Barbara Pruitt, 816-932-1288, email@example.com
, Kauffman Foundation
Groundbreaking series explains global financial system, examines history through an entrepreneurial lens
(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) June 30, 2009
– As the world continues to struggle to find its footing amid constricted credit, bank bailouts and rising unemployment, a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation-funded PBS series will help viewers see the economy in a new light. Niall Ferguson's groundbreaking four-part series titled "The Ascent of Money" premieres on PBS on July 8, 15, 22 and 29 (check local listings
) and online
. The program traces the rise of the modern financial system by taking viewers on a global trek through the history of money.
"People are very familiar with money and credit, but the origins and economic relevance of these two mainstays of our financial system are not widely known or appreciated," said Robert E. Litan, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. "Entrepreneurs could not exist without money and credit, and 'The Ascent of Money' will help explain why."
The documentary is based on author and historian Niall Ferguson's best-selling book "The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World," which was written in anticipation of the current economic crisis. While an initial two-hour version of the documentary, which aired last January, focused on the current crisis, this four-hour version delves into how our complex system of global finance evolved over the centuries and how money and financial markets have shaped the whole course of human affairs, from ancient Mesopotamia to present-day Memphis.
"It is vital for us to have a proper sense of historical perspective," Ferguson said of the series' timing. "Big financial crises are a recurrent feature of financial history from the earliest times. But over the long run our system of finance and banking has been responsible for extraordinary economic progress."
In "The Ascent of Money," Ferguson offers insight into how the global economic system works by taking viewers through the milestones of the financial history that created this system. Through this journey, viewers will come to understand the key concepts in modern finance, ranging from bond yields to credit default swaps. By establishing that the history of money is at the root of all human history, Ferguson helps viewers understand history through the lens of entrepreneurship and innovation.
"We are extremely grateful to the Kauffman Foundation for funding the broadcast of 'The Ascent of Money,'" said Neal Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET.ORG, a PBS affiliate in New York that is a primary producer of PBS national programming. "Its generous support helps us to fulfill our mission of bringing important, educational programs to the American public."
A major outreach campaign will bring "The Ascent of Money" to teachers and schools across the country, with special focus on high school economics and world history classes. The Web site will include four lesson plans on issues discussed in the series. Each lesson ties into national and state standards in world history and economics.
In addition to the Kauffman Foundation's support, funding for "The Ascent of Money" is provided by T. Rowe Price, The Smith Richardson Foundation, James and Merryl Tisch and PBS. Additional funding for educational materials is provided by the Calvin K. Kazanjian Economics Foundation, Inc.