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Devil Take The Hindmost (A History Of Financial Speculation) By Edward Chancellor. A Summary Of The Book Which Discusses Speculation And How It Has Shaped The Western World.

1282 words - 5 pages

Devil take the Hindmost (A history of financial speculation) - by Edward ChancellorJason MurdochThis book discusses speculation and how it has shaped the western world. The book spans from the Romans to Modern day but in keeping with the theme of this course observations will be restricted to the pre 1900 section as much as possible. The book focuses on western economies as the Asian world considers the whole stock trading for profit as being ruinous to a healthy economy. Individual profit taking does not contribute to the wealth of the community. Oddly modern Japan is viewed as a western culture and its economic woes of the late 80s is a sign that that it fell afoul of the demons of western capitalistic greed. (my portfolio is like a quarter of its purchase cost so I am not a happy investor.)The first modern capitalistic system was in ancient Rome. Loans with interest, foreign exchange and bankers drafts were all in use. Shares in farms, tax gathering farms (1) and a form of maritime insurance. Then came along Christianity, made loans with interest a sin and allowed the Jews to corner the known worlds financial system. St Augustine put his tupence into the evil of gain. Judging by the posts in the previous section this saint has a lot to answer for. The darkness of the Dark Ages is probably the result of spreading of the light by the church.It was 13th century Venice that resurrected the capitalistic system. The city government started selling off government securities (probably to fund the mercenaries it employed to protect itself). Laws were passed to stop insider trading and the depressing of security prices by rumour. Shares in the tax farms were again traded.By the 15th century the great fairs of Northern Europe had trading in mining shares. A century later much of Europe had some form of small scale stock exchange. The economic power at the close of the 16th century was the Dutch who traded and had ventures all across the globe. The Dutch bought together in one place all the aspects of a modern financial system in one place (2) allowing a synergy to occur.All this money caused the Dutch to create the first investment fad. That of Tulips. A tulip has only the value that people assign to it. As more people desire a tulip as a sign of wealth the higher the price goes. As people see the price rising they want to own a tulip for a while to cash in on some of its price rise. The Dutch flower industry is the biggest in the world but one doubts if these early speculators had that long a goal in mind.The book crosses the English Channel and offers in a few chapters a similar tale as outlined in the sinews of power in our military thread but from a 'civi-street' perspective. Here we see money being raised to fund the slightest of business ventures based on the faith of the investors on seeing a rapid rise in stock prices. Members of Parliament were bribed to be directors in companies to inspire public confidence in these companies. Even the Kings...

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