Richard Vague really really cares about private-sector debt. And he thinks you should too. In A Brief History of Doom: Two Hundred Years of Financial Crises (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), Vague sees the rise and fall of private sector debt as the key factor explaining the cycle of economic crises experienced by developed and major developing economies over the past two centuries. The early stages of a lending cycle look and feel good. Everyone is happy, the lenders think they are smart, the borrowers feel they have everything under control. Then the lenders and borrowers take it to another level, and then another, and then it collapses, time and time again. Where are now? The good news is that debt/GDP levels aren't too bad, but in certain sectors of the economy and certain countries, they are flashing red, brightly. Read the book to find which sectors and countries. Vague makes his data available to researchers at http://www.bankingcrisis.org.
Daniel Peris is Senior Vice President at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh. Trained as a historian of modern Russia, he is the author most recently of Getting Back to Business: Why Modern Portfolio Theory Fails Investors. You can follow him on Twitter @Back2BizBook or at http://www.strategicdividendinvestor.com
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