Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2012 - Business & Economics - 294 pages
"A compelling, thought-provoking story about how financial innovation can influence culture, society, and the course of history. Luca Pacioli, from a small Italian hill town, was dazzled by Venice. In the fifteenth century the city was a vibrant center of trade with the Eastern world: gold, gems, embroidered cloth, and exotic spices flowed off the ships. The Venetian merchants had perfected a way of keeping their records that allowed them to measure their businesses' value for the first time. When Pacioli arrived in Venice to tutor a merchant's sons, he learned bookkeeping the Venetian way. Through his many travels--during which he befriended such luminaries as Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and Piero della Francesca--Pacioli came into contact with the mathematics of ancient Greece and the Arabs. Bringing together his wide-ranging knowledge from Eastern and Western mathematical systems, he reformulated Venetian bookkeeping into an elegant accounting system that we still use today. As Jane Gleeson-White reveals, double-entry accounting was nothing short of revolutionary: fueling the Renaissance, enabling capitalism to flourish, and reshaping our global economy. In the 1930s, double-entry accounting was used to calculate the GDP of the United States for the New Deal, and John Maynard Keynes used double entry as the basis for calculating Britain's GDP during the Second World War. Yet double-entry accounting has its flaws: it cannot account for environmental and social costs, and it can be manipulated to hide losses. With the failures of Enron and Lehman Brothers and losses at J.P. Morgan Chase, it seems time for a new twenty-first-century accounting system. Filled with rich historical detail and fascinating characters, Double Entry takes us from the origins of accounting to the frontiers of finance in order to tell the remarkable story and legacy of double-entry bookkeeping."--Jacket.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SashaM - LibraryThing

Somewhat interesting but the author does skip around the timeline a bit. Going back and forth and repeating certain facts like we would not be able to understand it if it wasn't repeated. Towards the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - FKarr - LibraryThing

Can't really recommend this book. A few interesting facts here and there. She spends time on the Renaissance and on Pacioli's background. There's a quick gloss on what double-entry bookkeeping ... Read full review


Bobby Kennedy and the wealth of nations and corporations
our first communications technology
Merchants and mathematics
from Sansepolcro to celebrity
Paciolis landmark bookkeeping treatise of 1494
Venetian double entry goes viral 1 2 3 4 5
the industrial revolution
Double entry and capitalismchicken and egg?
John Maynard Keynes double entry and the wealth of nations
The rise and scandalous rise of a profession
Gross Domestic Product and how accounting could make or break the planet 10 29 49 91 115 132 161 176 194
Acknowledgements Notes Bibliography Index 250

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About the author (2012)

Jane Gleeson-White is the author of Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance, which won the 2012 Waverley Library Award for Literature. Gleeson-White has degrees in economics and literature from the University of Sydney.

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