierre Lauzon

    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 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 Reserve on the US economy is more significant than I imagined. The book was published in 1989, so it is dated. A new edition, highlighting the time since original publication would be welcome.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Craig Adamson

    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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    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. 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.

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