Niall Campbell Ferguson FRSE is a Scottish historian who serves as the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.
98 Facts About Niall Ferguson
Niall Ferguson has written and presented numerous television documentary series, including The Ascent of Money, which won an International Emmy award for Best Documentary in 2009.
Niall Ferguson has been a contributing editor for Bloomberg Television and a columnist for Newsweek.
Niall Ferguson began writing a semi-monthly column for Bloomberg Opinion in June 2020.
Niall Ferguson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 18 April 1964 to James Campbell Niall Ferguson, a doctor, and Molly Archibald Hamilton, a physics teacher.
Niall Ferguson grew up in the Ibrox area of Glasgow in a home close to the Ibrox Park football stadium.
Niall Ferguson cites his father as instilling in him a strong sense of self-discipline and of the moral value of work, while his mother encouraged his creative side.
Niall Ferguson received a demyship from Magdalen College, Oxford.
Niall Ferguson graduated with a first-class honours degree in history in 1985.
Niall Ferguson studied as a Hanseatic Scholar at the University of Hamburg from 1986 until 1988.
Niall Ferguson received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Oxford in 1989.
In 1989, Niall Ferguson worked as a research fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge.
Niall Ferguson then became a fellow and tutor in modern history at Jesus College, Oxford, where in 2000 he was named a professor of political and financial history.
In 2002 Ferguson became the John Herzog Professor in Financial History at New York University Stern School of Business, and in 2004 he became the Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
From 2010 to 2011, Niall Ferguson held the Philippe Roman Chair in history and international affairs at the London School of Economics.
In 2016 Niall Ferguson left Harvard to become a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he had been an adjunct fellow since 2005.
Niall Ferguson has received honorary degrees from the University of Buckingham, Macquarie University and Universidad Adolfo Ibanez.
In May 2010, Michael Gove, education secretary, asked Niall Ferguson to advise on the development of a new history syllabus, to be entitled "history as a connected narrative", for schools in England and Wales.
In 2018, Niall Ferguson apologized after fellow historians criticized him for only inviting white men as speakers to a Stanford conference on applied history.
Niall Ferguson teamed with a Republican student group to find information that might discredit the student.
Niall Ferguson resigned from leadership of the program once university administrators became aware of his actions.
In 2000, Niall Ferguson was a founding director of Boxmind, an Oxford-based educational technology company.
In 2007, Niall Ferguson was appointed as an investment management consultant by GLG Partners, to advise on geopolitical risk as well as current structural issues in economic behaviour relating to investment decisions.
Niall Ferguson was an adviser to Morgan Stanley, the investment bank.
Niall Ferguson serves as a non-executive director on the board of Affiliated Managers Group.
Niall Ferguson is a trustee of the New-York Historical Society and the London-based Centre for Policy Studies.
Niall Ferguson has written regularly for British newspapers and magazines since the mid 1980s.
In May 2012, the BBC announced Niall Ferguson was to present its annual Reith Lectures.
Niall Ferguson asks whether the modern state is quietly killing civil society in the Western world, and what non-Western societies can do to build a vibrant civil society.
Niall Ferguson addresses the paradox that, though the 20th century was "so bloody", it was "a time of unparalleled [economic] progress".
Niall Ferguson compared and contrasted how the West's "killer apps" allowed the West to triumph over "the Rest" citing examples.
Niall Ferguson argued the rowdy and savage competition between European merchants created far more wealth than did the static and ordered society of Qing China.
Niall Ferguson argued that the modern West had lost its edge and the future belongs to the nations of Asia, especially China, which has adopted the West's "killer apps".
Niall Ferguson argues that in the coming years we will see a steady decline of the West, while China and the rest of the Asian nations will be the rising powers.
In 2018's The Square and the Tower, Niall Ferguson proposed a modified version of group selection that history can be explained by the evolution of human networks.
Niall Ferguson has been referred to as a conservative historian by some commentators and fellow historians.
Niall Ferguson himself stated in a 2018 interview on the Rubin Report that his views align to classical liberalism and has referred to himself as a "classic Scottish enlightenment liberal" on other occasions.
Niall Ferguson endorsed Kemi Badenoch's campaign during the July 2022 Conservative Party leadership election.
In 1998, Niall Ferguson published The Pity of War: Explaining World War One, which with the help of research assistants he was able to write in just five months.
Furthermore, Niall Ferguson expressed disagreement with the Sonderweg interpretation of German history championed by some German historians such as Fritz Fischer, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Hans Mommsen and Wolfgang Mommsen, who argued that the German Empire deliberately started an aggressive war in 1914.
Likewise, Niall Ferguson has often attacked the work of the German historian Michael Sturmer, who argued that it was Germany's geographical situation in Central Europe that determined the course of German history.
In particular, Niall Ferguson accused the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey of maintaining an ambiguous attitude to the question of whether Britain would enter the war or not, and thus confusing Berlin over just what was the British attitude towards the question of intervention in the war.
Niall Ferguson accused London of unnecessarily allowing a regional war in Europe to escalate into a world war.
Niall Ferguson attacked a number of ideas that he called "myths" in the book.
In Niall Ferguson's view, had Germany won World War I, then the lives of millions would have been saved, something like the European Union would have been founded in 1914, and Britain would have remained an empire as well as the world's dominant financial power.
The German-born American historian Gerhard Weinberg in a review of The Pity of War strongly criticized Niall Ferguson for advancing the thesis that it was idiotic for Britain to have fought a Germany that allegedly posed no danger.
Weinberg wrote that Niall Ferguson was wrong to claim that Germany's interests were limited only to Europe, and maintained that if the Reich had defeated France in 1914, then Germany would have taken over the French colonies in Asia and Africa which would have definitely affected the balance of power all over the world, not just in Europe.
Niall Ferguson's championing of the method has been controversial within the field.
Niall Ferguson demanded an apology and threatened to sue Mishra on charges of libel due to allegations of racism.
Wilson charged that Niall Ferguson failed to look at the empire via non-British eyes because to do so would be to challenge his claim that Britain "made the modern world" by imposing its values on "the Other", and that the history of the empire was far more complicated than the simplistic version that Niall Ferguson is trying to present.
Niall Ferguson compared the modern European Union to the Western Roman Empire, describing modern Europe as not that different from the world depicted by Edward Gibbon in his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Niall Ferguson wrote the mass influx of refugees into Europe from Syria was a modern version of the Volkerwanderung when the Huns burst out of Asia and invaded Europe, causing millions of the Germanic peoples to flee into the presumed safety of the Roman Empire, smashing their way in as the Romans attempted unsuccessfully to stop the Germans from entering the empire.
Niall Ferguson writes that Gibbon was wrong to claim the Roman Empire collapsed slowly and argues that the view among a growing number of modern scholars is that the collapse of the Roman empire was swift and violent; unforeseeable by Romans of the day, just as the collapse of modern European civilization would likewise be for modern Europeans.
In 2017, Niall Ferguson opined that the West had insufficiently heeded the rise of militant Islam and its global consequences in the same way it failed to predict that the rise of Lenin would lead to the further spread of communism and conflict around the world:.
Niall Ferguson stated that Islam differs from Judaism and Christianity through being "designed differently" as a political ideology that does not recognize the separation of mosque with the secular and temporal, and that the Muslim world has mostly followed an opposite trend to Western society by becoming less secularized and more literal in interpreting holy scripture.
Niall Ferguson concluded that if Europe kept pursuing large scale migration from pious Muslim societies combined with poor structures of economic and cultural integration, especially in an era when existing migrant communities are either unassimilated or loosely integrated into the host society, it is "highly likely" that networks of fundamentalist dawah will grow in which Islamic extremists draw in the culturally and economically unassimilated Muslims of immigrant backgrounds.
Niall Ferguson has pointed out that even when living in Western nations, both he and his wife Ayaan Hirsi Ali have to live with permanent security measures as a result of her public critiques of Islam and status as a former Muslim.
Niall Ferguson supported the 2003 Iraq War, and he is on record as being not necessarily opposed to future western incursions around the world.
Niall Ferguson was initially skeptical of Donald Trump's bid for the 2016 United States presidential election.
In 2018, Niall Ferguson argued that a Hillary Clinton presidency would have been more disruptive to America, and that Clinton would have been "immediately" impeached as Trump supporters would have likely believed that the election was rigged.
Niall Ferguson stated that he regarded himself "in the middle ground" in a generally polarized public and media opinion on Trump's presidency.
Niall Ferguson elaborated that while he found Trump's personality "pretty hard to take", he cited several positive achievements undertaken by his administration, including America's stronger economic performance and noted that he found Trump's foreign policy stances on China, North Korea and the Middle East an improvement over that of the Obama administration.
Niall Ferguson further opined that the media was more focused on Trump's behaviour on social media than the "competent job" being done by members of his administration.
Niall Ferguson criticized the 2021 USCapitol attack committed by supporters of Trump, arguing on Twitter that the participants should be prosecuted and that Trump's behavior had cost the Republicans the Senate.
Niall Ferguson argued that Trumpism was likely to remain a force within US politics and likened it to Jacobite Pretenders who sought to revolt in order to restore the House of Stuart to the British royal throne after the Glorious Revolution.
Niall Ferguson argued that Trump and Putin could work for the victory of Marine Le Pen and the Front national in the 2017 French elections, arguing that Le Pen was the French politician most congenial to the Trump administration.
In February 2010, during the Greek government-debt crisis, Niall Ferguson appeared on the Glenn Beck Program predicting that if interest rates rose in the United States it could experience a similar sovereign default and mass civil disorder to what was occurring in Greece.
Niall Ferguson was an attendee of the 2012 Bilderberg Group meeting, where he was a speaker on economic policy.
Niall Ferguson was highly critical of Britain's vote to leave the European Union, warning that "the economic consequences will be dire".
Later, after backing the Remain campaign during the referendum, Niall Ferguson changed his mind and came out in support of Britain's exit from the EU.
Niall Ferguson contended that the Obama administration's policies are simultaneously Keynesian and monetarist, in an "incoherent" mix, and specifically claimed that the government's issuance of a multitude of new bonds would cause an increase in interest rates.
Krugman argued that Niall Ferguson's view is "resurrecting 75-year old fallacies" and full of "basic errors".
Niall Ferguson denied that he had misrepresented the facts in an online rebuttal.
Matthew O'Brien countered that Niall Ferguson was still distorting the meaning of the Congressional Budget Office report being discussed, and that the entire piece could be read as an effort to deceive.
In 2013, Niall Ferguson, naming Dean Baker, Josh Barro, Brad DeLong, Matthew O'Brien, Noah Smith, Matthew Yglesias and Justin Wolfers, attacked "Krugman and his acolytes," in his three-part essay on why he dislikes Paul Krugman.
Niall Ferguson posted an apology for these statements shortly after reports of his words were widely disseminated, saying his comments were "as stupid as they were insensitive".
In spring 2018, Niall Ferguson was involved with College Republican leaders at Stanford to oppose a left-leaning student take over of the Cardinal Conversations initiative.
Niall Ferguson later apologized and resigned from the said initiative when emails were leaked revealing his involvement in the events.
Niall Ferguson was an early skeptic of cryptocurrencies, famously dismissing his teenage son's recommendation to buy Bitcoin in 2014.
Niall Ferguson has stated that he identified as a Scottish nationalist as a teenager, but moderated his views after moving to England to study history.
Niall Ferguson has argued that Scottish nationalism is sometimes fueled by a distorted view that Scots have always been oppressed by the English and is misconceived by people from outside of the United Kingdom as the choice between being Scottish or English.
Niall Ferguson has argued that Scotland after the Jacobite rebellion remained a land divided by warring clans and religious factions, and that the Union helped to quell some of the conflicts.
In 2021, ahead of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, Niall Ferguson argued that the Labour administration under Tony Blair had made a mistake in believing devolution would stem Scottish nationalism, but instead it enabled the Scottish National Party to assume regional power and criticised the SNP government of Nicola Sturgeon for its management of the Scottish economy, education and freedom of speech.
In 2011, Niall Ferguson predicted that Grexit was unlikely to happen, but that Britain would leave the European Union in the near future as it would be easier for Britain to leave the EU owing to the fact it was not part of the Eurozone and that returning to a national currency would be harder for countries who had signed up to a single currency.
However, after backing the Remain campaign, Niall Ferguson changed his stance and came out in support of Brexit, admitting that his support to stay in had been motivated in part on a personal level by not wanting the government of David Cameron to collapse and in turn risk Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.
Niall Ferguson elaborated that while Brexit would still have some economic consequences, the EU had been a "disaster" on its monetary, immigration, national security and radical Islam policies.
In 2020, Niall Ferguson predicted that the EU is destined to become "moribund" and was at risk of collapse in the near future and that the single currency had only benefited Northern Europe and Germany in particular while causing economic havoc in Southern Europe.
Niall Ferguson stated that high levels of illegal immigration from Muslim-majority nations would in turn further the rise of populist and eurosceptic movements committed to rolling back or leaving the European Union.
Niall Ferguson later criticized both the British and US federal government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as inadequate, calling them "both, in their different ways, intelligible only as colossal failures by governments to make adequate preparations for a disaster they always knew to be a likely contingency".
Niall Ferguson reflected in a 2021 podcast interview with Lex Fridman that many of the failures in the United States had been systemic rather than the personal fault of Donald Trump, and that Trump was unfairly blamed because of the Trump administration's messaging.
Niall Ferguson alleged that President Barack Obama's handling of the US opioid epidemic had been similarly costly but more obscure.
Niall Ferguson praised Operation Warp Speed, and claimed that part of the reason for the failure of the US government to effectively respond to the pandemic was the absence of a similar program for COVID-19 testing.
Niall Ferguson married journalist Sue Douglas in 1994 after meeting her in 1987 when she was his editor at The Sunday Times.
In February 2010, Niall Ferguson separated from Douglas and started dating Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Niall Ferguson married Hirsi Ali on 10 September 2011 and Hirsi Ali gave birth to their son Thomas in December 2011.
Niall Ferguson's self-confessed workaholism has placed strains on his personal relations in the past.
Niall Ferguson was the inspiration for Alan Bennett's play The History Boys, particularly the character of Irwin, a history teacher who urges his pupils to find a counterintuitive angle, and goes on to become a television historian.