Take credo, says Niall Ferguson, economic historian and current professor of History at Yale University. Credo is the Latin for ‘I believe’ and is the root of the English word credit. This is Ferguson’s foundation in his Channel 4 documentary series The Ascent Of Money in which he aims to prove that money is the real writer of history.
Essentially, Niall’s main argument is that in order for financial transactions to work, a trust needs to exist between the lender and borrower or purchaser and seller that a deal will be completed.
He traces financial transactions from the days of Ancient Mesopotamia where moneylenders inscribed payment contracts for their debtors on clay tablets, to modern day financial systems which see trillions of dollars pass through markets electronically every day.
His sound analysis of the development of modern day banking in Venice is fascinating. He attributes the Jewish faith’s ability to lend to non-Jews as the reason for the creation of modern day banking and explores money as the driving force that led Europe to conquer the world.
Although perhaps sometimes farfetched in his analyses, Ferguson continuously backs up his points with strong evidence. His constant relation to modern day examples, including the credit crunch of the early 2000s, and his frequent usage of imagery, including the paintings of Botticelli, is the strong point of this series.
For those without an economic or historical background, Niall phrases complex concepts in simplistic and relatable words making this documentary very accessible for viewers. Perhaps credit is really due to Ferguson rather than to investors.