Summary of Investment

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  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening
  • For Beginners


Strip away the complex jargon, and investing is a basic activity, central to all market economies. It began in antiquity, with its beneficiaries limited to the rich and powerful. In the 21st century, professional asset managers, financial institutions and individuals in the general population all invest. What’s driven this wide engagement? Investment experts Norton Reamer and Jesse Downing present an intelligent, eclectic mix of history, facts and theories on the subject of “the democratization of investment.” They explain how equity investment originated and how the social phenomenon of retirement has changed markets. The authors do not offer investment advice. Instead, they demystify the often-opaque world of investing. getAbstract recommends this thorough and accessible primer to everyone who is, or wants to be, an investor.

About the Authors

Norton Reamer is a former CEO of Putman Investments. Jesse Downing is a Harvard graduate in economics and mathematics, and he currently works at an investment management firm.



The History of Investing

The act of investing is central to economic development, production and trade, all of which call for spending money in order to produce or supply something that will reward the spender at a later date. Investing encompasses ownership claims, valuation, profit seeking, credit and the allocation of resources among alternative opportunities. It began in ancient times to fund trade across Asia, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. Even back then, people used insurance contracts, borrowed against collateral and engaged in profit sharing. But only the wealthy and powerful participated and benefited. A “democratization of investment” – opening investing and its rewards to a wider population – led to the creation of the contemporary financial system.

The process of democratization began in the 1600s with the establishment of “joint-stock companies” like the Dutch East India Company. These firms marked a watershed development in the modern corporate model, in that managers ran them, directors oversaw them, and many limited-liability, passive shareholders owned them. The fact that shares of a company could change hands without altering the business’s internal...

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