"The need for realism in reform of its monetary system is what makes Bernstein's story of the Power of Gold so timely. It is a compelling reminder that maintaining a fixed price for gold and fixed exchange rates were difficult even in a simpler financial environment...Peter Bernstein was reluctant to project the story of gold into the future. But to me his message was clear. Yes, gold will be with us, valued not only for its intrinsic qualities but as a last refuge and store of value in turbulent times. But its days as money, as a means of payment and a fixed unit of account are gone." --From the New Foreword by Paul Volcker This bestselling book reveals a record of human nature in the ubiquity of gold with a new foreword by Paul Volcker In this exciting book, the late Peter L. Bernstein tells the story of history's most coveted, celebrated, and inglorious asset: gold. From the ancient fascinations of Moses and Midas through the modern convulsions caused by the gold standard and its aftermath, gold has led many of its most eager and proud possessors to a bad end. And while the same cycle of obsession and desperation may reverberate in today's fast-moving, electronically-driven markets, the role of gold in shaping human history is the striking feature of this tumultuous tale. Such is the power of gold. Whether it is Egyptian pharaohs with depraved tastes, the luxury-mad survivors of the Black Death, the Chinese inventor of paper money, the pirates on the Spanish Main, or the hardnosed believers in the international gold standard, gold has been the supreme possession. It has been an icon for greed and an emblem of rectitude, as well as a vehicle for vanity and a badge of power that has shaped the destiny of humanity through the ages. * Discusses the beginnings of gold as something with magical, religious, and artistic qualities and follows its trail as we progress to the invention of coinage, the transformation of gold into money, and the gold standard * Other bestselling books by the late Peter Bernstein: Against the Gods, Capital Ideas, and Capital Ideas Evolving * Contemplates gold from the diverse perspectives of monarchs and moneyers, potentates and politicians, men of legendary wealth and others of more plebeian beginnings Far more than a tale of romantic myths, daring explorations, and the history of money and power struggles, The Power of Gold suggests that the true significance of this infamous element may lie in the timeless passions it continues to evoke, and what this reveals about ourselves.
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"Bernstein's book is a fascinating read, especially in light of the recent run-up in the price of gold. Should gold once again be viewed as a currency, as so many commentators have suggested? Were he still alive, Bernstein might laconically answer, 'Read my book.'" ( Seeking Alpha , May 2012)
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The late Peter L. Bernstein was President of Peter L. Bernstein, Inc., an economic consulting firm for institutional investors he founded in 1973, after many years of managing billions of dollars in individual and institutional portfolios. Bernstein was also the author of ten books on economics and finance, including the bestselling Capital Ideas, Capital Ideas Evolving, and Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk. His writing combines the zest of a historian with the meticulous analytical powers of an economist.
Foreword ix Acknowledgments xiii PROLOGUE: The Supreme Possession 1 A METAL FOR ALL SEASONS 1. Get Gold at All Hazards 9 2. Midas's Wish and the Creatures of Pure Chance 18 3. Darius's Bathtub and the Cackling of the Geese 38 4. The Symbol and the Faith 52 5. Gold, Salt, and the Blessed Town 66 6. The Legacy of Eoba, Babba, and Udd 74 7. The Great Chain Reaction 85 8. The Disintegrating Age and the Kings' Ransoms 96 9. The Sacred Thirst 114 THE PATH TO TRIUMPH 10. The Fatal Poison and Private Money 135 11. The Asian Necropolis and Hien Tsung's Inadvertent Innovation 158 12. The Great Recoinage and the Last of the Magicians 175 13. The True Doctrine and the Great Evil 198 14. The New Mistress and the Cursed Discovery 219 15. The Badge of Honor 239 16. The Most Stupendous Conspiracy and the Endless Chain 260 THE DESCENT FROM GLORY 17. The Norman Conquest 283 18. The End of the Epoch 306 19. The Transcending Value 328 20. World War Eight and the Thirty Ounces of Gold 346 EPILOGUE: The Supreme Possession? 367 Notes 373 Bibliography 397 Index 409