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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  4,600 Ratings  ·  226 Reviews
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 breakthr ...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published September 11th 2009 by Princeton University Press (first published September 1st 2009)
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OMFG!! This was originally four stars. I was super-impressed by the fact that their conclusions were supported by data underlying the research. Guess what? That was NOT the case! When they finally agreed to release their data sets and other economists tried to replicate their results with their data, they found the following:
We replicate Reinhart and Rogoff and find that coding errors, selective exclusion of available data, and unconventional weighting of summary statistics lead to serious erro
Aug 11, 2010 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book’s an A- graduate paper glorified into 400+ pages. It has impressive academic rigor, an appendices & reference list as long as the body, and charts galore. Unfortunately it’s written as blandly as Ben Stein speaks. I was jazzed to find this at the library, but let down.

Mercifully, in the preface the authors tell us that the book is organized so you can skip to the last 4 chapters if you‘re interested only with “The Second Great Contraction” which began in the US late 2007. They warn
Frank Stein
Dec 06, 2011 Frank Stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As almost everyone who reviews this book mentions, this is truly an impressive piece of work. The authors, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, have assembled an amazing history of government defaults, hyperinflations, banking crises, and currency crises for the past 800 years in dozens of countries spanning the globe. They didn't, understandably, compile a narrative of these hundreds of independent events, but coded them into a massive statistical database with which they could compare the relat ...more
Brion O'quigley
Jun 13, 2014 Brion O'quigley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another reviewer pointed out that some of the analysis in the book is based on faulty data. Be that as it may, the book still provides generic findings about the financial cycle that are still valid. It is a cogent analysis of hundreds of years of financials crises. Contrary to what the Fed continuously repeats, it is possible to predict financial cycles and this book proves it by examining how bubbles have burst since the invention of money. It provides an excellent explanation of the predictab ...more
Mar 29, 2010 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the current darling of the financial set, and I understand it has become required reading by economists, bankers, policy-makers and the more thoughtful financial pundits alike. That’s a rare feat. The book assembles a vast data set on financial crises, from many countries both developed and emerging, and reduces it to a mass of charts and graphs along with text. The title, as you might guess, refers to the fact that “this time is different” always turn out to be famous last words – ...more
Aug 21, 2011 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: economists, statisticians, professional investors
It might be unfair for me to rate this book (giving it 2 stars). My rating is subjective. This isn't the book I was looking for, and that isn't the authors' fault. So please view my rating with that in mind.

This book is clearly aimed at an academic or professional economic audience. The book is chock full of tables and graphs. The amount and quality of data is impressive.

As for the writing style, Alan Greenspan would be proud. Here is a typical sentence (pp 192-3): "Interpreting the (uncondition
Dec 05, 2009 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: markets
The thesis of this book is important, but I cannot say it is worth actually "reading" very closely -- The gist can be extracted in a short time -- and the charts/data scanned. Only time will tell whether the authors' fears are to be realized...

There's an old market adage that bears almost ALWAYS have the better argument; but that bulls, when the day is done, are most often right.... Of course, being bullish today is a relative concept. As Doug Henwood says, "flat is the new up".

This book, to my
Jun 22, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this is one of the few books I tried to finish but couldn't.
First I downloaded it from However, this book has a ton of graphs and tables. The reader of the audiobook frequently makes statements like "As can be seen from table 2.2..." The listener is unable to "see" table 2.2 as no tables or illustrations are provided either with the download or on the internet. So that's frustrating. Then I checked the book out in hardcopy from the library so as to be able to see the tables,
Don't curl up by the fire intending to read this book.

For most people reading this book would be a real slog. It is dense and full of charts and tables. However, picking it up, opening it to an interesting looking chapter and examining the tables and charts can be very engaging. If you get bogged down, don't give up. Pick it up from time to time and read a section. You'll learn a lot about finance.

While I did not read the whole book I got some good pointers from it. One is that there was never a
Jun 22, 2013 linhtalinhtinh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was about to say unratable. Not because this book is a classic, nor because it is too scholarly for me to apprehend. The reason is that I feel like it is too much like a draft. The book is full of graphs, boxes, tables, albeit with quite detailed descriptions and brief explanations. Put in another way, I feel like it is a preliminary analysis, where you throw out all raw materials you have, graphs, summaries, descriptives, and only with a very rough idea of what you are going to say. This time ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are two ways of looking at this book; one is as a huge collection of data provided in charts and tables and figures; the other is as a series of examples about how “this time is rarely different”.

The first couple of chapters, defining their types of crises and data sources, are tedious and boring, which they recognize, and tell the reader they may want to just skip ahead to the good bits. Even the good bits are hardly exciting; if you dislike tables and charts and figures, you will definit
May 23, 2014 Liam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poyais -- fictional Latin American country issues sovereign debt in the 1820s debt boom (93)

"Recognizing the significance of domestic debt can go a long way toward resolving the puzzle of why many countries default on (or restructure) their external debts at seemingly low debt thresholds. In fact, when previously ignored domestic debt obligations are taken into account, fiscal duress at the time of default is often revealed to be quite severe." (119)

"The incidence of banking crises proves to be
Susan Steed
Apr 12, 2016 Susan Steed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The central premise of the book is that people always go 'this time is different yadda yadda' about an economic boom but they are wrong and there are common features to all the financial crises over the last 8 centuries.
However, they actually managed to really convince me that, the 2008 financial crisis really *was* different.

So, unlike pretty much every other financial crisis they look at, after 2008, the US (which was the epicentre of the sub-prime-shit-storm actually) had a currency appreci
John Esterly
This book was a bit overwhelming in its nature. The authors start by saying that casual readers may want to skip the bulk of the book, starting on chapter twelve, which begins the analysis of the recent economic crisis of 2007. I would second this statement - the first eleven chapters dig deep into historical data, data analysis, and data collection process and theory. If you do not have a specific interest in these subjects, the authors package the last section of the book as a more or less sta ...more
Jan 18, 2016 Balhau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book, full of data and respective macro economic interpretation. The last words of the book resume it all

"This time may seem different, but all too often a deeper look shows it is not. Encouragingly, history does point to warning signs that policy makers can look at to assess risk—if only they do not become too drunk with their credit bubble–fueled success and say, as their predecessors have for centuries, “This time is different" "

This piece of work is a detailed anal
Unfortunately, this book is nearly unreadable. Oh, I’m sure it’s readable if you’re a professional or academic economist. But for the casual reader, even one with a pretty good background knowledge of economics, it’s mostly an endless series of highly technical, loosely related charts, graphs and conclusions. All this to agree with the writer of Ecclesiastes, 2500 years ago, that “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there i ...more
Ju-hyun Kim
Feb 22, 2015 Ju-hyun Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good sequel of kindleberger's manias, panics and crahes: a history of financial crises.

이책은 금융위기를 다루는 책이다. <광기, 패닉, 붕괴. 금융위기의 역사> 라는 명저의 계보를 잇는 책인데, 이는 로고프 교수가 킨들버거 교수의 제자이기 때문이기도 하다. 이 책과는 달리 800년간의 데이터를 분석하여 금융위기에 대한 일반적인 설명을 하는 것이 이책의 가장 큰 메시지이다.

800년에 걸친 데이터를 분석하는 것은 어려운 일이었겠지만, 책에는 간결한 도표로 나타난다. 그 결과 "이번엔 다르다"라고 금융위기 직전에 통상 이야기 하다가, 막상 금융위기가 발생하곤 하는 상황이 반복된다는 것이 저자들의 이야기이다.

국가부채와 기업의 부채의 차이점을 이야기 하다가, 국가부채는 상환능력 만큼이나 상환의지가 중요하다는 설명을 하면서, 그런 상황을 이해하지 못하고 겨울에도 전기와 유류공급을 끊고 외채 상환을 결정한 1980년
Nov 17, 2009 E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sobering study of fiscal failures

Every so often, experts sucker people into bidding up the prices of stocks or real estate because they announce that the economy has fundamentally changed. As the aftermath of the real estate bubble illustrates, the basics of economics don’t really change, no matter what fantasies people come to believe. Economics professors Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff present a thorough historical and statistical tour of financial hubris through the centuries, a po
Frans Saxén
Jan 27, 2016 Frans Saxén rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This time is different is a thorough description of various financial crisis that have occurred during the last eight centuries (!). Reading the book gave me insights into how non-surprising the various crisis really should be. Every time people will convince themselves that old economic regularities have stopped applying due to increased sophistication, and every time it ends in tears. Gordon Brown's reflection in early 2007, on the eve of the financial crisis that, "we will never return to the ...more
Dec 04, 2014 Flipniesten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Onderzoek naar de oorzaken van de financiele crises door de eeuwen heen. Het gemeenschappelijke kenmerk van de crises is dat men altijd, voorafgaand aan de crisis, denkt dat de financieel economische omstandigheden geheel verschillen. Weliswaar spelen er altijd een veelheid van oorzaken een rol bij een crisis maar een van de gemeenschappelijke factoren volgens dit onderzoek is dat een crisis altijd vooraf gegaan wordt door het afschaffen van wetten/regels die de financiele of andere bedrijven mo ...more
Oct 25, 2015 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book could have been a really interesting history and discussion of previous financial crises and their causes. Instead, it gets really into charts, tables, and data, but does not do a very good job at summarizing their overall significance ---- it reads like the graduate dissertations you find in college libraries -- or in academic journals that almost no one bothers to read.

That, by itself, is not the major problem. The major problem with this book is that, after wading through all this
Andrew Carr
Interesting, and important but pretty dry. I would recommend for all those who say Australia's debt 'doesn't matter'. This book shows that even if we are comparatively much better off than most countries, and have a comparatively low debt to GDP, that it still makes wise financial sense to move towards a low debt status. Indeed, the fact we are doing so much better is all the more reason to keep our noses extra clean.

This book had the exquisite timing of coming out during the GFC, but was not w
Aug 17, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This time is never different: after any prolonged period of financial calm, policy makers and their advisers either forget history or invent reasons to believe that historical experience is irrelevant so the cycle of overvalued assets, huge trade imbalances and rapid acquisition of debt begins with the cheerleaders in academia and the business community telling each other (and everyone else) that this time the old valuation rules don't apply; we are smarter, have better systems and have learned ...more
Jay Roberts
Mar 01, 2016 Jay Roberts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most important book that no one will ever read. The data provided is enormous, and presented in a manner that only economists would truly grasp. I know of few people that could fully process the information provided in the work, myself included at times. However, the information is sobering and necessary. Nothing in our current economic situation is new, and this work proves the point that this time is not different. People can attempt to read into this work and slant that data anywa ...more
Apr 11, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Reads is so unbelievable clunky. It took about six attempts for it to recognize this book. Anyway this is an excellent history of financial booms and busts. Not as good as Kindlebergers classic on the same subject but more up to data and based on a more comprehensive data base. Analytically sound though sometimes a little ideological/free market wise but this does not detract from its basic message: during financial booms, this time is never different and there is a bust coming. I remember ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's data. Hooray data!

The authors aren't trying to write a book for a wide audience. It's mathematical and dry; that's the point. I hold a Bachelor's degree in Economics from a top-25 university--my coursework included International Finance and Econometrics--and I still found this book difficult. It's worth it if you are interested in economics and you don't get nervous when the authors don't apologize for being experts. A relatively simple passage from this book is something like, "A country c
Margaret Lozano
I gave this 2 stars, in spite of the fact that the authors played fast and lose with their data. Not that it's any excuse, but I doubt that many studies would stand up to such careful scrutiny.

There's a lot of great information, and it's definitely a comprehensive examination of debt and default, even if they played with their numbers.

Ultimately, the authors fudged their data to make their conclusions seem more compelling. I would argue that any economist that tells you there's a 90% chance of
Rogier Potter van loon
The book is written in a rather boring and technical manner, as if it were an academic article. This would be okay, if it weren't for the fact that everything that's shown is descriptive statistics. Every other page seems to mention how they have this 'unique new big dataset' and how this allows for new insights and analyses, but these analyses are never shown. The book is really just one big description of their dataset. Nowhere in the book is there a convincing case, for example, that the 'Thi ...more
J.K. George
Aug 06, 2016 J.K. George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books
This is a classic and should be required reading for anyone who is interested in public policy regarding financial regulation and government oversight. For anyone to say that the U.S. should be on the gold standard, or that we should not have done the stimulus program in 2008-the present is simply uninformed or stupid. Fortunately, the Fed did the right thing. This book has 800 years of data to back it up.
Jan 30, 2016 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Very dense financial information about how governments get themselves into financial trouble. The main message of the book is that it's nothing new. No matter how new it may seem, no matter how many time the experts say, "Yeah, but, this time it's different." The lesson of history is that no, it's not different. These financial troubles occur for the same reasons time and time again. Even if financial collapse can't be predicted, it can be counted on. It is a constant.
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“More money has been lost because of four words than at the point of a gun. Those words are ‘This time is different.” 0 likes
“These findings on capital flow bonanzas are also consistent with other identified empirical regularities surrounding credit cycles. Mendoza and Terrones, who examine credit cycles in both advanced and emerging market economies using a very different approach from that just discussed, find that credit booms in emerging market economies are often preceded by surges in capital inflows. They also conclude that, although not all credit booms end in financial crisis, most emerging market crises were preceded by credit booms.” 0 likes
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