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The Subprime Solution:
How Today’s Global Financial Crisis Happened, and What to Do about It
Robert J. Shiller
With a new preface by the author

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format] | Chapter 6: Promise of Financial Democracy [PDF only]


"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."--Daniel 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

"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

"[The Subprime Solution is] a lucid primer on how we slipped into this money pit and what it might take to clamber out of it. . . . Shiller is sometimes called a Cassandra, and his prophesies about the dot-com and housing bubbles did come true. Yet in these pages he sounds more like a visionary optimist who considers today's emergency to be a grand opportunity."--James Pressley, Bloomberg News

" [I]t's an interesting book. . . . [S]hiller convinced me . . . that bailing out banks and borrowers who've been clobbered might be the right thing to do."--Dan Pink,

"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

"What sets Shiller apart--brilliantly apart--from other analysts of the housing bubble are the sharpness of his diagnoses and the creativity of his solutions. These are the core of his excellent new book, The Subprime Solution. . . . [A] brilliant and radical--but not implausible--perspective on putting the Humpty Dumpty that is American finance together again."--Arvind Subramanian,

"In The Subprime Solution, which he wrote just as the system was beginning to implode, he says that what is needed now is the next stage of financial innovation, not constriction. . . .He also sees government intervention as vital to channel animal spirits and innovation. . . .In essence, Shiller is laying the intellectual groundwork for the next financial revolution."--Zachary Karabell, Newsweek

"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

"In his latest work, The Subprime Solution, Shiller explains that greater financial 'democracy' and a 'contagion of ideas' led many to conclude a 'new era' had been reached in real estate. The public expected prices to rise continually. Worse, Shiller wrote: 'The very people responsible for oversight were caught up in the same high expectations for future prices.'. . . Shiller's The Subprime Solution is well worth the read for individuals and private enterprise looking to understand current real estate bubble. It should be required reading for public policy makers who need to take immediate action to solve the subprime crisis."--John Fout,

"Like the financial bubble in technology stocks that exploded in 2000, real estate investors acted on unrealistic assumptions that prices could only go up. In the aftermath, Shiller's recommendation to policy makers is 'Mend It, Don't End It.' He advises regulatory modifications and greater financial disclosure from all players in the complex mortgage-banking process."--Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers

"In [The Subprime Solution], he provides the ignoramuses on Wall Street, asleep-at-the-switch regulators and dumbfounded investors worried about their savings with a stark insight to digest over the last two weeks of summer: 'We as a society do not understand or know how to deal with speculative bubbles.'"--Robert Lenzner,

"In his now-famous 2005 book, Irrational Exuberance, Second Edition, Yale professor and economist Robert Shiller predicted a boom and bust in real estate would have terrifying global ramifications. He was mocked by realtors, but global bank failures and the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have proved him dead on. Now Shiller strikes again with The Subprime Solution, his suggestion for sweeping economic reform to get us out of this mess."--Katie Benner, Fortune

"While initially providing a short and concise understanding of the subprime fiasco, Shiller goes on to investigate the various financial collapses over the years and the history of recent housing arrangements, searching for clues that might inspire a universal remedy to our current predicament. . . . Along the way, the narrative, which skips along without being fussy or intrusive, also emphasises the characteristics, psychology and lifespan of the bubble--be it financial, IT or housing--and how the way we've changed the way we think 'is the deepest cause' of the current variant of the malignancy."--Paul O'Doherty, The Investor

"[Shiller] offers a primer on the history of home prices, roots of subprime lending and a road map of what to do now. The book is at its best when explaining how so few in authority imagined what has come to pass. Shiller says they were filled with same housing boom faith held by the public."--Jim Wasserman, The Sacramento Bee

"In his latest book, The Subprime Solution, he briefly but deftly dissects how easy credit, lack of government oversight and human behavior allowed the subprime bubble to inflate. Shiller's understanding of human behavior is the book's genius, both in the diagnosis and the proposed cures."--Robert Frick, Kiplinger's

"For a closer examination of the crisis, there's The Subprime Solution by Yale University economist Robert J. Shiller, the bestselling author of Irrational Exuberance. In his new book, Shiller focuses more tightly on the stock market bubble of the 1990s and the housing bubble of the last seven years, which led lenders to loosen requirements for loans and resell these questionable loans in the subprime market. He shows how the bubble, when overheated housing prices cooled and asset values fell, burst and led directly to the subprime mortgage crisis that torpedoed the credit markets and with them stock markets worldwide."--Geeta Sharma-Jensen, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"In this slim volume, Shiller not only describes the problem but also places equal emphasis on various proposals to correct it. Rather than viewing the subprime meltdown and credit contraction as a handwringing crisis, he sees it as an opportunity to initiate institutional reforms that will ensure against repeat failures and extend opportunities for home ownership. . . . An important, timely book."--E.L. Whalen, Choice

"Reading Shiller also makes me optimistic. Ever the contrarian, he's convinced that, used properly, the new financial technologies that have such a bad name right now will make us all much better off in the long run. In particular, he's working on ways ordinary folk can get out from under the now standard but truly bizarre investment custom in which most of us sink most of our net worth into a single piece of real estate. What kind of sensible diversification is that? What Shiller proposes is the market-led 'democratization of finance.' Coming from anyone else you'd think it was a scam. But read his book and you'll end up feeling strangely optimistic, despite the enveloping gloom."--William Watson, Montreal Gazette

"The Subprime Solution is an easy read at less than 200 pages. People seeking to understand the cause of the housing bubble, and those wanting to consider short- and long-term solutions would be well-served reading it."--Bill Freehling, Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star

"The book is not so much an analysis of the subprime crisis as an essay that ruminates on the genesis and evolution of financial bubbles in general and housing bubbles in particular. Shiller believes correctly that economists, in their emphasis on rational decision-making, have confused desired outcomes with actual outcomes--and have paid far too little attention to the reality of swings in social sentiments that can move market prices far from sustainable levels."--Richard N. Cooper, Foreign Affairs

"This is an important book from a distinguished academic. . . . The book offers a coherent alternative to policy makers. They should consider its recommendations very seriously."--Shamik Dhar, The Business Economist

"[T]his is an exciting book that is to be read under the current market condition. It provides us some hope of correcting the existing problems, so as to have a brighter future."--Ye Xu, Journal of Property Investment & Finance

"Policymakers, and students of financial history, money and macroeconomics, will find much of value in Shiller's assessment of the subprime debacle."--Oscar T. Brookins, Eastern Economic Journal


"Robert Shiller is two for two in predicting and identifying bubbles that will burst. This book is a must read for anyone predicting future bubbles or charting the course of recovery from our current difficulties."--Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University

"The subprime crisis has visited ruin on thousands of Americans, and it threatens the health of the global economy. In this timely and fascinating book, Robert Shiller, an expert on irrational behavior in financial markets, conducts a postmortem. How could so many smart people have been so wrong? Shiller concludes that unchecked financial innovation works poorly in asset markets, and he describes the institutions needed to prevent future bubbles."--Gregory Clark, author of A Farewell to Alms

"Reading this exciting book is like watching a skilled surgeon at work. The diagnosis of the subprime mortgage mess is biting in its intensity--the best I have seen--and encompasses the human tragedy as well as the economic and financial crisis. The recommended therapy develops logically from Shiller's analysis and is unique in concept as well as powerful in application. The crystal-clear writing style makes his manifesto a pleasure to read."--Peter L. Bernstein, author of Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street and Capital Ideas Evolving

"Robert Shiller is a visionary."--Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

"Rigorous, innovative, and accessible, The Subprime Solution is a wonderful book that will appeal to a wide audience. Robert Shiller is uniquely qualified to analyze the recent unprecedented problems in the mortgage and housing markets, and the way they have spilled over into the wider credit markets. He has again proven his ability to communicate complex ideas and evidence about financial markets."--Diane Coyle, author of The Soulful Science

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File created: 4/24/2017

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