Money Changes Everything How Finance Made Civilization Possible

Author(s): William N. Goetzmann


A sweeping history of finance and civilization that "convincingly makes the case that finance is a change-maker of change-makers" (Financial Times) 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.


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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.

Acknowledgments vii Introduction 1 Part I From Cuneiform to Classical Civilization 15 1 Finance and Writing 19 2 Finance and Urbanism 31 3 Financial Architecture 46 4 Mesopotamian Twilight 65 5 Athenian Finance 73 6 Monetary Revolution 92 7 Roman Finance 103 Part II The Financial Legacy of China 137 8 China's First Financial World 143 9 Unity and Bureaucracy 167 10 Financial Divergence 194 Part III The European Crucible 203 11 The Temple and Finance 207 12 Venice 221 13 Fibonacci and Finance 238 14 Immortal Bonds 249 15 The Discovery of Chance 258 16 Efficient Markets 276 17 Europe, Inc. 289 18 Corporations and Exploration 305 19 A Projecting Age 320 20 A Bubble in France 347 21 According to Hoyle 363 22 Securitization and Debt 382 Part IV The Emergence of Global Markets 401 23 Marx and Markets 405 24 China's Financiers 423 25 The Russian Bear 443 26 Keynes to the Rescue 454 27 The New Financial World 467 28 Re-Engineering the Future 493 29 Post-War Theory 504 Conclusion 519 Notes 523 Bibliography 541 Illustration Credits 555 Index 557

General Fields

  • : 9780691143781
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : March 2016
  • : 229mm X 152mm X 48mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : William N. Goetzmann
  • : Hardback
  • : 332.09
  • : 600
  • : 51 halftones. 9 line illus.