The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World PDF


The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World [PDF / Epub] ☂ The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World By Niall Ferguson – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot Call it what you like, it matters now than ever In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that financial history is the back story to all historyFrom the banking dyna Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot Call it what Of Money: Epub ß you like, it matters now than ever In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that financial history is the back story to all historyFrom the banking dynasty who funded the Italian Renaissance to the stock market bubble that caused the French Revolution, this is the story of booms and busts as it s never been told beforeWith the world in the grip of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, there s never been a better time The Ascent Kindle - to understand the ascent and descent of money.

  • Paperback
  • 441 pages
  • The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World
  • Niall Ferguson
  • English
  • 19 June 2019
  • 014103548X

About the Author: Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is a senior fellow at the Of Money: Epub ß Hoover Institution at Stanford University, former Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and current senior fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and founder and managing director of advisory firm Greenmantle LLC The author of books, Ferguson is writing a life of Henry Kissinger, the first volume of which Kissinger, The Idealist was published in to critical acclaim The World s Banker The Ascent Kindle - The History of the House of Rothschild won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History Other titles include Civilization The West and the Rest, The Great Degeneration How Institutions Decay and Economies Die and High Financier The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg Ferguson s six part PBS television series, The Ascent of Money A Financial History of the World, based on his best seller, won an International Emmy for best documentary in Civilization was also made into a documentary series Ferguson is a recipient of the Benjamin Ascent Of Money: PDF ↠ Franklin Award for Public Service as well as other honors His most recent book is The Square and the Tower Networks on Power from the Freemasons to Facebook Source.



10 thoughts on “The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World

  1. Riku Sayuj Riku Sayuj says:

    Imperialism The Darwinian Justification Ferguson contends that today s financial world is the result of four millennia of economic evolution It is very important to the aims of this book that this metaphor is accepted Ferguson looks at this evolution of money into the complicated financial ecosystem of today He explores how money mutated into new tools organisms and acquired characteristics that allowed it to meet the needs of its users demands of its environment better The tools that he Imperialism The Darwinian Justification Ferguson contends that today s financial world is the result of four millennia of economic evolution It is very important to the aims of this book that this metaphor is accepted Ferguson looks at this evolution of money into the complicated financial ecosystem of today He explores how money mutated into new tools organisms and acquired characteristics that allowed it to meet the needs of its users demands of its environment better The tools that helped men make evenmoney or harness their own energiesefficiently were selected for as fittest and soon took over the monetary environment.This happened in fits and starts First came the invention of money itself, which is not given much attention to, probably because it is too shrouded in the mists of time and also because the West has no unique claim on it, at any of its stages even theadvanced forms Then it started mutating into its various forms, conquering and occupying various niches according to functionality.And according to Ferguson, the civilizations who had access to these new andefficient tools were hugely benefitted and in many cases were at a decisive advantage, down to our day.The Evolutionary Stages1 BanksMoney, once it allowed quantification of the value of transactions soon led naturally to delayed payments and then to the institutions of lending and borrowing These slowly grew to become banks, clearing houses for ever larger aggregations of borrowing and lending.2 BondsThe rulers and the lords were the biggest customers of the banks In time governments that figured out how to utilize the credit market best thrived and their innovations led to government bonds and securitization of streams of interest payments This matured into full fledged bond markets by the 13th century The rulers had great incentive to protect and regulate this amazing new source of funding This led those governments most dependent on these markets to institute regulated public markets so as to maintain stability and security of transaction, which was in their own best interests Transaction and discovery costs reduced drastically and areas with such markets proved extremely useful to their rulers, who could no raise money for wars mucheffectively Battles were now to be won and lost in the bond markets.3 Stock MarketsBy the seventeenth century, corporations started aping the states, a process that was not limited to only financial matters, and started to raise equity through share markets This could only develop first in areas with already well developed bond markets and public markets and thus gave them a further advantage the advantage derived from the financial tools now extended from wars to trade and industry The West was rising buoyed by its financial innovations, in Ferguson s view.4 InsuranceWith the institutions of bonds and shares prospering, the next step was to use the market to spread risk out insurance funds and then pension funds exploited economies of scale and the laws of averages to provide financial protection against calculable risk The corporations now had another decisive advantage in being able to have access to protection against risk and in a world where financial risk was the biggest danger any advantage there could prove world conquering The accumulation of financial innovations had already tipped the balance for the West and was now on its way to helping them conquer the world.5 Real EstateWith the rise ofinnovative instruments such as futures, options and other derivatives, it was now possible to increase leverage, not only for governments and corporations, but also for individual households With government encouragement they soon increased their leverage and used that to investandin real estate This helped the western countries to have a larger and larger propertied class helping them to transition the into property owning democracies, which, according to Ferguson, are the most robust sort.6 Imperialism and Globalization The Justified CulminationNow we come to the crux of the narrative Economies that combined all these institutional innovations banks, bond markets, stock markets, insurance and property owning democracy performed better over the long run than those that did not, because financial intermediation generally permits aefficient allocation of resources than, say, feudalism or central planning The financial ecosystem evolved in the West was the best suited for governance and for human civilization in general And it is for this reason that the Western financial model tended to spread around the world, first in the guise of imperialism, then in the guise of globalization, and has been vital for all sorts of progress achieved around the world from the advance of science, the spread of law, mankind s escape from the drudgery of subsistence agriculture and the misery of the Malthusian trap.Ferguson has narrated the history of money as a financial evolution and thus given it the air of inevitable complexity and of progress This makes it seem like the adoption of the evolved financial system first by the West and them by the Rest is but a logical and inevitable choice that is for the best of the world at large.It is noteworthy that Ferguson makes a point of using elaborate evolutionary metaphors to project the history of financial institutions in a Darwinian light.Why According to this interpretation, financial history is essentially the result of institutional mutation and natural selection Random drift innovations mutations that are not promoted by natural selection, but just happen and flow innovations mutations that are caused when, say, American practices are adopted by Chinese banks play a part There can also be co evolution , when different financial species work and adapt together like hedge funds and their prime brokersBut market selection is the main driver Financial organisms are in competition with one another for finite resources At certain times and in certain places, certain species may become dominant But innovations by competitor species, or the emergence of altogether new species, prevent any permanent hierarchy or monoculture from emerging Broadly speaking, the law of the survival of the fittest applies Institutions with a selfish gene that is good at self replication and self perpetuation will tend to proliferate and endure.As we can see there are certain key themes here a That the survived institutions have to accepted as fittest under Ferguson s interpretation, andb That selfishness of institutions genes are rewarding for the species humanity in the long run So we should encourage the selfish imperialism of countries the globalization of corporations today These are specious themes that are present in this book with a specific agenda, trying to escape notice by being presented in pseudoscientific light And as we have seen from our discussion of how Ferguson uses the history of finance to show us how Imperialism was a good thing for the rest of the world, we can safely slot this book as another among Ferguson s life long attempts to come up with innovative apologetics for Empire

  2. Michael Michael says:

    Yay for empire Another book from the vaguely centrist right, you know them, those economists and Greek translators and philosophers from the University of Chicago who assisted Pinochet in his fascist coup, won Nobel Prizes, misconstrued Plato to fit their world view I m looking at you, Leo Strauss , and finally, today, when they are primarily involved in teaching a new generation to do the same things.Well, Ferguson perhaps isn t so vehemently rabid about his political beliefs, and he doesn t Yay for empire Another book from the vaguely centrist right, you know them, those economists and Greek translators and philosophers from the University of Chicago who assisted Pinochet in his fascist coup, won Nobel Prizes, misconstrued Plato to fit their world view I m looking at you, Leo Strauss , and finally, today, when they are primarily involved in teaching a new generation to do the same things.Well, Ferguson perhaps isn t so vehemently rabid about his political beliefs, and he doesn t teach in Chicago But he is their counterpart the British free trader Only he has something the Chicago boys don t that very old and very British urge to colonize those who have defaulted on their debts We who are not so verse in financial lingo tend to call this imperialism, a mucheffective imperialism because so incredibly beneficial to those who have the most to gain.Ferguson does a very good job of making economic theory as understandable as possible which means that I understood and could possibly recall about 30% of those unyielding financial terms and theories It s an excellent day when intelligent historians do not stoop to our level to be understood Ferguson makes his point without relying on that pitfall of historical writing making history uncomplicated.And yet, oh, and yet The closest thing to socially adept you re going to get here is the gold standard, which by any standard including its own is a dangerous illusion of stability And don t even think for a minute that Ferguson will even mention the naughty word labor as applied to a working force He does his best to put a pretty, imperial British mask over his rough, working class Scottish face, but for all his talk of bubbles and busts and liquidity and illiquidity and real estate and S L, you have to wonder is it possible that something so vacuous as a number on a screen can define us, politically, culturally, and spiritually It s kind of a scary predicament, and _The Ascent of Money_ not only sets out to prove that this is true, it also aspires to show that Planet Finance is an evolutionary process, almost as evolutionary as evolution itself, with a littleideology thrown in The last chapter Chimerica is one reason to read the book or at least that chapter as it portrays a clear sighted analysis of the US China situation, which is becomingintricate and dangerous each day.It is a minor but slightly important book,about finance than financial history Then again, maybe finance is financial history.I think it s time for some Naomi Klein

  3. Warwick Warwick says:

    Financial institutions are not evil, that s Niall Ferguson s main point For some, this is already a hard sell I am not, as it were, temperamentally against the idea, but I sure seem to read a lot of books by people who are, so I was curious to follow his arguments And I have to admit that for the most part, he makes his case convincingly, arguing that poverty is not the result of rapacious financiers exploiting the poor but rather has muchto do with the lack of financial institutions Financial institutions are not evil, that s Niall Ferguson s main point For some, this is already a hard sell I am not, as it were, temperamentally against the idea, but I sure seem to read a lot of books by people who are, so I was curious to follow his arguments And I have to admit that for the most part, he makes his case convincingly, arguing that poverty is not the result of rapacious financiers exploiting the poor but rather has muchto do with the lack of financial institutions, with the absence of banks, not their presence.I guess this makes sense when I think of some countries I know To flesh out his case, Ferguson goes back to the Middle Ages and, chapter by chapter, takes you through the major milestones in the history of finance the invention of banking in Renaissance Italy, the development of bonds, the emergence of a stock market, the growth of a concept of real estate His point is that a world without money would be worse, much worse, than our present world.I have to my detriment as a journalist and as a solvent member of society an embarrassingly non stick mind when it comes to economic matters Terms like arbitrage or fractional reserve slide off it, leaving no trace Among the stories Ferguson tells is the one about the Scotsman John Law, who initiated one of the classic economic bubbles when having unwisely been put in charge of the economy of Regency France he frenziedly sold off stock in his new Mississippi Company Now this is something I have read about in detail on at least three other occasions over the years Colin Jones wrote about it in his history of 18th century France, The Great Nation then I read Arthur Herman s account of it in The Scottish Enlightenment andrecently Ned Sublette covered it from the American perspective in The World That Made New Orleans I ve now read the story for a fourth time Yet if I sat down to explain my understanding of it, I would probably struggle to fill a smallish postcard.For someone as weak in this area as I am, this book did much better than most in giving me a proper deep context for understanding the world of finance For that I m grateful How much I accept his thesis I m not sure as far as it goes, it s obviously right, but there are things not addressed in here that complicate the picture, which subsequent events have made only too clear.Because unfortunately for Ferguson, the most salient figure in the book is the one found on the inside cover Published 2008 In a cruel twist, the book went to press just as the entire system it was trying to describe came crashing down around everyone s ears A few panicked footnotes at time of writing May 2008 attest to Ferguson s attempt to stay abreast of events, but it was an impossible job from where he was namely, in time to explain the ballooning subprime disaster, but before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the multi trillion dollar bailouts.With this kind of hindsight, any defence of the international finance system, no matter how well intentioned, cannot help but leave a bad taste in the mouth Which is not to say that Ferguson would have approved of what happened, far from it his tone is, on such matters, generally censorious and he writes explicitly against bailouts as a concept Every shock to the financial system must result in casualties His broad principles of financial progress may be just about still standing, but it s starkly apparent that the notion of regulatory oversight which he never mentions is farpressing than a 2008 perspective could allow.Ferguson, turning the old saw on its head, suggests that money is the root of most progress , and this may be so if you take the long view The long view is what this book does best Attempts to turn this into moral arguments about the present, though, only go to show the wisdom of that fine print which warns that a writer s sense of timing like the markets can go down as well as up

  4. Marc Weidenbaum Marc Weidenbaum says:

    The book is titled The Ascent of Money, but it s not about the ascent of money It s about the path of money, with the assumption that from the origin of the book s historical perspective, money has been the bedrock of civilization There s no ascendancy, because there is nothing for it to compete with, in the author s telling What the book really is is a straight history of the above board financial markets, and to that extent it s a useful and largely enjoyable read, covering the move from ba The book is titled The Ascent of Money, but it s not about the ascent of money It s about the path of money, with the assumption that from the origin of the book s historical perspective, money has been the bedrock of civilization There s no ascendancy, because there is nothing for it to compete with, in the author s telling What the book really is is a straight history of the above board financial markets, and to that extent it s a useful and largely enjoyable read, covering the move from barter to coin, and from coin to virtual funds, and from virtual funds to algorithmic trading The author does a wonderful job of jumping across vast time periods to draw comparisons showing how even if technology changes, human nature does not He does a terrible job of telling jokes, which comes across as a sort of nervous habit mostly alliteration, puns, and pop culture references , one that someone close to him should point out to him The absence of under the counter financial markets and their influence on, their substantial part of, the global economy seems like a significant blind spot There are occasional asides to the Mafia, narco states, and the like, and of course when Ponzi schemes come to light they are acknowledged But that s it As such, it s sort of like this if The Ascent of Money were a study of a city, it would only take stock so to speak of the goings on within buildings and institutions, and not of street life In other words, it s not a full picture It s like a Chamber of Commerce picture One other seeming blind spot if I m not mistaken, the author seems to have a disinclination toward companies that are not publicly traded Also I cannot recall reading a non fiction book recently with less of a thesis There is no overarching theme, no consciously enacted perspective, just the steady march of economic history proceeding like a fleshed out timeline I d say most fiction I read hasof a thesis,of a sense of perspective on the world, than this book does To be clear, there is a concluding section in which the correlations between biological evolution and monetary system change is compared But in effect what has happened is that after dropping occasional references to such a metaphor throughout the book, he then tries to tie it all together In other words, the equation to produce this book was write a history of largely western economics at a largely macro level, and then add a final chapter proposing a model, supported only by parenthetical references in the majority of the book A comparison is not a thesis, especially when the comparison feels added on Further, the evolution metaphor is seriously sloppy For a widely traveled professor at Harvard, he has created a loose at best metaphor with a floating subject that changes according to the need of his rhetoric, on a moment by moment, sentence by sentence basis Has money ascended, like man is said to have Has the nature of business Has the market If, as the author states, complex technological innovations haven t actually supplanted earlier modes like barter and loan sharks, then how can the comparison to mankind be made Are we humans surrounded by our own competing ancestors And if in fact this is about an ecological comparison, and not a one on one to mankind, then why not just say so Because comparisons to man allow for the idea of the free market having a rational hive mind sentience Because The Ascent of Man sounds like a better logline than The Ecology of Money It s altogether unclear If after this much effort a book s thesis cannot be plainly stated, then it does not have one What it has is a paper wrapper.And as a side note, I may be mistaken, but the book seems to clarify when an economist is left leaning but not when right leaning And the fact that George Soros and several other figures in finance are Jewish is pointed out, but no other religion is listed with any particular frequency when other major figures are mentioned One final thing There is an anecdote about the film Mary Poppins early in the book that I highly recommend reading I can t do it justice, but in brief the author was invited to speak at a business event, and since the tone of his talk was somewhat negative about the economic short term and midterm, several of the attendees all successful business people complained afterword, essentially taking issue with the presence of a non businessperson, especially one deemed not enough of an optimistic booster One of these complaints stated that they should have ditched him and just shown the movie Mary Poppins The author then takes the opportunity to point out the extent to which Mary Poppins plot rests on the instability of British banks

  5. Trevor Trevor says:

    Life has a habit of proving me wrong Recently I wrote a review of

  6. John Farebrother John Farebrother says:

    This is a very informative, and convincing book, about the history, and the need for money I say that despite the fact that I disagree with the author s conviction that capitalism is one of humanity s greatest achievements, and that the price of progress isthan worth it, no matter who loses out Also despite the fact that I have heard that the author is quite an arrogant individual But this book is a thorough and comprehensive account of the various milestones that have taken place in th This is a very informative, and convincing book, about the history, and the need for money I say that despite the fact that I disagree with the author s conviction that capitalism is one of humanity s greatest achievements, and that the price of progress isthan worth it, no matter who loses out Also despite the fact that I have heard that the author is quite an arrogant individual But this book is a thorough and comprehensive account of the various milestones that have taken place in the history of money Above all it is a celebration of the achievements that have been made possible by money s capacity to leverage and create value a value that some would say is illusory and false But there is no doubt that the modern world as we know it would not exist without the lubricant and stimulant growth hormone money, for better or for worse

  7. Chris Chris says:

    Ferguson is known as an economic historian yet his last few books were almost purely historical, with only brief passages on the economic aspects of historical events Here, Ferguson returns to telling about, well, not so much economics as the evolution of finance First money, then banks, then bonds, then equities, derivatives, insurance, and finally the causes of the recent credit crunch are explained and developed in simple and clear prose Unlike War of the World a mammoth retelling of t Ferguson is known as an economic historian yet his last few books were almost purely historical, with only brief passages on the economic aspects of historical events Here, Ferguson returns to telling about, well, not so much economics as the evolution of finance First money, then banks, then bonds, then equities, derivatives, insurance, and finally the causes of the recent credit crunch are explained and developed in simple and clear prose Unlike War of the World a mammoth retelling of the horror of the 20th century which I felt had an impersonal and rushed air, as though Ferguson had relied too heavily on his massive, globe spanning team of researches from a host of universities , Ascent of Money is Ferguson really dealing with what comes naturally to him, as an expert in both the early modern bond markets, quantitative finance, the inner workings of the House of Rothschild as he should, he wrote the book s on them , the hubris behind Long Term Capital Management, and every other complicated aspect of the markets Also, the endnotes are what really put Ferguson in a class above the rest of the clutter in the NEW IN NONFICTION shelves, because Ferguson really is a world class academic The footnotes reveal the real depth and breath of Ferguson s learning and research everything from the Financial Times, personal correspondences, interviews from Democracy Now , and every major current events book of the last generation, including the new George Soros book which I bought WITH this book Let s get that straight Ferguson had read and referenced a book which is so new it was on the same NEW IN NONFICTION shelf near his

  8. Jan Rice Jan Rice says:

    Contemplating the title of this book, my first thought was that it was by a person of the political left, maybe not the Pope, but an anti capitalist and moralizer on the all around evil of the financial system No, said the person who recommended it to me He s center right So, then I saw the title as deriving from the bad boy mentality of the author, thumbing his nose at such views The author has his own intended reference to The Ascent of Man, a TV series by Jacob Bronowski that impacted Contemplating the title of this book, my first thought was that it was by a person of the political left, maybe not the Pope, but an anti capitalist and moralizer on the all around evil of the financial system No, said the person who recommended it to me He s center right So, then I saw the title as deriving from the bad boy mentality of the author, thumbing his nose at such views The author has his own intended reference to The Ascent of Man, a TV series by Jacob Bronowski that impacted him in his youth But the first two chapter titles, Dreams of Avarice and Of Human Bondage, did nothing to change my impression.Also, this book is based on a television series, which is, in fact, what I originally set out to watch And in the series, the author is strutting around, looking very much like a master of the universe wannabe or, to use the old Salomon Brothers self descriptor that he quotes, a Big Swinging Dick His presentation notwithstanding, Ferguson isn t an economist or financier but a historian and professor Yet the teaching wasn t getting across I must have been looking around online that s when I discovered there is a book.From that first chapter, about the origin of finance, I learned that the root of credit is in credo, the Latin for I believe, and that when Shylock calls Antonio a good man, he means, not his virtue, but his creditworthiness And that the conjoining of goodness with creditworthiness echoed subsequently in the institutionalized racism of red lining in the 1940s, whereby African Americans were deemed uncreditworthy in Chapter Six , and, again, near the end of the book, where the author uses a dollar amount to express what a person would have been worth, had he pursued a certain investment strategy.The author also touchs on the legal fictions required to avoid running afoul of usury laws against the earning of interest laws that remained in effect in England until 1833 Examples are the repaying a loan with the inclusion of a percentage of the gains, or the purchase of streams of annuity if I remember correctly, the latter being one of Voltaire s methods And there s the Medici s rise via finance from small time hoodlums to popes, royalty, and arts patrons Bank is from banci, Italian for benches, on which the earliest bankers banchieri sat behind their tables And how precious metals do not define what money is In fact, the importing of mountains of silver into Europe by the conquistadors changed what had been thought to be the worth of products so much silver poured into the economy that there was inflation.And he talked somewhere about how loans create money You put your money in a bank So you have that much money And the bank lends it to someone else Now that person has that amount of money, too Prestocapital Or,properly speaking, the depositor and the borrower can each take that money and build or make something Although the borrower s position is balanced by debt, still, each has the use of the money.In the afterword, the author defines money as the crystallized relationship between debtor and creditor but isn t that only because he s focusing on finance It seems to me it would bebasic to say it s the crystallized relationship between buyer and seller My husband is gloomily shaking his head while saying he doesn t know enough to comment, so I ve probably gotten onto shaky ground My favorite chapters were Chapter Four, The Return of Risk, and Five, Safe as Houses In the former, I wondered why, at the beginning, he was making statements I expect to hear from the political left, such as that financial difficulties arelikely at present due to climate change and American foreign policy blunders, and quoting Naomi Klein He talked about risk, using as an illustrative case the uninsurability of parts of New Orleans post Katrina He also looked at the problem of inflation in the 70s in a one sided way, it seemed, positing Milton Friedman as the savior and socialism as the enemy At the end of that chapter, he said the answer to the problem of risk lies in futures, options, and hedge funds, albeit an answer available only to those with money And that was his answer to his rhetorical leftist references to risk at the beginning of the chapter.For the rest, there are houses Chapter Five begins with the story of Monopoly the game invented by a radical who wanted to preach against the uses of money, but turned into a glorification of same by a later developer The game became so ubiquitous that it was used in WWII to smuggle real cash to spies behind enemy lines.Ferguson makes clear that, although the owning of homes benefits capitalist democracies, the expression safe as houses applies to the lender, not the buyer The lender can reclaim the property should the borrower default, since you can t pick up your house and abscond with it What the purchaser must have is an income Then, and only then, is he home safe.And, back to the 40s and before, that was when, in the words of a friend of mine, FDR saved capitalism In 1932, in the midst of the Depression, Ford Company goons fired on 5000 demonstrating unemployed workers, killing five, and before long 60,000 workers were singing The Internationale at the funeral The New Deal became answer to such unrest as did the creation of affordable long term mortgages and federal deposit insurance The chapter ends with safe as not houses but housewives, and the merits of microfinance Women stay home, use, not squander, the money, and pay it back Elsewhere I ve read of the similar merits of educating women But even in microfinance exorbitant interest rates have arisen, supposedly as the only way to make money on a multiplicity of tiny loans.Although Safe as Houses presents the risk to capitalism, the author never puts together in a coherent way that classic liberalism, in the sense of absolutely free markets, sans any sort of planning or mitigation of the travails of the masses, would lead to just the sort of uprising he describes as having happened back during the Great Depression The last chapter, Chimerica, deals with the Great Recession of 2007 and the relationship between the U.S and China They save, they lend us lots of money awash in all that money, subprime loans were made to people with no jobs, no assets, and no prospects for which he fingers W Take that, you conservative accusers Apparently no one knew that defaults on subprime mortgages would shake the international economy and affect people half a world away.The author talks about the era of globalization that preceded WWI, characterized by imperialism and gunboat diplomacy, of which one low point must be the forced creation of an opium market in China for the merchandise produced in India under British auspices In light of that, our present status as the drug market for the developing world doesn t seem so wrong Turn and turn about is only fair Ferguson quotes some of the financial elite of the Victorian era that prior era of globalization as saying war would be a disaster, but most of them were saying it couldn t happen the world was just too interconnected Of course, he s comparing that to our own globalized times Then, Britain was paired with Germany as the U.S is with China now But his picture neglects to touch on the pervasive belief that Europe needed war to cleanse or purify itself, that I ve picked up from other sources Markets have short memories Workers in the financial sphere have careers of around 25 years English speaking westerners feel so secure They are lacking in imagination, and they are complacent The author closes with a review of economic thinkers such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan and Daniel Kahneman He s looking here at the hard wired irrationality that calls into question all economic forecasting without the benefit of hindsight, that is.Niall Ferguson s TV series as it was shown in England is available on YouTube There was also a four session NPR showing but we were lucky to end up with the six sessions that matched up with the six chapters The book goes intodetail sometimes confusing, as when terms are defined on the show but not in the book The book tends to contain jargon not readily understandable to the uninitiated sometimes unintentional but sometimes, just maybe, intended to mystify For example he says countries with financial intermediation do better than those with other systems such as feudalism or central planning The latter is a code expression for communism Is the former a code for capitalism The book suffers from the severing of finance and commerce, as they are intertwined and interrelated, and as commerce, as well as finance, started off being in a bad light.This book purports to be, per the subtitle, a financial history of the world, but, if so, only in the sense of the special events and highlights that illustrate the rise, in historical succession, of banks, government bonds, markets for securities, the stock market, insurance and pensions, derivatives, and, finally, the political encouragement of home ownership.It is a history in the sense of a 1926 book I had from my mother and uncle as a child in the 50sThe First Days of Manthat had chapters with such titles as How Mother Nature Made the Earth Ready for Man, The Fish that Got Stuck in the Mud, and The Ape that Walked Like a Man One can fit somepieces into the puzzle, but won t find a comprehensive picture that provides massive new insights.Taking Niall Ferguson at his own word, here s his view of money F ar from being a monster that must be put back in its place, as the German president recently complained, financial markets are like the mirror of mankind, revealing every hour of ever working day the way we value ourselves and the resources of the world around us.It is not the fault of the market if it reflects our blemishes as clearly as our beauty The Ascent of Money was published in 2008, a year into the Great Recession Postscript Are there no other paintings of the exchange of money This book uses on its cover the very same one that is on the cover of The Mind and the Market.Update for October 13 I noticed this article reprinted in my local paper that seems to reflect the author s concept of goodness as creditworthiness

  9. Ci Ci says:

    The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.Cicero 55 BC So what have we learned in 2 Millennia Evidently nothing Ferguson argued that financial markets are like the mirror of mankind, revealing the works of how we function i The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.Cicero 55 BC So what have we learned in 2 Millennia Evidently nothing Ferguson argued that financial markets are like the mirror of mankind, revealing the works of how we function in the world Why can we learn anything from history He told us in his most brilliant segment of the book, the afterwords that there are three reasons 1 financilal market is about future, and future lies in the realm of uncertainty, as opposed to calculable risk risk is measurable, but uncertainty is not.2 because we are human, our behavioral bias generates inherent instability in the system.3 financial markets are analogous to a Darwinian system where institutional mutation and natural selection processes play important parts Things just happen the drift of random mutation and Things are made to happen the flow of the natural section generate unpredictable dynamism in the system.Overall, this is an excellent book with good contents and good writing style

  10. Stephen Stephen says:

    4.0 stars I am a big fan of Niall Ferguson and this book certainly added to my appreciation for both his skill as a writer and his knowledge of history, especially financial history After spending the early portion of the book on the history and development of currency, this book becomes a brief look at the origins and development of the major financial institutions banks, commodity exchanges, hedge funds, insurance companies and categories of assets bonds, stocks, real property, options an 4.0 stars I am a big fan of Niall Ferguson and this book certainly added to my appreciation for both his skill as a writer and his knowledge of history, especially financial history After spending the early portion of the book on the history and development of currency, this book becomes a brief look at the origins and development of the major financial institutions banks, commodity exchanges, hedge funds, insurance companies and categories of assets bonds, stocks, real property, options and derivatives For each of these various categories, Ferguson provides the historical background that led to their development as well as the benefits and problems that came along with each A well researched, well written survey of financial history and an interesting read

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