The financial crisis of 2008 and the deep recession that followed forced each of us—perhaps most notably, Alan Greenspan —to question the fundamental assumptions about risk management and economic forecasting. Mr. Greenspan, the nation’s chief forecaster as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, steered the nation through almost two decades of prosperity and relative stability, retiring from the Fed in 2006 with an unparalleled reputation for prescience. And then came the economic crisis, and no one’s reputation for prescience survived.

In prepared remarks before a congressional hearing a month after Lehman’s September 2008 bankruptcy, Mr. Greenspan declared: “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief.” He was hardly alone in failing to predict the economic tsunami. Equally clueless were government officials, Wall Street practitioners and professional economists. In “The Map and the Territory,” Mr. Greenspan tries to explain what went wrong and offers suggestions for how we can do a better job. (more…)