A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy

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9780691126326: A Free Nation Deep in Debt: The Financial Roots of Democracy

For the greater part of recorded history the most successful and powerful states were autocracies; yet now the world is increasingly dominated by democracies. In A Free Nation Deep in Debt, James Macdonald provides a novel answer for how and why this political transformation occurred. The pressures of war finance led ancient states to store up treasure; and treasure accumulation invariably favored autocratic states. But when the art of public borrowing was developed by the city-states of medieval Italy as a democratic alternative to the treasure chest, the balance of power tipped. From that point on, the pressures of war favored states with the greatest public creditworthiness; and the most creditworthy states were invariably those in which the people who provided the money also controlled the government. Democracy had found a secret weapon and the era of the citizen creditor was born. Macdonald unfolds this tale in a sweeping history that starts in biblical times, passes via medieval Italy to the wars and revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and ends with the great bond drives that financed the two world wars.

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About the Author:

James Macdonald was an investment banker for many years. He lives in Oxford, England.

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Public borrowing from citizens in times of war has gone hand in hand with modern democracy, Macdonald argues in this dense, sweeping economic history. A former investment banker now living in London, Macdonald traces the history of public financing of "national emergencies" (read: wars), from the biblical era through the present day. Until modern times, he shows, nations relied on stored treasure and surpluses to finance wars, often with detrimental results. Indeed, Macdonald argues that an inability to raise taxes for wars was one of the causes of Rome's downfall. Placing the importance of credit back at the center of historical causality is one of the book's strengths. The system of public credit swept onto the world stage in 18th-century Britain, France and the United States, and was intricately linked, notes the author, with revolutions in these latter two countries. During the 20th century, the system-and the notion of a "citizen-creditor"-reached its strongest point during WWI and likely had its swan song during WWII, because of postwar inflation, the succeeding decline in trust in government in the West and the increasingly global understanding of citizenship. There is much to learn here, but despite Macdonald's best attempts at accessibility, readers without a background in economics will struggle through.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For the greater part of recorded history the most successful and powerful states were autocracies; yet now the world is increasingly dominated by democracies. In A Free Nation Deep in Debt, James Macdonald provides a novel answer for how and why this political transformation occurred. The pressures of war finance led ancient states to store up treasure; and treasure accumulation invariably favored autocratic states. But when the art of public borrowing was developed by the city-states of medieval Italy as a democratic alternative to the treasure chest, the balance of power tipped. From that point on, the pressures of war favored states with the greatest public creditworthiness; and the most creditworthy states were invariably those in which the people who provided the money also controlled the government. Democracy had found a secret weapon and the era of the citizen creditor was born. Macdonald unfolds this tale in a sweeping history that starts in biblical times, passes via medieval Italy to the wars and revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and ends with the great bond drives that financed the two world wars. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780691126326

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For the greater part of recorded history the most successful and powerful states were autocracies; yet now the world is increasingly dominated by democracies. In A Free Nation Deep in Debt, James Macdonald provides a novel answer for how and why this political transformation occurred. The pressures of war finance led ancient states to store up treasure; and treasure accumulation invariably favored autocratic states. But when the art of public borrowing was developed by the city-states of medieval Italy as a democratic alternative to the treasure chest, the balance of power tipped. From that point on, the pressures of war favored states with the greatest public creditworthiness; and the most creditworthy states were invariably those in which the people who provided the money also controlled the government. Democracy had found a secret weapon and the era of the citizen creditor was born. Macdonald unfolds this tale in a sweeping history that starts in biblical times, passes via medieval Italy to the wars and revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and ends with the great bond drives that financed the two world wars. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780691126326

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Book Description Princeton University Press, 2006. Book Condition: New. For the greater part of recorded history, the most successful and powerful states were autocracies; yet the world is increasingly dominated by democracies. This book provides a novel answer for how and why this political transformation occurred. It presents a history that starts in biblical times. Num Pages: 576 pages, 18 line illus. 22 tables. BIC Classification: HBG; KCZ. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 229 x 150 x 35. Weight in Grams: 934. . 2006. 1st Princeton Ed. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780691126326

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Book Description Princeton University Press. Book Condition: New. For the greater part of recorded history, the most successful and powerful states were autocracies; yet the world is increasingly dominated by democracies. This book provides a novel answer for how and why this political transformation occurred. It presents a history that starts in biblical times. Num Pages: 576 pages, 18 line illus. 22 tables. BIC Classification: HBG; KCZ. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 229 x 150 x 35. Weight in Grams: 934. . 2006. 1st Princeton Ed. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780691126326

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