Friday, May 6, 2016

Friday Feature Book Review: Empire : How Britain Made The Modern World: 英国は近代的な世界を作った方法 by Niall Ferguson ニーアル・ファーガソン

Given the Brexit decision soon to come. How did Britain, a small island nation come to run a global empire that had 25% of the world under its control? It did so by adapting to various opportunities. This is another well researched effort that brings together great sequences of financial history and global trade. 

We learn that in the beginning, the UK was little more than a pirate nation attacking Spain. After taking over the island of Jamaica, they grew sugar, the new white gold needed in consumer markets. From this point on, the government coffers began to fill. Luckily, instead of spending, they reinvested much of the profits, and tried to expand well beyond the borders of Europe.

This is a wonderful collection of detail on how the British economy grew. For example, it looked at Holland, and its central and stock exchange, and then merged financial systems under William of Orange. This allowed the government to pay for a navy with private low cost bonds from the public, including Nathan Rothschild as its investors. This is also how they took over India, with its 400M+ population, and a large standing army that defeated the French for world trade domination. The author makes clear that business and trade decisions need to be financed. 

If you only follow a king like France, a king that reneges on his debts, you pay higher interest rates. Cecil Rhodes, famous for his Rhodes scholarship, uses cheap capital from the UK to build railroads in Southern Africa. In many ways, he can be seen as a private mercenary effort (a kind of land pirate if you will) to take over the area. By bringing the best weapons that money can pay for, and grabbing all real estate possible via military means for private investors, it worked. He even created his own country named after himself, Rhodesia. 

There are many amazing stories like this across the history of the UK and its trade, that tie together well, and form a very interesting pattern. It shows why the world trades in the way it does, especially using the English language. Given its color and clear approach to finance and history, this book is Highly Recommended!

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