Niall Ferguson: The “age of debt” has come to an end

Apologies for the sub-titles but this Hard Talk interview has an important message.

5 thoughts on “Niall Ferguson: The “age of debt” has come to an end

  1. John Murray says:

    In case you haven’t noticed power subsumes the truth at every turn. Take for example all the lies Trump gives us (e.g. birthing) and he is more popular than ever. The public will not face up to the truth such as Ferguson gives us but a famous man once said: “The truth will set you free.” Very true but it takes courage to do that where cowardice and a lust for comfort sets us on the path to hell. Of course we never talk about moral issues any more as it is money and power we idolise.

    • frankaquin0 says:

      It’s true that money is about the only thing that is valued these days. Property, possessions, life, family relationships, friendship and even children take second place to money. Whether it was always thus, I couldn’t say. But I think it is more endemic today because we hear about staggering amounts of wealth being allowed to accumulate in fewer and fewer hands, creating God-like figures that the less wealthy feel they must aspire to. I say “allowed” not because I’m against the pursuit of wealth. I’m definitely not. I believe the pursuit of wealth is a natural right and a great motivator for progress in all its many forms of health, nutrition, leisure, exploration and education that have civilized us from the steam age onwards. But the pursuit of wealth only makes sense within a framework of bettering society as a whole. That should be an underlying tenet of capitalism, but it isn’t. Capitalism has become a game in which the people who are best at making money end up most of it. Or as the character Lawrence Garfiled says in the movie Other People’s Money, “You make as much as you can for as long as you can and whoever has the most money when they die, wins.” Either way capitalism doesn’t exist to better society, but to benefit individuals, so Governments are supposed to somehow manage the redistribution. Some governments are better than others but the economy is worldwide with no world government, which is surely why it bounces violently from wall to wall in the tunnel of boom and bust while our starry eyed leaders drive blindly in the darkness. Whoever can figure out a workable stock market that trades not in company shares but in human decency might just set us right. The Carbon Credits Scheme was about the first attempt, as far as I know.

      • ColinTwiggs says:

        Adam Smith pointed out the benefit of capitalism was that individuals acting in their own self-interest achieve a common good. That was before fractional reserve banking systems, fiat money, central banks, crony-capitalism, regulatory capture, lobbyists, $billion campaign funding and numerous other attempts to game the system. Capitalism created political freedom, political freedom led to a breakdown of order, and breakdown of order leads to the decay of capitalism. The solution is simple (but difficult to achieve because of all the opposing interests): restore order through strong regulation and the separation of politicians from private funding.

    • ColinTwiggs says:

      Not sure that people idolize money and power. But we underestimate the power of the media and the apathy it induces.
      Hour of rage

      With thanks to

  2. frankaquin0 says:

    Thanks Colin, I note it’s about 4 years old now, so he was spot-on about the drift to the Right. But as for the debt issue (in which he is of course again, spot-on) I think I’ve bored your readers enough with my apparently radical view that borrowing more money than you can eventually pay back will always get you into trouble (or your kids’ inheritance if you die in debt). But of course we don’t borrow and payback money any more do we – we “buy and sell debt” (good grief!) which psychologically sets us up into thinking we are dealing with an intrinsically valuable object in a box, instead of a willingness to serve or expect to be served by people we never meet.

    I didn’t hear any solutions (not uncommon with Prof. Ferguson) but then I don’t think there is one (a palatable anyway). What we laughingly call managing the economy is more akin to steering the Titanic with a canoe paddle, making corrections based on the pattern of the wake.

    Always good to read your stuff. Many thanks for posting.

    Aside: I guess “HardTalk” in the UK must mean constantly interrupting the person you’ve invited onto your show to listen to. I got the distinct feeling no one in the room changed their minds about anything. It’s all just theatre now, isn’t it?

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