Stay Classy, Niall Ferguson

Via the Financial AdvisorHarvard Professor Trashes Keynes For Homosexuality

Speaking at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., in front of a group of more than 500 financial advisors and investors, Ferguson responded to a question about Keynes’ famous philosophy of self-interest versus the economic philosophy of Edmund Burke, who believed there was a social contract among the living, as well as the dead. Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of "poetry" rather than procreated.


Ferguson, who is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, and author of The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, says it’s only logical that Keynes would take this selfish worldview because he was an "effete" member of society.

So, I guess this means that any theorists who is childless ought  not be listened to.  Never mind any actual engagement of their arguments!  No, if they are effete and childless, that’s all you need to know.

Also, so much for the notion that all Ivy League profs are raging liberals.

All of this reminds me of a Dan Drezner post a while back:  Intellectual power and responsibility in an age of superstars.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. john personna says:

    … some will say that modern macroeconomics is nothing more than a technique smart people use to wrap their personal biases in cryptic numbers and pseudo-legitimacy. Ferguson does nothing to undermine that claim.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    From Wiki – “In 1921, Keynes fell “very much in love” with Lydia Lopokova, a well-known Russian ballerina, and one of the stars of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. For the first years of the courtship, Keynes maintained an affair with a younger man, Sebastian Sprott, in tandem with Lopokova, but eventually chose Lopokova exclusively, on marrying her.[124][125] They married in 1925.[96][114] The union was happy, with biographer Peter Clarke writing that the marriage gave Keynes “a new focus, a new emotional stability and a sheer delight of which he never wearied”.[126][127] Lydia became pregnant in 1927 but miscarried.” At one time a little bit of buggery amongst the English Public School set wasn’t regarded as a big deal, nor necessarily a life style.

    The problem with Ferguson, and many conservative writers, is not a lack of class, it’s that they lie.

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Niall ought to know better.

    Keynes was usually the smartest man in the room, and even in his current state (that is, dead), we know that if Niall was in the room with him, Keynes would still be the smartest man in the room.

  4. john personna says:

    For some macro with less irrationality:

    Fiscal consolidation: At what speed?

    The debate about fiscal consolidation reduces too often to shouting matches about the value of fiscal multipliers, or about the existence of a critical debt-to-GDP ratio. This does not do justice to what is a complex choice, depending on many factors. Our purpose in this article is to review the relevant factors at play and allow for a richer discussion.


    In many advanced economies, public debt is very high, and fiscal consolidation must take place. Some factors point to doing more now, others to doing more later. Our purpose in this article is to identify these factors. The right decision, for each country, must depend on a careful weighting of the factors at play.

  5. Its come to this-conservative. s know they have been proven wrong (AGAIN!) and have no arguments against Keynesianism, so they attack the man!

    Pathetic. Why can’t Ferguson-and the numerous conservatives here on this blog and elsewhere-just admit they were wrong?

  6. john personna says:


    Hey, didn’t Nate Silver have a squeaky voice, and so Romney was going to win, or something?

    Niall has his right wing hymnal open.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @al-Ameda: He probably does know better. He lied to please his audience. Of late, reality has been pretty hard on anti-Keynesians. He had to say something.

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    Similarly, Margaret Thatcher also famously came out for self-interest and against the social contract when she declared that “there is no such thing as society” because she was a lesbian and not a married mother of two children….hey, wait a minute.

  9. andrew e. says:

    I’ll tell you who deserves more condemnation: Alan Turing. Sure he helped break German codes during WWII, helped formalize concepts such as ‘algorithm’ and ‘computation’ is generally considered the father of modern computing with the invention of the Turing Machine.

    But he really should have been defined by his homosexuality. His prosecution by the U.K. and chemical castration treatment were absolutely necessary. And his suicide, although understandable, was probably for the best. I mean what else was worthy about the man besides his sexual orientation?

  10. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    And Nate Silver was “too effeminate,” so his numbers are highly suspect. 2 + 2 = $3. Do I have to spell it out?

    Time for this dude to resign.

  11. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’m not sure how Niall was ever let into the liberal-media-academe cabal? I swear I remember voting against his membership as a liberal trustee. Those damn academe members must have rigged the vote.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I’m not sure how Niall was ever let into the liberal-media-academe cabal? I swear I remember voting against his membership as a liberal trustee. Those damn academe members must have rigged the vote.

    You know how Liberals always seem to be taken in by a British accent.

  13. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Among other things, the scale of rewards for academic superstars has ramped up. My dissertation director was R.R. Palmer, one of the most eminent American scholars of the French Revolution. He taught at Princeton and at Yale, but only at one place at one time. Ferguson, the spoiled child of the think tank brotherhood, seems to be multiple places at once. He can’t be doing a good job for all his employers at once.

  14. legion says:

    @al-Ameda: I don’t know… I think we all agree Piers Morgan is complete twit…

  15. Barry says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: “Ferguson, the spoiled child of the think tank brotherhood, seems to be multiple places at once. He can’t be doing a good job for all his employers at once. ”

    I think that he is – it’s not hard to be a hack for multiple causes and patrons at the same time.