deirdre_nyc (deirdre_nyc) wrote,

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2009 Book #1: The Ascent of Money, by Niall Ferguson

Money's money, right? Wrong. My sister told me that "Life is like a sh*t sandwich, the more bread you have the less sh*t you eat." (True unless you're Sunny Von Bulow.)

Niall Ferguson focuses his history of the world on its finances. He succeeds in explaining the origins, evolution, and present state of currency, bonds, stocks, insurance, property, and financial wizardry. There's plenty I still don't know, but looking at the world through the prism of money usually explains a lot. And while Karl Marx didn't get rich from doing it, he too thought it was a pretty darned important way to interpret events.

Ferguson is no Marxist. He believes that it is the lack of credit that leads to intractable poverty, such as racist blue-lining African-American neighborhoods so that they never had local banks to get mortgages from or paid higher rates for loans than whites. Nor does he spend much time on the evil and oppression that has been carried out in the pursuit of super-profits.

But what he does do is unravel the mysterious nature of capital. The book is brand new and the melt-down of 2008 was just getting started when it went to press. However, Ferguson gives us a paradigm to understand the magnitude and the origins of the depression that the world is in.

After reading the book it's hard not to thing of all of banking, stocks, and finance industry as a giant Ponzi scheme that is finally coming due.

Still, I just keep thinking about that sh*t sandwich that's coming our way.

Tags: history, nonfiction, reading

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