The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World Paperback – Oct 27 2009
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" Before regulators throw block trades, bond swaps, bridge financing, butterfly spreads and Black-Scholes out with the bathwater, they should find time to read Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money."
-The Wall Street Journal
"[An] excellent, just in time guide to the history of finance and financial crisis."
-The Washington Post
" Shrewdly anticipates many aspects of the current financial crisis, which has toppled banks, precipitated gigantic government bailouts and upended global markets."
-Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
About the Author
Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. The bestselling author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, and Colossus, he also writes regularly for newspapers and magazines all over the world. Since 2003 he has written and presented three highly successful television documentary series for British television: Empire, American Colossus, and, most recently, The War of the World.
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In his foreward he explains, "As I completed my research for this book in the early months of 2008, it was already a distinct possibility that the US economy might suffer a recession. Was this because American companies had gotten worse at designing new products? Had the pace of technological innovation suddenly slackened? No. The proximate cause of the economic uncertainty of 2008 was financial: to be precise, a spasm in the credit markets caused by mounting defaults on a species of debt known euphemistically as subprime mortgages." He provides entertaining (yet scary) observations of the "ubiquity and proximity of both easy credit and easy bankruptcy" in the US.
The book is divided into money and banking, bond and stock markets, insurance, and property. It is highly readable and would be a great substitute to the dry tomes that are often used in secondary and post-secondary economics and finance classes (the accompanying DVD would make another great teaching aid). Ferguson makes a strong argument for his central thesis: "the ascent of money has been essential to the ascent of man" and that we humans are largely woefully ignorant of finance.Read more ›
Ferguson's primary purpose for the book is by using economic history to help explain the complexities of modern financial institutions. Why, might you ask is this important? Because the average person knows little to nothing about such simple financial facts such as the interest rate charged by their credit card. Never before, in this globalized, highly coupled world that we live in today, has financial knowledge and a fundamental understanding of financial institutions been more important than it is today. Everyone is affected by world markets, interest rates, and inflation one way or another.
Some reviewers have critiqued the book for its lack of historical breadth, and to some extent I would agree. However, the book is already 350+ pages, and more historical examples would dilute Ferguson's arguments. As ambitious as it is to try to explain such a complicated subject, Ferguson is mostly on the mark. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about the history of finance.
The root of all evil is Man, not Money. This is made amply clear by Ferguson with case histories of fraudulent behavior bringing enormous rewards and little in the way of punishment. The overwhelming response to this book is a disgust and hatred for Western Capitalism and the Free Market economy on which it is based.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The content is great but the organization of the material is just bizarre. It's hard to follow along because it's just anecdote after anecdote sometimes without any context on the... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is a good read. The origins of money, bonds, stocks, formation of a company etc. is explained and are linked to modern day. Read morePublished 3 months ago by James Lythgoe
I've purchased several books from the Book Depository and I'm never disappointed. So, thanks ... I'll enjoy reading this book.Published 3 months ago by Lee
This thoroughly entertaining and informative ride through the history of money is well worth the time. And you probably won't even notice the time fly by as you read this. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Rodge
I bought this book for my father who enjoys history books, particularly financial history and the rise and fall of great mercantile empires. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Joe
This book would be an ideal high school text for a course in finance. We are graduating students woefully inadequately prepared to deal with the modern financial world, as no... Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2013 by Robert C Gunn
Great book. Huge jump into the history of money and all the corruption that has come with it. Great book highyl recommend.Published on April 10 2013 by Danny