Popular wisdom once said that real estate was a solid investment – until the bottom fell out in the financial crisis of 2008.
Yet plummeting property values and economic collapse are nothing new in American history, as Alasdair Roberts, Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Policy, reveals in his recent book America's First Great Depression, which describes the burst of an American real estate bubble and the resulting Panic of 1837.
The panic put the young American nation to the test.
Those following the Eurozone upheavals will find parallels in the scenario painted by Roberts, with foreign nations questioning whether America’s leaders would make the highly unpopular spending and tax decisions required to emerge from the crisis.
"One of the big themes here is about America sorting out what the boundaries of liberty are," said Roberts in a Suffolk University Law School podcast recorded before the book's release. "Contemporary readers are going to be startled by the character ... and the depth of the crisis. This was a time when many people in Europe and in the United States as well wondered whether the country itself would survive."
Among the reviews of the book, media mentions and related articles by Roberts are:
•Wall Street Journal, "Early Lessons in Extravagance"
•History News Network,"Washington Weathered a Terrible Economy and Great Power Rivalry Before ... in 1842"
•The Wilson Quarterly, "Is It 1837 All Over Again?"
•Gulf News, "Pawns of the elite"
•Bloomberg, "Lessons for Europe From America’s First Great Depression: Echoes"
•The Boston Globe, "A Precipitous situation, not without precedent"