Using a Historical Lens to View Finance (w/ Niall Ferguson)

Using a Historical Lens to View Finance (w/ Niall Ferguson)


In this week’s how I got my start in finance you’ll hear from acclaimed financial historian Neil Ferguson He tells Larry McDonald how he developed his unique perspective Analyzing the history of money and contemporary issues today Larry I grew up in in Glasgow. I guess we have Scottish roots. Yes in common and as a boy I was an avid reader and I suppose was inclining towards Literature until I read Tolstoy’s war and peace. I think it was about 15 and There was really much less to do for young people in those days, especially in Scotland where it rains all the time yeah, so you either Playing soccer or reading war and peace that was the choice and a rainy day I I was reading war and peace and at the end of war and peace Tolstoy reflects on on the lessons of this extraordinary Novel and indeed the lessons of history He ends the book with a kind of philosophical essay on the nature of historical determinism, and this really grabbed my attention And it made me think more seriously about about history as an option. I came from a rather Scientific family. My mother was a physicist and my my father a doctor. My sister is a physicist I’m the black sheep of the family, but history appealed to me from then on Because I found the study of human particles human particles with consciousness somehow more appealing than the study of well particles the kind of things that physicists do and so I was lucky to a very inspiring history teacher who encouraged me to pursue my interest which at that time was in the thirty years war deepened to the inner recesses of the mitchell library in glasgow and I set my heart and studying history at Oxford I’m unusual Amongst historians because I’m interested in history mainly for what it teaches us about the present and future The historian I most admired as a boy was AJP Taylor a wonderful writer Who not only produced an extraordinary history books? But was also happy to be on television and write for the newspapers and appiying about the events of the day So I suppose at some point. I took it into my fool head To be an AGP tailor to be a historian who used history to think about contemporary problems And I could have chased that I’ve chased that vision or that dog burps ever since my late teens that’s the key to relating to the masses and that’s the key to the bestsellers out of all your amazing pieces of work from Civilization to ascent what? What do you think is really the most? Compelling book moving forward that readers should look at for the next say 3 to 5 to 10 years What are you mentioned financial acumen? I mean if your Viewers are mainly interested in in finance. They should probably read their sense of money because of all the books I’ve written that that’s the one that Aspires to tell the history of the world in financial terms and as it so happens I’ve just produced a new edition of the essential money with two new chapters that take the story up to date The book was published in 2008. Just a matter of a few weeks before the Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, but it was written with the expectation of a financial crisis in mind so it seemed appropriate after ten years to update it and I think that’s that the right starting point for understanding My approach to the past which has always given finance a relatively high priority My feeling is I was going through university at Oxford was that but most historians? Underestimated the importance of financial markets maybe as a Scotsman who was relatively numerous quite good at math I’m sort of shocked my my English contemporaries at Oxford because they thought history was about kings and queens and yet maybe the old general But it seemed to me the bankers were just as interesting actually as those people especially in the modern era but even and the Renaissance the Medici weren’t Originally interested in politics. They were originally forex traders as a yes So I I suppose I started off thinking hmm. I could maybe have an edge in this history game if I emphasized financial history So I did a lot of my early work on kind of obscure stuff like the 19th century bond market and how World War One functioned in financial terms I wrote a history of the Rothschild family in Banks a massive two volume history by the time I wrote the ascent of money My goal was to try to give financial history a large audience It was also a six-part PBS series and the goal I had was very simple to explain The financial system to people and the financial crisis by showing them where it all came from Because I think if you try and explain the financial system with some kind of flow chart or or even worse a mathematical model Most people are just baffled. But if you tell them the story of why we have banks, why money is mostly Bank money or why there is a bond market what the stock market is and where it came from then It all starts becoming more intelligible. So I Greatly believe in financial education. I think chronic problem we have in the United States and indeed in most countries is financial illiteracy The ascent of money was designed to make the whole financial system seem more intelligible by just telling its story Neil Ferguson has developed a unique view of history and markets for Ferguson that became a successful career as one of the markets premier financial historians for real vision. I’m Justine Underhill you You

4 thoughts on “Using a Historical Lens to View Finance (w/ Niall Ferguson)

  1. Spot on. Financial illiteracy is one of the reasons crazy green schemes aren't properly scrutinised on a proper cost benefit basis. So called journalists can't handle basic arithmetic. No wonder their credibility is down the toilet.

  2. Never seen anyone do such shameless self promotion and name dropping of his own work like this guy, what a rat.

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