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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by [Reinhart, Carmen M., Rogoff, Kenneth S]
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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 249 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Two top-notch economists provide a clear and interesting explanation of why economic crises keep occurring. Broadly speaking, downturns such as the one we are recovering from are historically associated with characteristics that should sound quite familiar to today's investors.

From the Back Cover

"This Time Is Different is a tremendously exciting, topical, and controversial book on the history of debt and default. This one belongs on everyone's shelf."--Barry Eichengreen, author of The European Economy since 1945

"This is quite simply the best empirical investigation of financial crises ever published. Covering hundreds of years and bringing together a dizzying array of data, Reinhart and Rogoff have made a truly heroic contribution to financial history. This single marvelous volume is worth a thousand mathematical models."--Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

"This Time is Different is terrific, for it gives just the perspective we need on the current world economic crisis. People can't expect to understand the current crisis without some in-depth look at past crises. That is exactly what this excellent and timely book provides."--Robert J. Shiller, author of Irrational Exuberance and coauthor of Animal Spirits

"You will be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive and insightful analysis of financial crises. Reinhart and Rogoff's superb book is a must-read for anyone looking to understand past and present crises, as well as navigate those of tomorrow."--Mohamed El-Erian, author of When Markets Collide

"I would say that her [Carmen Reinhart's] book with Ken Rogoff on debt crises and financial crises is an extraordinary piece of work."--Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking before the House Budget Committee (6/9/2010)

"The most important authorities probably in the world now on financial crashes are Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart. . . . And I read it [This Time is Different]."--Former President Bill Clinton, speech at Youngstown, OH, October 31, 2012

"A classic."--Nouriel Roubini


Product Details

  • File Size: 12439 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 11, 2009)
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004EYT932
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,986 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Reinhart and Rogoff's book provides a quantitative history of financial crises derived from over 600 years and 66 nations. The basic message from all their data is that there are remarkable similarities in today's financial crises with experience from other countries and nations. The common theme is that excessive debt accumulation by government, banks, corporations, or consumers often brings great risk. It makes government look like it is providing greater growth than it is, inflates housing and stock prices beyond sustainable levels, and makes banks seem more stable and profitable than they really are. Large-scale debt buildups make an economy vulnerable to crises of confidence - especially when the debt is short-term and needs to be refinanced (the usual case).

Reinhart and Rogoff go on to conclude that most of these booms end badly. Outcomes include sovereign defaults (government fails to meet payments on its debt), banking crises (heavy investment losses, banking panics), exchange rate crises (Asia, Europe, Latin America in the 1990s), high inflation (a de facto default), and combinations of the preceding (1930s, today).

What did the authors learn from their data digging? Severe financial crises share three characteristics: 1)Declines in real housing prices average 35%, stretched out over six years, while equity prices fall an average 56% over 3.5 years. 2)The unemployment rate rises an average of 7 percentage points during the down phase (average length = four years). Output falls more than 9% over a two-year period. 3)Government debt tends to explode, an average 86% in real terms. The biggest driver of this debt explosion is the collapse in tax revenues; counter-cyclical fiscal policy efforts also contribute, as well as spiking interest rates.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rogoff and Reinhart, two very substantive (and, I might add, earnest) economists, have produced a prodigious work which will be read and studied for years. They have gathered mountains of data from primary and secondary sources and reduced it to dozens of charts and graphs, a heroic work in its own right. Their intention, God bless 'em, is to lay out the follies that have led to economic/financial crises over the last eight centuries. Their findings: humans have not learned from past mistakes. The title is ironic and is worthy of Peter DeVries.

The authors say it is "almost comical" that no governments reveal their true financial condition today, nor have they done so in the past. The lack of transparency and the shenanigans that go on behind the curtains contribute, of course, to the human suffering that ensues in crisis after crisis.

One needs to find this book comical if one is not to slip into a permanent depression about the utter failure of national leaders to address shortcomings in national domestic and foreign economic policies in order to avoid systemic crises. No one has, from the 13th century onward, anywhere in the world.

The authors persist in saying that they hope their monumental effort will lead to an examination by policymakers of past mistakes and help them avoid future mistakes. I say, "Good luck with that." In my opinion, this book ranks with the complete works of Shakespeare in illuminating the human condition. Or Bruegel, or Beethoven. It will not bring about change, but it will entertain in a deeply satisfying way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On April 15, 2013, a year and a half after I had first published this review a study by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin from the U of Massachusetts came out and refutted the authors main thesis that once a country reaches a Debt/GDP ratio of 90% sees its economic growth contract nearly automatically. This had become a covenant of libertarians such as Paul Ryan and Europeans promoting fiscal austerity. It turns out that Reinhart and Rogoff studies were completely wrong. R&R made numerous mistakes pointed out by the U of Mass team. The main one was to exclude three years out of the New Zealand data during a high Debt/GDP period. During those three excluded years New Zealand had grown very rapidly which contradicted R&R thesis. Once you make those corrections (including a few others that were minute by comparison), there is no statistical difference in growth rate between countries with high Debt/GDP ratio vs ones with lower ones. So much for Austerity. This is a devastating blow to what we thought was a classic study on the subject. Below see my original review. Notice that I had also observed many other flaws with their work but not the one mentioned above since I never saw the data firsthand.

This book is both fascinating and flawed. Starting with the flaws:

First, the book is mistitled. It covers the last 200 years not the last 800.

Second, their crisis framework is convoluted relative to the crystal clear framework of Charles Kindleberger in Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (Wiley Investment Classics).
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