The Ascent of Money

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The Ascent of Money
The Ascent of Money.jpg
Author Niall Ferguson
Country United States
Language English
Subject history of money, credit, banking
Genre economic history
Publisher The Penguin Press HC
Publication date
13 November 2008
Pages 432
ISBN 978-1-59420-192-9
OCLC 191929255
332.09 22
LC Class HG171 .F47 2008

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World is Harvard professor Niall Ferguson's tenth book, published in 2008,[1] and an adapted television documentary for Channel 4 (UK) and PBS (US),[2] which in 2009 won an International Emmy Award. It examines the long history of money, credit, and banking.

Book[edit]

The book deals with the rise of money as a trade form, and tracks its progression, development, and effects on society into the 21st Century.

Documentary[edit]

The book was adapted into a six(6)-part television documentary with the new full title Ascent of Money: Boom and Bust for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.[2] It also aired on TVB Pearl in Hong Kong and ABC1 in Australia.[3] In the United States, an edited two-hour version was aired in January 2009 by PBS.

A newer, reorganized four-hour version with the original full title The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World was aired in July 2009 by PBS. Both versions can still be viewed online at the link below.

Episodes - Original Version[edit]

Ep. 1: Dreams of avarice[edit]

From Shylock's pound of flesh to the loan sharks of Glasgow, from the "promises to pay" on Babylonian clay tablets to the Medici banking system. Professor Ferguson explains the origins of credit and debt and why credit networks are indispensable to any civilization.

Ep. 2: Human bondage[edit]

How did finance become the realm of the masters of the universe? Through the rise of the bond market in Renaissance Italy. With the advent of bonds, war finance was transformed and spread to north-west Europe and across the Atlantic. It was the bond market that made the Rothschilds the richest and most powerful family of the 19th century.

Ep. 3: Blowing bubbles[edit]

Why do stock markets produce bubbles and busts? Professor Ferguson goes back to the origins of the joint stock company in Amsterdam and Paris. He draws telling parallels between the current stock market crash and the 18th century Mississippi Bubble of Scottish financier John Law and the 2001 Enron bankruptcy. He shows why humans have a herd instinct when it comes to investment, and why no one can accurately predict when the bulls might stampede.

Ep. 4: Risky business[edit]

Life is a risky business – which is why people take out insurance. But faced with an unexpected disaster, the state has to step in. Professor Ferguson travels to post-Katrina New Orleans to ask why the free market can't provide some of the adequate protection against catastrophe. His quest for an answer takes him to the origins of modern insurance in the early 19th century and to the birth of the welfare state in post-war Japan.

Ep. 5: Safe as houses[edit]

It sounded so simple: give state-owned assets to the people. After all, what better foundation for a property-owning democracy than a campaign of privatisation encompassing housing? An economic theory says that markets can't function without mortgages, because it's only by borrowing against their assets that entrepreneurs can get their businesses off the ground. But what if mortgages are bundled together and sold off to the highest bidder?

Ep. 6: Chimerica[edit]

Niall Ferguson investigates the globalisation of the Western economy and the uncertain balance between the important component countries of China and the US. In examining the last time globalisation took hold – before World War One, he finds a notable reversal, namely that today money is pouring into the English-speaking economies from the developing world, rather than out.

Episodes - Four-Hour Version[edit]

  • Episode 1: From Bullion to Bubbles
  • Episode 2: Bonds of War
  • Episode 3: Risky Business
  • Episode 4: Planet Finance

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ferguson, Niall (2008-11-13). The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World. The Penguin Press HC. ISBN 978-1-59420-192-9. 
  2. ^ a b "The Ascent of Money". PBS. 
  3. ^ "ABC1 Programming Airdate: The Ascent Of Money (episode one)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 

Reviews[edit]

External links[edit]