Summary of The Origins of Value

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The Origins of Value book summary


7 Overall

5 Importance

6 Innovation

8 Style


This beautifully illustrated coffee table book takes readers on a journey through the history of finance, with scenic stops to view the details of Babylonian loan agreements, the calligraphy of Chinese contracts, the currencies of John Law and even King Leopold II’s deathbed marriage to a prostitute. Numerous experts, including Niall Ferguson and Robert J. Shiller, contributed individual essays, so the style and general quality of the text varies from chapter to chapter. The cohesion of the overall content is to the credit of editors William N. Goetzmann and K. Geert Rouwenhorst. Currency-related art and photographs (more varied and noteworthy than you may think) dominates this cross section of financial history from the ancient Sumerians to the Silk Road to Versailles. getAbstract recommends this attractive volume to those interested in financial history and to any bank or brokerage that wants just the right book for visitors to peruse while waiting in the lobby.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How finance has evolved through civilization’s history;
  • How four basic concepts underlie the workings of finance; and
  • How some historical highlights illuminate the development of finance, from the use of currency to the impact of fiscal crises.

About the Authors

William N. Goetzmann teaches finance and management at the Yale School of Management. He directs the International Center for Finance, where K. Geert Rouwenhorst, also a Yale finance professor, is deputy director.



Creative Finance
Contemporary finance abounds in fresh concepts, but for 4,000 years, financial innovation has depended on only a few fundamental ideas. Written financial contracts carved in cuneiform script on stacks of clay bricks are among the earliest documents. While they may seem...

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