This is an accessible and extremely useful series which popped up at just the right moment to help unravel exactly what's been going on with the worldwide money markets.
The presentation is clear, concise and occasionally witty, and has really helped us to get to grips with the mysteries of the modern money machine.
Prof Niall Ferguson is an engaging host and an excellent historian who has no trouble demonstrating how the same systems and behaviours affect financial markets, be they in the 1700s or right now. He normally relates each high-falutin' fiscal concept straight back to how it affects the real world.
Most of the six programmes rely heavily on his narrative with footage from around the world, as he explains how money itself began on Babylonian tablets, then how the Medici clan began banking; how the bond market rose and made millionaires of the Rothschild family, and so on.
Inevitably, much of the older material is hard to illustrate and, if you want to rest your eyes for a while, then you can quite easily just listen to the voice-over. The images on screen can be repetitive paintings of the main players, or blurry shots of stock market traders, or strings of meaningless share prices. There are moments when this series would probably work just as well as a radio programme!
However, the core information is fascinating. Ferguson explains how stock bubbles happen and the psychology behind bear and bull markets. He uses recent examples to illustrate historical trends -- such as the rise and fall of Enron. And with the more recent info there are interviews with relevant people which are enlightening and entertaining. And all through each programme, Ferguson underlines an uncomfortable truth: that financial dealings have had major impact on all aspects of global history, from the Dutch East India Company to the Renaissence to the French Revolution -- right up to day. Scary...
So if you'd like to understand more about hedge funds, stocks and shares, limited liability companies, money itself, global banking, reflation and deflation and heaps more -- this is a must-watch.
We've found it to be very enjoyable and extremely informative.