Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The Subprime Solution: How Today's Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do about It

With The Subprime Solution, Robert J. Shiller offers his formula to protect us from repeating such disasters: more financial engineering. It would be easy to sneer at this idea, but Mr. Shiller, an economics professor at Yale University, always deserves a hearing. . . . In what he describes as a 'brief manifesto,' Mr. Shiller argues that bailouts of distressed borrowers are inevitable to avoid wrecking our economy and shredding our social fabric--even though bailouts may punish the prudent (say, through higher taxes) while comforting those who gambled on real estate and lost.
(James R. Hagerty Wall Street Journal )

In The Subprime Solution, [Shiller] briskly sketches out his views on both short-term and long-term strategies for dealing with a housing meltdown that's left millions of Americans a lot less wealthy--and an unfortunate number at risk for losing their homes. . . . The book's most compelling discussion centers on the long-term opportunities that lie in this crisis. Shiller describes how key parts of America's financial system--the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the FDIC, to name only three--were created in the reforms after earlier bank crises or the Great Depression. . . . Shiller suggests that political leaders should look at the current crisis as an opportunity to rethink the homebuying process and add new protections to keep homeowners from getting in over their heads during a future bubble.
(iel McGinn, )

Yale University's Robert Shiller is one of the world's outstanding economic thinkers and intellectual innovators, with a record of foresight that is the envy of his profession. . . . His short, snappy and surprisingly far-reaching book on the subprime crisis is as interesting and indispensible as you would expect. . . . The Subprime Solution is an ambitious little volume. . . . It covers a remarkable amount of ground in less than 200 pages. . . . . [T]he book's broad framing of the issues is novel and valuable, and its arguments are always stimulating. . . . Shiller . . . is an ardent financial-technology optimist, and his book is a torrent of fascinating ideas. Anybody interested in the subject must profit from reading it.
(Clive Crook Financial Times )

Robert J. Shiller explains how trillions of dollars of mortgage debt, based on dubious loans to doubtful borrowers, were forfeited and how it can be fixed. An influential economist, he offers insights into the growth of the credit bubble and solutions for curing the ensuing chaos. . . . Shiller's reputation in economics, his majestic prose style, his statistical proofs and his vast coterie of admirers suggest that at least some of his recommendations will become part of U.S. mortgage regulation. . . . For those who want to figure out how to fix the global credit crisis that has developed as a result of Americans' inability or unwillingness to read their mortgage contracts, The Subprime Solution is vital reading. It is advocacy built on faith that government does good, that intervention never produces unintended results and that there is no other way to fix the mortgage mess.
(Andrew Allentuck The Globe & Mail )

In his new book, The Subprime Solution, the Yale University professor sounds an alarm that the credit crunch, now early in its second year, poses a dire risk. His text is a stimulating, rapid response to current events--and a forceful demand for dramatic action from Washington, where, he says, the White House and Congress have been 'totally inadequate' to the task. . . . [A] storehouse of valuable, provocative ideas awaits the reader of The Subprime Solution.
(Christopher Farrell BusinessWeek )

In The Subprime Solution, he argues that what united the missteps by the Federal Reserve, mortgage brokers, Wall Street bankers, and home buyers that together brought on the current financial mess was a shared belief that house prices never go down. What's the antidote to that kind of mass delusion? Shiller seems to have no interest in substituting his judgment, or the government's, for the market's. Instead, he sees information and innovation as the counter to group think.
(Justin Fox Time )

Robert J. Shiller's clear-eyed look at what happened in the U.S. housing market--and what might be done about it--is not keen to attribute blame to the actors in the drama. He explains that the development of subprime mortgages in the Nineties was welcomed as a way of extending home ownership to those once locked out of the market, and it was not the dishonesty of the mortgage lenders, or the greed of bankers, that led to the bubble. There was dishonesty and greed, but these were the result of the bubble, not its cause.
(Tim Worstall The Telegraph )

American optimism: Is there any investment bubble it can't fuel? Consider the excesses of the housing market, the effects of which are roiling the global economy. As Yale University economist Robert Shiller demonstrates in his short, whip-smart new book The Subprime Solution, there was a contagion at work that helped pushed home prices to unsustainable levels. . . . Shiller's views are grounded in exhaustive research and penetrating analysis. The Subprime Solution should be read by anyone with assets at risk in the global financial crisis and a desire to fix things ahead of the next crisis. Which is to say, all of us.
(Robert Elder Austin American-Statesman )

Robert Shiller's got an argument that will make some peoples' heads explode in his new book The Subprime Solution--we need more speculation in the housing market. . . . I said above that this solution will make some peoples' heads explode, that the solution to an excess of speculation is to create a market in yet more speculation. Yet in this case ti is indeed true, this is a valid solution.
(Tim Worstall The Register )

[The Subprime Solution] is short, punchy and political. Shiller is a top-flight academic economist who has often warned of the tendency of markets towards irrational exuberance, and of the harmful consequences that follow. He is rightly scathing towards the 'boosters' who kept assuring us that house prices only rise, and he gains authority for having spoken out during the boom, when it was an unpopular position to hold. . . . Shiller's debunking of house price myths is masterful. Especially important is his rubbishing of the concept of scarcity . . . Shiller's explanations are sophisticated and intelligent, and they are also admirably clear.
(Michael Savage Fund Strategy )

The Subprime Solution, his postmortem on irrational exuberance in the real estate market, is superb, even for general-interest readers otherwise confused by the whole mess. Though his introduction reads a bit like an arid position paper, his insistence on the fundamentally psychological, rather than economic, basis of the boom is supple and fascinating.
(Andrew Rosenblum New York Observer )

If you're unfamiliar with Robert Shiller then understand that he is perhaps the most eminent and considered examiner of modern investment bubbles. . . . Shiller's new book, The Subprime Solution, is a concise attempt to elaborate in just seven short chapters the genesis of the housing bubble, explode its myths, explore its scale and the dangers of its deepening impact, assert the need to maintain confidence in our economic and financial institutions by aggressive action, and then explore longer-term, more fundamental reforms and innovations that will create a population much more attuned to economic risk.... There are many more recommendations, but if this book has the ambition of Keynes' earlier work, and the scale of the problem is as suggested, I'd argue that the book is as accessible as you are going to get from such a modern behavioural economics guru. It's a book that everyone who lives in a house should own; just don't buy ten and try to rent them out to friends.
(The Knackered Hack )

Buy this book at Amazon...