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Fibonacci and the Financial Revolution

  • William N. Goetzmann


    (Yale School of Management, International Center for Finance)

This paper examines the contribution of Leonardo of Pisa [Fibonacci] to the history of financial mathematics. Evidence in Leonardo's Liber Abaci (1202) suggests that he was the first to develop present value analysis for comparing the economic value of alternative contractual cash flows. He also developed a general method for expressing investment returns, and solved a wide range of complex interest rate problems. The paper argues that his advances in the mathematics of finance were stimulated by the commercial revolution in the Mediterranean during his lifetime, and in turn, his discoveries significantly influenced the evolution of capitalist enterprise and public finance in Europe in the centuries that followed. Fibonacci's discount rates were more culturally influential than his famous series.

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Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number ysm19.

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Date of creation: 05 Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:ysm19
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  1. Alfred E. Lieber, 1968. "Eastern Business Practices and Medieval European Commerce," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 21(2), pages 230-243, 08.
  2. Lin, Justin Yifu, 1995. "The Needham Puzzle: Why the Industrial Revolution Did Not Originate in China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 269-92, January.
  3. Greif, Avner, 1989. "Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence on the Maghribi Traders," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 857-882, December.
  4. Graham, John R. & Harvey, Campbell R., 2001. "The theory and practice of corporate finance: evidence from the field," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2-3), pages 187-243, May.
  5. Munro, John H., 2002. "The medieval origins of the 'Financial Revolution': usury, rentes, and negotiablity," MPRA Paper 10925, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 2002.
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