The Unauthorized Biography

Book - 2014
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From ancient currency to Adam Smith, from the gold standard to shadow banking and the Great Recession: a sweeping historical epic that traces the development and evolution of one of humankind's greatest inventions.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
ISBN: 9780307962430
Branch Call Number: 332.49 Martin 02/2014
Characteristics: viii, 320 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Call Number: 332.49 Martin 02/2014


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Nov 29, 2016

The writing is very clear and unpolluted by jargon. If there is a problem, its excessive lucidity: very easy to follow whilst reading, but awkward to try to explain to others afterward. And there are neither diagrams nor graphs(!). The key point is that money is not, and really never was, some sort of stuff, rather, its a social technology (I would have called it a group of social techniques, which ought to jive with each other but sometimes don't, but I wasn't editing the book). The book starts from prehistory, and builds fairy quickly to early modern Europe, and then gives a long but clear explanation between classical economics (the stuff of the 'real world' that most are familiar with) and the labyrinthine tight rope (or slack line? or both?) acrobatics of finance, and how the two have been somewhat diverging since the mid-nineteenth century, and then brings it all to a head in the crash derby-waltz of moral hazards that tripped over itself - and fell onto everyone else - in 2008, and finally ends by surveying ideas of how to solve the problems of global economics and public and private institutions and fair risk and reward dispersal in the twenty-first century. (And the text is less than three hundred pages!)


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