- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (Oct. 27 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143116177
- ISBN-13: 978-0143116172
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 440 g
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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Even if some terms or ideas were hard to understand, I kept reading and learned a lot. I intend to reread it in the future after some learning of economic and finance principles.
As debt levels continue to rise, nowhere is that quote more relevant than when it comes to financial knowledge.
I struggled financially when I thought I knew and understood money. I was frugal, always invested in my businesses, but in part thanks to a bad marriage still ended up broke. It was brought on by the marriage, but that was not the problem; It was my own lack of financial education. Mr. Ferguson's book was one of the first of many that I picked up to understand the origin of money, and how it works.
Imagine the world of finance as an ocean. There is the ocean and its contents, and then you may choose what kind of financial ship you charter/captain to take yourself to the destination you desire. My first boat was apparently a sinkable wooden boat.
This book is about the ocean of finance, the contents. It is best to start with this because it shows currents and whirlpools. Many of us have fallen in financial traps with leaky boats, or are in ships without sails or rudders, where as others avoid the whirlpools and sail with the currents. (in unsinkable boats)
I don't consider this a 'how to' finance book, but I consider this book a good start to understanding the financial world around you.
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. And he does this through entertaining tales of our economic history, by bringing clarity to the complex, and by sharing a laugh with us in terms of our economic foibles that are tied more to our humanity than to our financial acumen.
Ferguson call financial markets "the mirror of mankind", and as such, the entire financial system is so complex that he describes it as "non-linear, even chaotic." The book is valuable because it brings a bit of order to that chaos or at least an opportunity for greater understanding.
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