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 money has shaped the course of human affairs and how the mechanics of this economic system work to create seemingly unlimited wealth—or catastrophic loss.
Ferguson travels the globe to explain the very origins of the financial world we know today—credit, stocks, bonds, insurance and real estate. In Italy, we learn how the Medicis transformed the sin of usury into the common practice of charging interest while in Amsterdam, we examine the first publicly traded company. Ferguson introduces us to the 19th-century Scottish ministers who created life insurance and shows the limits of modern insurance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And in New York, financial wizard George Soros explains short-selling derivartives, a concept he introduced to the stock market.
Through this history, viewers learn economic fundamentals that inform the meanings of subprime mortgages and credit default swaps and an understanding how the Chinese economy has risen to dominate the world.