Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where he served for 12 years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.
He is the author of 14 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.
His latest book is The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook (2017).
"At times, it seems as if we are condemned to try to understand our own time with conceptual frameworks more than half a century old." Historian Niall Ferguson says it's time for an update.
Niall Ferguson: I’m constantly struck by the levels of historical ignorance that I encounter. In rooms full of very well-paid financial professionals, nobody appears to have read any of the major works of financial history of the last 30 or 40 years.
For every one Western 17-year-old boy there are about 28 Chinese boys the same age working twice as hard to get the lifestyle that our one Western kid assumes will be his.
Businesses are reaching the limits of what they can squeeze out of a downsized workforce.
Complexity theory is about adaptive systems that teeter on the edge of chaos.
Niall Ferguson: going on a world tour and seeing which systems do the best job seems like a pretty good starting place to me.
We’ve seen more and more human functions be transferred to machines, to robots, to computers, we haven’t all in fact grown poorer.
When you have a very rigid society without social mobility the underachieving kids of overachieving parents get a privileged run and get helped into colleges they shouldn’t really be getting into.
Complex systems can fall apart really quickly if they tip over the edge of chaos.