for more Niall Ferguson quotes:Click Here

  1. Only in England would ‘professor gets divorced and remarried’ be a story.
  2. We historians are increasingly using experimental psychology to understand the way we act. It is becoming very clear that our ability to evaluate risk is hedged by all sorts of cognitive biases. It’s a miracle that we get anything right.
  3. It’s great to see countries like China and India lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty by essentially copying Western ways of doing things.
  4. I think the rise of quantitative econometrics and a highly mathematical approach to risk management was the obverse of a decline in interest in financial history.
  5. I can’t imagine having a conversation about ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  6. The whole point about historians is that we are really communing with the dead. It’s very restful — because you read. There’s some sociopathic problem that makes me prefer it to human interaction.
  7. Oral history is a recipe for complete misrepresentation because almost no one tells the truth, even when they intend to.
  8. I think that it is important to be gregarious, and that friendships are not just a leisure pursuit, that they are an integral part of what it is to be human, and one does better work if one has a circle of friends that is active.
  9. Something that’s seldom appreciated about me is that I am in sympathy with a great deal of what Marx wrote, except that I’m on the side of the bourgeoisie.
  10. The debate that I’m interested in having is with seriously smart people about how we design institutions in the 21st century that will genuinely address problems of poverty and educational underachievement.
  11. Through pure accident of birth, I’ve managed to stay relatively youthful.
  12. It’s all very well for us to sit here in the West with our high incomes and cushy lives, and say it’s immoral to violate the sovereignty of another state. But if the effect of that is to bring people in that country economic and political freedom, to raise their standard of living, to increase their life expectancy, then don’t rule it out.
  13. Risk models are a substitute for historical knowledge, because they tend to work with just three years’ worth of data. But three years is not a long time in financial history.
  14. If being rightwing is thinking that Karl Marx’s doctrine was a catastrophe for humanity, then I’m rightwing.
  15. In general, I have felt more at home in the U.S. than I ever felt in England.
  16. Ask me not, ‘Are you rightwing,’ but ask me ‘Are you a committed believer in individual freedom, the values of the enlightenment?’ Then, yeah, if being rightwing means believing Adam Smith was right, both in the ‘Wealth of Nations’ and the ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments,’ then I’m rightwing.
  17. President Obama’s biggest weakness is weakness.
  18. I was never a very convincing social conservative, and always avoided associating myself with that part of the broader conservative movement.
  19. As a financial historian, I was quite isolated in Oxford — British historians are supposed to write about kings — so the quality of intellectual life in my field is much higher at Harvard. The students work harder there.
  20. My fundamental tenets are concerned with freedom of the individual; the market isn’t perfect, but it’s the best available way of allocating resources.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store