Somehow I had low expectations about this book, but I have been totally delighted with it. It is one of the best books (mainly in economy) I have read recently.
It is about about the evolution of finance in the world from the small tablets in Babylon to today’s crypto-currencies.
The shows how the economy development in the world started to speed up when the Spaniards starting to bring tones of silver (Potosi) to Europe (and obviously they didnt make the most it). Still the economy was based in hard currency but after this ,banks, insurance, stock exchanges, bonds and other financial products started to develop in Florence/Venice (Renaissance), Amsterdam, London and Paris. Still early advances were done in the Middle Ages like the case of Fibonacci who wrote the formula to calculate the compound interest of an investment.
I liked the reference to Mary Poppins film regarding a bank run. I actually didnt remember the movie very well but was interesting to make sense to the story.
As well, there is basic example showing how money is created based on debt (based on the fact that the banks dont have to keep your deposit only a small percentage).
It is clear that we dont have that much info about the economies of 4000 years ago but based on the book, the finance has evolved like a living thing. It has become more and more complex,like us, with time. And each crisis has improved it. And each main empire, kingdom, etc in history was strongly connected to an advance it is financial/economy system.
As well, there are good references about finance and war, like the America Civil War, WW1, Napoleon wars, etc
Another topic that was very interesting is the creation of welfare systems (and how different are some of them like Europe, USA and Japan) and the evolution of the pension system. I was really surprised about the example of Chile (when it become a dictatorship) as the first country introducing the private pension system that has been exported to many other countries (Idea from Milton Friedman) And how Argentina was one of the top 10 economies in the early XX century and how things turned sour and became a defaulting machine.
There is a big part of the book focus in the subprime crisis, from the origins, development and aftermath. It is interesting that one of the factors was the “democratization” of home ownership in USA that helped to create the bubble. And how really globalization has made the world not as strong as we thought.
I have managed to make connections to other books I have read before about politics, psychology and economics so it is interesting to see similar and different opinions in several subject (mainly the subprime crisis)
As well, this book was initially published during the Subprime crisis of 2008 and the revision I had, just added two new chapters for the years up to 2018. The final part is mainly about the relationship USA-China post subprime (and Trump), Europe (Brexit), how China is taking the lead in financial technology (so that means they will (or already are) the next empire) and the explosion of crypto-currencies.