Author(s): Carmen M. Reinhart
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.
This is quite simply the best empirical investigation of financial crises ever published. Covering hundreds of years and bringing together a dizzying array of data, Reinhart and Rogoff have made a truly heroic contribution to financial history. This single marvelous volume is worth a thousand mathematical models. -- Niall Ferguson, author of "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World" This Time is Different is terrific, for it gives just the perspective we need on the current world economic crisis. People can't expect to understand the current crisis without some in-depth look at past crises. That is exactly what this excellent and timely book provides. -- Robert J. Shiller, author of "Irrational Exuberance" and coauthor of "Animal Spirits" You will be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive and insightful analysis of financial crises. Reinhart and Rogoff's superb book is a must-read for anyone looking to understand past and present crises, as well as navigate those of tomorrow. -- Mohamed El-Erian, author of "When Markets Collide" This Time Is Different is a tremendously exciting, topical, and controversial book on the history of debt and default. This one belongs on everyone's shelf. -- Barry Eichengreen, author of "The European Economy since 1945"
Runner-up for Association of American Publishers/Professional and Scholarly Publishing Awards: Economics 2009.
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 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 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 [E]ssential reading ... both for its originality and for the sobering patterns of financial behaviour it reveals. Economist 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 Financial Times 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] fine new history of financial debacles. -- Daniel Gross Newsweek 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 Bloomberg News 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 economic historians should have done long ago but shied away from because of the difficulties of defining 'government', which is often complex and multi-layered. -- Harold James The American Interest Unlike prior narrative accounts of market panics from such finance writers as Charles Kindleberger and Edward Chancellor, Reinhart and Rogoff give us a data-driven study that is global in sweep but also a model of clarity. The authors package their notably nonhysterical analysis of the latest crisis in a large, self-contained section of the book inviting harried readers to skip right ahead to it. -- Daniel Akst CNNMoney.com 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. Barron's This is certainly one of the must-read books of the year. -- Arnold Kling Econlog.com Rogoff and Reinhart ... provide an eye-opening look at the cycles of boom and bust and how governments deal with those cycles. Arkansas Business [A] valuable new book. Idaho Statesman 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. Shanghai Daily 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 Harvard Magazine 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 USA Today 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 New Statesman [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. Irish Times 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 National Interest 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. Harvard Business Review [S]uperb. -- Neil Reynolds Globe & Mail 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. Choice 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. Finance & Development [A]wesome. -- William Easterly AidWatch One book in particular has been circulating among economists and market insiders. This Time is Different analyzes vast amounts of historical data on financial debacles, including state failures around the world, bank crises, currency woes and high inflation. The title satirizes those who fail to learn from past blunders and repeat them while insisting, 'This time is different.' -- Hideo Tsuchiya Nikkei Weekly
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".
LIST OF TABLES xiii LIST OF FIGURES xvii LIST OF BOXES xxiii PREFACE xxv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xxxvii PREAMBLE: SOME INITIAL INTUITIONS ON FINANCIAL FRAGILITY AND THE FICKLE NATURE OF CONFIDENCE xxxix PART I: Financial Crises: An Operational Primer 1 Chapter 1: Varieties of Crises and Their Dates 3 Crises Defined by Quantitative Thresholds: Inflation, Currency Crashes, and Debasement 4 Crises Defined by Events: Banking Crises and External and Domestic Default 8 Other Key Concepts 14 Chapter 2: Debt Intolerance: The Genesis of Serial Default 21 Debt Thresholds 21 Measuring Vulnerability 25 Clubs and Regions 27 Reflections on Debt Intolerance 29 Chapter 3: A Global Database on Financial Crises with a Long-Term View 34 Prices, Exchange Rates, Currency Debasement, and Real GDP 35 Government Finances and National Accounts 39 Public Debt and Its Composition 40 Global Variables 43 Country Coverage 43 PART II: Sovereign External Debt Crises 49 Chapter 4: A Digression on the Theoretical Underpinnings of Debt Crises 51 Sovereign Lending 54 Illiquidity versus Insolvency 59 Partial Default and Rescheduling 61 Odious Debt 63 Domestic Public Debt 64 Conclusions 67 Chapter 5: Cycles of Sovereign Default on External Debt 68 Recurring Patterns 68 Default and Banking Crises 73 Default and Inflation 75 Global Factors and Cycles of Global External Default 77 The Duration of Default Episodes 81 Chapter 6: External Default through History 86 The Early History of Serial Default: Emerging Europe, 1300-1799 86 Capital Inflows and Default: An "Old World" Story 89 External Sovereign Default after 1800: A Global Picture 89 PART III: The Forgotten History of Domestic Debt and Default 101 Chapter 7: The Stylized Facts of Domestic Debt and Default 103 Domestic and External Debt 103 Maturity, Rates of Return, and Currency Composition 105 Episodes of Domestic Default 110 Some Caveats Regarding Domestic Debt 111 Chapter 8: Domestic Debt: The Missing Link Explaining External Default and High Inflation 119 Understanding the Debt Intolerance Puzzle 119 Domestic Debt on the Eve and in the Aftermath of External Default 123 The Literature on Inflation and the "Inflation Tax" 124 Defining the Tax Base: Domestic Debt or the Monetary Base? 125 The "Temptation to Inflate" Revisited 127 Chapter 9: Domestic and External Default: Which Is Worse? Who Is Senior? 128 Real GDP in the Run-up to and the Aftermath of Debt Defaults 129 Inflation in the Run-up to and the Aftermath of Debt Defaults 129 The Incidence of Default on Debts Owed to External and Domestic Creditors 133 Summary and Discussion of Selected Issues 136 PART IV: Banking Crises, Inflation, and Currency Crashes 139 Chapter 10: Banking Crises 141 A Preamble on the Theory of Banking Crises 143 Banking Crises: An Equal-Opportunity Menace 147 Banking Crises, Capital Mobility, and Financial Liberalization 155 Capital Flow Bonanzas, Credit Cycles, and Asset Prices 157 Overcapacity Bubbles in the Financial Industry? 162 The Fiscal Legacy of Financial Crises Revisited 162 Living with the Wreckage: Some Observations 171 Chapter 11: Default through Debasement: An "Old World Favorite" 174 Chapter 12: Inflation and Modern Currency Crashes 180 An Early History of Inflation Crises 181 Modern Inflation Crises: Regional Comparisons 182 Currency Crashes 189 The Aftermath of High Inflation and Currency Collapses 191 Undoing Domestic Dollarization 193 PART V: The U.S. Subprime Meltdown and the Second Great Contraction 199 Chapter 13: The U.S. Subprime Crisis: An International and Historical Comparison 203 A Global Historical View of the Subprime Crisis and Its Aftermath 204 The This-Time-Is-Different Syndrome and the Run-up to the Subprime Crisis 208 Risks Posed by Sustained U.S. Borrowing from the Rest of the World: The Debate before the Crisis 208 The Episodes of Postwar Bank-Centered Financial Crisis 215 A Comparison of the Subprime Crisis with Past Crises in Advanced Economies 216 Summary 221 Chapter 14: The Aftermath of Financial Crises 223 Historical Episodes Revisited 225 The Downturn after a Crisis: Depth and Duration 226 The Fiscal Legacy of Crises 231 Sovereign Risk 232 Comparisons with Experiences from the First Great Contraction in the 1930s 233 Concluding Remarks 238 Chapter 15: The International Dimensions of the Subprime Crisis: The Results of Contagion or Common Fundamentals? 240 Concepts of Contagion 241 Selected Earlier Episodes 241 Common Fundamentals and the Second Great Contraction 242 Are More Spillovers Under Way? 246 Chapter 16: Composite Measures of Financial Turmoil 248 Developing a Composite Index of Crises: The BCDI Index 249 Defining a Global Financial Crisis 260 The Sequencing of Crises: A Prototype 270 Summary 273 PART VI: What Have We Learned? 275 Chapter 17: Reflections on Early Warnings, Graduation, Policy Responses, and the Foibles of Human Nature 277 On Early Warnings of Crises 278 The Role of International Institutions 281 Graduation 283 Some Observations on Policy Responses 287 The Latest Version of the This-Time-Is-Different Syndrome 290 DATA APPENDIXES 293 A.1. Macroeconomic Time Series 295 A.2. Public Debt 327 A.3. Dates of Banking Crises 344 A.4. Historical Summaries of Banking Crises 348 NOTES 393 REFERENCES 409 NAME INDEX 435 SUBJECT INDEX 443