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Harvard’s Reinhart and Rogoff Say This Time Really Is Different

The professors, whose 2009 book showed that financial crises often follow similar patterns, spoke to us about what's happening in 2020.

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When Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff published their heavyweight history of financial crises in late 2009, the title was ironic. This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly reminded readers that the catastrophic 2008-09 credit crisis was far from unique. The authors became the go-to experts on the history of government defaults, recessions, bank runs, currency sell-offs, and inflationary spikes. Everything seemed to be part of a predictable pattern.

And yet a little more than a decade later, we’re experiencing what appears to be a one-of-a-kind crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has catapulted the world into its deepest recession since the Great Depression, provoking an unprecedented fiscal and monetary response. The International Monetary Fund is already warning that the outlook has deteriorated since it predicted in April that the world economy would shrink 3% this year. To figure out what might be next, Bloomberg Markets spoke to Reinhart, a former deputy director at the IMF who’s now a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Rogoff, a former IMF chief economist who’s now a professor at Harvard. It turns out this time really is different.