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Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,704 ratings  ·  161 reviews
The best known and most highly regarded book on financial crises

Financial crises and speculative excess can be traced back to the very beginning of trade and commerce. Since its introduction in 1978, this book has charted and followed this volatile world of financial markets. Charles Kindleberger's brilliant, panoramic history revealed how financial crises follow a nature
Paperback, 4th edition, 304 pages
Published December 4th 2000 by Wiley (first published 1978)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
If you're looking for a colorful, narrative history of financial bubbles, this book is not for you. Kindleberger is bone dry, and his goal is mainly to analyze common features of bubble cycles. Towards that end, he tends to pick a feature, then run through ten or twenty examples of how that feature worked during past bubbles. That leads to a lot of repetition, but by the end of the book, you definitely get a clear sense of how the Minsky model views bubbles. I think that's the reason the book ha ...more
Daniel Clausen
This was the second time reading this book. Honestly, the second time around I found this book to be rather boring. The theme of the book is as timely as ever, and I highly recommend reading something like it if you are interested in manias, panics, crashes (and financial fraud). As with the first time around, I appreciated the lack of bias and the common sense historical approach of the author. But this time around, I found elements of the book problematic.

The first problem is the academic ton
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
This work, I believe, takes first prize for the poorest editing of any recent read; it’s downright bad. While the message is important, the work is so choppy, disorganized and repetitive that it was mighty difficult to finish. I had this vision of someone updating this work at the corner bar, after first downing two or three pints of quality ale. Oh, for the poor student that finds this volume required reading. I’d be interested to see how the seventh edition compares to the first.

I feel a brief
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: finance
Was a bit disappointing,
most of the book is about events that happened more than 100 years ago,
short coverage of the last 80 years.

The book reads like 10 different people wrote parts of it
and didn't know what others were writing.

Some events are covered multiple times,
the south sea bubble has 16 entries, often saying the same thing.

Treasury sec Paulson was called Mr. Bailout in 2 separate parts that read the same.

I totally disagree that Lehmann bro should have been bailed out.
They piled on billio
Lewis Johnson
Kindleberger's "Manias, Panics and Crashes" is a must read for anyone active in the markets. If you want to learn how to identify downcycles early, and to understand their progression and eventual end, look no further than Kindleberger's work.

While other worthy tomes, such as "History of Financial Disasters in 3 Volumes" cover much of the same material, the original organization of Kindleberger's work is what commends it. He disentangles the narrative of many financial disasters into their compo
Brad Pendleton
Feb 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
Highly disappointing read. I read the book based on its reputation as the definitive work on extreme economic valuations.

I found a disconcertingly disjointed presentation. The book reads like a random sampling of the author's thoughts. There was not a linear/cohesive presentation of any of the historical bubbles.
Nick Klagge
Nov 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics
This is a classic book in the financial world, but I was somewhat disappointed with it. Kindleberger uses Hyman Minsky's "anatomy" of financial crises to discuss commonalities between a number of different financial panics from different countries at different times in history. I had been hoping for more of a straightforward narrative description of each crisis, many of which, after all, occurred in unfamiliar settings. But in fact, Kindleberger uses the generic "crisis anatomy" as the structure ...more
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, economics
This book was referred to by another book I've been reading. This copy as gifted to me by my alma mater at an event where Professor Aliber, the co-author of this edition, spoke.

One of the most dense and therefore challenging books I've read. Every paragraph is jammed with facts. I think the book would be better if it had a few graphs and ignored corruption. There's plenty to digest here without getting into Ponzi, Madoff, or Enron. I also think some more perspective on why credit bubbles get in
I think it would have been a lot more fun to sit down and talk with Kindleberger about his theories than to read this book. He clearly knew a lot on the subject, and I generally agreed with his ideas, but I found the way the book was organized hard to follow. A case of, "I'd have done it differently if I was writing it." ...more
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are countless opinions about whether it's preferable to have a top-down or a bottom-up approach to investing. Typical value investors embrace the bottom-up approach where they mainly look at company fundamentals while others have a more open approach of considering factors as the business cycle and various macro factors. The top-down investor risks falling into the trap of predicting the unpredictable and the bottom-up approach got criticism after the financial crisis which hurt many value ...more
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by an eminent economic historian, this book outlines what I believe is the standard view of bubbles, crashes and financial panics -- three closely related but not identical topics. The author's account goes something like this:

From time to time the price of some class of assets starts to rise and people get excited. Often there is some good reason for this -- railroads, canals, tech companies and so forth are real productive assets and people realize at some point that they have been pre
Dale Johnson
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read the 1st edition written in 1977, published 1978. I understand that the book has been updated in later editions, the 6th written in 2006. It was written during the height of the California housing bubble which saw Bay-area studio apartment rent go as high as $1000 per month when 3-bedroom home mortgages elsewhere were running in the $400-$500 range. It is an eerie foreshadowing of the true mania that seized the country in 2004 when the government communicated its intent to effectively free ...more
Henrik Haapala
”The last 400 years have been replete with financial crises, which often followed increases in the supplies of credit, greater investor optimism, and more rapid economic growth.”

“There have been 4 waves of banking crises; a large number of lenders in 3,4, or more countries collapsed at about the same time as the prices of real estate and securities in these countries and the prices of their currencies fell sharply. Each country that experienced a banking crisis also had a recession as household
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There have been many attempts to explain the GFC – greed, irrational behaviours, bell curve, derivatives, excessive leverage, failures by rating agencies, regulatory failure, etc, which all can be groups as a demand side shock.
This book artfully presents (or had presented) another factor, excess capital floating around in the world built by the current account surpluses from the economic imbalance since 60’s. This is more of a supply side shock, which no one has control over after the collapse
Ernie Lavagetto
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is not the easiest book to read without some prior knowledge of economic history. That said it is probably the most complete book on the history and causes of economic upheavals from the 17th century to 2010 available to the non-economist.

In particular the authors have identified what they call the 4 waves of international financial disaster in the last 40 years. Perhaps the most striking conclusion one can draw from their study is how similar the causes of each wave has been. If you take t
Jan 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
A good introductory book to the history of financial cycles, but only for people with some background in economics.
I didn't like the style. Many times it felt like an endless list of historical examples that illustrate an idea. The idea that financial crises across the world are connected is repeated ad nauseam. Lehman Brothers didn't deserve its own chapter.
It doesn't read as a treatise on the economics causes and consequences of financial cycles, panics, etc., and it doesn't read as an econom
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
The 2000 edition reads like a playbook for the collapse and bailout of of 2008. Both the descriptions and proscriptions of this book, especially its focus on the lender of last resort, seem to be amazingly prescient though it probably just that this iconic text was on the bookshelf of every major player in the fed at the time.
The book is not written for a general audience and some of the econ jargon gave me trouble as a non-specialist but it's not insurmountable. It is a historical and non-quan
Jim Angstadt
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Bailed early; just could not get into the topic, and the sentence structure and phrasing felt odd.

keywords: bubble finance recession
Adam McNamara
Nov 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, economics
Important material delivered in a dry, difficult to follow narrative.
May 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting book, I would have been able to appreciate it more if I had a better grounding in economic and monetary theory
Alexander Paul
Reads like a textbook at times and also has a confusing timeline as it often jumps back and forth between economic catastrophes throughout global history.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The conclusion is: Lender of the last resort is indeed helpful in panics and crises.
This book tells you all the ways banks fall - surely useful for the coming years!
Rob Price
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Touted as a must read for anyone with an interest in global macro investing, I probably had too higher expectations. It’s filled with quality financial history, which should provide useful references against which to compare current events. Kindleberger, like his teacher Minsky, were students of credit cycles and the flow of global capital. I enjoyed the way in which he sketched the linkages between the financial crises of the last 50 years. From the inflationary 70s and the oil price shock of t ...more
Tasos Manouras
Jul 30, 2020 rated it liked it
OMG I am finally done.

Have never read a book that galvanizes its title to your soul as much as this has.

Neverending examples that seem to be repeating themselves over and over, transcending time, culture, political beliefs and geography.

More often than enough, the examples, well researched as they might be, seem to be portraying only parts of the problem. Conclusions are easy to be drawn when an event has passed and been thoroughly documented.

Was expecting more conclusions as to what awaits
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
The conclusion is very sharply summarized in the introduction and for me was 80% of what i will take away.
This book would have been easier to follow if i had more awareness of the economic history is goes over.
Overall this book is very dry.

Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
very complete book about the topic but a bit heavy and at times obscure for the layman
Void lon iXaarii
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
The data in this book is very rich indeed, but the read was however rather confusing, in my opinion because of the way the author keeps jumping through history and countries without establishing contexts or a timeline for reasons which seemed to me to be meant to justify categories and groupings that to me seemed not very obvious or at least only useful with the perfect 20/20 hindsight vision of the past.

As to his conclusions I have read different views by other authors on some of the panics me
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Anyone who picks up this book hoping it may help make sense of what's going on in the world and the economy would be bitterly disappointed. Majority of the text reads as one long list of historic events that author doesn't even recount, but simply refers to. If you haven't read extensively on the history of the events in question it probably would make very little sense and a rather tedious reading. Moreover, any trace of analysis, opinion and conclusions postponed till the very last chapter and ...more
Jenn M
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book first as an economics student in my undergraduate college course of study. It was read back then as a means to achieving a passing grade on a section test in the economics class. I recently had cause to re-read this book, and was surprised to be able to observe the connections between historical financial crises and economic events in our current economy. With all of the talk about stock market manipulation, derivative fraud, and the imminent collapse of the global economic s ...more
May Ling
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
This book gives a broad attempts to draw some lessons from the variety of manias, panics, and crashes that have occurred throughout history. I personally believe that one must read a bit more about each of these historical events first to really appreciate what the author is attempting to convey. However, if one is looking for a general overview, this is a good piece. I applaud the author for adding updates to the book post its first writing keeping his basic thesis current even in today's envir ...more
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73 likes · 21 comments
“This book is an essay in what is derogatorily called "literary economics," as opposed to mathematical economics, econometrics, or (embracing them both) the "new economic history." A man does what he can, and in the more elegant - one is tempted to say "fancier" - techniques I am, as one who received his formation in the 1930s, untutored. A colleague has offered to provide a mathematical model to decorate the work. It might be useful to some readers, but not to me. Catastrophe mathematics, dealing with such events as falling off a height, is a new branch of the discipline, I am told, which has yet to demonstrate its rigor or usefulness. I had better wait. Econometricians among my friends tell me that rare events such as panics cannot be dealt with by the normal techniques of regression, but have to be introduced exogenously as "dummy variables." The real choice open to me was whether to follow relatively simple statistical procedures, with an abundance of charts and tables, or not. In the event, I decided against it. For those who yearn for numbers, standard series on bank reserves, foreign trade, commodity prices, money supply, security prices, rate of interest, and the like are fairly readily available in the historical statistics.” 5 likes
“Money is a public good; as such, it lends itself to private exploitation.” 3 likes
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