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Money Changes Everything : How Finance Made Civilization Possible (Hardcover) (William N. Goetzmann)
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In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, people might consider finance a wrecking ball: something that destroys fortunes and jobs, and undermines governments and banks. InMoney Changes Everything, leading financial economist William Goetzmann argues the exact opposite--the development of finance has made the growth of civilizations possible. Exploring the critical role of finance over the millennia, from Mesopotamia to today, Goetzmann shows that wondrous financial technologies and institutions--money, bonds, banks, corporations, and more--have helped urban centers to expand and cultures to flourish. In the present, financial tools that allow for shifts of economic value over time enable us to purchase homes and set up retirement plans. Where did the powers of finance come from? And what do we need to be wary of for the future?
Focusing on the great civilizations of Sumer, Greece, Rome, China, and early modern Europe, Goetzmann examines key episodes, including the invention of financial planning by the Babylonians, the invention of money by the Greeks, the Chinese establishment of paper securities, the emergence of the world's first corporations in the Middle Ages, and the American creation of equity mutual funds. Throughout history, financial innovations have responded to rising economic, social, and political needs. Goetzmann also looks at current challenges, such as the maintenance of productive enterprise, and an aging and expanding population. He asserts that financial technologies have the continuing potential to improve society.
Delving into one of the most important and polarizing of all human institutions,Money Changes Everything demonstrates how finance has forcefully shaped our world in positive ways.