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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  6,578 ratings  ·  304 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
Hardcover, 460 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Princeton University Press
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Jul 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
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 er
Aug 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
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, ho
Brion O'quigley
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Frank Stein
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Initial impressions: well-explained book. Was considering giving it 4 stars (or higher).

Due diligence: 1 star on account of irregularities in the analysis that appear to be selectively biased. Data matters--this study hasn't replicated well, and while we might be able to give the authors the benefit of the doubt, it is worthwhile to highlight that this due diligence has happened well before now and yet many still give this book 4 or 5 stars without knowledge that a crucial argument of the text h
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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
Margaret Lozano
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Michael O'Brien
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
I proudly finished this in 2 days! which is a highly detailed time series data analysis of defaults, debt crisis and our ignorance of reemerging the crises. as in the book says
“The lesson of history, then, is that even as institutions and policy makers improve, there will always be a temptation to stretch the limits.”

Yet the ability of governments and investors to delude themselves, giving rise to periodic bouts of euphoria that usually end in tears, seems to have remained a constant.
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very good book about sovereign debt and the power that governments have in controlling interest rates and financial repression policies to ensure that citizens' savings end up on the Government's balance sheet under the Debts header.

Domestic debt is a major part of this book. I had absolutely no idea what it meant before, and now I think I understand it enough to actually look at Budget statements from governments and understand what is going on and how "public indebtedness" is really
Jun 22, 2011 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,
Charles Haywood
Mar 28, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
I made a page of notes criticizing the book, so many reviews already who'll read mine.

One thing because it was replicated so often is considering Austria to be the same country for several hundred years.
After WW1, Austria lost about 85% of area and population

They act surprised there was no hyperinflation before 1800.
Hyperinflation isn't caused by clipping coins or printing more paper,
the German author EM Remarque in one of his books tells how business creates IOU's, takes them to the discount
Mario Russo
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
Great book. Obviously doesn't cover the current crash but it makes for an interesting reading for those who "where there" in the 2008's ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
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 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Financial liberalization triggered a series of emerging-market crises: the Latin America debt crisis of the 1980s, the Mexican crisis (1994), the East Asian crises (1997 in Thailand & South Korea & Malaysia & Indonesia & Singapore & the Philippines, the Russian crisis (1998). These episodes were not all the same: in some cases, it was a government debt crisis, in others it was in the private sector. However, they shared some common elements such as: a rapid inflow of international investment tha ...more
Frans Saxén
Jan 24, 2016 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
Andrew Carr
May 23, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jay Roberts, CFP®, CRPC ®
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
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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Carmen M. Reinhart is the Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at Harvard Kennedy School

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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.” 3 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.” 1 likes
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