While the grim effects of the 2008 financial crisis still resonate across the globe, the recession wasn't all bad: it triggered fundamental economic restructuring, and the result is a U.S. economy poised to emerge stronger than it was before. Although it's too soon to say with certainty, even Europe may come out ahead.
America's economy is in its eighth year of sustained growth, transcending the German and Japanese "miracles." This is no fluke. America's unique brand of entrepreneurial capitalism is based on a series of advantages that explain the stunning success of the 1990s and provide the basis for extending this winning streak. These strengths include deft managers, technological innovation, and a culture that values rugged individualism -- all fueled by finance capital that can nimbly meet the needs of a globalized, rapidly changing economy. Furthermore, the era of the deficit is over. Pessimists who warn of inflation should be ignored; American business leaders understand that today's low level of inflation is self-perpetuating. America's prosperity is structural, not transient, and its lead over Europe and Asia will only widen with time. America had the twentieth century. It will also have the twenty-first.
From the demise of the gold standard in the 1970s to the battle over financial reform today, Paul Volcker has helped shape U.S. economic policy for decades. A new biography underscores what today's public servants might learn from his storied career.