A sporty guide to the wide, weird world of money.
Scott starts with the early forms of barter; when barter outgrew itself as the population increased: “things that were traded simply didn’t match up evenly. There was no common medium of exchange.” Those mediums came, in the form of salt, cowrie shells, wampum, feathers, and precious metals and gems. Buoyed by Clark’s comic, explicative ink drawings, Scott sallies on to cover the evolution of currency and economy, mediums of exchange and standards, and charts the evolution of banks (“ ‘Bank’ comes from the Italian word banco, meaning a long bench on which money changers set up shop”). Numerous sidebars serve as attending footnotes to cover such topics as personalities, Hammurabi’s Code, banking supervision, and the Dodd-Frank Act. It is too much to ask this brief introduction to get into the mechanics of banking, but some illustrative examples would have been heaven sent. For instance, what triggers inflation? That would have helped the latter discussions of recession and depression. But even at surface level, readers will follow the dominos and get a good grasp of debt. They will also take a long look at “The Government Steps In,” and especially the Troubled Assets Relief Program, and likely ask, how has that alleviated the banking situation?
An informative primer on how money functions that doesn’t trigger the dismal science’s snooze button. (glossary, resources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)