Many thanks for my friend JumpinJack on Flickr for pointing me in the direction of the Channel 4 series The Ascent of Money. This first programme traces the history of money from ancient times to the bond market. It is made more interesting for me because I've visited several of the places in the film including Venice, Florence and the east end of Glasgow. I've not visited sub-prime USA, but maybe that is no great loss!
Well worth setting aside 45 minutes of your time to watch this and start to get some idea how banks have become so powerful: how we have reached the situation where the directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland, into which taxpayers have paid millions, are now trying to blackmail the same taxpayers into allowing them to be paid their obscene bonuses.