Guest Post: A Postmortem Of Niall Ferguson's Otherwise Epic Lecture: Empires On The Edge Of Chaos

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A Postmortem Of Niall Ferguson's Otherwise Epic Lecture:  Empires On The Edge Of Chaos


Niall Ferguson: Empires on the Edge of Chaos from Australian Broadcasting Corporation on

A few words on this IMO must watch lecture - Niall Ferguson: Empires on the Edge of Chaos 

While Fergie is brilliant in his historical analysis, he gets a few niggling points wrong - Which I suspect is in part from having an Anglocentric viewpoint, which leads one to ignore some fairly hushed up (by the MSM) points of the good 'ol US of A, and in part from his rather British nature of believing in above all else, order, honoring of contracts, rule of law, and other quaint genteel notions of civil society.


Point One:  Interest payments as a share of US revenue

Fergie assumes that since China is getting out of US debt and into commodities, the US will have some problem making interest payments.  Given the current state of America exceptionalism lawlessness (MBS, Robosigning, MF Global, etc., etc., ab surdium, ad nauseam)... It should be apparent to anyone paying close attention that in order to solve these problems, the Fed will simply...  Print. 

After all, it's not like "preserving the value of the currency those treasury bonds you bought" is included anywhere in the fine print or anything.  Given that (as Zerohedge has well documented) contract law in the US is now interpreted to the advantage of the highest political bidder, at this point defaulting on an "unspoken agreement" with a bunch of foreigners is a very low threshold to cross indeed.

Point Two:  Gold investing

Fergie states that 10% of one's well-heeled portfolio should be held in gold, but no more:  Deflation will keep the price in check.  This ignores the fact that gold does well in deflation as well as inflation, which is because of doubts about the soundness of the currency (debt deflation requires future printing to "make good" on the debt to save the system).  Also, see Point One.

Point Three:  Fear of hyperinflation

Fergie again states that the problem facing the US is not inflation, but deflation.  Again, please kindly refer to Point One.

I fail to see how this ends any other way than with a crisis of the (soon to be known as the former) world's reserve currency.  We now return to your regularly scheduled coverage of the collapse of the US Empire and the death of it's King Dolla, courtesy of Zerohedge.  That is all.

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fightthepower's picture

Ferguson is a tool for the Rothschilds. Evil fuckers!

Market Efficiency Romantic's picture

Exactly, not even hiding his interests well. by now turning BB TV off, whenever he gets on, RS-policy-influenca-(p/m)uppet

LowProfile's picture

Perhaps, but please also consider who he gave the lecture to..!


Pinto Currency's picture



The gold market and interest rates have been rigged leading to an enormous world-wide bubble that is now collapsing.  Ferguson paints this as a normal cycle of empire. It is not.

Ferguson simply spews chewed-up baby food and pretends it is haute cuisine.

LowProfile's picture


But let's assume the above commentators are correct, and he is 'on the take' from Red Shield & co. LLC.  He's addressing the 1% of Australia, and advising them to keep 10% of their NW in gold, no more, no less.

Which makes me think that there's going to be an attempt at an engineered devaluation on the order of 90%.

Gotta keep the pecking order orderly, wot wot.  All very neat and tidy, must maintain order, you know.

I think there's more than a chance it will get away from them, but I'm an optimist.

WhiteNight123129's picture

"We now return to your regularly scheduled coverage of the collapse of the US Empire and the death of it's King Dolla, courtesy of Zerohedge." ...... Lol

Oh regional Indian's picture

Fergie is a well spoken and deep thinkning tool, in a long line of well spoken and deep thinking fools in the service of the PeeTeeBe.

Just to give you one example, he was in India last year on a breath-less tour along with, amongst other panelists.... Palin.

Case closed. Blah blah blah. Tosser.



macholatte's picture


I had never seen this site before.  With the exception of the guys from Myth Busters & Peter Schiff, it looks like a collection of folks from the Progressive Side of the Force.  NT Times, Commonwealth Club of California, environmental Nazis, Krugman, Clinton, Roubini, her Highness Pelosi and so on. I did search Ron Paul and found him there. Admittedly, there is a large volume of content there and I didn't watch much of it.  I just scanned to see who it was they were promoting and it seemed to me to be a bit one sided.  

Pinto Currency's picture


It is completely out of control and those at the centre are telling stories to send the cigar chomping pissed-off sheep down the wrong alley.

That twirp Ferguson is so full of it that he is only accepted by the 1% as profound.

There is fiction in the space between Nial's lines on the page and reality...




Element's picture

I've gotten to the point where I can't bare to listen to the BBC, and more recently the Australian ABC also (otherwise known in the suburbs and on the land as the gayBC ...).

They're both utter crap.

Pure state propaganda networks, far worse even than TASS or VOA.

The only thing more degenerative to the human brain and nerve stem is US National Public Radio, which is truly fucking bilious and aneurism inducing (but PBS NewsHour runs a close second).

Anyone listening to those networks or taking much of anything they say 'seriously', is simply a lost cause.

lasvegaspersona's picture

Good luck with a "90%" controlled deflation. In a real hyerinflation there are large denomination notes scattered in the gutters. If you are betting on HI O suggest all in physical. Really Coocoo would be to run up a bunch of loan debt.

Devout Republican's picture

This guy knows global warming is a hoax, so he is okay with me.

AUD's picture

For more on Niall Ferguson read Ascent of Hooey, found under recent commentaries, here.

Niall Ferguson is another of the Bank of England's men.

UP Forester's picture

Huh.  Who woulda thunkit, him being a PhD teaching at Ivory League schools and such.


Those guys are usually well-grounded.

Pinto Currency's picture


Thanks  Aud,


That Ascent of Hooey article by Robert Landis is a brilliant disection of Niall Ferguson's promotion The Ascent of Money.

Both Howe and Landis are articulate, well researched and on target.

The intro of the Ascent of Hooey article:

On October 16, 1929, Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, made a famous prediction: “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” [1] The prediction, coming as it did less than two weeks before Black Tuesday, ultimately ruined the popular reputation of this celebrity economist. On November 13, 2008, some two months after the Federal takeover of Fannie Mae (September 7) and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers (September 13), Niall Ferguson, Professor of History at Harvard University, published The Ascent of Money (Penguin Press, 2008). Only time will tell whether this book, a spirited defense of the monetary status quo directed at the general public, will do for this celebrity historian what his stock price prediction did for Professor Fisher.

CompassionateFascist's picture

NF received various awards from Jewish organizations for his bio of the Rothschilds. Says all. Complete Zionist stooge. Over at his site, he's got a short piece on the oncoming IranWar; thinks it'll be a 6-day walkover, like '67.

fleur de lis's picture

Well if it's going to be such a fast and fun war why doesn't he crawl out from the bed he's hiding under and dress up like a tough little soldier boy and march around showing off his shiny new gun or something and sign up to fight the big, mean Iranians. 

Oh, that's right I forgot, that's for Americans to do. So as to keep his masters happy.

Nukular Freedum's picture

Yes he's also currently working on the official biography of Kissinger (Kissinger liked his hagiography of the Rothschilds). This tells us all we need to know about Niall. As I mention down thread he used to write good books.

magpie's picture

got book three of the Rothschild saga ?

palmereldritch's picture

Yeah. It's going to be titled The Plunder Games

maxmad's picture

Fergie should stick with singing..... Tell the oil companies that its deflation, bitchez!

Market Efficiency Romantic's picture

The ever so ivory-towerish Fergie... IMHO missing the historical dynamics and lacking critical knowledge of instruments involved today and relevant to assessment of situation and historical relativity. The British Harvard historian just toooo close to the centers of eternal power.

palmereldritch's picture

If history is written by the victors then it's published by their servants.

css1971's picture

The best lies are 99% truth.

Quinvarius's picture

I think a lot of deflationists also make the false assumption that prices are dictated by money supply in a crisis.  There is simply no way to deflate a fiat hyperinflation.  The price of gold could go to 1 million an ounce on only the current money supply if dollars suddenly had the utility of fill dirt.

AUD's picture

You are one of the few who understands that value is not dictated by quantity but quality.

In the case of the obligations of government, they have no quality, so no utility & no value.

Of course we will have hyperinflation, asking when is like asking what day the stockmarket was going to crash in 2008. Hard to predict an irrational credit bubble.

Jason T's picture

Of course in our debt based money system, eventually, debt service payments will consume the entire revenue.. it's mathematiacally guarenteed. 


Martin Armstrong puts 2015 as year of next crisis.. which will be the big one.  Sept. 2015.  

LowProfile's picture

You miss the point.

Interest payments will be met by... Printing more money!

Whether it comes into being via debt creation, or outright "printing" is moot.

AUD's picture

Whether it comes into being via debt creation, or outright "printing" is moot

Actually, no it's not. It is the debt creation angle that has kept the contemporary monetary system 'functioning' for decades despite the shocking quality of the debt that comprises the monetary system.

As Melchior Palyi said in 1958

By slow attrition, the result is likely to be the same as in the case of outright money-printing by the government itself. The old-fashioned technique of paper money inflation 'worked' faster than its modern, seemingly less reprehensible counterpart that camouflages the production of fiat money by channeling it through the money market and the central bank.

LowProfile's picture

If you can, please describe why the Fed (and all CBs with their respective debt currencies) cannot simply buy all the debt issued by their respective government's treasuries.

Also please describe why (in lieu of the above option) those respective treasuries' governments cannot simply suspend the rules (via legislation) and issue 10x the current amount of currency in circulation.

AUD's picture

Read the quote from Melchior Palyi again & then again if you need to. It will answer your two questions.

What do you think he means by 'worked' faster?

LowProfile's picture

Sum it up for us.  We're all ears.

fonzannoon's picture

Yeah agreed, please sum up.


AUD's picture

He is saying that the old fashioned technique of issuing currency - the government printing it directly - destroyed the currency - hyperinflation - much faster than the "modern, seemingly less reprehensible counterpart that camouflages the production of fiat money by channeling it through the money market and the central bank" - the Treasury selling debt to the primary dealers, who sell it to others & on & on, with the central bank buying some portion to move the rate of interest - the inverse of the bond price.

You people want hyperinflation next week? Have the Treasury print irredeemable currency directly.

LowProfile's picture

You still haven't made an argument for why US interest payments will simply be met by printing more money.

So they don't print it directly - What's to stop them from monetizing debt?

Same result.

AUD's picture

What's to stop them from monetizing debt?

Nothing. That's exactly what they are doing. But the difference between the Treasury printing currency directly & the current 'system' is not moot.

The same result maybe but it cannot be denied the 'system' has survived decades despite the apalling quality of the debt that comprises the 'system'.

palmereldritch's picture

AUD's observation may in fact be a conscious choice by TPTB to slowly disseminate and infiltrate debt wider, deeper and more comprehensively than in past currency bubbles.

The scale this time is world-wide but the intended results are the same and will require extensive and complete order (translation: global currency) from the chaos sowed by stealth and finesse.

Bigger bubble....longer fuse.

lasvegaspersona's picture

Think you are describing salvation via MMT

AnAnonymous's picture

Interest payments will be met by... Printing more money!


Every Ponzi is enabled by a source of wealth at the bottom.

Ponzis are a way to concentrate that wealth to the top.

Ponzis collapse from the bottom.

USD Ponzi will end as the wealth at the bottom is going deplete.

People join the USD ponzi because it allows them to acquire goods.

One day, as a USD goes down from US of A to a third world country looking for wealth to be transfered to the top, that third world country will send back as an answer that there is no more wealth to be sucked up.

Not a lack of participation will but a lack of goods to trade.

Turning point when this occurs in more and more bottom countries.

Up to that moment, there will be no hyperinflation.

Ponzis collapse from the bottom but speaking of the bottom is much less sexy than speaking of US citizen societies.

New World Chaos's picture

See what happens when you give an insightful new post instead of the same old US Citizenism posts?  Up arrows!

It is the eternal nature of US Citizens to get sick of hearing the same damn thing 10x per day, regardless of whether it is true.  US Citizenism is easier understood if talked about in different ways.  Look to the media for example.  They change the celebrity gossip.  US Citizens like new US Citizen celebrity gossip as often as they change underwear- at least once per week.  (However, individual celebrity gossip may be extended in case of national emergency, which is eternal).

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Very insightful.

Very non-can kicking.



ekm's picture

I've followed Martin Armstrong for 2 years already. All his "predictions" are no different from anybody's else, just lucky hit and miss. I still do follow him, but I am interested in his analysis which is super brilliant, not his predictions.

Nobody knows what's going to happen 10 minutes from now, figure out in 2015. I call this "prophetic rapture". Humans are inclined to fall into it. Meredith Whitney comes to mind. Then the famous ones like Mark Faber, Nouriel Roubini etc. Hit and miss. Pure luck.

jayman21's picture

I also follow him and find what he writes interesting.  He, if not always, almost always says the computer model is saying this or that.  He has also said on many occasions that he does not know why the market tops and bottoms based on his model.  He has some ideas, but never really comes out and says it.  I think the fact he says "computer model" makes him different than Meredith or Mark or fill in the blank.


His grasp of history is like nothing I have ever read anywhere else.  Agreed, just pure brilliant.  His book is out in August.  I saw a to be released not yet named book by Martin Armstrong on Amazon.  Excited to see what he writes.

vmromk's picture

Dear Mr. Ferguson,

With that kind of propoganda, you would make a fine addition to join us here at the Fed.

Please report for work on Monday.


Benjamin S. Bernanke

Head Scumbag and Printer Extraordinaire



Market Efficiency Romantic's picture

Misunderstood hierarchy. Fergie is none of those technocrats posing as instrument for execution. He is more of a senior ideological whistler to the organization.

akak's picture

Anyone who tries to argue that the REAL threat to one's savings at this juncture within out collapsing fiat monetary system is some supposed, never-before-seen fiat currency deflation (the dollar is going to increase in value?  When in history has this EVER been the result of exponentially rising governmental indebtedness?), and not the historically unchallengeable and inevitable fiat currency debasement or collapse, is either a fool or a shill for the status-quo power elite.  By uttering such disingenuous, dishonest, malicious and implicitly pro-Establishment propaganda, this man has instantly discredited himself from being taken seriously as a sincere messenger of the truth.

The fact that Establishment defenders such as Ferguson here, or the vile and reprehensible Jon Nadler for example, continue to suggest (in a grudging and lukewarm fashion) that one hold, AT MOST, 10% of their savings in physical precious metals --- the same tepid advice that they gave in radically different, and more stable, circumstances ten or twenty years ago --- is just an implicit claim on their parts that the current world financial and monetary crisis is just another routine "bump in the road", and not the fundamental collapse and paradigm shift that in fact it is.

Bansters-in-my- feces's picture


+ 10 for Nadler bashing.

akak's picture

Thanks Banksters!

I never pass up a chance to disparage and discredit that horribly dishonest, maliciously contemptible pro-bankster shill Nadler.   That man is as much a malevolent pro-status-quo propaganda mouthpiece and power-sucking Quisling as I have ever read or encountered, and as a supposed "gold market analyst", his many permabearish calls on the price of gold have been uniformly WRONG --- yet this does not stop the corporate-controlled media parrots from quoting him time after time in articles on gold.  I have had several lengthy email exchanges with the man, and I felt both outraged and soiled after each of them.

A_S's picture

they don't mean currency deflation, they see that as an effect, not the cause like austrians