"The story of Greenspan is also the story of the making of modern finance, for good and for ill. As the most influential economic statesman of his age, Greenspan spent a lifetime grappling with a momentous shift: the transformation of finance from the regulated system of the postwar era to the free-for-all of the past quarter century. Greenspan's life is a quintessential American success story: raised by a single mother in the Jewish émigré community of Washington Heights, New York, he was a math prodigy who found a niche as a stats-crunching consultant. A master at explaining the economic weather to captains of industry, he translated that skill into advising Richard Nixon in his 1968 campaign. This led to a perch on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and then to a dazzling array of business and government roles, from which the path to the Fed was relatively clear. A fire-breathing libertarian and disciple of Ayn Rand in his youth who once called the Fed's creation a historic mistake, Greenspan reinvented himself as a pragmatist once in power. In his analysis, and in his core mission of keeping inflation in check, he was a maestro indeed, and hailed as such. At his retirement in 2006, he was lauded as the age's necessary man. But then came 2008, and the great crash that did so much to damage Greenspan's reputation. Mallaby argues the conventional wisdom is off base: Greenspan knew more about the risks in irrational markets than almost anyone; the question is why he didn't act. Economic statesmanship, like political statesmanship, is the art of the possible. The Man Who Knew is a searching reckoning with what exactly comprised the art, and the possible, in the career of Alan Greenspan."--Dust jacket.