BOOKS: IRREPLACEABLE GREENSPAN - The Fed's chairman, rather than Clinton, is considered the architect of the long US boom. James Hanson enjoys a book that explains why - Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom, by Bob Woodward - Simon & Schuste

BOOKS: IRREPLACEABLE GREENSPAN - The Fed's chairman, rather than Clinton, is considered the architect of the long US boom. James Hanson enjoys a book that explains why - Maestro: Greenspan's Fed and the American Boom, by Bob Woodward - Simon & Schuste

by LORD HANSON, co-founder of the original Hanson plc

Bob Woodward's excellent new book Maestro is well-researched and based on one of the most important decisions made by any US government - the appointment in 1987 of Alan Greenspan as chairman of the Federal Reserve System, or Fed.

Early in his reign, the stock market fell 22% in one day, but he weathered that crash. When he started, the Dow Jones stood at 2,500 points and today it's over 10,000, with previous highs of more than 11,500. It is no coincidence that the US economy has enjoyed the longest expansion in its history and one must credit Greenspan's firm hand as one of the main reasons for this long-running success.

How does he do it? The answer appears to be very hard work, enormous attention to detailed research, an individual style that is 'oblique and somewhat veiled' and a great sense of humour. The dictionary defines maestro as 'masterly performer' and Greenspan succeeds by doing something extraordinarily difficult with apparent ease. Yet he describes it as 'the greatest job in the world. Like eating peanuts, you keep doing it, keep doing it and you never get tired.'

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