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Book Review: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
(Reinhart & Rogoff)

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 is no new thing under the sun.”

I am certain that if you a policymaker, a banker, or an emerging markets investor, it is very much worth your time to read this book. The authors are erudite and seem to have compiled a peerless set of data on which to base their analysis and conclusion, much of which is exhaustively summarized in the appendices. So there is an audience for this book, but if you want a readable book with the same conclusion, and don’t need the volumes of data, try classics like “Devil Take The Hindmost” and “Manias, Panics and Crashes.” Or, for something less laser-focused on the financial markets and trading, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds” or even “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind” (though that last one is a pretty hard slog, too).

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Published in Book Reviews Charles Economics Political Economy Social Behavior

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