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Money Changes Everything:
How Finance Made Civilization Possible
William N. Goetzmann

One of Bloomberg’s Best Books of 2016
One of Financial Times (FT.com) Best Economics Books of 2016
Honorable Mention for the 2017 Ralph Gomory Prize, Business History Conference

Hardcover | 2016 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691143781
600 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 51 halftones. 9 line illus.
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Did Finance Make Civilization Possible?
An interview with author William N. Goetzmann

"[A] magnificent history of money and finance."--New York Times Book Review

“Convincingly makes the case that finance is a change-maker of change-makers.”--Financial Times

In the aftermath of recent financial crises, it's easy to see finance as a wrecking ball: something that destroys fortunes and jobs, and undermines governments and banks. In Money Changes Everything, leading financial historian William Goetzmann argues the exact opposite—that the development of finance has made the growth of civilizations possible. Goetzmann explains that finance is a time machine, a technology that allows us to move value forward and backward through time; and that this innovation has changed the very way we think about and plan for the future. He shows how finance was present at key moments in history: driving the invention of writing in ancient Mesopotamia, spurring the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome to become great empires, determining the rise and fall of dynasties in imperial China, and underwriting the trade expeditions that led Europeans to the New World. He also demonstrates how the apparatus we associate with a modern economy—stock markets, lines of credit, complex financial products, and international trade—were repeatedly developed, forgotten, and reinvented over the course of human history.

Exploring the critical role of finance over the millennia, and around the world, Goetzmann details how wondrous financial technologies and institutions—money, bonds, banks, corporations, and more—have helped urban centers to expand and cultures to flourish. And it's not done reshaping our lives, as Goetzmann considers the challenges we face in the future, such as how to use the power of finance to care for an aging and expanding population.

Money Changes Everything presents a fascinating look into the way that finance has steered the course of history.

William N. Goetzmann is the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management and director of the International Center for Finance at the Yale School of Management. His books include The Origins of Value: The Financial Innovations that Created the Modern Financial Markets and The Great Mirror of Folly: Finance, Culture, and the Crash of 1720.

Reviews:

"It is a fascinating thesis, brilliantly illuminated by scores of vivid examples, generously illustrated with a wealth of pictures, comprehensive in its geographical and temporal scope, and in my view almost entirely convincing."--Felix Martin, New York Times Book Review

"In Money Changes Everything, Mr. Goetzmann draws on objects in Yale's extensive historical collections to tell his exciting story. . . . His excitement with such artifacts is palpable."--Edward Chancellor, Wall Street Journal

"[A]n accessible survey that does a fine job of reallocating past, present, and future."--Kirkus

"Let me say simply that everyone who is curious about the history of finance will be richly rewarded by reading this book."--Linda Jubin, Investing.com

"Money Changes Everything is . . . A tactile and visual history. It is rich with illustrations, and often reported from ground level as Goetzmann travels to dusty European archives or to sites of historical financial significance. . . . Goetzmann's careful, brick-by-brick approach to financial history convincingly makes the case that finance is a change-maker of change-makers."--Pietra Rivoli, Financial Times

"In the fallout from the Great Recession, it's been commonplace to vilify those working in the financial-services industry. But Goetzmann argues that finance is a worthwhile endeavor, beyond just earning a ton of money: Its innovations have made the growth of human civilization possible."--Bourree Lam, TheAtlantic.com

"Full of fascinating nuggets and extremely well researched."--Tim Harford, Undercover Economist

"A remarkable work of synthesis and scholarship, the book affords a deep perspective to anyone trying to grapple with current problems in the role of finance and financial regulation in a civilized society."--Elie Canetti, Finance & Development

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