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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Paperback – Illustrated, 18 July 2011
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- Publisher : Princeton University Press; 1st edition (18 July 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 512 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0691152640
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691152646
- Dimensions : 13.89 x 3.56 x 21.69 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 28,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
""A classic.""'Nouriel Roubini
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
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Top reviews from other countries
In creating this relatively short but gigantically impressive and influential (while some possibly have not read it, many nevertheless have) work the authors have dug deep into what archives they have been able to delve. At times the charts are so numerous the text has a job keeping up. The tables, too, are frequent, informative and, often, frightening. But they underline the herculean task involved in prising the data out of some hands, and make a case for a centralised clearing house for making such data transparent, rather than the current opacity and obfuscation.
The central point, of course, is that the fundamental tenets of economics do not change. You can't spend what you'll never have and get away with it. There's a price to pay, always, as the world economy, and especially the increasingly pauperised south Europeans are now finding. This time, and any other time you care to mention, really is not different. The dotcom boom was replete with spotty youths accusing the oldsters that they didn't "get it", all too often hounding them out of the boardroom so they could observe at a distance as their dire predictions came true. Ditto with the armies of derivatives sellers explaining how their CDOs, CDSs and their like would completely diversify risk away. Instead, they were the root of the problem as the subprime deck of cards came tumbling down, leading to the discovery that much of the risk had been diversified away to the same place.
Perhaps of most pressing interest is the coverage received by Greece, including the disclosure that since independence in 1820 the country has spent over half the time in default, and looks like continuing that illustrious achievement for a few more years still. But the authors use the example of Argentina in 2001-2 to demonstrate the perils awaiting should Greece leave the eurozone, a sentiment echoed by, amongst others, former central-bank governors of Argentina and Mexico (The Economist, February 18th 2012), who remind us of the chaos following the abandonment of Argentina's peg to the dollar and point out that, given the deep integration of Greece with the rest of Europe, the result of the country abandoning the euro would be many times worse.
We have, say Reinhart and Rogoff, learnt a lot about the way the world economy works since the Great Depression. But we have much left to learn, and besides, the world is constantly in a state of change and the learning process never ends. Their book is a valuable part of that learning process.
The book analyses domestic debt; data that has apparently been unavailable previously, as governments are not that willing to reveal how much they have borrowed historically. Indeed, the authors make it clear that there is obfuscation going on here, as with modern technology, this data should be readily available. Nevertheless, they have tacked bits of domestic internal debt data together in order to aid the analysis.
Future generations will look back at our present financial easing and wonder what the hell we were thinking, trying to dig ourselves out of a financial crisis (bought on by real estate lending), by trying to further stimulate the real estate market. All the more so given analysis which is now readily available, such as in this book.
One extension which I would like to see would be to include implicit debt, such as historic promises of state benefits, in order to draw further conclusions about our current financial situation. In the UK, we have the NHS and public sector pensions to finance. In the US, there is the medicare bill. It would be interesting to have seen the impact of these implicit debts being quantified in This Time is Different.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It's not a light bedtime read but is accessible and more than readable, and more's the point, you can dip in to whatever chapter is relevant for your enquiry. There are swathes of tables and reference charts, and the later chapters deal with the current crisis - which we learn is not new (though the debt mountain is the greatest on record).
I would suggest it helps to have a modicum of understanding of world finance, this is not a book for beginners (for that go to "Conspiracy of the Rich" by Robert Kiyosaki - possibly the best there is to really get inside what's going on in the world of finance and highly readable), but for those already engaged in this area, "This Time is Different" is essential.