Found 4 comments on HN
nikcub · 2011-08-17 · Original thread
I have been reading a lot about the history of money, finance and economics. It is a topic I find interesting. All of the biographies about money mention Fibonacci.

I would recommend the following (you can get most of these books in kindle edition and most of the documentaries are online in one form or another:

Web:

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fibonacci

* Liber Abaci, his most famous book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liber_Abaci

* History of money: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_money

* More on Liber Abaci: http://liberabaci.blogspot.com/

* More again on Liber Abaci: http://www.math.utah.edu/~beebe/software/java/fibonacci/libe...

* This American Life episode on the invention of money: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/423/t...

Books:

* The Ascent of Money: http://www.amazon.com/Ascent-Money-Financial-History-World/d...

* The Origins of Value (hard to find): http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Value-Financial-Innovations-Cr...

* History of Money (I haven't read this yet, but plan to): http://www.amazon.com/History-Money-Ancient-Times-Present/dp...

Documentaries:

* NOVA's 'The History of Money': http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/history-money.html

* BBC's 'The Ascent of Money' series: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ascent_of_Money

* The Secret History of the Credit Card: this was PBS again, can't find it online but if you Google around I am sure you could find it somewhere.

There is a lot more out there - if you follow links, wikipedia, amazon recommendations and reviews etc. you will find a lot of good sources. A fascinating topic and fascinating characters involved in the creation of money (like the Rothschilds and their involvement in toppling governments and funding conflict).

Every financial instrument we use today - from bonds, stocks, notes, interest, credit, debit, trade finance instruments etc. have an interesting story around their origin.

Fibonacci bought over the Arabic number system, base 10 notation (which makes interest easier to calculate), and set formulas for conversion, standard units of weight etc. It was a bit like an early draft standard for merchant traders.

With the history, you soon realize that money is just a promissory note or a debt, and that all money is borrowed. With a wallet full of notes what you have is a promise from the US Government that the notes can be readily exchanged.

The more recent fascination with gold-backed currency seems a bit ridiculous if you understand the history and why we went into gold and then back out of it.

brc · 2010-06-11 · Original thread
I disagree - if there were no capital markets, there would be nothing to build your house, or bed from. You would be forced to build your house and eat from what was lying around in your local area, even if you organise a tribal organisation to all help each other. You would live a short life and see many of your children die before their 5th birthday. Because that's how it used to be.

The dramatic improvements in lives came about at the time of the industrial revolution, which in itself was partially an engineering outbreak, but also an outbreak of the abilities to raise and organise capital that had been perfected by financing risky and long sea voyages, which, in themselves brought about dramatic lifts in quality of life. No finance, no 'new world', no USA.

I might add that 'capital markets' cover the entire span of financing, from angel investing to the big board in New York. The principles are just the same and the knowledge required is very similar.

You may dislike the capital markets, but you cannot deny that the rise in standard of living, technology and wealth is not linked to the invention of both structured lending, pooled risk/reward and ability to trade both equity and debt to other people. If you meld my thoughts with PG's discussion at http://paulgraham.com/gap.html you can see the rise in wealth and living standards happening in parallell along with the developments of structured and tradeable debt, invention of partial ownership and tradeable securities (share markets) and of pooled risk taking (insurance). I also recommend Niall Fergusons' 'Ascent of Money' for a good backdrop into how/why this is. http://www.amazon.com/Ascent-Money-Financial-History-World/d...

Again, you might dislike the role that markets have, but pretending they are some sort of bolt-on that could be disposed is very naive thinking.

samg · 2010-01-17 · Original thread
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson.

http://www.amazon.com/Ascent-Money-Financial-History-World/d...

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