The ascent of money

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Niall Ferguson‘s book, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, is now available in a full-length four-part documentary. Known for his intellectual firepower, Ferguson is an historian who specializes in financial and economic history and teaches at Harvard.

The Ascent of Money is well researched and especially relevant for putting the current financial crisis in historical context. As Ferguson said, “Money’s rise has never been a smooth upward ride … Financial history has repeatedly been interrupted by gut-wrenching crises, of which today’s is just the latest.”

Each of the parts lasts for about an hour, but is conveniently broken up into chapters should one only wish to view certain sections.

Part 1: From bullion to bubbles
Ferguson examines the current global financial crisis in the context of the financial history of the West. Topics in this part include: the beginnings of money lending, stocks, bonds and credit.


Part 2: Bonds of war
Ferguson documents the rise of modern finance in Europe and its expansion into the Far East, including the ascendancy of the Rothschilds and bond markets, and the decline of Europe’s landed aristocracy.


Part 3: Risky business
The roots of the insurance industry in Europe; disasters like Hurricane Katrina expose problems in risk management; the history of hedge funds.


Part 4: Planet Finance
Ferguson chronicles the spread of good – and bad – financial practices across the globe, and the consequences for all of us.


Source: PBS – Thirteen/WNET

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