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A Decade of Debt (Policy Analyses in International Economics) Paperback – August 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Policy Analyses in International Economics
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Peterson Institute (August 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881326224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881326222
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,700,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carmen M. Reinhart is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for International Economics at the University of Maryland. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. Professor Reinhart held positions as Chief Economist and Vice President at the investment bank Bear Stearns in the 1980s, where she became interested in financial crises, international contagion and commodity price cycles. Subsequently, she spent several years at the International Monetary Fund. She is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Reinhart has served on numerous editorial boards, panels, and has testified before congress. She has written and published on a variety of topics in macroeconomics and international finance and trade including: international capital flows, exchange rates, inflation and commodity prices, banking and sovereign debt crises, currency crashes, and contagion. Her papers have been published in leading scholarly journals, including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. ??
Her work has helped to inform the understanding of financial crises for over a decade. In the early 1990s, she wrote (with Guillermo Calvo) about the fickleness of capital flows to emerging markets and the likelihood of abrupt reversals--before the Mexican crisis of 1994-1995. Prior to the Asian crisis (1997-1998), she documented (with Graciela Kaminsky) the international historical links between asset price bubbles and banking crises, and how the latter could lead to currency crashes creating a "twin crisis." She identified (with Ken Rogoff) the possibility of severe economic dislocations from the sub-prime crisis in 2007. Her work is frequently featured in the financial press around the world, including The Economist, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She has appeared in CNN, CSPAN, BBC, and NPR, among others.
Her latest book (with Kenneth Rogoff) entitled This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Princeton Press) documents the striking similarities of the recurring booms and busts that have characterized financial history.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Yoda on May 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
In this relativly short book (actually, more or less, a published version of an academic paper written by the authors for the National Bureau of Economic Research) the authors, thorugh the use of loggit regressions, examine central government debt and its impact on GDP growth in a large number of nations for a ten year period. Thier paper produces three signficant findings. They are:

1) The finding that, in developed nations, after surpassing a debt/gdp ratio of 90%, GDP growth is impacted in a statistically signficant manner. Below that ratio the relationship is, in the author's words "weak" (i.e., not statitiscially signficant).

2) In emerging nations the aforementioned relationship between debt/GDP ratios and GDP growth occurs at 60%, not 90%. The author's do not discuss the reasons but it seems safe to say, at least in this reviewer's opinion, that this is due to the fact that these nations are less able to raise debt in international capital markets, less able to finance it through current account surplesses and, possibly most important, lack the bureacrat infrastructure needed to raise revenue through tax increases and the collection of current taxes legally imposed.

3) There is no contemporaneous link, for the decade examined, betweeen inflation and public debt levels for the advanced nations as a whole. This does not hold, again, for the less developed nations, as a whole. The authors again do not discuss the reason but it would seem that their inability to raise revenue, for the three reasons cited under "2)" above, forces to increase the money supply instead.

This book does have some weeaknesses. One is inherent to useing the logit regression technique.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Lanaghan on December 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
If I could give this book a zero I would. A paper in the Public Economy Research Instutue entitled
Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogo ff
byThomas Herndon, Michael Ash, Robert Pollin, 4/15/2013 reveal serious errors in Reinharts study. They have since backed off of several of their assertions

In an article in the New York Times by Pollin

"Earlier this month, we posted a working paper, co-written with Thomas Herndon, finding fault with this conclusion. We identified a spreadsheet coding error — which Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff promptly acknowledged — that affected their calculations of growth rates for big economies since World War II. We also asserted that the two of them erred by omitting some data and improperly weighting other statistics. In an Op-Ed essay and appendix last week, Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff denied those accusations."

Further down in the Nyt editorial

However, Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff stubbornly maintain that “growth is about 1 percentage point lower when debt is 90 percent or more of gross domestic product,” a core finding of their 2010 paper.

There are serious problems with this claim. The most obvious is that the median growth figures they reported in the 2010 paper are distorted by the same coding error and partial exclusion of data from Australia, Canada and New Zealand that tainted their average growth figures. When we corrected for these errors, the difference in median economic growth rates was only 0.4 percentage points between countries whose public-debt-to-G.D.P. ratio was between 60 percent and 90 percent, and those where the ratio was over 90 percent (2.9 percent median growth, versus 2.5 percent). The difference between 0.4 percent and 1 percent is quite substantial when we’re talking about national economic growth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Merkel on August 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a short book that in some ways is a summary of Reinhart and Rogoff's greater work This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Think of it as an executive summary in book form. How short is it? Less than 160 pages, but in terms of text there's less than 40 pages of text in this 6" x 9" book, so it's a fast read.

Graphs occupy the remainder of the book, with the latter two-thirds of the book going nation-by-nation, allocating 1-3 pages to each, showing Debt/GDP, and the various sorts of financial crises they have faced.

Main Findings

1) When debt to GDP ratios get above 90%, growth rates fall by 1%.

2) Emerging markets fare worse than developed market on point #1.

3) There's no relation in the short run regarding public debt and inflation in developed nations.

Other Findings

1) Many nations default continually... I allege cultural problems, but I am willing to be corrected.

2) Banking crises were normal in developed nations prior to WWII.

3) Private debts surge prior to banking crises. This is normal, when banks lend aggressively, they lend badly.

4) When there are banking crises, other crises tend to occur. No surprise, because restrictions in bank lending leads to difficulties in those seeking financing.

5) Banking crises are associated with sovereign debt crises.

6) Public borrowing follows a repeated boom/bust cycle, particularly in developing markets.

7) Like Michael Pettis' book,
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