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©2008 Niall Ferguson; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
As I work in a bank for my day job, I was dreading listening to this in the journey to & from work as I thought it would feel like an extension of my job, or like extra curricular revision of a dry, boring subject.
Fortunately it turned out to be a fascinatingly insightful tale of all things financial, with a compelling (if slightly posh narrator) & a rich collection of stories & anecdotes to illustrate each of its chapters.
Covering all aspects of finance, from notes & coin through to bonds & insurance, I found it captivating & educational in equal measure. Of the stories, the most interesting ones were about the founding of the bond market in the ever-feuding principalities of Renaissance Italy and also the ones concerning the foundation of companies (including an explanation of how they began in 17th 18th Century Holland, through to the collapse of Enron).
Although it may seem subjects such as coinage & insurance would be dreadfully dull, somehow they made exciting by stories from history & modern times.
And, as someone who works in the finance industry, I would thoroughly recommend this to expert & financial illiterate alike, as it covers the topic of money in a thorough, but simple way.
If the evidence of our burgeoning budget deficit is anything to go by, then people in the country could do with listening to this on the way to work...
I'm a singing songwriting postie living in Yorkshire. Sometimes I like to be challenged by a book, and sometimes I just want to lose myself.
I'm still none the wiser as to how the financial world's complex creations actually work, or how the Masters of The Universe get away with what seems to me to be nothing but gambling, but this book did challenge my general view that the econosphere is basically evil and bad for society in general. The rise of civilisation - seen through the prism of the financial markets - is certainly dependent on the movement of huge amounts of cash, and there's no doubting that our general prosperity and way of life is, to a large degree, due to the evolution of the markets, but what is certain is that the folks at the top of the money pile need a whole lot of regulation and accountability so as to reign in their all-too-human tendencies to get carried away with their schemes. A very interesting and thought-provoking book, well narrated.
I have really enjoyed this book and find myself re-listening occasionally. If you have an interest in finance and financial matters this is an eye opening listen.
This book I found really interesting but unless you are into Finance and have a good understanding of basic economics then this will probably not be your thing. It is however an excellent grounding in the history, use and eventual total reliance of all mankind on an abstract concept which we all collectively choose to believe is worth exchanging our goods and services for.
Judith Corstjens Author of: Xtensity, Why 5% of Dieters Succeed; Storewars: The Battle for Mindspace and Shelfspace; Strategic Advertising
Niall Ferguson claims to want to make finance accessible and comprehensible to the masses. That would include the 50% of the population who don't have a maths GCSE or O'Level, and have now been put in total control of their own pensions. In this ambition I'm sure he must fail, as the book is deep and wide-ranging, and probably does require a maths O'level to follow it comfortably. However, if you have the interest and motivation to follow 500 years and 350 pages of financial evolution, the book is a revelation, and a pleasure.
The book is organised around the main structures of the financial industry, why they came about and how they evolved: Banking and Money; the Bond Market; Joint Stock Companies and Stock Market; Insurance; the Property Market/mortgages and asset backed securities. Finally he moves on to the current period and the relationship between China and America. This last section was weaker and more muddled.
To me the key revelation was how 'Capital', meaning things like bonds or shares in a company, really create another 'world' parallel to the 'property' we are all so obsessed with in the UK. When an aristocratic Land Owner, looked down his nose at a parvenu 'Rentier' he was expressing his dislike for a new order based on 'Das Kapital'. At some level I knew that the means of production were Land, Capital and Labour, but I didn't really understand this. You should read the book to see what I mean.
The fact that the book was written in 2008 does not make it obsolete (as you might fear). It is more of a history than current affairs, and by the time the book was written the writing was already on the wall for the current financial crisis.
Narration. I felt it was too 'Jackanory', as if reading a children's book. I would have liked it read in a rich Adam Smith burr, but that is just me. Seriously, non-fiction readers should not try to do accents. Hugh Ross doing George Soros (pigeon-hungarian-jew) was painful to the ear.
Economic impacts all of us; but few of us study it at school (and even if we do, we probably never learn the important stuff). Understanding Economics is nearly as important as understanding statistics, or probability - and probably even rarer than either of those.
I was lucky to pick up a basic understanding of bank credit, government securities (bonds), and company stock (shares) while I was at college (though I did an English degree). I was still pretty confused about most sorts of derivatives, and hedging - and I'd hardly suspected how central insurance products now are in commercial markets. Niall Ferguson reminded me of most of the stuff I had forgotten, and introduced me to a plethora of crucial and fascinating new information.
Ferguson's book is a surprisingly comprehensive introduction to the central ideas of contemporary financial systems (including some interesting ideas on the relative merits of investing in financial products as against devoting as much of your liquidity as possible to buying your house). Hugh Ross was faced with delivering a fairly challenging text (albeit a well-written one) in a casual and engaging manner. The performer of this book needed to be an engaged non-specialist: Hugh Ross managed this creditably.
Everybody that owns a house and has money in the bank will have a strong reaction to some of the ideas launched here. Most of what I heard, I found reassuring. Some of what I heard, worried me a great deal.
I bought this at the same time as the audiobook of J K Galbraith's Affluent Society , and listened to them back to back. Together the books are as much fun as The Casual Vacancy, and as disturbing as Carrie.
finance, economics ,mathamatics and nonfiction reader.
Complex topic made simple and interestingEvolution kf banking shstem, stock market, bond market and its impact of world events narrated in enjoyabk listening manner
Not in one sitting but i found it interesting enuf to continue when i get opportunity to choose a listning book
Intried the paperback version of the book earlier, it was a boring experience so i was skeptical to purchase this as an audio, but because audible allows returns i though of taking a risk. It paid off:)
Had i bn shy, i wd have missed grt pool of knowledge
Some of the history of banking and insurance was completely new to me and gave me a new understanding of the world of finance and its justification for existence.
In the sections on recent financial stupidities I was familiar with most of the factual material but enjoyed a slightly different slant.
Bit of repetition - was this a TV programme?
Agree on the whole with another reviewer that it is a good car book but I lost a few paragraphs where the necessarily dry reading and reading matter lost out to concentrating on driving. This audiobook more than most made me wish I could rewind shorter sections.
concise, epic. educating
Any other book by Niall Ferguson
There was no specific section that stands out it is the over view the book provides that is most interesting
excellent audiobook, very interesting,
"Clears so many part of the financial puzzle"
The book unravels in a fascinating & simple manner the intircacies of today's financial world. Its specially helpful for the non financial guys but will help people with financial knowledge to appreicate the history of financial products. A very good listen/read overall.
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