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The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World
The Ascent of Money The Financial History of the World
Actor: Niall Ferguson
Director: Adrian Pennink
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
NR     2009     4hr 0min

In the four-hour version of THE ASCENT OF MONEY, historian and author Niall Ferguson seeks to explain the financial history of the world, exploring how our complex system of global finance evolved over the centuries, how m...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Niall Ferguson
Director: Adrian Pennink
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Special Interests, Educational, History
Studio: PBS Home Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 09/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 4hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Clear telling of a critical story
Peter Lorenzi | Maryland, USA | 08/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"PBS viewers will recognize this offering. Ferguson is charming and persuasive. He makes the story something that even my twelve-year old can understand, without "talking down". He covers the full range of financial dealings around the globe, from Wall Street to microfinance. His case study of Argentina makes a difficult story relatively simple yet not simplistic. He positively critiques Hernando de Soto's approach ot providing title to land to the poor as a means of securing collateral-based loans and shows where small, uncollaterized loans can work even more effectively.

Great as a serious academic yet never boring treatment of "high" and "low" finance. Should be required for most college majors."
CGScammell | Southern Arizona | 12/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Professor Niall Ferguson really shines in this presentation. His vibrant animation and his laymen's terms make the finanical history of the world quite comprehensible. The four hours of this work give ample examples of how money and trade were handled in our past (not very well!). Ferguson always manages to appear in that country he is talking about: Peru, Italy, Spain, Algeria, China, New York, to give primary source examples of our finanical history, such as 15th-century handwritten tax records. This documentary is well worth the four hours to sit through and absorb.

General history with the application of mathematics, the science of interest-earning and speculation, the making of coins and paper money and of course ample examples of finanical crashes, depressions and recession come up in this presentation with reasons for the demise. The rise of the Chinese economy, according to Ferguson, is our next biggest financial threat.

He not only understands the stock market and finance, but also history, and together Ferguson writes a captivating review of the financial history of the world. A lot of wars were waged over money.

The earliest lenders of money were Jews, who even in medieval Venice had to wear yellow caps and live in their own ghettos outside of the town square. The reason Jews had become so prevalent in money lending is because in the Catholic church money lending was considered a sin. Aha! That opens up a lot of other follow-up questions to our history. Ferguson quotes several biblical passages for his work. In the second episode we learn why the Jews became hated by the German Reich: the Germans blamed the Jewish bankers for a failing stock market across Europe. We see history and finance blend into one. This is all so fascinating.

The final episode, "Planet Finance" really makes viewers understand the current economic crisis, and the history of prime and sub-prime lenders.

This is both good for high school and collegiate-level business or history classes. The student walks away understanding even the stock market, something I never was able to do until now.

This presentation has gotten me interested in knowing more about Professor Ferguson and watching any other of his works. He really makes the study of finance seem so easy.

This DVD is divided into four episodes of about 55 minutes each, all on one DVD.

Better than i expected
Peter T. Wolf | lake forest, ca United States | 12/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The series ( buy the 4 hour version only) is well done. It is not a big budget show like some of the other econo/history series in the past (i.e. 'The Shape of the World', etc) but works very well for those who like this kind of subject. Here's why I liked it;

a) It is filmed in full screen and fills your entire TV. This certainly helps when some of the photography is of expansive vistas or grand palaces and gives the show an overall big feel.

b) Ferguson does considerable traveling in this show and makes it to all the high spots. The silver mines of the Andes. Hong Kong, London. Paris. Amsterdam, Florence, Pisa, Venice, and thumbing through rare documents such as the Medici family ledgers. Just the places and things you would expect in such a program.

c) Ferguson interviews some impressive people for the show. Most especially the very rare and ultra blue-blood Fourth Baron Jacob De Rothschild. There they are, the two of them strolling through the jaw dropping splendors of Baron Jacob's palace, Waddesdon Manor, reminisceing about his unbelievably wealthy family. It's incredible that anyone like him still exists in our increasingly socialized world. For me these scenes alone were worth the price of the dvd.

If I would make any changes to the show I would spend less time on recent events ( already documented to distraction) and more on the history leading up to the present. Half of the 4 hours are devoted to recent events like Katrina and the 2008 crash.

I am certainly glad I bought it !!"
Facing Vital Challenges Through an Entertaining Journey
Maurice Blair | Houston, TX United States | 08/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The many facets of this documentary weave together a coherent and powerful sense of vital information affecting the present and the future. Whether or not you are deeply involved with studying economic theory, public policy, history, or the future, many key features of these things permeate your life, and this DVD can entertainingly provide a mixture of insights, illustrations, and warnings to consider. Facts play a much larger role than speculation in this documentary, though the speculations seem plausible and add to the value of the overall effect. Scholars may find it productive to ask themselves how much they agree or disagree with the speculations and why... then in future decades revisit the video to compare these details with how things actually unfolded. This DVD's use of moving images that metaphorically relate to narration is often profoundly engaging, too."