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The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

Written by Niall Ferguson

Narrated by Simon Prebble


The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World

Written by Niall Ferguson

Narrated by Simon Prebble

ratings:
4.5/5 (109 ratings)
Length:
11 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 22, 2008
ISBN:
9781400180332
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

An informative jaunt…

An entertaining, informative jaunt through the history of money, from its inception to the Great Recession. In this time of accelerated globalization, Ferguson’s work is a necessary guide through the economic basics.

Description

Bread, cash, dough, loot, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: Call it what you like, it matters. To Christians, love of it is the root of all evil. To generals, it's the sinews of war. To revolutionaries, it's the chains of labor. But in The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is, in fact, the foundation of human progress. What's more, he reveals financial history as the essential back story behind all history.



Through Ferguson's expert lens, familiar historical landmarks appear in a new and sharper financial focus. Suddenly, the civilization of the Renaissance looks very different: a boom in the market for art and architecture made possible when Italian bankers adopted Arabic mathematics. The rise of the Dutch republic is reinterpreted as the triumph of the world's first modern bond market over insolvent Habsburg absolutism. And the origins of the French Revolution are traced back to a stock market bubble caused by a convicted Scot murderer.



With the clarity and verve for which he is known, Ferguson elucidates key financial institutions and concepts by showing where they came from. What is money? What do banks do? What's the difference between a stock and a bond? Why buy insurance or real estate? And what exactly does a hedge fund do?



This is history for the present. Ferguson travels to post-Katrina New Orleans to ask why the free market can't provide adequate protection against catastrophe. He also delves into the origins of the subprime mortgage crisis.



Perhaps most important, The Ascent of Money documents how a new financial revolution is propelling the world's biggest countries, India and China, from poverty to wealth in the space of a single generation-an economic transformation unprecedented in human history.



Yet the central lesson of the financial history is that sooner or later every bubble bursts-sooner or later the bearish sellers outnumber the bullish buyers; and sooner or later greed flips into fear. And that is why, whether you're scraping by or rolling in it, there's never been a better time to understand the ascent of money.
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 22, 2008
ISBN:
9781400180332
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Niall Ferguson is the author of numerous bestselling books. A prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, Ferguson is a contributing editor for the Financial Times and senior columnist with Newsweek.



Reviews

What people think about The Ascent of Money

4.3
109 ratings / 40 Reviews
What did you think?
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    The anecdotal aspects of the book were appreicated, but obviously not conclusive. The financial theory remained just of out of reach and I often felt lost, or that I was being sold something. Despite my interior antipathies, I have always liked Ferguson. the accompanying PBS film challenged that devotion, but alas I plowed through the book with a dusting of enlightenment, which is all I hoped for, anyway.
  • (4/5)
    The subtitle of the book "A Financial History of the World" is something of a misnomer, though Ferguson (also the author of a two-volume history of the Rothschild family) does cover quite a bit of ground, in time and space, discussing how money evolved, and then how other kinds of financial transactions (stocks, bonds, derivatives) evolved. In fact, there's quite a lot of discussion relating financial products to natural evolution. One interesting thing about the book (at least the hardcover edition) is that it came out in the early summer of 2008, before the crash that hit the financial markets later that year. There are a number of hints in the book that Ferguson (among others) saw something coming, though it's questionable whether he saw the crash. Generally, a pretty light read, and Ferguson does a decent job of explaining some abstruse terms in a more comprehensible fashion. For those interested, he tends to be lightly critical of the capitalist model; this is not an analysis from the left, a la Piketty. Those of you who are concerned about the angle an author takes, be warned. I did like the book, and do recommend it.
  • (3/5)
    This is a nice survey of the world of finance. It's a collection of stories - lots of crashes, of course, starting with John Law in the 18th Century. We get to watch the Rothschilds get rich in the 19th Century. The timing of the book was a bit awkward - it seems he was writing in May of 2008. He did say that credit default swaps looked like a looming problem - itsn't that what brought down Lehman Brothers in October?The main problem with the book is that it doesn't have a thesis. It's a bunch of evidence that doesn't really go anywhere. The lack of evidence means that there is no real analysis of the evidence - there is no need to push down to the real nuts and bolts details. So the whole thing is a kind of broad brush survey without any solid substance.
  • (3/5)
    The author reviews the history of money and finance through the ages. A little too detailed in some areas for me, but some interesting points.
  • (2/5)
    Mediocre content, horribly bad writing.
  • (2/5)
    This book is terrible. It is a list of capitalism's failures while simultaneiously claiming it has nothing to do with capitalism. From an objective standpoint it doesn't seem to have a central thesis or even any kind of point besides "Capitalism is great!".