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.
"[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
"Only William Goetzmann--an archaeologist, art historian, and esteemed finance scholar--could have produced this masterful exploration of money and investing through the ages. Money Changes Everything is at once deep, broad, sweeping, and gorgeously illustrated. It is a book that readers will savor and refer to again and again."--William Bernstein, author of A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World
"Money is the greatest invention since the wheel. In this masterwork, Money Changes Everything, William Goetzmann traces money’s role from prehistoric times to the present, showing how civilizations developed on a bedrock of financial transactions. A beautifully written and compelling book."--Elroy Dimson, University of Cambridge and London Business School
"In Money Changes Everything, readers learn a tremendous amount about the core ideas of finance. William Goetzmann uses a vast range of historical examples to explain why the evolution of finance and civilization are inseparable."--Robert J. Shiller, Nobel Laureate in Economics
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