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A History of Corporate Finance Hardcover – February 28, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0521555142 ISBN-10: 0521555140

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 28, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521555140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521555142
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,330,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A History of Corporate Finance is a solid contribution to scholarship that should gain the interest of historians, lawyers, economists, and business persons. Its unusual combination of scope, clarity, and brevity, combined with its reasonable price, may induce professors to make it required reading for advanced undergraduate and graduate cources in economic and business history, or in management education courses....an outstanding study that will deservedly gain a wide audience..." H-Net Book Reviews

"A History of Corporate Finance by Baskin and Miranti provides a panoramic account of the evolution of financial organizations and practices from ancient time through the present. It also compares these organizations and practices with the assumptions and conclusions of contemporary financial theories. It is must reading for both history buffs and for students, scholars, and practitioners of financial theory." Harry Markowitz, 1990 Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics

"Business corporations, once rare, have become the dominant organization of the modern economy. The corporation as we know it owes its existence to a long history of financial innovations--in institutions, markets, and instruments (securities). This is the first in-depth history to tell us how it all happened, from the merchants and bankers of medieval and Renaissance Italy to today's corporate managers and wizards of Wall Street. Students of business, economics, finance, law, and history will learn much from it." Richard Sylla, New York University

"The work embodied in A History of Corporate Finance is a brilliant combination of theoretical and historical analysis. Given the path dependency of the structure of financial institutions, the book will become required reading for anyone interested in the evolution and development of business finance over the past five hundred years or, for that matter, anyone interested in understanding today's financial markets." Lance E. Davis, California Institute of Technology

"...this is an outstanding book." Book Reviews

"...immeasurable value as a survey of business and financial history." Canadian Business Law Journal

Book Description

This study focuses on the role of institutions and organizations in the development of corporate finance from the Italian merchant banks of the Renaissance through the formation of conglomerates and leveraged-buy-out partnerships in contemporary Wall Street. It also puts forth a compelling argument for the closer integration of historical and quantitative research methodologies in financial theory. The epilogue contains an original algorithm that explains the relationship between the short-term, firm-specific factors and longer-term environmental elements that have shaped the historical development of finance.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brian H. on September 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The history of corporate finance is a fascinating subject, overflowing with interesting people and dramatic events that affect not only finance but the man on the street.

Unfortunately the authors of this book have no interest in breathing life into the story of capitalism. Instead what a reader will get is a dry list of facts. The regulated company evolved into the joint stock company for the following reasons. The East India Company developed the following innovations. Its example paved the way for the next step, and so on. The book has all the feeling of a dull term paper written by a college student who simply summarized the obvious secondary sources. Each step seems to lead naturally, ploddingly to the next, in a march that seems both uninteresting and inevitable.

While the authors have done an impressive job of bringing many important facts over a broad context together in one volume, that's all they've done. And I detected a subtle smugness, like that of a Monday morning quarterback, as the authors pointed out flaws in earlier structures. To me they seemed unaware that the flaws in today's systems will look as obvious to future scholars as those of the past seem now to us.

I also encountered what I considered to be lapses in scholarship (or insight) brought about by the "Ivory Tower" phenomenon of having only a an academic understanding of processes undertaken by others. The coverage of LBOs is an example. It's easy in hindsight to go on about the excesses of leveraged buyout era of the 1980s. Baskin and Miranti cover this fully, detailing many of the problems that arose. But was there any rationale for the LBOs in the first place, or were they simply the instruments of greedy financial conmen?
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on February 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This thorough, scholarly study balances broad concepts with specific details of the history of finance from the 15th through 20th centuries. Though authors Jonathan Barron Baskin and Paul J. Miranti Jr. assume that the reader has some knowledge of finance and relevant terms, they avoid mathematical models and jargon in favor of plain language. Their book is accessible and valuable to lay readers as well as trained economists, historians, students of finance and anyone coping with an emerging market. The issues they examine remain surprisingly relevant, because - as they soon make clear - the problems that historical markets once confronted are the same issues of risk and information that markets face today, particularly emerging markets. As a historical study, this book presents no particular prescriptions for success or future action. However, we at getAbstract.com recommend its explanation of why some structures succeeded and others failed, because those forces have clear implications today.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on December 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This jargon-laden and lifeless book, filled with undefined terms from business law and corporate finance, covers a vast historical landscape, from the Medicis to LBOs (there's even an appendix on finance in the classical world). Unfortunately, Baskin doesn't manage this huge volume of material by picking out key events and themes. Instead, he repeatedly compresses complex institutional and financial developments into a few paragraphs of leaden prose, squeezing in as much material as possible. Time and again I found myself reading and rereading a paragraph and wondering what it meant. Corporate finance students might have better luck than I did, but I doubt that even they would enjoy the book. In fairness to Baskin, the book is refreshingly skeptical about academic finance theories, and it does draw together material otherwise hidden in technical books and journals -- but those aren't good reasons for laymen read it. They would get more out of better-written books by Charles Kindleberger or John Kenneth Galbraith.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is sharply-edited and straight-to-the-point. It has a high density and an almost mathematical intensity. It tells me the form of each period's business organizations, who the important players were (including, the incentives and roles of governments) and how their payouts were structured (when the payouts materialized), what kind of business each firm did, and why certain forms worked or failed in certain times and places.
Yes, this work is not going to hold your hand and humor and spoon-feed you like a Michael Lewis popularization. Those with shorter attention spans and shallower learning curves need not apply. I am astounded how much I learn from each page. I invite anyone with similar tastes to comment and share their discoveries.
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