Recommended book: The Ascent of Money

This is a very interesting book by Niall Ferguson that has already been reviewed here and here. It also has a companion TV documentary.

Behind each great historical phenomenon there lies a financial secret, and this book sets out to illuminate the most important of these. For example, the Renaissance created such a boom in the market for art and architecture because Italian bankers like the Medici made fortunes by applying Oriental mathematics to money. The Dutch Republic prevailed over the Hapsburg Empire because having the world’s first modern stock market was financially preferable to having the world’s biggest silver mine. The problems of the French monarchy could not be resolved without a revolution because a convicted Scots murderer had wrecked the French financial system by unleashing the first stock market bubble and bust.

This should be required reading or viewing for everybody who handles money every day i.e. for all of us. For good or ill our livelihood depends on understanding the financial events around us but in order to graduate from high school you need to understand science, biology and language but not how to calculate compound interest. Money, as they say, is portable power. Get something to eat and watch the full TV documentary below (also divided by episodes in the PBS website).

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