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July 8th, 2009
The Ascent of Money Episode 1: From Bullion to Bubbles

In the first episode of the four-hour series THE ASCENT OF MONEY, economist and historian Niall Ferguson documents the roots of money and finance in the conquest of the Americas, from the Incan empire to the Louisiana territory.

  • Judith maxwell

    This Series is well worth repeating. Please provide sufficient notice and lead time so that all our friends can be alerted

  • Roy G. Biv

    Episode 1 covered the birth of the bank, credit, bonds, and the stock market in the ascent of money. A brilliant historical analysis, with great verve, dynamism, and clear thinking. His insight that trust is the key to the development of money is central to the presentation. (The credit card and other even more modern forms like microcredits and beyond are further developments in trust.) I look forward to viewing the other three episodes.

  • Lisa

    Episode 1 would be really excellent as an historical introduction to money for middle school grades — unfortunately, I am wary of using it because Ferguson uses the word “damn” in his narration. A relatively small thing, but, unfortunately, one I have to avoid as an educator that needs to be conscious of my parents’ sensitivity levels — what a shame!

  • Karenaa

    uhmmm this is confusing make smaller words and shorter sentences!!!

  • Robert

    I just watched episode 1 and really enjoyed it. It´s almost too much info for such a short period for those of us that don´t know the history and not enough info to satisfy those who know more. So, I understand the criticisms and will, as always, do further research on my own. That said, I believe this program is great. He has to make it entertaining and educational for a wide audience within a strict time frame. I would have to take his classes at Harvard to get it all. I wish we didn´t have to make the comments political and just use the information and supplement it on our own. Thanks to PBS.

  • Lindan

    Has anyone noticed — the Production Editor, the Coordinating Editor, the Executives in Charge, among others — that this episode of The Ascent of Money, “From Bullion to Bubbles,” contains voice-over visual cues and edits all the way through? The voice is male and American, not Ferguson’s voice, and they tell us what Ferguson is doing or seeing every minute or two. “In an archives, Ferguson flips through pages of a yellowed ledger.” Sure enough, we see Ferguson flipping through the pages of a yellowed ledger. “Ferguson gazes at city buildings.” There we see Ferguson gazing.
    “In an archives, Ferguson studies a book.” There’s Ferguson, there’s the book. “Ferguson strolls along a Parisian street.” Cue Ferguson and the Parisian street. This intrusive American voice telling me what I was seeing on the screen disrupted the flow of Ferguson’s narrative, and, for me at least, ruined the entire episode.

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  • Michael Hasenstein

    Instead of the video I only get a voice “this content is currently unavailable”???

  • Bill Archibald

    I am currently teaching a Business College course in Financial Institutions and Risk Management. Your series The Ascent of Money would be a perfect discussion assignment for my students. I have purchased the book and the DVD and would like to assign to the students to go to your website to watch each video over a 4 week period and then discuss in class.
    I cannot access the videos. I get a recording that says “This material is currently not available.” Can you please tell me whether it will be available and if so when? Please let me know.
    Thank you.
    Bill Archibald
    Instructor, Faculty of Business
    Douglas College
    New Westminster, BC

  • Ascent of Money webmaster

    Mr. Archibald, unfortunately due to rights restrictions, we cannot stream the video online in Canada — online viewership is restricted to the United States only.

  • Steve Marshall

    “Content is unavailable..”- that’s useful. A must read on the subject is this free book “The creature from Jekyll Island” by G.Edward Griffin,here:

  • galois

    About inflation of XVI century Mr. Ferguson says that Spanish didn’t understand the value of money when the School of Salamana was a pioneering contributor of the monetary theory.

    The documentary is entertaining but the author is too self-centred.

  • elisheba

    I was surprised by the errors. It was not mentioned that money-lending was the ONLY profession allowed to the Jews. Regarding the book of Deuteronomy allowing interest to foreigners…Jews were the only monotheists at the time of the writing of Deuteronomy – everyone else was an idolater – there were no Christians yet.

  • elisheba

    You need alot more than music and a clear speaking voice. You need complete research. I was surprised by the errors. It was not mentioned that money-lending was the ONLY profession allowed to the Jews. Regarding the book of Deuteronomy allowing interest to foreigners…Jews were the only monotheists at the time of the writing of Deuteronomy – everyone else was an idolater – there were no Christians yet.

  • elisheba

    You need complete research. I was surprised by the errors. It was not mentioned that money-lending was the ONLY profession allowed to the Jews. Regarding the book of Deuteronomy allowing interest to foreigners…Jews were the only monotheists at the time of the writing of Deuteronomy – everyone else was an idolater – there were no Christians yet.

  • China west

    I agree with Brett, Leslie, Preston and Batman…He jumps all over the place and kind of goes on tangents…I am the worst at this…but i am not making a film about it…given the person who e-mailed this to me I suspected a much more informative “treatise” on the subject and can only hope the next three will be more along the lines of that you`tube video done about the Rothschild s.

    My only critique of construction here is that if your gonna make a documentary about a fiat system which was perpetuated on a seemingly large scale you simply MUST make a direct connection to lucifer to keep things interesting. “Obfuscation” is the name of the game and it’s possible this fellow did not do well at book reports…{ I feel for him in this case as I myself do jump around in an unintentional non-communicative manner} OR…there isn’t much of a point to be made…It’s not like he is trying to say that this fellow Jean Laws created the idea of Bank shares and Bonds…or is it…if so…that leaves about 35 minutes of air time to fill with something more interesting.

    How about… just HOW did Mayer Rothschild get any king or queen { whose picture is ON the money…} to not only ALLOW them to create fiat money…{NOT IN THEIR INTEREST ~ as in…why didn’t monarchs do this themselves!!!} but later on charge an interest to their subjects !!!

    This fact {???} to me is a very conspicuous incongruity to the great big picture of economics.

    Can anyone answer me that ? !!!

    Thanks much…China West ~ New here.

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  • denny mayer

    seems good

  • Pete

    The concept that is hard to understand in a capitalistic society is everything fluctuates in value, but at the same time
    everything has an intrinsic value at any point in time. Identifying this value is difficult, Warren Buffet may be the best at evaluating value at a specific point in time. Thats what I get from the program.

  • The Seeker

    Whatever said and done, the documentary does put together a lot of facts which have shaped our modern financial system. While errors abound (as pointed by my fellow viewers), we certainly cannot discount the fact that the series makes the world of finance accessible for beginners like me. Moreover, the historical backdrop which he provides on each occasion just makes it so much easier to logically comprehend each of the concepts! I’m pleased to comment Mr. Ferguson for his work.

  • Reader

    This is kind of late, but did you watch this episode on television? There is a setting where for the visually impaired the TV describes what all is going on in the current picture. If you saw this here, I don’t know what the problem is but try to see if the same setting is turned on when you play the video.

  • chandra

    hi i need the written story of ‘The ascent of money documentary’.pls send it to my mail id is

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  • da vinci

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  • hit counter

    Well said!

  • Daniel Martínez

    When trying to play the movie you can only listen “this content is unavailable”; when it is going to be available again? Best regards

  • Philip OJETOLA

    With The Ascent of Money history is taken beyond the archive stuff and given a life that makes the discipline relevant even in the analysis of monetary issues….a must read for the WALL STREET GUYS and indeed all of us.

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