World Renowned Global Economy Historian and Best-Selling Author
Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, where he served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History.
He is the author of sixteen 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. In 2001, after a year as a Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England, he published The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000.
In 2003, Ferguson wrote and presented a six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4, the UK broadcaster. The accompanying book, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, was a bestseller in both Britain and the United States. The sequel, Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, was published in 2004 by Penguin, and prompted Time magazine to name him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Two years later he published The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, a television adaptation of which was screened by PBS in 2007. The international bestseller, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, followed in 2008; it too was a PBS series, winning the International Emmy award for Best Documentary, as well as the Handelszeitung Economics Book Prize. In 2011 he published Civilization: The West and the Rest, also a Channel 4/PBS documentary series. A year later came the three-part television series “China: Triumph and Turmoil.” The book based on his 2012 BBC Reith lectures, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, was a New York Times bestseller within a week of its publication.
An accomplished biographer, Ferguson published High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg in 2010 and is currently writing a life of Henry Kissinger, the first volume of which was published in 2015—to critical acclaim—as Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist. The book won the 2016 Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award. In 2011, his film company Chimerica Media released its first feature-length documentary, “Kissinger”, which won the New York Film Festival’s prize for Best Documentary. Niall Ferguson’s most recent book is Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.
Honors and Awards
Ferguson was the Philippe Roman Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics in 2010-11. His many prizes and awards include the GetAbstract International Book Award (2009), the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012), the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013), the Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book Prize (2013), the Philip Merrill Award of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education (2016); and Columnist of the Year at the 2018 British Press Awards. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Buckingham (UK), Macquarie University (Australia), and the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (Chile).
In addition to writing a regular column for Bloomberg Opinion, he is the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, an advisory firm, and a co-founding board member of Ualá, a Latin American bank. He also serves on the board of Affiliated Managers Group and is a trustee of the New York Historical Society and the London-based Centre for Policy Studies.
Niall Ferguson is married to the author and women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He has five children.
The Economic, Social and Political Consequences of the Plague: Putting COVID-19 in Historical Perspective
A pandemic, fires, floods, popular unrest — it’s an intertwined pattern seen throughout history and even in the Bible. Disasters are inherently hard to predict. Pandemics, like earthquakes, wildfires, financial crises, and wars, are not normally distributed; there is no cycle of history to help us anticipate the next catastrophe. But when disaster strikes, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted, or medieval Italians when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all. Yet the responses of many developed countries, including the United States, to a new virus from China were badly bungled. Why? Why did only a few Asian countries learn the right lessons from SARS and MERS? While populist leaders certainly performed poorly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Niall Ferguson argues that more profound pathologies were at work–pathologies already visible in our responses to earlier disasters.
Networks and Hierarchies: Society, Technology and Disruption from the Freemasons to Facebook
Niall Ferguson’s book, The Square and the Tower brilliantly anticipated the crisis that has gripped Silicon Valley since the 2016 election. To understand our modern world, he argues, you need an understanding of both network science and history. The networked age is turning out a lot less well than the techno-optimists foresaw. But why? And is there any way of stopping the trends towards polarization, extreme views and fake news?
"Chimerica": What's next for the crucial relationship between the People's Republic and the United States?
The most important economic and strategic relationship in the world has, for at least the last ten years, been between the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America: “Chimerica,” as Niall Ferguson called it in 2007. For a time it seemed as if the financial crisis might lead to a divorce between the two, but the relationship survived. Now a protectionist American president and more assertive Chinese president seem to be leading their countries towards some kind of collision on both trade and geopolitics. Can the two avoid sliding into the “Thucydides Trap” of conflict between an incumbent power and a rising power?
The Populist Challenge to Globalization: Brexit, Trump, and Beyond
The political events of 2016 in Britain and the United States came as a shock to many people. But to the historian, this was just the latest of many populist backlashes against globalization. The question is how far populism poses a real threat to democracy, as some have argued. Niall Ferguson argues that, in each case, there was an urgent need for some kind of correction to the trends of the preceding decades, which had led to excessive levels of off-shoring, overseas investment and mass migration. The real question to ask is: What comes next after populism?
The Next Financial Crisis: What Lies Ahead for the Global Financial System?
As the author of The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson accurately foresaw the crisis of 2008-9. Ten years on, he asks what the next financial crisis will look like and how near to it we are. With rising interest rates, ever higher mountains of debt and increased risks of a trade war, he argues that trouble is coming soon. How should investors prepare themselves for a crisis that will be very different in nature from the last one? And are there any new opportunities to be found in innovations such as crypto-currency?