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Publisher's Summary

Money and finance play a deeply fundamental role in your life. Now, let an expert professor lead you in a panoramic exploration of our monetary and financial systems, their inner workings, and their crucial role and presence in your world.

As a guiding theme of these 36 content-rich lectures, you observe the ways in which economies require efficient and evolving financial institutions and markets to fulfill their potential. In building a full view of our financial system, you delve into these and other vital subjects: central banks, commercial banks, and the Federal Reserve; interest rates and interest rate policy; bonds and stock markets; and foreign exchange and international banking.

Across the arc of this lecture series, you'll tackle key topics that shed light on the functioning of our financial system as a whole. You study the critical subject of inflation and its relationship to the consumer price index and to excess money growth. You'll investigate the causes and implications of the federal deficit and the national debt. In the international arena, you'll learn about the implications of trade deficits in global economic relationships and the question of monetary policy coordination between nations, weighing the significant benefits to the global economy of cooperation between central banks.

This is a rare chance to gain a grounded understanding of our monetary and financial systems, and to grasp the vital elements of finance that directly affect our way of life, our national concerns, and your own life and future.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2012 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2012 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Sean
  • GILBERT, AZ, United States
  • 01-11-14

Desperately needs the study guide to understand

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Although the conceptual portions of the course were easily understood, much of this course cannot be retained or understood without the study guide. When the speaker goes into great detail of equations and charts, it is impossible to follow while driving or just listening.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

Only about a third of this course was understandable/useable without the study guide.

Any additional comments?

Until Audible gets the rights to allow you to download the study guide, I would not recommend this course. Too much valuable information is lost without it.

57 of 57 people found this review helpful

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Bank mysteries only somewhat less mysterious

I listened to this to help me gain a deeper understanding of what the hell it is that the Fed and other central bankers do. It helped somewhat. Salemi’s explanations are clear and he’s unbiased in his presentation (unlike, say, Ron Paul’s End the Fed). The topics cover more territory than just central banking. Here are the lecture titles to help you know what the course covers:

1. The Importance of Money
2. Money as a Social Contract
3. How Is Money Created?
4. Monetary History of the United States
5. Local Currencies and Nonstandard Banks
6. How Inflation Erodes the Value of Money
7. Hyperinflation Is the Repudiation of Money
8. Saving—The Source of Funds for Investment
9. The Real Rate of Interest
10. Financial Intermediaries
11. Commercial Banks
12. Central Banks
13. Present Value
14. Probability, Expected Value, and Uncertainty
15. Risk and Risk Aversion
16. An Introduction to Bond Markets
17. Bond Prices and Yields
18. How Economic Forces Affect Interest Rates
19. Why Interest Rates Move Together
20. The Term Structure of Interest Rates
21. Introduction to the Stock Market
22. Stock Price Fundamentals
23. Stock Market Bubbles and Irrational Exuberance
24. Derivative Securities
25. Asymmetric Information
26. Regulation of Financial Firms
27. Subprime Mortgage Crisis and Reregulation
28. Interest Rate Policy at the Fed and ECB
29. The Objectives of Monetary Policy
30. Should Central Banks Follow a Policy Rule?
31. Extraordinary Tools for Extraordinary Times
32. Central Bank Independence
33. The Foreign Exchange Value of the Dollar
34. Exchange Rates and International Banking
35. Monetary Policy Coordination
36. Challenges for the Future

For what it’s worth, I had a really hard time finishing this, taking almost four months. I’m generally not a fan of the Great Courses (I listened to two others on cybersecurity and critical decision-making). The courses seem to share the same strength: organization/conceptual clarity in surveying the various topics you might expect to find under the topic’s umbrella. But they also share the same weakness, i.e., a certain superficial quality. I did not think that Salemi dumbed down the lectures as I felt with the other Great Courses. But, IMHO, he did not linger long enough on some difficult issues.

Also, you should know that this lecture series comes from a video. Salemi references many graphs, charts, and formulas that you obviously can’t see. In some cases (e.g., the explanations of several formulas), the absent visuals made the lecture quite hard to follow.

Salemi, while an excellent lecturer, is one of the slowest speakers you’ll find on Audible. At 2x speed, he sounded like a normal lecturer.

All in all, while I’d recommend passing, I’m not sure what book out there is better as a survey of these topics.

81 of 82 people found this review helpful

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  • Philo
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 07-15-13

The fundamentals, skipping the hype and trickery

This lecture series does what academics do best for me (full disclosure, I am one): based on much painstaking background work (invisible to the listener), the professor puts together plain, clear explanations, and a map, in effect, of what the parts are, how they work, and why they are this way. (Thus some parts may be obvious to the listener, but the overall content is very good.) Meanwhile, the technical terminology is built right in.
A critical point is, the professor does not have an axe to grind, a hidden agenda. I have heard and read countless explanations since 2008 of banking, finance, Great Recession, the history, etc., from politicians, authors, news, etc., in which (1) the fundamental concepts are not made clear, and (2) the speaker/writer starts right in with a biased, often emotion-laden, simplistic "explanation" designed merely to manipulate the listener, mostly because there is a hidden interest somewhere: getting election/power, selling splashy books, etc. The listener can come away "feeling smart," and perhaps in a suitable emotive huff of anger at the supposed "bad guys," without ever learning a reasonable amount about the underlying business / topic. THIS audio is the antidote. To paraphrase Hendrix: learn before you burn.
The prof uses generally smaller words, and speaks in a slower cadence, than some others, which I appreciate, as this fits well with listening while doing another activity like driving, or my endless hikes (sometimes while reacting to traffic, etc.). I am able to mix all this together and come out with good comprehension, without a lot of rewinds.

42 of 43 people found this review helpful

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Visuals and mathematical formulas expressed.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Need to stick with principles and inferences as charts and formulas used for visual explanation of ideas is not effective in an audio format.

Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

Yes very much. Most of their courses are well suited for audio.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Michael K. Salemi?

The professor was not the problem. The format was the problem.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It did give principles that could be understood and were well explained. It just could not be followed once formulas and charts were being referred to.

Any additional comments?


12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Great COurse

I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. I have listened to it every morning whilst I drive to work and over the period of a few weeks feel as if I now understand some fundamentals of economics that have alluded me to date. I come from the East End of London, and back in the day when I went to school we were never taught any of this type of information. I run a business which nowadays is no mean feat. CEOs have to understand complex and demanding information. The learning never stops. These courses are really helpful and this particular course is easy to really one of the best I have listened to. The lecturer is a consummate communicator and I am pleased I have invested my time in listening to this course.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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NOT enough focus on banking

Only a few early sessions are devoted to banking the rest of the course is about general macroeconomic trends

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Needs the visual accompaniment

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Michael K. Salemi?

Yes, I like audio courses, and the lecturer did a fine job. His main issue was referring to pictures and graphs that the audio listener can't see (not his fault)

What do you think your next listen will be?

Another educational book.

What three words best describe Professor Michael K. Salemi’s performance?

Reliant on graphs.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Money and Banking: What Everyone Should Know?

I would not sell this audiobook. It really needs the visual portion to be understood. It was also misleadingly placed in under "Personal Finance" but I thought the focus was more on banking history, and basic economics. I equate "Personal Finance" with more of a focus on financial literacy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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You Too Can Understand Finance and Banking

This is a very useful course if you 1) want to review finance, money, banking and trading, or 2) are without knowledge and want a primer on the subjects. Well instructed; very well instructed.. After a listen, a very long listen, you will have a grasp of the world of finance and banking.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Howard
  • Grove City, PA, United States
  • 11-15-13

Good info but listening not enough. Need visuals

I bought this course after having listened to or read a number of books on economics. I have been trying to find the person who has some idea of what we should expect in the future. A fool's errand? Not as much as one may think!
The course is about as comprehensive on the subject as a reasonable person could expect. He begins with the basics: what money is, and then proceeds gradually to the point where one cannot keep up without being able to look at the visual aids he refers to. Beware, this is a deeper subject than you may have thought.
My only real criticism is that when he mentions the sub-prime mortgage collapse he seems to be obtuse about what the prime mover of the fiasco was, namely government pressure to lend money to folks who could not afford it. He mentions this not at all. He gives no mention to what I saw on a firsthand basis: Persons who became mortgage brokers almost overnight during the early 2000s, who had money to loan to anyone. "If you know someone who wants to buy a house, send them to me. I have people who want to lend money!" they spouted cheerfully. I thought it peculiar at the time but after the collapse came I learned that most of the badly written mortgages were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, quasi-government organizations who took any and all paper off the hands of these unscrupulous agents. These ubiquitous brokers generated mortgages solely for the fees they could charge, only to unload the risk on the taxpayers via Freddie and Fannie. To neglect this aspect of the collapse is hardly commendable. It leaves the student uninformed of something very important. Is there a political allegiance here? I wonder.
Nonetheless, he redeems himself at the end where he states flatly that without a policy change a crisis IS coming. He does not elaborate but seems to assume that his listener now has enough information to reach that conclusion on their own. I guess that's so. This prof. is one of many economic gurus who see trouble on the horizon.
What everyone should know? Indeed!

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

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good info on banking

I really liked the insite given. especially the pros for the fed, as much as we didn't trust them...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful