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January 7th, 2009
About Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Born in Glasgow in 1964, he was a Demy at Magdalen College and graduated with First Class Honours in 1985. After two years as a Hanseatic Scholar in Hamburg and Berlin, he took up a Research Fellowship at Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1989, subsequently moving to a Lectureship at Peterhouse. He returned to Oxford in 1992 to become Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Jesus College, a post he held until 2000, when he was appointed Professor of Political and Financial History at Oxford. Two years later he left for the United States to take up the Herzog Chair in Financial History at the Stern Business School, New York University, before moving to Harvard in 2004.

His first book, Paper and Iron: Hamburg Business and German Politics in the Era of Inflation 1897-1927 (Cambridge University Press, 1995), was short-listed for the History Today Book of the Year award, while the collection of essays he edited, Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (Macmillan, 1997), was a UK bestseller and subsequently published in the United States, Germany, Spain and elsewhere.

In 1998 he published to international critical acclaim The Pity of War: Explaining World War One (Basic Books) and The World’s Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild (Penguin). 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 he published The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000 (Basic), following a year as Houblon-Norman Fellow at the Bank of England.

He is a regular contributor to television and radio on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2003 he wrote and presented a six-part history of the British Empire for Channel 4, the UK terrestrial broadcaster. The accompanying book, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (Basic), 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. His latest book is The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, which was published to critical acclaim in September 2006. He is currently completing a biography of Siegmund Warburg and has recently begun researching the life of Henry Kissinger.

A prolific commentator on contemporary politics and economics, Niall Ferguson writes and reviews regularly for the British and American press. He is a contributing editor for the Financial Times. In 2004 Time magazine named him as one of the world’s hundred most influential people.

He and his wife Susan have three children. They divide their time between the United States and the United Kingdom.

  • JL Wallace


    I was wondering if you have heard anything about the Nasdaq’s “PORTAL Alliance”? This consortium of Rothschild-influenced banks was created in November of last year, but there has been a complete media blackout regarding any of its activities since it was created.
    When you look at the list of financial institutions and banks that are “members”, everything that has happened in the financial markets since last November (a fascist coup) starts to make one uneasy…

    (1744-1812) Meyer Amschel Rothschild:

    Meyer Amschel Rothschild helped invent modern banking by introducing concepts such as diversification, rapid communication, confidentiality and high volume. The superlatively discreet foreign-exchange banker diversified from the very beginning, selling antiques and procuring loans. Remarkably, Rothschild was willing to cut into his own profits in order to secure future business.
    And, earlier than most, he understood that time and information meant money, and he pulled out all the stops to remain in constant contact with associates across Europe. That network came in handy when he helped finance England\’s war effort during the Napoleonic Wars. Rothschild institutionalized his bank with a far-sighted will that ensured the continuation of his business. Considered a founding father of international finance, his banking empire–thanks to his five sons–had expanded to London, Paris, Vienna and Naples at the time of his death.

    Corporate Heirs:
    Merrill Lynch (nyse: MER ), Lehman Bros. (nyse: LEH ), Bear Stearns (nyse: BSC ), Goldman Sachs (nyse: GS )…


    PORTAL Alliance:

    The founding members of The PORTAL Alliance are: Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, NASDAQ, UBS and Wachovia Securities. The collaboration is subject to the execution of a definitive agreement and regulatory approvals.

    (see: “PORTAL Alliance” – 144a)

  • Martine Lapointe

    If you want to understand how money really works, read Peter Koenig’s book “30 Lies About Money; liberating your life, liberating your money” available on Peter Koenig is a british financial researcher who lives in Switzerland. His discoveries are unique and very empowering!
    He brings money and humans into a new paradygme, into a higher level of consciousness, and creates the basis for a renewed economy and a New Earth of abundance!

  • sebastianlogiudice

    I saw your shows about the explanation of money. Money is a representation of goods and services. You could have mentioned gross national product. You mentioned speculation or estimates in order to make more money. It seems close to gambling. Going after bad debt appears to be bad. You can explain work. It is the actions of citizens to accomplish a goal for happy, healthy, law abiding citizens. Chimerica, or China and America shows they are producing products and providing credit. America needs to gain it’s product producing good cars and other products, besides food. Work can be construction and building materials. Healthy citizens do not drain finances. Mecanization or robots? Religion of Chinese, Buddhism, suffering, elimination of through comforts of things? Hedonism, excess, fair distribution? Excessive interest may have been a sin, but all interest charges?

  • gareth wong

    Great Program Niall

    Totally enjoyed(ing) your program in UK (well, just catching up, they were recorded on my sky+).. very poignant as it is just talking about Ponzi scheme..

    Please do give me a shout when you are back in UK. I founded and run a few networking activities, and also MBA alumni network, we are based near city and would be good to catchup (with others) if you can spare a few hours.

    May 2009 bring us all success within and outside the re-adjusting financial market worldwide.

    Best regards

    Gareth Wong

  • Pro Information Center » Blog Archive » Open Letter to Niall Ferguson

    [...] you so much for your documentary entitled “The Ascent of Money.” As the New York Times says, “If high-finance types are as hyperactive as Niall [...]

  • adriana

    excellent series. i was glued to the tv !!

  • Bill M.

    Shame on you Mr. Ferguson! Your opinion that Agusto Pinochet of Chile was a very good Economist should NOT excuse him of being a mass murderer! I would challenge you that if Margaret Thatcher went on a rampage killing as many Scottish citizens as Pinochet did, you would not be so forgiving of Pinochet. The fact that Pinochet killed little brown people who live very far away from you seems to not matter as much to you and your opinion that he was a good economist overrides any “mistakes” Pinochet may have made. It is apologists like you who allow people like Pinochet, Pol Pot, Stalin, and yes, even Hitler, to find justification for their mass killings of others. You walk in lock step with others who excuse a “few accidental deaths” for economic progress. I hope few World leaders are taking advice from you because if any are, we can expect more mass killings, more genocide, more war. I just hope that if any leader is listening to you, they are in Great Britain.

  • Joe Frey

    Shame on PBS for have airing this Banking propaganda.

  • Rupert

    Excellent series and great work! You are going above and beyond everyone else and taking learning to another level. Thanks for all of the great work at the university too teach students!

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