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Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (Wiley Investment Classics) 4th Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471389460
ISBN-10: 0471389463
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Editorial Reviews


"what will strike the reader is the book's remarkable relevance to current events"...(Sunday Times, 19 August 2001)

"?pretty well the last word on the subject?" (Financial Times, 12 October 2002)

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

The best known and most highly regarded book on market crisis, Manias, Panics, and Crashes is thoroughly engaging. Since its introduction in 1978, it has charted a new landscape in the volatile world of financial markets. Charles Kindleberger’s brilliant, panoramic history reveals how financial crises follow a nature-like rhythm: they peak and purge, swell and storm. Now in a newly revised and expanded fourth edition, Manias, Panics, and Crashes probes the most recent natural disasters of the markets–from Black Monday to the Japanese boom and bust, from the sterling crisis and peso devaluation to the explosion in today’s technology stocks.

Captivating and colorful, Kindleberger’s writing leads the reader through a myriad of financial free falls. From the currency devaluation in the Holy Roman Empire in 1618, through the California gold rush of the 1840s and ’50s to the crash of 1987, all the way up to the present day, his sharply drawn history confronts a host of key questions: In the ups and downs of market behavior, where is the line between rational and irrational? Are the markets a fool’s paradise in an explosive world? When the storm expands to dangerous proportions, who will calm the panic? Should a "lender of last resort" intervene to repair the wreckage?

Along with scores of casualties and criminals, a revealing common thread emerges from this rich history of manias, panics, and crashes: market crises are associated with greed. Just as money evolved from coins to include bank notes, bills of exchange, bank deposits, and checks, greed likewise took on many different forms. Lightning will strike an economic environment in strife, and Kindleberger explores what happens to the markets when conflicting interests arise.

Manias, Panics, and Crashes can be regarded as a warning or a proposition, reminding readers, in many ways, that what goes around comes around. Like all true classics, Kindleberger’s book remains timely–for better or for worse.


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Product Details

  • Series: Wiley Investment Classics (Book 29)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 4 edition (January 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471389463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471389460
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,102,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
If you are interested in how Alan Greenspan will probably handle the financial weakness that follows the year 2000 collapse of the Internet stocks, this book is a good guide. Chairman Greenspan is basically a follower of Professor Kindleberger. Both believe that pragmatic, flexible activism by the Federal Reserve can shorten up the pain from financial excesses.
Those who are interested in the psychology of financial markets are often drawn to Professor Kindleberger's book after reading Charles MacKay's classic, Memoirs of Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. In this new edition, Professor Kindleberger has added useful perspectives on the Mexican and Asian financial crises of the 1990s and adjusted his interpretation to allow for more differentiation among crises than he did before. I found this edition by far the most satisfying of the four he has written.
Professor Kindleberger is one of the few remaining literary economists, those who make their points in essays rather than through long equations that depend on questionable assumptions. This makes his work very accessible, even though it is as rigorous as it can possibly be while still remaining a popular work.
If you believe in efficient markets or the overriding importance of macroeconomics, you will be angered and annoyed by this book. Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes each take their shots here, although in polite ways.
As Peter L. Bernstein summarizes nicely in his introduction, Professor Kindleberger's argument boils down to four principles:
(1) Irrational behavior does occur from time to time in financial markets.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Those who lost money in the 1990's stock market bubble may be tempted to think that they have been cursed with misfortune of unparalleled proportions. Reading "Manias, Panics, and Crashes" will surely change their mind. Bubbles, they will learn, are an enduring feature of financial markets, and generations of investors have fallen in the trap of buying very high to sell even higher, only to find that the frenzy cannot last for ever.
The mania part of the story is familiar: a new invention will revolutionize the economic landscape and bring forth unimaginable profits. The abundance of credit, coupled with leverage (buying with borrowed money), accelerates this process and buying leads to more buying. Then comes the panic: some event shakes confidence and wakes up investors to the mania that has clouded their judgment. This panic leads to a crash: borrowed money needs to be repaid and investors will sell anything at any price to meet the bankers' needs.
Charles Kindleberger has chronicled dozens of financial bubbles spanning more than four centuries. His historiography is impressive and the reader can often wonder how Kindleberger amassed such large amounts of data: his sources are primary and secondary, and they come from economics, history, politics, and even literature. The text is well written and the reader hardly notices that the ride covers centuries' worth of financial troubles.
What, in the end, is Kindleberger's moral? Most cures for dealing with financial troubles, he writes, are no cures at all. Raising interest rates has not proven particularly useful and neither has continued warning from authorities that the investing public is inflating a bubble. The solution, he believes, lies in having a lender of last resort.
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Format: Paperback
I read it because so many of the books I was reading referred to it. Despite the negative reviews, I have to say that I found it neither dusty nor boring. Particularly given the last bubble that we have just been through, I found it fascinating to read his theories about what fuels a mania.

Disclaimer: I can't even claim to be an armchair economist. Just an interested business bystander.

If you get confused as to which financial crisis Kindleberger refers, use the appendix at the back. One flaw that the book really does have is to assume that you know all about the various events upon which it draws for its evidence. Perhaps for future editions it would be smart of the publisher to include a brief introductory chapter on the subject. While real economists would have no need for that introduction, the other readers of the book (and it does seem to be marketed at a wider audience) would benefit.

Lots of great references to further reading included as well.
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Format: Paperback
This book lays out the blueprint to spot a financial crisis in the making.

A. Plenty of money in supply and preferably at cheap rates.

B. A 'new technology'-from the birth of railroad stocks, to letter stocks of the 1960s and dot coms of the late 1990s.

C. A willing and enthusiastic media outlet (think CNBC and the dot com boom).

D. Cab drivers and plumbers suddenly trading actively in the respective markets. Another note I would throw in is when the investment community are saying 'it is different this time, simple valuation of securities is no longer possible'.

Kindleberger's work draws on this scenario time and time again.

A required reading for anyone actively trading in the markets.
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