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The Ascent of Money [DVD]  (Two-Disc Set)
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Harvard professor Niall Ferguson explores the world of finance from the 14th century to the present day. Amongst many other subjects, this six-part Channel 4 documentary looks at stock market crashes, runs on banks and sub-prime loans - terms which are never far from the headlines in today's fragile economic world.
In this six-part documentary respected author, journalist and lecturer Professor Niall Ferguson examines the dynamic role of money as he takes you on an epic tour of the financial world. A professor in History and Business Administration at Harvard University, as well as an author of numerous books and a commentator on contemporary politics and economics, Ferguson explains how finance rose to play such a terrifyingly dominant role in all our lives. This beautifully-shot documentary covers a broad spectrum of economic history from the 14th Century right up to the present day. But are you in on the secret? Do you really understand what causes a bank run, an inflationary meltdown or a stock market crash? Can you tell a sub-prime from a prime loan? Only with this historical perspective can one understand the essential truth about finance.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Worst of all is his treatment of the sub-prime borrowers who are seen as the source of the problem rather than the de-regulated markets that led to riskier loans and the property bubble being created in the first place! Nothing of substance on Alan Greenspan's post 9/11 low-interest rate policy in the USA and how that helped drive a property bubble within a deficit financing economy. We also miss the explanation as to why the credit agencies bundled up the bad Toxic Assets with the Triple-A securities and then sold them off to foreign governments and councils who buy them unaware that they have been sold assets at serious risk of default. Collateralized debt obligations were the real culprit here, and as with the derivatives market there are more detailed sources of information (see Gillian Tett's: Fool's Gold, for a sober and orthodox treatment).Read more ›
I highly recommend this to anyone in the least bit interested in understanding the fundamentals of how our economy has come to be the way it is, but also the forces that play such a big influence on our lives.
Very good, I'm giving it 10/10!
Lively, enjoyable and informative, 'The Ascent of Money' film series accompanying the book is an eloquent and entertaining look at the social and cultural evolution of the world's financial structures over the centuries. The six distinct chapters highlight the history and key concepts of banking, bonds, stocks, insurance, property and global markets in an entertaining tour for a wide audience.
A big Thank you to Niall Ferguson for presenting this very important subject matter to us in an absorbing, vibrant and fun movie series.
Each episode ostensibly attacks the history of some feature of the modern financial world - banks, bonds, companies, insurance, property, and globalisation - but occasionally gets side-tracked along the way. (One major missing feature is an episode on tax, but that would go against the pro-capitalist slant of the series.) At the end of the series he talks of his review looking at the ascent of money over four thousand years "from ancient Mesopotamia to modern China", but the series has virtually nothing to say about the pre-medieval period.
In the first programme, Ferguson travels from Bolivia to Venice to Glasgow to Florence, finally ending up in Memphis, Tennessee to give us the low down on the creation and rise of the banks. In the rest of the series he touches down also in Amsterdam, Paris, China and Japan, as well as New York and Detroit. Ferguson seems to have a fondness for the South Americans with much coverage of Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A first class series - and a valuable teaching set. Presented wonderfully by Niall Ferguson. I hope he makes many more series of similar standard.Published 11 months ago by Joe in Beijing
If you have any interest in finance, the economy and where money came from and how it's used in today's modern world then this DVD is for you. Found it very interestingPublished 13 months ago by Charles
Excellent series on the history of money to the point of the global collapse which really started to impact from 2010 for the next 5 years. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Sukibabe
A excellent account of the history of money and the influence on the culture of society. Niall Ferguson explains how the financial system has evolved over the years from banks... Read morePublished 15 months ago by P I