William N. Goetzmann: Money changes everything—how finance made civilization possible
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Money Changes Everything by W. H. Goetzmann portraits the author’s understanding of people, places and things related to the role of finance and the development of financial methods throughout time and places. Goetzmann’s efforts to document an extensive travelogue of finance and to discuss it outside a monotonous university textbook setting are worth appreciating. The author addresses not only the origins of finance in various civilizations, but also shows how these civilizations in turn have been shaped by finance. He concludes that financial methods are one of the most important social innovations. The key elements of finance, meaning reallocation of risk, capital and economic value, are imbedded across time and in all civilizations. Therefore, even if the intrinsic characteristic of finance remains more or less the same, its development over time is of high interest. In short, finance acts as a wheel of technology for civilizations.
The first section of the book discusses the...