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The Progressive Economics Forum

Niall Ferguson’s Latest Idiocy

As I discussed in an earlier post, Niall Ferguson, the Harvard historian and author of numerous bad books about economics, is prone to writing and saying completely ignorant things, making one wonder about the intellectual heft of so-called academic “stars” who populate our institutions of higher learning.

The latest bit of idiocy uttered by Ferguson was heard last week when he was speaking at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., in front of  more than 500 financial advisors and investors. While responding to a question about John Maynard Keynes’ famous philosophy of self-interest versus the economic philosophy of Edmund Burke, who believed there was a social contract among the living as well as the dead, Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and  married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of “poetry” rather than procreated.

Ferguson went on to say it was only logical that Keynes would take this selfish worldview because he was an “effete” member of society. In other words, if you are gay or childless, you cannot care about future generations nor of society. “Keynes was a homosexual and had no intention of having children. We are not dead in the long run… our children are our progeny,” Ferguson remarked. “It is the economic ideals of Keynes that have gotten us into the problems of today.”

Two days later, after Ferguson’s remarks were reported on, he issued an apology, calling his comments “stupid” and contending he was not a homophobe.

Still, it makes you wonder how any serious intellectual or scholar could reduce someone’s economic theories down to whether or not they had children (as it turned out, Keynes’ wife had miscarried at least once) or which gender they might sleep with. For Ferguson, who is deeply ideological, his remarks seem to suggest that when it comes to discussing economics, empirical reality is less important than whether or not you want children or whom you want to bed.

What Ferguson was really saying is that the ideas of Keynes are bankrupt, even though Keynes was greatly responsible for offering up a solution to governments to mitigate the horrendous consequences of the Great Depression, where unemployment reached as high as 25% in Canada and the US. Today, with neo-liberalism economic theories having ruined economies around the world, and with decidedly non-Keynsian austerity measures exacerbating the global recession (including sending the UK economy back into the toilet), any notion that Keynes’ ideas are responsible for the current state of affairs reveals how divorced from reality Ferguson has become.

In the end, Ferguson cares not about the suffering of working people around the world. To him it’s all about preserving the status quo of the richest 1% and the immense wealth and power they have accumulated in the past three decades.

 

Enjoy and share:

Comments

Comment from Tom Walker
Time: May 5, 2013, 10:19 pm

Why give that loudmouth lout free publicity?

Comment from Larry Kazdan
Time: May 6, 2013, 2:49 pm

Also, Ferguson was likely regurgitating:

> In his obituary of Keynes the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter had written: “He was childless and his philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy.”

http://www.skidelskyr.com/site/article/a-writer-at-large-confessions-of-a-long-distance-biographer/

> Keynes’s penchant for iconoclastic utterance has been grist to the mill of anti-Keynesians. His most famous remark, ‘In the long run we are all dead’, was interpreted by Schumpeter as a ‘childless’ – he might have added godless – perspective.[xxi] Childless became homosexual in William Rees-Mogg’s suggestion that Keynes’s rejection of moral rules led him to reject the gold standard ‘which provided an automatic control of monetary inflation’.[xxii] This view of Keynes’s economics as product of the closet rather than the cloister is profoundly false.

http://www.cauxroundtable.org/newsmaster.cfm?&menuid=99&action=view&retrieveid=45

Comment from Keith Newman
Time: May 6, 2013, 10:29 pm

Niall Ferguson’s latest nasty gibberish underlines yet again how many third rate professors Harvard harbours who write nonsense on economics, but are nonetheless given airtime because their views are useful to powerful interests. Ferguson is in fact a professor of history who frequently writes about economics despite having virtually no grasp of the topic. He is also a fact-ignoring apologist for imperialism.

Prominent Embarassing Economists at Harvard:
1 and 2 -Reinhart and Rogoff of the shoddy and amateurish “This Time is Different” study,
3-Larry Summers a main driver of financial deregulation in the US, and who shamelessly underlined his involvement until a few years ago
4-Alesina of the completely discredited and fact-defying fiscal contraction expansion view
5-Barro of the completely absurd Ricardian Equivalence
6-Feldstein, apologist for deregulation of finance and whose arrogance was nicely displayed in the seminal film on the financial crisis (forget the name).
7-Mankiw whose students walked out of his class because it just regurgitated misleading and simplistic neo-liberal nostrums

FYI Ferguson’s apology re Keynes is at:
http://www.niallferguson.com/blog/an-unqualified-apology

Comment from Keith Newman
Time: May 6, 2013, 10:52 pm

Good article on Niall Ferguson, including his repeated gay-bashing of Keynes. This was not his first time.
The article also documents Ferguson’s dishonesty and hypocrisy on other issues.

http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/05/niall-fergusons-latest-gay-bashing-is-the-least-of-his-problems.html#more-5436

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