- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (October 27, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143116177
- ISBN-13: 978-0143116172
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 413 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World 1st Edition
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"Before regulators throw block trades, bond swaps, bridge financing, butterfly spreads and Black-Scholes out with the bathwater, they should find time to read Niall Ferguson's The Ascent of Money." --The Wall Street Journal
"[An] excellent, just in time guide to the history of finance and financial crisis." --The Washington Post
"Shrewdly anticipates many aspects of the current financial crisis, which has toppled banks, precipitated gigantic government bailouts and upended global markets." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Fascinating." --Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek
"Good old-fashioned narrative history, complete with heroes and villains, visionaries and scoundrels." --James Pressley, Bloomberg
About the Author
Niall Ferguson is one of the world's most renowned historians. He is the author of Paper and Iron, The House of Rothschild, The Pity of War, The Cash Nexus, Empire, Colossus, The War of the World, The Ascent of Money, High Financier, Civilization, The Great Degeneration, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, and The Square and the Tower. He is Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His many awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013).
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Unfortunately this is not it.
Prof. Ferguson, who divides his time between Harvard and Oxford, has become the "James Michener" of world history. He writes effusively on everything from "Britain's contributions to civilization" and "warfare in the 20th century" to "the Rothschilds." Having dipped into several of his long-winded tomes, I can honestly say that the game has seldom been worth the candle.
And now this. Here a documentary project for Channel 13 evidently drove this "Ascent" book project, with predictable consequences -- jump cuts from subject to subject that leave readers almost sea-sick; topic choices that seem to have been made for video potential and notoriety, not objective importance; "mile wide, inch deep" scholarship that yields a very large pile of half-truths and incomplete thoughts.
I did like his chapter on housing finance, though it raised many more questions than it answered, and seemed to suggest that ignorant residential borrowers had more to do with the current debacle than, say, trillions in derivatives issued by Wall Street banks and insured by outfits like AIG.
Clearly the faults are not for want of ability. Where Prof. Ferguson actually gets up out of the armchair and does some first-hand research, as in his treatment of the Rothschilds, we get a few moments of serious, original scholarship.
Beyond that, and a few colorful tales, the book amounts to coffee table nostrums for readers who want to be reassured that the "wall is not coming down" on our Capitalist Empire.
Among Prof. Ferguson's comforting conclusions: (1) finance capitalism really is the best of all possible worlds, at least in the long run; (2) hedge funds and global banks really are wonderful new instruments for "guarding against risk"; (3) "financial innovation" really is "indispensable" -- despite all the innovation in REGULATION that this wizardry seems to constantly requires; and (4) "poverty" is NEVER "caused by" financial innovation -- a conclusion that Ferguson repeats over and over, never with any evidence. (This one may come as a surprise to the 2 billion citizens of low-income countries outside China and India whose incomes utterly failed to grow from the late 1970s to 2000 because of "Third World sub-prime loans."
The book also contains any number of factual errors. The dollar has strengthened, not declined, during current financial crisis. China and other Asian countries have hardly "decoupled;" quite the reverse. Chile's 17-year flirtation with fascism under the corrupt, bloodthirsty Pinochet regime was a horribly costly mistake, not some interesting little experiment with privatized pension funds. China's economic backwardness in the 19th was not due to a shortage of financial institutions (which are not an "uncaused cause" of anything) but to -- as Ferguson, contra ipsum, seems to acknowledge -- the impact of Western imperialism on China's weak state; Ken Griffin's Citadel hedge fund is hardly a work of genius, but a monumental failure; etc. etc. etc.
In short, this is a dumbed down, pollyanish, made-for-TV "hasty pudding" of a book. Its success - like the mortgage debacle itself - is based largely on hype and the "impeccable reputation" of its principle "securitizer."
We need to remember two golden rules of book selection -- (1) always be suspicious whenever a film project leads to a book, rather than the reverse; and (2) always be suspicious of any book whose title is printed in a smaller font than that of the author's own name.
If you want to read a skewed version of not the entire subject, then read Mr. Ferguson's books. One should note that just not anyone can get published in the literary industry unless you have the blessing of the very people you are exposing. In noting that, this book could be more looked at as "A Robber Barons' Guide to the Galaxy in how we snookered the world" with Niall Ferguson as the guy running the spotlight who keeps flicking that light onto other areas.
The current financial crisis is an attack on the United States proper which was engineered out of the central banks of Europe. If one bothers notice, France was the banking house which set off the same shock waves in housing and derivatives collapse. There are no coincidences in this as it is all staged just as Warren Buffett was bragging about over 30 billion in profits which came out of people loosing money in their 401K's until he was exposed and then the headlines were planted, "Poor Warren his stocks are falling too".
Amazing how over 100 billion in a company, a billion for each of his children in a trust which can not be taxed and being a billionaire makes one poor when you have the president elect's political ear with all the other financial titans who are profiting off of all of this.
Mr. Ferguson's credentials mean nothing as he is no Victor Davis Hanson at Hoover. Mr. Ferguson is the Dinesh D'Souza of fellows in writing a great deal in things he explores from other people's work.
No one is pointing out in this the devaluation, the constriction of the economy, the way money is being flushed out of the Stock Market so the financial houses can sweep it up or leave savings accounts with devalued dollars nor are they pointing out all of this just did not happen.
Iceland was the control to see the effects and is imploding. England will be the next implosion with America the final implosion leaving the central Europeans in financial control while looking to Chinese and Indian slave labor or military fodder backed by Russian oil and arms.
The great minds have noted a Eurasian world war is coming and what is happening in this attack upon the United States happened during Lincoln's era, happened during the 30's and again in the 70's. What is brewing now is a shift from this economic warfare for global superpower to a world war in which Eurasia implodes.
Mr. Ferguson not taking the entire picture into account in how this is a direct attack upon Anglo American finance, assisted by many traitors to their own nations highlights his book is either inept or the only reason his book was manufactured just in time to herd the masses into thinking it is all just a typical event is but propaganda from the very people behind this financial manipulation.
I would not purchase this book. I would instead invest the money into something sound that the financial titans can not get their hands on.
There is an even older lesson that is free in economics:
Stay out of debt. Invest in things which can not blow away and always make certain you have your own home paid for.
Follow that advice in what is coming or read someone like Mr. Celente published online who has been predicting quite accurately the economic problems and you will be farther ahead than knowing what Mr. Ferguson is selling.
May God keep us in the times ahead. Amen
Don't get your history and analysis from a right-wing apologist for Wall Street and the ultra-wealthy, who likes to blame the poor and middle class victims for the horrid, downhill course of the last 30 years.
Save your money and shop around--there are much, much better analyses than this revisionist history and propaganda piece.