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Publisher's Summary

Options have been traded for hundreds of years, but investment decisions were based on gut feelings until the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Black-Scholes options pricing model in 1973 ushered in the era of the quants. Wall Street would never be the same.

In Pricing the Future, financial economist George G. Szpiro tells the fascinating stories of the pioneers of mathematical finance who conducted the search for the elusive options pricing formula. From the broker's assistant who published the first mathematical explanation of financial markets to Albert Einstein and other scientists who looked for a way to explain the movement of atoms and molecules, Pricing the Future retraces the historical and intellectual developments that ultimately led to the widespread use of mathematical models to drive investment strategies on Wall Street.

©2011 George G. Szpiro (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"One of the major intellectual achievements of the 20th century was the theory of option pricing. This is its story, and it’s absolutely fascinating." (Robert P. Inman, Richard K. Mellon Professor of Finance and Economics, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)
"[A] fascinating historical account.... Those who think finance is a science will be surprised by the serendipitous events that delayed the discovery of the option-pricing formula by 73 years; those who think finance is an art will be shocked by the deep connections between option-pricing, physics, and probability theory." (Andrew Lo, Harris & Harris Group Professor of Finance and Director of the Laboratory for Financial Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
"Szpiro’s tale should fascinate readers who follow the markets." (Booklist)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Phil O.
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 04-08-12

Petty details detract from the topic

I am disappointed. A good popularization, I think, should use colorful stories and details to support a strong, informative walk through the topic. The author who dumps in a profusion of trivia, for whatever reason, without careful editing, is using up my precious time to deliver something I didn't ask for. After a strong opening, I found myself in long stretches of petty technicalities and names of various things that do not support understanding (poorly pronounced in the case of oh-so-many foreign words). Each side-story might claim to be interesting, but please be relevant! On the other hand, a good popularization should elegantly walk me into the technicalities of the topic. Here I felt like we went from a slide show of someone's tedious vacation pictures too steeply into the technical content.
By comparison, Emanuel Derman in "My Life as a Quant," for all his digressing and wanderings, displeasing as that could be, rewarded my patience with elegant passages on Black-Scholes and related topics and personalities. When he got onto the subject, he nailed it.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Interesting story, terrible accents!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If you're interested in the history of finance and financial theory, then yes this is a nice soft introduction. The author does a reasonably good job of spicing up the fairly dry material with interesting stories that help place the events in their historical setting.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The book is filled with names, terms and phrases from French, Spanish, Latin and other languages. The narrator absolutely butchers the pronunciation of these. I really wish they'd at least given him a language coach for these bits of the book. It would be comical if it wasn't so sad.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Howard
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 12-08-11

A fascinating book

Szpiro is a rare combination, a journalist, a story teller and a mathematician. For a person such as myself with with some mathematical background, i appreciated the simplified explanation of statistics. His lively history and anecdotes make it a good read for the general reader, anyone who would like something stimulating and different. Brian tried hard to deal with the French and German quotations.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • MRMomtaz
  • new york, NY, United States
  • 01-27-12

concerned customer

Bad choices ...Why would you pick a narrator with such horrible french pronunciation when there is so many french terms and names. Thought I could push through it but it is horrible to listen to I started cringing every time Mr Troxell attempted to read the french names,otherwise he is excellent dont know why he took this job. Very poor decision
content is fascinating guess I have to read it myself.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Loved it

Great walk through the history of the options market. Enjoyed it , confirmed something and learned something.

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A great listen!

The author presents a fantastic marriage of finance, scientific pursuit, and historical link between them that many would overlook!

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Quite Intresting!!

This book gives a good inside on futures pricing. I would suggest it to all..

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  • Anya
  • Kerhonkson, NY, United States
  • 03-29-12

Brilliant!

If you could sum up Pricing the Future in three words, what would they be?

If you're interested in the subject - best historical book ever!

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

I love the stories of people who have contributed to the evolution of the option pricing model. Each one is presented in a very well balanced and not overwhelming ratios of biographical details, historical connections and finally, the essence of their contribution. Amazingly gracefull cadence of writing throughout all book. Loved listening to it so much, that I have swallowed last 3 hours in one bite while walking around wall street neighborhoods in manhattan, with final chapter streaming though my ears as I was gazing at the Goldman Sachs building being bathed in a sunset light across the Hudson river.. Romantic, huh? No, really, the book is that great! ;)

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  • Jan
  • Naestved, Denmark
  • 03-15-12

Facinating story

I bought this book a few months months but didn't really get into it. I returned to the book recently and was captivated. This is one of the best books i have listened to in a long time but it is not an easy book to follow since it touches on very complicated PhD level mathematical concepts. Although complicated, the author manages to take most of the concepts apart and present them in an easy to understand way. The book takes you all the way through the history that resulted in the Black Scholes formula and it includes a botanist experimenting with pollen, a drunken sailor hanging on to a lamppost and a bell. Chapter 7 includes an easy to understand but detailed explanation of the Black Scholes formula and is worth the purchase price alone. You will have to focus but it is worth the effort.

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  • Emilie
  • 09-29-13

Beste book I have "read" on futures & derivatives.

What did you like most about Pricing the Future?

This book tells the story of the stock market, derivatives trade and the calculus that made it possible in an interesting and entertaining way.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Pricing the Future?

The great and very understandeble explanation of brownian motion.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

it made me facinated with the math behind derivatives.