- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition / Second Impression edition (30 Oct. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846141060
- ISBN-13: 978-1846141065
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.1 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 146 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 241,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World Hardcover – 30 Oct 2008
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'Every page has the Ferguson hallmarks of trenchant argument, telling detail and lucid explanation ... Ferguson's analysis is more illuminating than all the dozens of newspaper articles I have read on the subject.' -- Standpoint
'Ferguson's powers are on formidable display ... Alone among modern economic historians, he is able to present complex data in a consistently revelatory manner.' -- Observer
'Ferguson's reputation is so high that if he were a stock one would short him ... his book is very readable indeed' -- James Buchan, Guardian
'From clay tables to loan securitisation, this fine history reveals trust as central to the power of finance ... told with verve and insight ... [Niall Ferguson] is a fine analyst of the financial vertebrae that make up the backbone of human history' -- Daily Telegraph
'Highly readable stuff ... extraordinarily timely' -- Spectator
'Professor Ferguson is not only one of the world's leading historians. He has written a number of books on financial themes and tackles his complex subject with great clarity and wit.'
`Niall Ferguson has written a fascinating, accessible, and important book that lives up to its rather grandiose title ... It goes from cowrie shells to mortgage-backed securities, and everything in between ... this is an exceptional book.' -- Michael Casey, Irish Times
`Niall Ferguson has written a fascinating, accessible, and important book that lives up to its rather grandiose title ... It goes from cowrie shells to mortgage-backed securities, and everything in between ... this is an exceptional book.'See all Product description
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On the way he explains the origin of the modern banking system in the `ghettos' of Venice in the 1300s, the adoption and later the abandonment of silver and gold to underpin national currencies, the first truly global currency (the Spanish `piece of eight'), the origin of the first stock exchange (in Amsterdam) in the 1600s, the innovation of scientifically calculated actuarial insurance tables by the Scottish Widows insurance company in the 1700s and the modern obsession with property as a store of wealth and as collateral for credit loans. He discusses the concept of the welfare state, the government bond market and the reasons for occasional total financial collapses, as in Germany in the 1920s and Argentina several times in the past 150 years most recently in 1989.
The causes of booms and busts, bubbles and crashes are analysed with knowledge and insight. The author demonstrates in his best-seller `Empire' and more thoroughly here his thesis that poverty in the `developing world' is caused by the absence of stable financial institutions because such jurisdictions are outside the global economic system rather than the more naïve and simplistic narrative of `exploitation' by international institutions (business, the world bank etc.). At a more local level the same principles operate with the same results: loan sharking grows where there is lack of access to normal credit and this is the main cause for the perpetuation of the poverty trap.
A final chapter deals with the rise of `the wonderful dual country of Chimerica' the interdependent symbiotic relationship between the USA and China which accounts for one tenth of the world's land surface, a quarter of its population, one third of all global economic output and half of all economic growth over the past ten years. He explores how this important relationship is coming to dominate the global economy.
Ferguson is a champion of the globalization of capital markets and makes a strong case for the liberal economics of Milton Friedman. He has a habit of distilling down complex and bewildering subjects to their basic elements and explaining the underlying processes clearly and with great insight. Recommended reading for anyone who wants a more than basic introduction to the history of the global economy and how it works but does not have the time nor inclination to do all the reading necessary for a degree in economics and finance. He knows his stuff, and is a lively and interesting writer.
After a long introduction, he looks at the possibility of and the idealistic notion of a moneyless world. Quoting Engels and Marx, he examines historically Humankind's early years and the idealistic "communist societies ... in which goods will be freely available and free of charge" before concluding a moneyless world would be far worse than today's. This leads naturally to the rise of the banking and bond world.
He looks closely at what he sees as the unusual worlds of hedging, stock-markets, financial bubbles and so on in which, quoting Skilling, the ex-Enron chief, "all that matters is money ... You buy loyalty with money".
In chapters entitled "Safe as Houses" and "From Empire to Chimerica", he examines modern financial phenomena. At 450 pages, it is a thorough examination of our use of money and, although readers may not agree on his conclusions or some of his facts, it is an interesting, challenging re-examination of dosh, loot, lucre, the root of all evil or the secret to happiness.
This book is a masterpiece of research. He must know where all the bodies are. Would recommend to anyone who has an interest in getting to know the true story behind the dynasty, from inception to today.
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