Brief History of Doom

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Banner ads on websites don’t normally work on me, but about a week ago, as I was over on ZH, there was an ad for a book called Brief History of Doom which instantly grabbed my attention. Even though I had written a similar book, Panic Prosperity and Progress, you can imagine that any book about financial ruination is going to seize my interest, so I bought it.

I enjoyed the book, and I’d certainly recommend it. I will say that the most enjoyable part of the book for me was the introduction, which ran about the length of a regular chapter. That’s where the author lays out his core arguments. In a nutshell, his main point is that the growth of private debt in a country, particularly when that debt exceeds 150% of GDP, is a reliable (>80%) predictor of financial catastrophe.

The balance of the book details a variety of financial crises around the world, such as Japan in the 1990s, the U.S. in the 1830s, and of course the global financial crisis of 2008. I found myself skimming the book more and more swiftly as I worked through it, since the points were generally the same, even though the specific data was changing.

Still, it is a worthy read.