A clear, concise, illustrated guide to the workings of the global economy.
Money is big news. Banks have collapsed, the property bubble has burst and national debts are at unimaginable levels. The Book of Money will help readers understand what is happening and how it affects them. It is a practical, understandable guide to all the nuances of the world of finance written for the lay reader.
Financial journalists Daniel Conaghan and Dan Smith present authoritative, insightful, insider knowledge in a clear manner. They provide up-to-date coverage of the most important economic issues that affect us all.
Explanations are presented in a uniquely visual style. Numerous color illustrations, graphs, charts, timelines and Jargon Buster boxes aid in comprehension. Profiles describe key figures, and panels focus on special topics such as the Global Meltdown and PayPal.
The Book of Money is an authoritative, straightforward guide to the complex world of global finance. It is an ideal introduction for the average reader new to the topic and a reliable, up-to-date review for those with some knowledge. It is an essential purchase for a large audience eager to understand our complex world.
Daniel Conaghan is an author and journalist specializing in economics, and a former financial advisor. He has written for the Economist, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph and Spectator.
Dan Smith is an author and researcher. His books include The Sherlock Holmes Companion and a history of the Second World War 'Dig for Victory' campaign.
It is hard to argue against the assertion that money is the single greatest invention of the human mind. In the 21st century it exists in all cultures, from tribes living in the rainforest to the cities of the planet's most powerful industrialized nations. Familiar, divisible and acceptable, money is the lifeblood of the world: oiling the wheels of business and commerce, acting as a store of value and standing as the essential gauge of relative value. Like all the great inventions, it is impossible to imagine what life was like before money came along.
Throughout history the use of money has developed with astonishing speed. Today is no different. Advances in electronic technology and the Internet indicate that the days of coins and notes are numbered. First developed in the 1980s, the global customer base for online banking is set to reach over 650 million people by 2015, while the development of near-field technology has paved the way for "contactless purchasing" via a mobile device. Estimates are that by 2016 it will be possible to pay for everything in this way.
The global financial crisis Only time will tell if the recent global financial crisis, which began in 2007, will be added to the list of major financial disasters. But, painful as it may be, the economic downturn has forced everyone to look again at the way the world's economy functions, something that may turn out to be the light at the end of a long tunnel.
As people turn their attention to the world of finance and banking, some see a world peopled by Masters of the Universe, quaffing champagne while planning on how to spend their bonuses. Others see gray-haired men in suits offering prudent advice to be thrifty and pay into your pension pot. The reality is, of course, somewhere in between. Whatever your viewpoint, most will agree that money is now housed in a bewildering and complex edifice. But help is at hand. The Book of Money is a window into that world, shining a light on all areas of finance and explaining apparently complicated systems in simple terms.
Macro- and microeconomics The financial world works at two different levels: macroeconomics is the study of economics as a whole, evaluating the effectiveness of the economic policies of the world's government. At the other end of the scale, microeconomics is concerned with the economic behavior of an individual unit, maybe a person, a particular household or a particular firm. By examining both ends of the spectrum, The Book of Money explains the ways in which they are connected and how in the 21st century the collapse of a bank in Iceland, for example, can have serious consequences for a family living in Tokyo or Helsinki.
On a macro scale, the book looks at the various systems by which the world's governments manage their money, attempting, when all is said and done, to balance income and expenditure. It also examines the complexities of the relationship between government and the banks, which it does not control but upon which a nation's financial well-being depends. On a micro scale, the book looks at the importance of individual economic decisions and explains how they play out further down the line. In between the two are the world's financial markets, which, in today's global environment often appear to be stages on which the world's destiny is played out, 24/7. However, despite their reputation, they are nothing more than the name suggests, places to buy and sell. After all, despite its elaborate wrapping, there are surprisingly few things we can do with money: we can spend it, save it or give it away.
The great divide In spite of its outstanding qualities, money is not without its problems. It has an array of characteristics and quirks that render it unpredictable, mysterious and unreliable. It is subject to force and to greed and can be at the heart of astonishing pain, both in its abundance and its scarcity. Of course, there have always been rich and poor, under every political system ever devised. But, in the second decade of the 21st century, statistics indicate that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, indeed Barack Obama called financial inequality "the defining issue of our time."
The financial crisis has put this into sharp focus as the world's seven billion inhabitants look to find someone to blame. In turn, financial institutions and companies throughout the world are seeking to get their houses in order, accepting that financial accountability is increasingly required by their customers and knowing that if they are to survive they need to show a higher level of corporate social responsibility. When the world stood on the edge of the "fiscal cliff" and its governments announced their latest packages of austerity measures, it is heartening to think that they remembered the word's of Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men and its current greatest philanthropist, who said that "with great wealth comes great responsibility."
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 A Brief History of Money
Chapter 2 Rich World, Poor World
Chapter 3 Money and Government
Chapter 4 Banks and Banking
Chapter 5 The Markets
Chapter 6 Investing and Finance
Chapter 7 Money and Business
Chapter 8 The Science of Money
Chapter 9 Money and the Law
Chapter 10 Life Stages
Chapter 11 Saving, Spending and Giving
Chapter 12 The Future of Money
Glossary Index Picture Credits