The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World

Paperback | October 27, 2009

byNiall Ferguson

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A richly original look at the origins of money and how it makes the world go ?round

Niall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of our financial system, from its genesis in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. What?s more, Ferguson reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history, arguing that the evolution of credit and debt was as important as any technological innovation in the rise of civilization. As Ferguson traces the crisis from ancient Egypt?s Memphis to today?s Chongqing, he offers bold and compelling new insights into the rise? and fall?of not just money but Western power as well.

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From the Publisher

A richly original look at the origins of money and how it makes the world go ?roundNiall Ferguson follows the money to tell the human story behind the evolution of our financial system, from its genesis in ancient Mesopotamia to the latest upheavals on what he calls Planet Finance. What?s more, Ferguson reveals financial history as the...

Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. The bestselling author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, and Colossus, he al...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 8.4 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:October 27, 2009Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143116177

ISBN - 13:9780143116172

Customer Reviews of The Ascent Of Money: A Financial History Of The World

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A nice summary of financial history This book goes through the creation of money and capital and how it evolved to the way we know and use it today. It's an easy read as it clearly moves through a summary of the history of finances. Great for anyone that wants an introduction into the history of money.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable Niall's is a remarkable 'must read' that fills in the historical puzzle.
Date published: 2013-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good introduction Let me start off by saying that this a very accessible and enjoyable read. I now have a much greater understanding of the origins of the various parts of the financial system including banks, the bond market, the stock market and insurance. The book is organized well and is written for the masses rather than the financial or business community. That being said the book at times felt rushed. Within some chapters Ferguson offered details into an event (ex. historical stock market crashes) but not enough to really provide the reader with a clear understanding.This was probably because Ferguson and the publisher wanted to keep from becoming long and intimidating. Also, Ferguson occasionally goes on a tangent that doen't seem particularly useful to the book as a whole (ex. Chilean pension system). But these are just small complains that pervented the book from being a 5/5 for me and it seems for most readers.
Date published: 2013-02-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Enjoyable read Despite the fact that I continually had to check the title to the book to remember what the topic was supposed to be, this was an entertaining read. Pro: Ferguson is obviously an expert on the subject matter; quite refreshing when the majority of financial books over the past decade have been written by 'investigative journalists' or financial 'insiders' whose understanding, even in their limited subject matters is dubious. Ferguson;s passion for finance makes the book both informative and entertaining. Con: Ferguson explains multiple areas of finance (currency, insurance capital markets, etc) in a an informative and accessible way, yet without credibly tying the areas together (hence why I kept checking the title of the book). He would have been better served titling the book 'An Introduction to Finance'...and in that sense, this was a worthwhile book.
Date published: 2012-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read Wonderfully informative book on the history of finance and money. Quite enjoyed it.
Date published: 2010-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Read An important history of monetary influence.
Date published: 2010-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Where did money come from? This is an interesting book on the history of money all the way back to the first cultures that used coin to trade instead of barter. By understanding where money came from you will appreciate modern financial systems that we take for granted. He starts with explaining how money exists for you to have portability in your pocket. It is not convenient for a farmer to take eggs with him on vacation to buy things so instead he converts those eggs to money. He splits the book into the different financial innovations that have got us to the current system that we have. The first one is the banks. It is interesting to know that banks were not around until 500 AD in Italy. The banks created wealth by loaning out cash then having a multiplying effect. He also explains how the invention of the bond market was able to fund European wars that shaped the modern world. He talks about how the invention of the stock market created the modern corporation and the impact it has had on us. By understanding these past financial innovations of money we can look forward to the future and see where we should go. It also lets us know what mistakes not to repeat. Knowing about lessons from the great depression and the dot com bubble for example will be useful knowledge to many people.
Date published: 2010-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good History Although I am highly skeptical of the Chimerica concept, the book is a very useful and informative history of the financial system.
Date published: 2009-12-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for all tastes! The flapjacket of the book held so much promise by somehow I was disappointed as I was hoping to learn more about the basics of world finance. The book has a promising start when dealing with the history of money. As soon as we arrive into the world of modern finance abounding in hedge funds and derivatives it is all downhill. The book is better suited for students of finance and not the common folk. However, the author did a good job of explaining the sub-prime mortgage mess that we will be facing for years to come.
Date published: 2009-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Money Makes the World Go Round The latest book by Harvard professor and popular commentator Niall Ferguson is a historical look at the rise of finance. Ever wonder how the stock market came to be? Exactly how and why did the evolution of credit lead to the rise of civilizations? Could all the world's conflicts be explained by economics? These are the historical questions Ferguson poses and attempts to answer in "The Ascent of Money." Ferguson's primary purpose for the book is by using economic history to help explain the complexities of modern financial institutions. Why, might you ask is this important? Because the average person knows little to nothing about such simple financial facts such as the interest rate charged by their credit card. Never before, in this globalized, highly coupled world that we live in today, has financial knowledge and a fundamental understanding of financial institutions been more important than it is today. Everyone is affected by world markets, interest rates, and inflation one way or another. While I think Ferguson does an admirable job in explaining such complex subjects such as mortgage-backed securities or credit-default swaps, I still think that anyone who does not have a Econ 101 or Fin 101 will still have problems following these inherently difficult to understand topics. Ferguson's writing, thank goodness, does not contain the snobbery that sometimes comes across when he appears as a commentator. As for the historical content, I think Ferguson is a little selective in some of the topics he chooses. As one would expect, Lord Rothschild is used throughout the book as an example to explain the rise of debt worldwide. There are detailed accounts of the rise and fall of Argentina, the American Civil War, the French Revolution, and much more. Regarding Ferguson's philosophy. He appears to be a pragmatic neoliberal. He is a proponent of free-trade, but for example he writes that "of all the lessons to have emerged from this collective effort... inept or inflexible monetary policy in the wake of a sharp decline in asset prices can turn a correction into a recession and a recession into a depression." (p. 163). Ferguson takes exception with the Keynesians like Stiglitz and Krugman but while at the same time exploring the relative benefits of Milton Friedman's Chicago School "Washington Consensus". He describes Chile's economy as the shining star in Latin America following Pinochet while passing judgment over the massive human costs. And finally, he places the primary blame on Alan Greenspan for his "loose" monetary policy for the current crisis we find ourselves in. Some reviewers have critiqued the book for its lack of historical breadth, and to some extent I would agree. However, the book is already 350+ pages, and more historical examples would dilute Ferguson's arguments. As ambitious as it is to try to explain such a complicated subject, Ferguson is mostly on the mark. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about the history of finance.
Date published: 2008-12-17

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Editorial Reviews

" Before regulators throw block trades, bond swaps, bridge financing, butterfly spreads and Black-Scholes out with the bathwater, they should find time to read Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money." -The Wall Street Journal "[An] excellent, just in time guide to the history of finance and financial crisis." -The Washington Post " Shrewdly anticipates many aspects of the current financial crisis, which has toppled banks, precipitated gigantic government bailouts and upended global markets." -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times