Summary of Capital Ideas

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Capital Ideas book summary


8 Overall

7 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


To cover a heady topic – the origins of 20th-century financial and economic thought – Peter L. Bernstein has produced a personal, comprehensive overview of the people and ideas that shaped modern finance. Great ideas have their own lives and Bernstein shows how the intellectual paths to Wall Street intertwined wonderfully. As the head of an investment firm and the editor of a major scholarly financial journal, Bernstein was in the right place to follow the chief academic papers and meet many of their authors. He supplies the necessary anecdotes, personal contacts, background and experiences to make these academician’s ideas into interesting tales, though many of these concepts are very arcane. This is a great book for anyone who wants to know more about the theories and insights that propel modern capital markets. getAbstract considers it essential for serious finance students, corporate-finance professionals and dedicated investors who want to know what some of the field’s greatest minds have wrestled with over the years. Be forewarned: This book does not contain any easy-to-implement investment advice, but its ideas could be worth millions.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Who some of the great economic theoreticians were and how they helped develop modern financial theory were;
  • What role risk and reward play in developing an optimal investment portfolio;
  • How the key theories in modern finance and economics evolved; and
  • How they affect investors’ decisions.

About the Author

Peter L. Bernstein is a foremost financial writer and the author of bestsellers, including Against the Gods and The Power of Gold. He is the president of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc., an investment consulting firm, and a founding editor of the Journal of Investment Management.



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The transformation of U.S. capital markets began in October 1974 after the end of the worst stock market decline since 1929. By the fall of 1974, equity prices had dropped 40% from their highs only a few years earlier. Higher inflation, due to an increase in oil prices...

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