Summer – a time for catching up, relaxing, exploring, starting new projects, or perhaps completing work in progress.  With this in mind, we have asked some faculty members at St. John’s what they are reading this summer.

Dr. Jay Nathan, Professor in the Management Department, writes:

Recently, I have been interested in understanding the present financial crisis through the lens of financial history.   Often times, money is trivialized, and many well intentioned books fail to sort out “myths” from “realities.” The Ascent of Money, published by the Penguin Press, got my attention.

 I saw this book reviewed in the Time magazine, several weeks ago.  After a cursory glance at the book review section, I got interested in The Ascent of Money.  Don’t be fooled by the title—the book is not about greed, or about unrestrained CapitalismNiall Ferguson follows the money through historical times, from ancient Mesopotamia to the current global financial crisis.  What’s interesting about the book is its narrative, particularly through the lens of historical landmarks: how the civilization of the Renaissance, the boom in the market for art and architecture, the rise of Dutch republic (through the world’s first modern bond market), the fall of Habsburg absolutism, and the origins of the French Revolution.   The author lucidly provides responses to commonly asked questions on finance: What is money? What do banks do? What does a hedge fund do?  Apart from this, the book documents how a new financial revolution is assisting China, India, Brazil, and others, from poverty to wealth in a span of one generation, which is unprecedented in human history.  The Ascent of Money is a useful read, especially to learn from the financial history, and to understand why financial bubbles happen.