My Economic Forecast for Greenspan’s New Book

Alan Greenspan has a new book out. I haven’t seen it yet, since I am in London for a few days and it isn’t available here. Economist Brad DeLong talks about the book (among other things) in this podcast. Over at MarginalRevolution, Tyler Cowen offers a set of links as well.

So here is my economic forecast for the book: I read somewhere that the initial print run was 1 million. Meanwhile, Cowen says that the book is boring. Cowen is a man who loves both books and economics. If he thinks the book is boring, so will just about everyone else. I predict that 30 percent of that initial printing of books will never be sold.

A quick check of Amazon shows that the book is currently ranked No. 1 in sales. Forecasting is a risky business.


Maybe if Greenspon wrote in a style more like Carl Hiassen he'd sell more books. And maybe get some movie deals.


boring or not, so many people think Greenspan is the financial messiah, and will probably buy it for that reason. he struggled with clarity in most of his public speeches, and I predict that he won't change that pattern in his book.


If the book goes over a lot of standard economics info it may well be boring to an economist but not to others. It also may cover ground that public policy people know by heart having followed everything, but people that don't follow the Fed might find new. I see this in popular science books. For example, "The Canon" is, I think, not bad for a general reader interested in science, but I found it somewhat tedious, not because it was dull per se, but because I had a background in some of the fields and already kew the stories.

Of course just thinking of Greenspan's snippets on the news over the years... it may well be boring.

Linda Loomis

What takes you to London, Levitt?

It's getting interesting over there in Great Britain as regards the Pirbright lab scandal. Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labgate?

Yesterday's news was about breakaway cows, and one golfer's disgust that the government was lax about providing better biosecurity. The link also mentions how the EU is becoming involved in the situation.

Attempts to contain the [foot and mouth disease]outbreak attracted criticism after four cattle escaped from a field at Ripley on Saturday as vets and slaughtermen arrived to carry out a cull.

The cattle were apparently “spooked” shortly after 7am and fled across fields, went through a canal and ended up at the 16th hole of Pyrford Golf Club.

Police and Defra [Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs] officials ordered the greens to be cleared and kept 60 golfers in the clubhouse for five hours. Nigel Embry, 62 of Byfleet, one of the golfers, said: “I was horrified by the poor bio-security. They made us all disinfect our shoes but they were not at all interested in our golf trolleys, clubs or bags that were also in contact with the grass where the cattle had been . . . There should have been a disinfectant mat at the clubhouse.”


David Glover

Predicting it will sell poorly and blogging about it being "boring" you may have created a self fulfilling prophecy. I had my $35 - 40% discount in my pocket on the way to the book store...but now...I will wait to pull it out of the bargain bin.

The slick photo insert pages have some good cartoons about Greenspan.


Greenspans book is not like a Da vinci Code or a Harry Potter but it is a book for economists only. The Author itself spend his whole lifetime with the economy. So his book is not going to entertain all of his reader. The Majority will read it only because Greenspan wrote it.

David R.

Yesterday's papers were an interesting case study.

A NYT, Page 17 headline: "A 'Disappointed' Greenspan Lashes Out at Bush's Economic Policies"

A WSJ, Page 3 story with the headline "Greenspan's Dismay Extends Both Ways" : "But in an interview..., Mr. Greenspan expressed just as much dismay with the Democratic party."

I would like to see the NYT story in the WSJ and the WSJ story in the NYT. And, both papers could do well by quoting more Greens and Libertarians.


Maybe what you should try forecasting for a highly-anticipated but "boring" book is not sales, but rather how many people actually finish reading it. Or even get past Chapter 1. Now THAT would be interesting!


I own some boring books that I have never read...


I've started reading it and must admit I am a bit put off by the lack of adjectives. He has a very straight-forward writing style that is definitely not for everyone.

That said, I'm enjoying "the Age of Turbulence" so far. It was worth buying it just to see some of the pictures in the inset.


Greenspan said casually in a conversation over lunch this year that he thought the economy was in for a downturn. This resulted in a slight panic on Wall Street and major media coverage about it(enough that I heard about it and don't avidly watch the news.) I think this is a good indicator of how much power his words still hold. His book will easily sell millions. People are hoping to finally get the opinion of an insider/expert that is no longer under restraints from employment. This is much like the retired generals who got so much media coverage for bash the Iraq war.

Rita: Lovely Meter Maid

I hate to say it, but I'm already bored with the book. In all fairness, however, it's doubtful I would have ever had any desire to read it anyway.

Rafael Bautista

Forecasting, at least in this case, was bound to be even riskier than usual. The reason seems to be your implicit assumption that people always buy a book in order to read it. Too many of us buy books that sometimes lie around our homes for years. There is a utility attached to the mere possession of a book written by some famous, which is quite independent of its contents.


Greenspan's book and his musings come too late. It will sell because the guru is still worshipped. The man who married the NBC reporter is now trying desperately to cling to fame. When he had the opportunity to slay the market bubble he FED it more with ridiculously cheap rates. Now Bernanke has shown himself to be another friend of WallStreet, Inc. Greenspan's denunication of Bush's economic policies would have carried more heft if he had put the brakes on money supply while Chairman of FOMC.


No, if Greenspan really wanted to sell big, he'd make a book about atheism.


There are well over one million people who want this book on their shelf, however I would predict that less than 25 percent will actually be read cover to cover. Most people will probably look for the line about Iraq, feel content, and place it on the shelf in between "A Brief History of Time" and "The Wealth of Nations", hopping that future dinner guests will feel too intimidated by the books to ask any questions.


I have visited your site 860-times


If Greenspan REALLY wanted to sell a lot of books, he would start his own "Age of Turbulence" blog...


Late to comment here... I bought Freakonomics March'07.....still havn't finished it, Two chapters on parenting? why did you do it? thats what got me stuck

And i just bought AOT...just read the preface so far, and saw the day i plan to finish both.


Maybe if Greenspon wrote in a style more like Carl Hiassen he'd sell more books. And maybe get some movie deals.