The Origins of Value: The Financial Innovations that Created Modern Capital Markets

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From the invention of interest in Mesopotamia and the origin of paper money in China, to the creation of mutual funds, inflation-indexed bonds, and global financial securities, here is a sweeping survey of financial innovations that have changed the world.
Written by a distinguished group of experts--including Robert Shiller, Niall Ferguson, Valerie Hansen, and many others--and wonderfully illustrated with over one hundred color photographs of landmark financial documents (including the first paper money), The Origins of Value traces the evolution of finance through 4,000 years of history. Readers see how and why many of our most important financial tools and institutions--loans, interest rates, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, the corporation, and the New York Stock Exchange, to name a few--came into being. We see, for instance, how ancient Rome developed an early form of equity finance that resembles the modern corporation and read about the first modern corporation--the Dutch East India Company--and its innovative means of financing the exploration and expansion of European business ventures around the globe. We also meet remarkable financial innovators, such as the 13th century Italian Fibonacci of Pisa, whose mathematics of money became the foundation for later developments in the technology of Western European finance (and may explain why the West surpassed the East in financial sophistication). And we even discover a still-surviving "perpetuity" dating from the Dutch Age of Reason--an instrument that has been paying interest since the mid-17th century.
Placing our current age of financial revolution in fascinating historical perspective, The Origins of Value tells a remarkable story of invention, illuminating many key episodes in the course of financial history.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A lively history of finance.... The book is gorgeous. You can see the crimson illumination on the Ligatio pecuniae and read the fine print on a futures contract from the Dutch West India Co. Each chapter is a minihistory written by stars like Niall Ferguson and Robert Shiller, who explain in rich prose the connections between Chinese pawnshops, Greek moneylenders and, ultimately, the cash in your pocket."--Jyoti Thottam, Time Magazine

"Possibly the first book designed expressly for Wall Street coffee tables."--The Economist

"A nice addition to any investor's coffee table. Large and lavishly illustrated, it's a collection of essays by leading scholars on everything from the invention of interest in ancient Samaria to bonds in early America."--Barron's

"A fascinating and insightful guide to the evolution of our modern financial system, set in its broad historical context so that the reader always sees the big picture." --Matthew Bishop, Business Editor, The Economist, and author of Essential Economics

"The Origins of Value makes an important contribution to our understanding of global financial history. It suggests connections across Eurasia (e.g. possible Chinese origin of tallies used in early Medieval Europe, or the roots in ancient Indian mathematics of formulas used by Italian merchants), and plausible answers to important historical questions, like the thirteenth-century divergence, in fiscal terms, of China and Western Europe. The reproduced documents allow readers to see how scrutinizing records of the distant past requires almost as much ingenuity as the fiscal innovations that are the focus of discussion." --James D. Tracy, author of Emperor Charles V, Impresario of War: Campaign Strategy, International Finance, and Domestic Politics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195175714
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,264,964
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

William Goetzmann is the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies, and Director of the International Center for Finance at Yale. He has written extensively on historical capital markets and investing. And as former director of Denver's Museum of Western Art, he co-authored the award-winning book The West of the Imagination. K. Geert Rouwenhorst is Professor of Finance at the Yale School of Management and Deputy Director of the International Center for Finance at Yale. He is an expert on international finance and stock markets around the globe. The work of both authors, including their separate and joint research, has been published in all of the major academic journals in Finance, and has been widely featured in the financial press, including Barron's, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week and The Economist. The International Center for Finance at Yale is an interdisciplinary research institute focused on financial economics and the role of capital markets in society.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : financial innovations in history 3
1 The invention of interest 17
2 Roman shares 31
3 How business was conducted on the Chinese Silk Road during the Tang Dynasty, 618-907 43
4 The origins of paper money in China 65
5 Paying in paper 91
6 From tallies and chirographs to Franklin's printing press at Passy 105
7 Fibonacci and the financial revolution 123
8 Bonds and government debt in Italian city-states, 1250-1650 145
9 Venture shares of the Dutch East India Company 165
10 Perpetuities in the stream of history 177
11 Amsterdam as the cradle of modern futures trading 189
12 Annuities in early modern Europe 207
13 John Law 225
14 The invention of inflation-indexed bonds in early America 239
15 The origins of mutual funds 249
16 Transatlantic paper and the emergence of the American capital market 271
17 The origins of the New York Stock Exchange 299
18 The first "Eurobonds" 313
19 German debt in the twentieth century 327
20 King Leopold's bonds 343
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An illustrated tour of financial history

    This beautifully illustrated coffee table book takes readers on a journey through the history of finance, with scenic stops to view the details of Babylonian loan agreements, the calligraphy of Chinese contracts, the currencies of John Law and even King Leopold II's deathbed marriage to a prostitute. Numerous experts, including Niall Ferguson and Robert J. Shiller, contributed individual essays, so the style and general quality of the text varies from chapter to chapter. The cohesion of the overall content is to the credit of editors William N. Goetzmann and K. Geert Rouwenhorst. Currency-related art and photographs (more varied and noteworthy than you may think) dominates this cross section of financial history from the ancient Sumerians to the Silk Road to Versailles. getAbstract recommends this attractive volume to those interested in financial history and to any bank or brokerage that wants just the right book for visitors to peruse while waiting in the lobby.

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    Posted December 11, 2008

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    Posted January 31, 2009

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