Diary of a Financier

Bookshelf Update: The Ascent of Money

In Bookshelf on Fri 7 Jan 2011 at 09:52
  • Adding The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson to my Bookshelf.
  • The work is densely historical, but worthy of #5 in my Top Books.

Last week, I finished The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson. The work is densely historical (and even pretentious at times), but the historical impetus was exactly what I wanted.

Back in college, my Bachelors Degree in Economics buried me in theories and models. When I hit Wall Street ground zero, those models were a helpful foundation, but they proved too clunky, too objective for practical application. Capital Markets demand better instincts and quicker reflexes, so I started self-educating. A graduate degree is one means of knowledge landgrab, but I trust in the Market itself as the best educator for traders and PMs.

A masterful investor emerses himself in the Market first, but he must also find the spare time to study it from afar. One thing I quickly learned was to form my opinions from the news & from the Market itself, not from analysts, pundits, or other hearsay. Thus, Mr. Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money–a factual piece–neatly fits my ceaseless curriculum.

As advertised, it provides A Financial History of the World by documenting the maturation of five financial elements, followed by a prognostic postlogue:

  1. Credit & Loan Networks- the foundation of civilizations.
  2. Bond Markets- the master of the universe.
  3. Stocks- bubbles & busts.
  4. Insurance- catastrophe protections & the welfare state.
  5. Housing- the privatisation of state-owned assets & mortgage fundamentalism.
  6. Chimerica (postlogue)- the history of globalizations.

I highly recommend it as a fundamental building block for anyone intrigued by finance.


View Bookshelf

  1. […] any wise old bond guy would tell you, the bond market is the master of the universe.  While the equity market sometimes slips or skips out of rhythm with the tune, the bond market is […]


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