This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

Reinhart, Carmen M.

Throughout history, rich and poor countries alike have been lending, borrowing, crashing--and recovering--their way through an extraordinary range of financial crises. Each time, the experts have chimed, "this time is different"--claiming that the old rules of valuation no longer apply and that the new situation bears little similarity to past disasters. With this breakthrough study, leading economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff definitively prove them wrong. Covering sixty-six countries across five continents, This Time Is Different presents a comprehensive look at the varieties of financial crises, and guides us through eight astonishing centuries of government defaults, banking panics, and inflationary spikes--from medieval currency debasements to today's subprime catastrophe. Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, leading economists whose work has been influential in the policy debate concerning the current financial crisis, provocatively argue that financial combustions are universal rites of passage for emerging and established market nations. The authors draw important lessons from history to show us how much--or how little--we have learned. Using clear, sharp analysis and comprehensive data, Reinhart and Rogoff document that financial fallouts occur in clusters and strike with surprisingly consistent frequency, duration, and ferocity. They examine the patterns of currency crashes, high and hyperinflation, and government defaults on international and domestic debts--as well as the cycles in housing and equity prices, capital flows, unemployment, and government revenues around these crises. While countries do weather their financial storms, Reinhart and Rogoff prove that short memories make it all too easy for crises to recur. An important book that will affect policy discussions for a long time to come, This Time Is Different exposes centuries of financial missteps. Editorial Reviews Economist [E]ssential reading . . . both for its originality and for the sobering patterns of financial behaviour it reveals. New York Times [A] terrific book. -- Andrew Ross Sorkin Washington Post Everyone working on economic policy should own This Time is Different and open it for a bracing blast of sobriety when things seem to be going well. -- Greg Ip Barron's A tour de force of quantitative analysis covering financial crises affecting 66 countries over the past 800 years, the book identifies pre-crisis patterns that recur with eerie consistency. This Time is Different is a must-read for anyone on the lookout for canaries in coal mines. Wall Street Journal [O]ne of the most important economic books of 2009. -- Jon Hilsenrath Harvard Business Review This book's distinctive strength is that it's built around a massive international database going back as far as twelfth-century China and medieval Europe. USA Today Financial folly, economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff show in this groundbreaking book, knows no boundaries and has no expiration date. . . . For a book built around numbers, This Time is Different makes for surprisingly good reading. The authors are well aware that human nature is at the heart of the disasters they document, and they enliven the text with brief and amusing accounts of charlatans and cheats. -- Paul Wiseman Newsweek [A] fine new history of financial debacles. -- Daniel Gross Choice Reinhart and Rogoff have compiled an encyclopedic analysis of the history of financial crises over the last 750 years. But their volume is not merely of historical interest. Rather, it has great relevance for anyone interested in understanding how the current financial crisis is likely to unfold. New Statesman The credit crunch of 2007 became the financial crash of 2008 and the recession of 2009. But there has been much debate about the scale of this crisis, and how it ranks against previous events. Reinhart and Rogoff have produced the most detailed study yet of financial crises, going back as far as 12th-century China. . . . [This Time is Different] will be a vital source of reference in debates on the causes and consequences of financial crises. By cataloguing so thoroughly every known instance of financial crisis, it performs a significant service and opens up new lines of inquiry. -- Andrew Gamble Irish Times [T]his is the kind of economics we desperately need, as it is relevant, fact-based and replete with wisdom from the past--and lessons for the future. Financial Times The four most dangerous words in finance are 'this time is different.' Thanks to this masterpiece by Carmen Reinhart at the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard, no one can doubt this again. . . . The authors have put an immense amount of work into collecting the data financial institutions needed if they were to have any chance of making quantitative risk management work. -- Martin Wolf Globe & Mail [S]uperb. -- Neil Reynolds Harvard Magazine This Time is Different . . . is an unusually powerful bull detector designed to protect investors and taxpayers alike--eventually, at least, and provided the spirit is willing. . . . The book's most memorable passages--what the authors call its 'core life'--are to be found not in colorful stories about long-ago personalities, but rather in its various tables and figures. They take some time to comprehend, but any responsible citizen can and ought to consider they evidence they present. It is overwhelming. -- David Warsh New York Review of Books This Time is Different takes a Sergeant Friday, just-the-facts-ma'am approach: before we start theorizing, let's take a hard look at what history tells us. One side benefit of this approach is that the current book manages to be both extremely useful to professional economists and accessible to the intelligent lay reader. The Reinhart-Rogoff approach has already paid off handsomely in making sense of current events. -- Robin Wells and Paul Krugman Finance & Development Reinhart and Rogoff present a sobering reminder that financial crises are a serial phenomenon--caused in no small part by the seductive 'this-time-is-different syndrome,' the prevalent belief that to us, here and now, old economic laws of motion no longer apply. Their ambitious quantitative history of financial crises draws out sweeping parallels between financial crises, across times and continents; and between inflating away domestic debt, currency debasements, and defaults on external debt. Here's a deep and rewarding assignment for all of you, young and old, poor and rich, bullish and bearish. Retire to a quiet spot with a copy of This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. -- Bob Lenzner National Interest For those who want to relearn the forgotten lessons of the past, This Time is Different, by economics professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, is an excellent place to start. . . . These are lessons worth learning. -- Liaquat Ahamed Bloomberg News Wouldn't it be nice to have $1,000 for every time a pundit proclaims an era of endless prosperity, consigning booms and busts to the dumpster of history? The next time you hear that canard (and you will) pour yourself a single malt and dip into Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff's landmark study, This Time Is Different. Wherever you open the book, you'll find proof that debt-fueled expansions have ended in financial ruin for hundreds of years. . . . The result is a visual history laid out in beguilingly simple graphs and tables, making the book both definitive--a must read for professors and investors--and accessible to a wider audience. -- James Pressley Idaho Statesman [A] valuable new book. Shanghai Daily Having studied mountains of economic data during the past eight centuries, the authors insightfully point out the highly repetitive nature of financial crises resulted from a dangerous mix of hubris, euphoria and amnesia. The American Interest Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff have delivered a powerful and eloquent statement. . . . Reinhart and Rogoff have done an extraordinary job in putting together statistics on government debt--a task that e

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