Again, as in Quicksilver, Stephenson is concerned with the development of modern economics, science, politics, currency, information technology, trade, religion and cryptography. Even though Stephenson deals with these ideas at extreme length, "His attention to detail and relish for providing historical context provide the attentive reader with a liberal education, while his imagination and humor delight."
Overwhelmingly The Confusion has an emphasis on the economy that had not been present as fully in Quicksilver. Andrew Leonard contrasted The Confusion with Quicksilver saying "If one could argue that "Quicksilver" was about the birth of the scientific method and the application of Reason to unlocking the mysteries of existence, then one could also say "The Confusion" is about money." The book focuses a lot on bankers, the mining of gold and silver in the new world, the idea of breaking free from precious metals into the use of Money.
He particularly explores the amount of excess involved in period governments and the financial system as well as the upper classes. Leonard points out that "Stephenson seems to be telling us throughout the "Baroque Cycle" is that the actual way things really happened—the way systems of credit were created, or timber delivered—is just as kooky as anything that a fabulist could concoct out of the wild speculation of his or her own mind." The style too, mimics this excess emphasizing exaggerated ideas ad actions. One reviewer, examining this complexity and excess, called it "a baroque church organ, in the middle of playing a complicated fugue at full throttle. At its end, either the reader has fled or is mesmerised, waiting to know what will happen next."