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The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (2008)

af Niall Ferguson

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3,501663,597 (3.64)45
Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals. 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 historian Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress. What's more, he reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history. Through Ferguson's expert lens, for example, 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. Yet the central lesson of financial history is that, sooner or later, every bubble bursts.--From publisher description.… (mere)
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» Se også 45 omtaler

Engelsk (62)  Fransk (2)  Rumænsk (1)  Italiensk (1)  Alle sprog (66)
Viser 1-5 af 66 (næste | vis alle)
This book went some places I didn't expect it to, and avoided others I expected it to visit. There was plenty to soak up, but some of the concepts were a bit complicated for me. ( )
  BBrookes | Dec 6, 2023 |
Neither dense enough to be an actual 'history of the world' level work, but neither light enough that you can dismiss it out of hand.

This book's fundamental argument is that poverty is not due to rapacious investors always on the hunt for more money to line their pockets, but instead due to a lack of such investors and institutions. Pretty bold argument, I have to admit. How does Mr. Ferguson back it up?

TL;DR, he doesn't. He mentions an isolated tribe in South America that is used to subsistence farming and hunting-gathering, and when they roamed out to make contact with the 'civilized' world for the first time in history, they became a tribe of beggars. I failed to realize how this argument of money creation made any sense, and it is passages like these which frustrated me immensely, which do not make any sense even in context.

This argument is never directly (or indirectly) answered in what was supposed to be a 'complete history' of the financial world. In my opinion, the title is very misleading - the book is simply an elaborate history of the biggest bubbles and bursts of the financial world - including the Spanish defeat of the Mayan empires causing a crash in gold/silver prices in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Latin American defaults of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Great Depression of 1929, and the so-called 'second depression' of 2007-08. Mr. Ferguson credits the existence of institutions such as hedge funds and the Federal Reserve (US) for exacerbating such crises, which doesn't necessarily help his argument of the existence of such vast amounts of virtual layers of money somehow helping the common man's survival. In the course of describing such crises, he writes up the only good parts of the book - where you can actually see the modern-day forms of bonds, equities, hedge funds and insurance claims being formed.

Above all, you are supposed to learn something new from a book which totes itself as a history book. The only things one can take away from the book is that property is not a risk-free investment, you should have a diversified portfolio in order to make more money, saving/spending in excess is bad, and that the stock market runs on human whims, so never take it too seriously. All of which I already knew. ( )
  SidKhanooja | Sep 1, 2023 |
Interesting in place, with at least one nugget which I will retain - about how the Spanish reliance on physical gold and silver held back their interest in developing other financial instruments, but somehow no strong thread or over arching message. Many side steps, disquisitions on peripheral matters, so, ultimately somewhat disappointing to this reader who has a keen (though non professional) interest in finance. ( )
  DramMan | Jun 12, 2023 |
CUPRINS

1. Introducere - pag. 9

2. Capitolul 1. Visuri de lacomie - pag. 19
3. Capitolul 2. Robia obligatiunilor - pag. 47
4. Capitolul 3. Cum se sparg bulele - pag. 78
5. Capitolul 4. Revenirea riscului - pag. 100
6. Capitolul 5. De nadejde precum o casa - pag. 142
7. Capitolul 6. De la imperiu la Chimerica - pag. 173

8. Cuvant de incheiere: Decaderea banilor - pag. 207
9. Multumiri - pag. 219
10. Note - pag. 221
11. Lista ilustratiilor - pag. 243
12. Index - pag. 245 ( )
  Toma_Radu_Szoha | Apr 20, 2023 |
Viser 1-5 af 66 (næste | vis alle)
...The rise of ancient Babylon was intimately tied to the evolution of credit and debt; without banks and the bond markets, the splendours of the Italian Renaissance would never have materialised; corporate finance was the foundation of the Dutch and later British empires; the ultra-sophisticated Wall Street financial engineering which has now come crashing down is intractably linked with America's global primacy. And now, of course, the new-found geopolitical power of many emerging economies, such as China, comes from their embrace of modern finance and creation of huge sovereign wealth funds.

Especially fascinating is Ferguson's discussion of the rush of intellectual innovation, beginning in the 1660s, that created the theoretical basis for life insurance, one of the most important financial inventions of all time...
 
...According to Ferguson, much of the current crisis stems from this increasingly uneasy symbiosis. It turns out “there was a catch. The more China was willing to lend to the United States, the more Americans were willing to borrow.” This cascade of easy money, he argues, “was the underlying cause of the surge in bank lending, bond issuance and new derivative contracts that Planet Finance witnessed after 2000. . . . And Chimerica — or the Asian ‘savings glut,’ as Ben Bernanke called it — was the underlying reason why the U.S. mortgage market was so awash with cash in 2006 that you could get a 100 percent mortgage with no income, no job or assets.” Going forward, the system seems likely to be increasingly unstable, as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson suggested recently when he warned that unless fundamental changes are made, “the pressure from global imbalances will simply build up again until it finds another outlet.”
tilføjet af amorabunda | RedigerNew York Times, Michael Hirsh (Dec 25, 2008)
 
...Ferguson's biography of finance, told with verve and insight, throws more light on our predicament than perhaps even he realises. The Ascent of Money charts the rise of money from clay tokens passed around the villages of Mesopotamia 5,000 years ago to flickering numbers on a foreign exchange screen; yet it also reminds us that money represents a relationship of trust.

Ferguson argues persuasively that the development of money has gone hand in hand with the development of modern societies, by quickening transactions, loans and investment. He gives a selection of case studies, showing how money underpinned the colonisation of South America, Roosevelt's New Deal and the rise of China. Money doesn't make the world go round, but "it does make staggering quantities of people, goods and services go around the world"...
tilføjet af amorabunda | RedigerThe Telegraph (Nov 6, 2008)
 
Niall Ferguson has written a brilliant book exploring the historic nexus between money, diplomacy, warfare and globalisation. It's called The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker 1849-1998. His new work, The Ascent of Money, written 10 years later, is an altogether different beast.

From its opening sentence - 'Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal: call it what you like, money matters' - you know this is a TV tie-in...
tilføjet af amorabunda | RedigerThe Guardian, Tristam Hunt (Nov 2, 2008)
 
...There are a score of fascinating details. One example is how John Law managed to persuade the French to appoint him controller general of finances (sort of governor of the Bank of England and Chancellor of the Exchequer combined) and allow him to engineer the French financial bubble in 1720-21 that did far greater damage to French savings than the South Sea Bubble did to British finances at the same time. He describes how grand families, such as the Grevilles, were ruined by spendthrift heirs, while other new dynasties, notably the Rothschilds, were founded on a mixture of thrift, information and acumen.

Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the book is Ferguson's ability to link the past with the present – particularly helpful right now. For example, he draws a parallel between international investment during the last great burst of globalisation from 1870 to 1914 and the massive international capital flows of the present global era...
tilføjet af amorabunda | RedigerThe Independent, Hamish McRae (Oct 31, 2008)
 

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Bread, cash, dosh, dough, loot, lucre, moolah, readies, the wherewithal,: call it what you like, money matters -- Introduction
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Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of finance, from its origins in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals. 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 historian Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress. What's more, he reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history. Through Ferguson's expert lens, for example, 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. Yet the central lesson of financial history is that, sooner or later, every bubble bursts.--From publisher description.

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