Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible

October 29, 2020
Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible

"[A] magnificent history of money and finance."—NewYork Times Book Review"Convincingly makes the case that finance is achange-maker of change-makers."—FinancialTimesIn the aftermath of recent financial crises, it's easy to seefinance as a wrecking ball: something that destroys fortunes andjobs, and undermines governments and banks. In Money ChangesEverything, leading financial historian William Goetzmannargues the exact opposite—that the development of finance has madethe growth of civilizations possible. Goetzmann explains thatfinance is a time machine, a technology that allows us to movevalue forward and backward through time; and that this innovationhas changed the very way we think about and plan for the future. Heshows how finance was present at key moments in history: drivingthe invention of writing in ancient Mesopotamia, spurring theclassical civilizations of Greece and Rome to become great empires,determining the rise and fall of dynasties in imperial China, andunderwriting the trade expeditions that led Europeans to the NewWorld. He also demonstrates how the apparatus we associate with amodern economy—stock markets, lines of credit, complex financialproducts, and international trade—were repeatedly developed,forgotten, and reinvented over the course of human history.Exploring the critical role of finance over the millennia, andaround the world, Goetzmann details how wondrous financialtechnologies and institutions—money, bonds, banks, corporations,and more—have helped urban centers to expand and cultures toflourish. And it's not done reshaping our lives, as Goetzmannconsiders the challenges we face in the future, such as how to usethe power of finance to care for an aging and expandingpopulation.Money Changes Everything presents a fascinating lookinto the way that finance has steered the course of history.