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A History of Interest Rates, Fourth Edition (Wiley Finance) Hardcover – August 29, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 4 edition (August 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471732834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471732839
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The late Sidney Homer published the First Edition of A History of Interest Rates in 1963—a time when interest rates weren't making front-page news—because he believed that a comprehensive history of this universal and basic economic and commercial price was necessary. More than forty years later, A History of Interest Rates has become a classic in the fields of economics and finance.

A History of Interest Rates, Fourth Edition presents a readable account of interest rate trends and lending practices spanning over four millennia of economic history. Filled with in-depth insights and illustrative charts and tables, this unique resource provides a broad perspective on interest rate movements—from which financial professionals can evaluate contemporary interest rate and monetary developments—and applies analytical tools, such as yield-curve averaging and decennial averaging, to the data available.

A History of Interest Rates, Fourth Edition offers a highly detailed analysis of money markets and borrowing practices in major economies. It places the rates and corresponding credit forms in context by summarizing the political and economic events and financial customs of particular times and places, including:

  • Ancient Times: Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome
  • Medieval Times and Renaissance Europe: Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and more
  • Modern Europe and North America to 1900: England, France, and other European countries, as well as the United States
  • Europe and North America since 1900: England, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as Canada and the United States
  • Other countries and regions in the 1900s: Japan, Russia, China, and Latin America

Much has transpired in the financial world since the last edition of A History of Interest Rates was published. New credit instruments have been introduced, the volume of outstanding fixed-income obligations has exploded, and capital now moves across the globe quicker than ever before. To help you stay as current as possible, this revised and updated Fourth Edition contains a new chapter of contemporary material as well as added discussions of interest rate developments over the past ten years.

Interest rates in the twenty-first century are as much a subject of political and economic controversy as they were in antiquity. Today, they even provide a trail of clues into a nation's economic, political, and financial market health. With A History of Interest Rates, Fourth Edition as your guide, you'll discover just how important interest rates have always been and how you can take advantage of the information embedded within them.

From the Back Cover

A History of INTEREST RATES

The late Sidney Homer published the First Edition of A History of Interest Rates in 1963 because he believed that a comprehensive history of this universal and basic economic and commercial price was necessary. Now in its Fourth Edition, A History of Interest Rates has become a classic in the fields of economics and finance.

This one-of-a-kind guide presents a readable account of interest rate trends and lending practices spanning over four millennia of economic history. Filled with in-depth insights and illustrative charts and tables, this updated Fourth Edition provides a historical perspective of interest rate movements as well as a new chapter of contemporary material and added discussions of interest rate developments over the past ten years.

A sampling of eras and areas covered include:

  • Ancient Times: Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome
  • Medieval Times and Renaissance Europe: Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and more
  • Modern Europe and North America to 1900: England, France, and other European countries, as well as the United States
  • Europe and North America since 1900: England, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as Canada and the United States
  • Other countries and regions in the 1900s: Japan, Russia, China, and Latin America

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many might say that a book of this subject matter would be incredibly dry and boring. But if one reads it from cover to cover, as was the case for this reviewer, one will find it to be packed with fascinating information and insights on almost three thousand years of financial history. Nearly every culture and geography is represented as the authors take the reader on a roller coaster ride over the hills and valleys of lending policies and usury in both private and public contexts. There are many surprises for the reader who is unaware of the great impact that interest rates can have on human activities, including war and pestilence, but also human discovery and adventure. For the serious researcher, there are also a multitude of tables and graphs, illustrating the behavior of interest rate time series for different cultures and governments throughout history.

The scale of importance of interest rates in the modern world is staggering if compared with the historical periods that are discussed in this book. Indeed, and this is brought out by the authors, interest rates in their words are "watched like a hawk", and millions of dollars are spent every year in interest rate modeling and analysis of fixed income securities such as bonds and mortgage-backed financial instruments. All investors, no matter which sector of the market they are involved in, have to monitor very closely the trends in interest rates.

The magnitude of interest rates can enable wars to be fought and lost, as is brought out brilliantly in this book. Legal philosophies and developments have also guided humans as to what is considered just compensation for lending, with rates in some cultures considered to be astronomical as compared to others.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Merkel on January 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is big, very big at ~700 pages. It is a testimony to the idea that history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

The book is arranged chronologically, and geographically within each time period. Time is spent on each are roughly in proportion to the amount of unique data that we have from each era. Thus, the recent past gets more pages per year. Roughly one-quarter of the book goes from ancient times to 1800, and one quarter to the 19th century. Half of the book is 1900-2005.

There are several things that the book points out, common to each time and area investigated.

1) It is very difficult to eliminate interest. Even when governments or religions try to restrict interest, either in rate charged or in entire, systems arise to create promises to pay more in the future that than full payment today.

2) The more technologically advanced economies get, the lower interest rates tend to get.

3) Boom/bust cycles are impossible to avoid.

4) Governments introduce currencies and often cheat on them (debasement, or inflation of a fiat currency).

5) Governments do sometimes fail, whether due to a lost war, civil war, or default, taking their currencies and debt promises with them.

6) The economic cycle across the world is usually more correlated than most people believe at any given point in time, even in ancient times. (How much more today... decoupling indeed...)

7) Cultures that allowed for a moderate amount of debt financing prospered the most, in general.

Those are my summary points after reading the book. Homer and Sylla drew some but not all of those conclusions. It's an ambitious book and and ambitious read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're tired of the evening news' review of the day's events, only to be revised later that evening, this is a great way to put interest rates in perspective. Covering millennia of data, this is a book any serious investor should at least browse. If you're looking for perspective on today's rate environment, this helps; if you're looking for ways to forecast interest rates, this isn't it.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kirk VINE VOICE on September 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The author states that he doesn't want to get into analysis of the why the interest rates did what they did during the last 5000 years. I agree, it would take numerous books just to explain that but I do question what value recording interest rates for the last few hundred years has and how we can benefit. It's an interesting book but it's almost written like a farmer's almanac, in the historical sense. Do you really care if it was 68 degrees this day 5 years ago? I don't want to critize anymore but it's an intesting book and the thing that I got from it was that interest rates have historically been between 2-10% for every developed nation the last 200 years. Too bad this book was written in the 1960's because the rates in the 70's would have thrown off this conclusion too. In summary, interesting but not much you can apply to today's world.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gong Cheng on November 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains data and text description of the interest rates of different time and country of this world. But it is really just the history, the cause of the interest rate fluctuation were barely analyzed. This may be understandable because the economic policy of ancient times are hardly accessible, but as the reader you are warned not to be expecting to understand the driving forces of interest rates by reading this book.
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