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Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

 

Experience

Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford.

He has published fourteen books. His first, Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927, was short-listed for the History Today Book of the Year award, while the collection of essays he edited, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, was a UK bestseller. In 1998 he published to international critical acclaim The Pity of War: Explaining World War One and The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild. The latter won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History and was also short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Literary Award and the American National Jewish Book Award. In 2001, after a year as Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, he published The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000.

Niall Ferguson is also a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003 he wrote and presented a six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4, the UK terrestrial broadcaster. The accompanying book, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, was a bestseller in both Britain and the United States. The sequel, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, was published in 2004 by Penguin, and prompted Time magazine to name him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Two years later he published The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, a television adaptation of which was screened by PBS in 2007. The international bestseller, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, followed in 2008; it too was a PBS series, winning the International Emmy award for Best Documentary, as well as the Handelszeitung Economics Book Prize. In 2011 he published Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a Channel 4/PBS documentary series. This was followed in 2012 by a three-part television series “China: Triumph and Turmoil”.

Ferguson is an accomplished biographer. In addition to the history of the Rothschild family, he recently published High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (2010) and is currently writing a life of Henry Kissinger. In 2011 his film company Chimerica Media released its first feature-length documentary, “Kissinger”, which won the New York Film Festival’s prize for Best Documentary. His most recent book is The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, which will be published in the United States this June.

A prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, Ferguson writes regularly for newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. He was the Philippe Roman Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics in 2010-11 and the BBC Reith Lecturer for 2012. He is a member of the board of trustees of the American Academy in Berlin, the Museum of American Finance and the New York Historical Society.  His many prizes and awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010) and the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012).

 

 

By Date

 

2014

October 28, 2014

"The Return of Volatility Is Mainly About Monetary Policy"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Four weeks ago I was in London at a conference organized by one of the biggest U.S. banks. The program included a session with the dread title, “2014, The Death of Volatility?” As it followed a rash of similar presentations and articles this year—“The Strange Death of Volatility,” “The Day Volatility Died” and the like—I knew from experience that a spike in volatility was imminent. And sure enough, since the end of last month, financial markets around the world have gone from gliding up an escalator to riding a bucking bronco.

 

 

September 21, 2014

"Scotland’s No echoes Europe’s Yes to grand coalitions"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The union is saved. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s nationalist first minister, has resigned. All the ink spilled on the benefits and costs of an independent Scotland can be consigned to counterfactual history. The only pressing question is the significance – and consequences – of the No vote.

 

 

September 14, 2014

"Scots Must Vote Nae"

Op-Ed, New York Times

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

To most Americans, Scotland means golf, whisky and — if they go there — steady drizzle. Even to the millions of Americans whose surnames testify to their Scottish or Scotch-Irish ancestry, the idea that Scotland might be about to become an independent country is baffling.

 

 

AP Images

August 1, 2014

"War: In History's Shadow"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

A century has passed since the guns of August 1914 ended the era of European predominance with a deafening bang. Could such a catastrophe recur in our time?

Niall Ferguson writes: "The sequence of events since the Malaysian jet MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine is remarkably similar to the one that followed the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914. Now, as then, the crisis begins with an act of state-sponsored terrorism. Now, as then, Russia sides with the troublemakers. Even the request by the Dutch government for access to the site where so many of their nationals perished is reminiscent of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia. Now, as then, ownership of a seemingly unimportant region of eastern Europe is disputed."

 

 

AP

June 22, 2014

"What Would the Iron Lady Do?"

Op-Ed, The Sunday Times

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

 

Far from being the mere dogmatist many thought her, Thatcher was a realist
whose boldness won the Cold War. Niall Ferguson explains how her strategy
would counter the greatest threat of the 21st century — the rise of Islamism.
 

 

April 18, 2014

"A Populism Spurned By The Downturn's Discontents"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Political backlash usually follows economic crisis. Everyone knows how the Great Depression fuelled support for extremists on both the left and right. Less well known is the way the original Great Depression – the one that began in 1873 and involved a quarter-century of deflation – led to a wave of populism on both sides of the Atlantic. Could this history be repeating itself?

 

 

BBC-2

February 23, 2014

Why Obama Must Stop History Repeating Itself

Op-Ed, The Sunday Times

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

It is hard indeed to romanticise the First World War. Those khaki uniforms have none of the glamour of the redcoats worn by British soldiersback in 1775 or 1815. Good luck to anyone who wants to re-enact the effects of a machinegun on advancing infantry or the impact of a howitzershell on a trench.

 

 

AP Images

February 21, 2014

"Niall Ferguson: America's Global Retreat"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Never mind the Fed's taper, it's the U.S. geopolitical taper that is stirring world anxiety. From Ukraine to Syria to the Pacific, a hands-off foreign policy invites more trouble.

 

2013

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

December 26, 2013

"Mexico's Economic Reform Breakout"

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Pierpaolo Barbieri, Former Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy, International Security Program, 2011–2013 and Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

For much of the last decade, Mexico and Brazil were a study in contrasts. "Brazil Takes Off" was a typical magazine cover, depicting Rio's huge statue of Christ literally blasting off. The equivalent story for Mexico was "The War Next Door: Why Mexico's Drug Violence is America's Problem Too."

In the past two years, however, the roles have been reversed. Riots in São Paulo and the downfall of billionaire Eike Batista have badly dented Brazil's glamorous image. Meanwhile, a succession of bold moves by Mexico's charismatic new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, have finally awakened foreign observers to the fact that Mexico is Latin America's new "country of the future."

 

 

November 6, 2013

U.S. and China Both Need Economic Rehab

Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

By Niall Ferguson, Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Moritz Schularick

Nearly seven years have passed since we coined the word Chimerica in these pages to characterize the symbiotic relationship between China and America. Few today would dispute that op-ed's original point: that the unbalanced economic relationship between China and America posed a threat to global financial stability. Without the flow of Chinese savings into U.S. dollars, as a result of Beijing's large-scale currency intervention and reserve accumulation, American interest rates would surely have been higher and the housing bubble would have inflated less.

 

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