The Centre for Independent Studies 2010 John Bonython Lecture with Niall Ferguson. Is the rise and fall of empires cyclical or arrhythmic? How does economic profligacy - whether the result of arrogance or naivety - contribute to the downfall of civilisations? Today Professor Ferguson will argue that great powers or empires are in the strict sense of the word, complex systems. Made up of very large numbers of interacting components that are quite asymmetrically organised. In other words, he continues, their construction more resembles a termite hill than an Egyptian pyramid. They operate somewhere between order and disorder. Moreover imperial falls are nearly always associated with fiscal crises, when there are dramatic imbalances between revenues and expenditures. Thus alarm bells should be ringing in Washington DC but what does that for mean for Australia?
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Bigfoot historian Niall Ferguson made his name with a fearless readiness to speak to history and our moment in it in the biggest terms.
If you want to talk about the rise and fall of empires – Roman, American, British, Soviet – Ferguson’s your man. Now he’s followed history right into the middle of a raging debate over whether we need more stimulus spending right now, or need to slam on the spending brakes to avoid a system collapse.
Ferguson’s a hit-the-brakes man. He dukes it out with Paul Krugman
Financial historian Niall Ferguson knows humanity’s long trail of boom and bust cycles. But he is hardly buried in the past.
In the long run-up to today’s crisis, Ferguson was warning loud and clear that we were headed for trouble. He called it early, and he called it right.
Now, Ferguson is sizing up the mess we’re in. Bottom line guess, he says: we’re headed for ten percent unemployment and five-plus years of hard times.
On the other side, the world could look quite different. But the U.S., he says, still has some good cards to play. Saving graces.
This hour, On Point: Niall Ferguson, and the big view of the mess we’re in.
from NPR: On Point with Tom Ashbrook The West was great. But what about now. Debt. Fear. The Euro. Is the West out of gas, Is our time up. Big time historian Niall Ferguson gives us his take.