FERGUSON, Niall. The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000. New York: Basic Books, 2001. 552p. Resenha de: SENGER, Elizabeth. Canadian Social Studies, v.38, n.2, p., 2004.
The Cash Nexus is an indepth study of the complex relationship between economics and politics from 1700 to 2000. Niall Ferguson, a professor at Oxford and New York Universities, analyzes this connection in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and to a lesser extent, Asia and Africa. This makes it a valuable resource for scholars all around the world. Further, Ferguson’s detailed notes for each chapter, and the extensive bibliography at the end of the book provide more than sufficient means to verify the validity of his evidence, and an avenue for further research on the part of the reader.
The book presumes an extremely broad base of knowledge on the part of the reader, literally from classical Greece Rome to 20th century pop culture. The Cash Nexus would be most appropriately utilized at a university level, perhaps even more suitably in postgraduate work. It would be an excellent resource for economics professors, and to a lesser degree for history professors. It is clearly a highly academic work, best suited as an instructor resource.
There are numerous charts, diagrams, graphs, tables, and a few cartoons. Most of the visuals are easily understandable, but there are a couple of problems. First, some of the graphs are so crowded with information as to be almost unusable. For example, Ferguson offers a comparison between the real national product indices of European democracies and dictatorships between 1919 and 1939 (pp. 366-7). A conglomeration of countries is presented in each graph, and because each is represented by a slightly different shade of grey the graphs are difficult to follow. Use of color and/or making these graphs bigger would enhance their readability and usefulness. Second, there are a number of historical political cartoons presented throughout the book. The quality of reproduction on a number of these is, regrettably, quite poor, hence their impact is diminished. Better reproductions, as well as some explanation of what we are seeing would add greatly to their value.
Ferguson’s major themes include government spending, taxation, debt, interest policies and the role of social classes. He also discusses political corruption, financial globalization, the boom and bust cycles of economies, the relationship of democracy and development, and global fragmentation. All in all, the book makes for fascinating and informative reading. His sense of humor lightens an admittedly heavy topic, and his insightful analysis of a very complex topic offers some innovative views. The Cash Nexus encourages and challenges the reader to consider economics in a variety of ways, and to seek solutions to the problems presented by twenty-first century world development.
Elizabeth Senger – Henry Wise Wood High School. Calgary, Alberta.