- Copertina flessibile: 463 pagine
- Editore: Princeton Univ Pr; Reprint edizione (18 luglio 2011)
- Collana: Princeton University Press
- Lingua: Inglese
- ISBN-10: 0691152640
- ISBN-13: 978-0691152646
- Peso di spedizione: 499 g
- Media recensioni: 3.8 su 5 stelle Visualizza tutte le recensioni (4 recensioni clienti)
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This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly (Inglese) Copertina flessibile – 18 lug 2011
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I would say that her [Carmen Reinhart's] book with Ken Rogoff on debt crises and financial crises is an extraordinary piece of work. -- eral Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking before the House Budget Committee (6/9/2010)
[E]ssential reading . . . both for its originality and for the sobering patterns of financial behaviour it reveals. -- Economist
Reinhart and Rogoff have compiled an impressive database, which covers eight centuries of government debt defaults from around the world. They have also collected statistics on inflation rates from every country where information is available and on banking crises and international capital flows over the past couple of centuries. This lengthy historical study gives what they call a 'panoramic view' of the unending cycle of boom and bust, showing how claims that 'this time is different' are invariably proven wrong. . . . This Time Is Different doesn't simply explain what went wrong in our most recent crisis. This book also provides a roadmap of how things are likely to pan out in the years to come. . . . This Time Is Different is an important addition to the literature of financial history. -- Edward Chancellor, Wall Street Journal
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, Washington Post
[A] terrific book. -- Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times
The authors use copious amounts of data . . . to make the compelling case that any well-informed person should have seen the Great Recession coming. The essence of their book is that while financial crises come in different varieties, they are not mysteriously born of undersea earthquakes, but frequently occurring events that can be spotted and even controlled if politicians and regulators know what to look for. -- Devin Leonard, New York Times
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, New York Review of Books
Professor Rogoff and his longtime collaborator Carmen Reinhart . . . know more about the history of financial crises than anyone alive. The pair have just published their broad survey of financial crises, This Time is Different. In an era when most 'analysts' rely on maybe 30 or 40 years' worth of financial history--and then only that of the U.S.--the authors' knowledge of financial crises and government bond defaults going back to the Spanish empire and before offers a richer perspective. -- Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal
[O]ne of the most important economic books of 2009. -- Jon Hilsenrath, Wall Street Journal
[T]he definitive book on financial crises. -- Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post
Two top-notch economists provide a clear and interesting explanation of why economic crises keep occurring. Broadly speaking, downturns such as the one we are recovering from are historically associated with characteristics that should sound quite familiar to today's investors. -- David Schwartz, Financial Times
[A] masterpiece. -- Martin Wolf, 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 --Andrew Allentuck, National Post
Carmen M. Reinhart is the Dennis Weatherstone Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She was previously professor of economics at the University of Maryland. Kenneth S. Rogoff is the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and professor of economics at Harvard University. He is a frequent commentator for "NPR", the "Wall Street Journal", and the "Financial Times".
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Reinhart and Rogoff go on to conclude that most of these booms end badly. Outcomes include sovereign defaults (government fails to meet payments on its debt), banking crises (heavy investment losses, banking panics), exchange rate crises (Asia, Europe, Latin America in the 1990s), high inflation (a de facto default), and combinations of the preceding (1930s, today).
What did the authors learn from their data digging? Severe financial crises share three characteristics: 1)Declines in real housing prices average 35%, stretched out over six years, while equity prices fall an average 56% over 3.5 years. 2)The unemployment rate rises an average of 7 percentage points during the down phase (average length = four years). Output falls more than 9% over a two-year period. 3)Government debt tends to explode, an average 86% in real terms. The biggest driver of this debt explosion is the collapse in tax revenues; counter-cyclical fiscal policy efforts also contribute, as well as spiking interest rates.
Reinhart and Rogoff also identify what they find to be the best and worst (pronouncements from the Federal Reserve, U.S. Treasury heads, and more than a few 'successful' academics and stock-pickers) early warning indicators of crises. Finally, the authors warn that premature self-congratulations on early successes in correcting a banking crisis may lead to complacency and an even worse state of affairs.
The 'good news' is that Reinhart and Rogoff have provided a detailed and credible accounting of past experiences. The 'bad news' is that despite the authors' scholarly and intense efforts, "This Time is Different" is not likely to sway many minds for two reasons. 1)The book is too much of a scholarly tome to become widely read, and there are too many self-serving 'think-tanks' offering contrarian opinions. Others, more data-driven, will point out that most of "This Time Is Different" is drawn from earlier days and non-U.S. nations, and thus of limited applicability to the U.S. today. 2)Despite recent disproof of claims that government has mastered the economic cycle via Federal Reserve fine-tuning and counter-cyclical government spending, and that 'the old rules of valuation no longer apply,' we're back blowing bubbles. Today's MSNBC headline reads 'New Market Bubble May be Brewing,' the 'Greenspan Put' (government will bail out falling markets, while allowing soaring ones) continues, no action has been taken to rein in Wall Street gambling and unwarranted bonuses, financial institutions believed 'too big to fail' are bigger than ever, and 2010 election pressures will undoubtedly auger for continued easy money, inflating ourselves out of debt, and increased debt at all levels.
The authors say it is "almost comical" that no governments reveal their true financial condition today, nor have they done so in the past. The lack of transparency and the shenanigans that go on behind the curtains contribute, of course, to the human suffering that ensues in crisis after crisis.
One needs to find this book comical if one is not to slip into a permanent depression about the utter failure of national leaders to address shortcomings in national domestic and foreign economic policies in order to avoid systemic crises. No one has, from the 13th century onward, anywhere in the world.
The authors persist in saying that they hope their monumental effort will lead to an examination by policymakers of past mistakes and help them avoid future mistakes. I say, "Good luck with that." In my opinion, this book ranks with the complete works of Shakespeare in illuminating the human condition. Or Bruegel, or Beethoven. It will not bring about change, but it will entertain in a deeply satisfying way.
This book is both fascinating and flawed. Starting with the flaws:
First, the book is mistitled. It covers the last 200 years not the last 800.
Second, their crisis framework is convoluted relative to the crystal clear framework of Charles Kindleberger in Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises (Wiley Investment Classics). The latter leans on the seminal work of Irving Fisher The Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions and Hyman Minsky (the credit cycle exacerbates the business cycle) that the authors completely ignore.
Third, some of their analyses are obfuscating. They baffle the reader on how frequently emerging market countries default with surprisingly low external debt levels. Later, the authors clarify that debt levels are far higher when including domestic debt; then the baffling turns into the self-evident.
Fourth, in Chapter 16, their development of a crisis index measure is weak with no predictive power. The first two graphs capturing this index (ranging from 1 to 5) over the past 100 years have the wrong y-axis (ranging from 0 to 180?) rendering the graph incomprehensible (pg. 253, 254). Two pages later, they use the correct scale (1 - 5).
Fifth, the graph on page 267 denoting the % collapse of exports during the Great Depression has the wrong sign.
Sixth, some of their conclusions are already outdated. They advance that Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Spain are all doing better than in recent years. The book came out in 2009; didn't those countries show signs of fiscal stress? Since 1800, Greece suffered external debt defaults or rescheduling in over 50% of the years.
Seventh, their argument that large Current Account Deficits (CADs) fuel housing bubbles is not supported. When they show the magnitude of the rise in housing prices over 2002 - 2006 for many countries (Fig. 15.1), it is unclear if there are any relationship between high CAD and housing Bubbles. The housing bubble was far greater in many former USSR satellites than anywhere else (unclear if they had high CADs).
Moving on to the ambivalent OK parts:
1) Their early warning indicators of banking and currency crises (Table 17.1) are interesting. They indicate that 12 month changes in real housing and stock prices are good early signals for banking crises. They mention other metrics such as CAD levels. But, those indicators are unsupported by any statistical analysis.
Moving on to the good parts:
1) Their prototype sequencing of crises represents their best work. It shows how a nation can experience in succession financial deregulation, banking crisis, currency crash, inflation spike, and ultimately default. The tipping point is when a government faces an untenable choice between defending its currency (restrictive policies) and shoring up its financial sector (expansive policies). Governments invariably abandon supporting their currency.
2) Their historical data facilitate interesting observations:
2a) Crisis related to sovereign risks are so frequent, you wonder how countries ever manage to raise debt. While developed countries have "graduated" from defaults, they have not from banking crises. Since 1800, the UK, US, and France have experienced 12, 13, and 15 episodes of banking crises. Banking crises have been frequent since the 1980s. Developed countries are prone to banking crises because financial deregulation is a causal factor. In 18 of 26 banking crises observed since 1970, the financial sector had been liberalized within the preceding 5 years.
2b) Post WWII financial crises have been severe. On average, real housing prices decline by 35% over 6 years; stocks crash by 56% over 3.5 years; unemployment rate increases by 7 percentage points; GDP contracts by 9%; and, public debt rises by 86%.
2c) The US Subprime crisis was more severe than any other post WWII financial crisis. Its housing and stock market bubbles were more pronounced. The US CAD as a % of GDP was larger. The downturn in GDP was more severe. The resulting increase in public debt was faster. The ramp up of all mentioned indicators suggested a financial crisis was imminent. The authors remark that if the US had been an emerging market relying on external debt (in foreign currency), the US dollar value would have plummeted and interest rates soared.
3) When the authors move on to the US Subprime crisis, they note how the majority of experts, including Bernanke and Greenspan, were not concerned regarding the rising US Current Account Deficit (CAD) and rising housing prices. These experts stated the CAD and home price increases were associated with a World savings glut resulting from Asian export led economies. Meanwhile others (Rubini, Krugman, and the authors) were concerned about the CAD sustainability (absorbing 2/3d of World savings), housing prices (in real term rose by 92% between 1996 and 2006 or more than 3 x the 27% increase from 1890 to 1996! See graph pg. 207) and the massive increase in US household debt (rose from a norm of 80% of personal income to 130% by 2006).
If you are interested in this subject, I also recommend Raghuram Rajan's Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy [New in Paper].
Also, be prepared for some sobering analysis of the effectiveness of central banks and government policymakers in addressing economic crisis (yes, regrettably, still not very effective even with the benefit of 800 years of history and analysis to draw on). You will learn why This Time is Ultimately Not That Different in so many ways. Carmen Reinhart is a brilliant economist and Ken Rogoff worked at both the Fed and the IMF so they are in a unique position to evaluate the global scope of the 2nd Great Depression in modern history, and it is the very global nature of this event that leads them to conclude that the aftermath with be long-lasting and have profound effects on the global economy for many years to come.
While documenting the fiscal policy response to the Second Great Contraction of 2007, including the massive global government bailouts in the banking sector, Reinhart and Rogoff point out that the size and long-term impact of these measures, while profound, may be dwarfed by the effects on the U.S. national deficit and national debt of reduced Federal tax revenues during the global downturn. With such high levels of debt and limited means to reduce government expenditures to compensate for sharp reductions in tax revenues, the ultimate effect may be a debasing of the U.S. dollar by the Fed, producing a period of increased inflation or stagflation.
The earlier chapters describing periods of hyperinflation, bank and sovereign defaults throughout history are fascinating, leading up to the payoff in the final chapters, in which one can draw one's own conclusions about what course this most recent crisis will take and just as importantly, how policymakers are liable to miscalculate once again. The Federal money-printing presses around the world are in high gear once again, more automated and sophisticated than ancient regal sovereigns clipping coins and extracting gold and silver from the royal coinage to finance their realms.
Proving once again that history doesn't always repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
The book is repetitive, which reflects its origin as a series of independent papers, but which can be viewed as an advantage in that it makes it easier to read (or assign to students) a single chapter, without reading all that has preceded it in the book. The book's great weakness is the terrible design of its numerous time series graphs. Many of these show multiple data series on a single set of axes, with no clear indication of which line represents which data series. I suspect that in whatever software Reinhart and Rogoff used in their original analysis, these lines had different colors, or perhaps one was dashed, but in the rush to publish these details were lost. They can be decoded through a close reading of the accompanying text but, if you can understand a graph only through a close reading of the text describing it, why have a graph at all? Perhaps this will be addressed in later editions.
The book is copiously footnoted, as you would expect for a work of this sort. It's not fun reading but it is authoritative and important. If you're not sure whether or not it will be of interest, google for a copy of one of Reinhart and Rogoff's recent papers on the same topic; several are available freely online. If the paper is interesting to you, the book probably will be too.