Latest read: The Age of Turbulance

I finished Alan Greenspan‘s book The Age of Turbulence Adventures in a New World and learned it was more than I expected from the former Chairman of The Federal Reserve.  And with the recession still in high gear it was also good timing.
The Age of TurbulanceBeyond his sheer volume of knowledge regarding the economy, global markets and international finance I was most impressed with Greenspan’s simple yet immense observation: America needs an overhauled K12 educational system for our country to have a strong economy in 2030.

The impact of Technology, Globalization & Innovation as he outlines should not be overlooked regarding educational reform.  I must admit the real interest for most readers would be to jump the chapter that addresses the recession.  Its worth taking the time to read the book in full.

Greenspan’s impact in Washington, the economy and Republican politics spans Presidential administrations from Nixon to W. Bush.  Greenspan has enjoyed a pretty interesting life.  I was most struck not by his interest in music but rather his high school music partner Stan Getz.  His comments about his role in Y2K for the government and financial markets and the impact of fiber optic networks were welcoming for any geek or fanboy.

There is just a huge amount of economic learning you can pickup from his 25 chapters.  My favorite chapters surprisingly fall in a row:

19. Globalization and Regulation
20. The “Conundrum”
21. Education and Income Inequality
22. The world retires. But can it afford to?

There are some amazing things you can learn from an economist.  His view of W. Bush’s administration and their loss of focus on the economy was eye opening.  Bush never changed any economic plans beyond what he promised during his election campaign.  W. Bush repeatedly ignored The Fed’s view of the sliding economy and needed changes over the close of his Presidency and handed his successor an economy with financial, housing and automotive markets in crisis.

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Latest read: The Assault on Reason

Must admit the timing at first seemed strange. I was reading Al Gore’s book The Assault on Reason when Michael Jackson died. Gore has written a book about what has gone wrong in our country. Yet I was able to watch it simply unfold right in front of me. The non-stop media coverage of Jackson’s death will not be forgotten.
Ultimately Gore’s book addresses the change in American values and repeated failures of the Bush Administration yet outlines an opportunity for our country to correct the ship.  The impact of the environment to no surprise is also a strong part of his book.  Gore sets the “mood” right from page one – where he addresses loss of conversation regarding our government’s role to launch the war in Iraq:

Not long before our nation launched the invasion of Iraq, our longest-serving senator, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, stood on the Senate floor and said: “This Chamber is, for the most part, silent – ominously, dreadfully silent.  There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war.  There is nothing.  We stand passively mute in the United States Senate.

Gore is right on the mark when he wrote “Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?”  In some ways this book is a case study in the loss of reason, the foundation of our political democracy.  He has modeled this from Thomas Paine‘s The Age of Reason written in 1793. Ultimately Gore wants to bring back core values of our democracy to our fellow countrymen.

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Authors at Google: Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson visits Google to present his book “Free” This event took place on July 9, 2009, as part of the Authors@Google series. My book review of Free.

From the Google Author Series:

He makes the compelling case that in many instances businesses can profit more from giving things away than they can by charging for them. Far more than a promotional gimmick, Free is a business strategy that may well be essential to a company’s survival.

The costs associated with the growing online economy are trending toward zero at an incredible rate. Never in the course of human history have the primary inputs to an industrial economy fallen in price so fast and for so long. Just think that in 1961, a single transistor cost $10; now Intel’s latest chip has two billion transistors and sells for $300 (or 0.000015 cents per transistor–effectively too cheap to price). The traditional economics of scarcity just don’t apply to bandwidth, processing power, and hard-drive storage.

Yet this is just one engine behind the new Free, a reality that goes beyond a marketing gimmick or a cross-subsidy. Anderson also points to the growth of the reputation economy; explains different models for unleashing the power of Free; and shows how to compete when your competitors are giving away what you’re trying to sell.

I found Chris’ idea really is not so radical given today’s economy.  It will benefit those companies smart enough to recognize the innovative opportunity to grow their customer base.

Tags: Chris Anderson, Free: The future of a Radical Price, marketing, Google Author, copyright, internet, economy, innovation, ideas, business, radical, reading, trends