A Financial History of the World is Harvard professor Niall Ferguson's tenth book, published in 2008, and an adapted television documentary for Channel 4 (UK) and PBS (US). It examines the long history of money, credit, and banking in a six part series of "The Ascent of Money".
1: Dreams of Avarice
From Shylock's pound of flesh to the loan sharks of Glasgow, from the "promises to pay" on Babylonian clay tablets to Medici banking system. Professor Ferguson explains the origins of credit and debt and why credit networks are indispensable to any civilization.
2: Human Bondage
How did finance become the realm of the masters of the universe? Through the rise of the bond market in Renaissance Italy. With the advent of bonds, war finance was transformed and spread to north-west Europe and across the Atlantic. It was the bond market that made the Rothschilds the richest and most powerful family of the 19th century.
4: Risky Business
Life is a risky business – which is why people take out insurance. But faced with an unexpected disaster, the state has to step in. Professor Ferguson travels to post-Katrina New Orleans to ask why the free market can't provide adequate protection against catastrophe. His quest for an answer takes him to the origins of modern insurance in the early 19th century and to the birth of the welfare state in post-war Japan.
Niall Ferguson investigates the globalisation of the Western economy and the uncertain balance between the important component countries of China and the US. In examining the last time globalisation took hold – before World War One, he finds a notable reversal, namely that today money is pouring into the English-speaking economies from the developing world, rather than out.