Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America

Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America

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by Jonathan Levy
     
 

ISBN-10: 0674047486

ISBN-13: 9780674047488

Pub. Date: 10/31/2012

Publisher: Harvard

Until the early nineteenth century, "risk" was a specialized term: it was the commodity exchanged in a marine insurance contract. Freaks of Fortune tells the story of how the modern concept of risk emerged in the United States. Born on the high seas, risk migrated inland and became essential to the financial management of an inherently uncertain

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Overview

Until the early nineteenth century, "risk" was a specialized term: it was the commodity exchanged in a marine insurance contract. Freaks of Fortune tells the story of how the modern concept of risk emerged in the United States. Born on the high seas, risk migrated inland and became essential to the financial management of an inherently uncertain capitalist future.

Focusing on the hopes and anxieties of ordinary people, Jonathan Levy shows how risk developed through the extraordinary growth of new financial institutions-insurance corporations, savings banks, mortgage-backed securities markets, commodities futures markets, and securities markets-while posing inescapable moral questions. For at the heart of risk's rise was a new vision of freedom. To be a free individual, whether an emancipated slave, a plains farmer, or a Wall Street financier, was to take, assume, and manage one's own personal risk. Yet this often meant offloading that same risk onto a series of new financial institutions, which together have only recently acquired the name "financial services industry." Levy traces the fate of a new vision of personal freedom, as it unfolded in the new economic reality created by the American financial system.

Amid the nineteenth-century's waning faith in God's providence, Americans increasingly confronted unanticipated challenges to their independence and security in the boom and bust chance-world of capitalism. Freaks of Fortune is one of the first books to excavate the historical origins of our own financialized times and risk-defined lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674047488
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
10/31/2012
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
684,652
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Prologue: Voyage 1

1 The Assumption of Risk 7

2 The Perils of the Seas 21

3 The Actuarial Science of Freedom 60

4 The Failure of the Freedman's Bank 104

5 Betting the Farm 150

6 Fraternity in the Age of Capital 191

7 Trading the Future 231

8 The Trust Question 264

Epilogue: Freaks of Fortune 308

Appendix 319

Notes 325

Acknowledgments 395

Index 399

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Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago