Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Manias, Panics, and Crashes, by Charles P. Kindleberger and Robert Z. Aliber

Kindleberger wrote this book in the 1970s, and updated it a few times before his recent death. Aliber edited it some to reflect the 2008-10 economic crisis.

In some ways, this book was a great history lesson on past economic downturns. In other ways, it was completely uninformative (I now know a lot about the existence of the Mississippi Bubble of 1720 and how it was related to John Law, but as to what the Mississippi Bubble was, or who John Law was, I'm going to have to turn to Wikipedia).

Kindleberger outlines his distinctions between manias, panics, and crashes, and gives a useful model for how hedge debt can become speculative debt. It gave me a framework in which to think about my own finances which I had been missing.

Where things fall apart a bit is in the analysis of modern events. Like with most history books, it's easier to be objective about stuff that is over 100 years old. Kindleberger's most egregious writing was when he throws out an accusation that "most" CNBC financial analysts were profiting from the analysis they were spewing. Not an implausible hypothesis, but there is no footnote with a source or evidence. It's just "common knowledge."

Rating: five out of seven giant inflatable monkeys.

No comments:

Post a Comment