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July 17th, 2009
The Ascent of Money Episode 3: Risky Business

In “Risky Business,” episode three of the four-part THE ASCENT OF MONEY, economist and historian Niall Ferguson examines the roots of the insurance industry in Europe; how disasters like Hurricane Katrina expose problems in risk management; how countries like Japan and Chile manage risk for their citizens; and the great rewards that can be accumulated through risk with hedge funds.

  • Hyun Taek Kim

    I bought The Ascent of Money DVD two weeks ago and have enjoyed it much. I would like to get the lines (English subtitle) of the DVD. Would you please send me the way how can I get it?

  • Rick

    Fantastic program. I’ve been entertained and informed. A+

  • zoro

    The chicago boys also did their magic in Argentina durinh the 90’s…

  • Paul NYC

    Absolutely FANTASTIC program!!! I had to watch it a couple of times… So much History not taught in school!!

  • Elissa L. Valdez

    I agree! Absolutely FANTASTIC program; so much history and economics never mentioned in high school or college. I plan to purchase the book!

  • Annie Middleton

    Ferguson’s light treatment of the Pinochet regime and Milton Friedman’s collaboration with him throws his entire narrative into doubt for me. I question his judgment and the reliability of his conclusions in general. He presents a rich supply of facts but their meaning is blurred by his virulent anti-Marxism.

  • Jason Kreke

    This is obviously an apologist’s take on capitalism and Friedman. The way he demonizes the “welfare” state and Marxism shows that he has more of a political ax to grind rather than an objective standpoint. The whole program seems to be propaganda against labor, unions and progressives.

  • dion

    This series is selective one-sided presentation of history and whitewashing of facts. Its more entertainment then documentary.

  • james means

    I enjoyed the first part very much and planned to buy the series. However, part II was so absurdly ahistorical in its treatment of the Allende murder and coup,in which Kissinger, Nixon and Anaconda copper were major players, that I have given up on it. the pro-American and pro-free enterprise bias of this program gagged me.

  • Allyson

    Celebrating the influence of Milton Friedman! Once I heard that, I immediately knew Ferguson had an agenda. Who is bankrolling this program, Goldman Sachs?

  • Bob Markowski

    Interesting and informative series. However, before canonizing Milton Freidman and the Chicago Boys, I recommend reading Naomi Klein’s SHOCK DOCTRINE for balance as regards Chile in the 1970’s.

  • Susan

    I thoroughly enjoyed the previous episodes of the Ascent of Money. That said, Ferguson’s one-dimensional and clearly biased narration regarding pre-Pinochet Chile in Risky Business presented underdeveloped analysis one would come to expect of Fox News, not PBS. The situation in Chile in the early 70s was far more complicated than Ferguson’s opinionated account. His dismissal of Friedman and the Chicago boys role in supporting the Pinochet dictatorship was shocking!

  • David McMullan

    Your analysis of what happened in Chile in the transition from Allende to Pinochet is warped and erroneous. The financial chaos at the end of the Allende administration was contributed significantly to by Nixon/Kissinger who said “make the economy scream” by cutting off credit to Chile as punishment for Allende’s reforms. This is well known, and for you not to mention it is criminal journalism.
    Second, Milton Friedman’s influence over Chile globalized its economy and consolidated the control of its economy into the hands of international financial institutions and Chile’s rich families, including the Pinochets. This control was further consolidated under the “socialist” administrations that followed Pinochet. The poor in Chile are still miserably poor, and have increased, not decreased, as you reported, as can be seen when you look carefully at the definition of “poor” used by economists especially in Chile’s financial institutions.
    You really are obliged to issue a correction, if you are honest.

  • Omar

    Does Ferguson honestly believe that the welfare state removed “the carrot of serious money for those who strive and the stick of hardship for those who are idle” and hence failed? We can hear simplistic nonsense like this from Rush Limbaugh, including the snarky tone and history bending; but I wonder if even Rush would fawn over Augusto Pinochet the way Ferguson does.

  • Randall Holmes

    Maybe Niall is too young to remember 1973. Sounds like he got his Chile narrative verbatim from Kissinger. Incidentally, didn’t Chile’s privatized pension scam go belly up a couple of years back, and have to be de-privatized?
    When does Paul Krugman get a show? Ken Tomlinson is gone from the CPB – we don’t have to suck up to the right wing superstition anymore.

  • ElizaT

    I was enjoying the program and was interested in the financial history until he came to the explanation of Japan and the Chilean economy. It was alarming to read that Japan’s welfare state was the cause of it’s present economic maliase, but when I looked up analysis by other economist, I didn’t see that explanation anywhere. Most of the causes were attributed to a lack of productivity, and this productivity problem was due to an inability to get loans even though interest rates are still at 0%. The major issue is that speculative bubbles are endemic to free market economys and so far there are no truly conclusive perscriptions for the best way to rebuild. It seemed to me that history is showing that huge deficit spending usually in the interest of fighting wars have been one of the outcomes of crashes and one of the ways governments have shaken up lethargic markets.

  • rsc

    I thought this was going to be an educational film instead it is a polemic. There is nothing worse than an economist with an axe to grind. As an aside, among other things, they use statistics to justify their conclusions and as Twain said, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Moreover, Ferguson is playing fast and loose with his history, especially the consequences. There’s an old saying about the bad money chasing out the good. Essentially that is the result of the “Chicago school” policies that Ferguson so admires. Hey, what the heck, it allows the rich to get richer on the poor’s backs (and money), that’s the good ole American way.

  • Sop81_1

    Excellent show. Simply excellent.

  • Allyson

    Niall Ferguson, defender of imperialism and colonialism – well that explains a lot. No thanks PBS.

  • Jeanne Hannigan

    I heard Ferguson state last night that the coup in Chile occurred because of the “chaos” resulting from the socialist government of Salvadore Allende. NO. The coup was orchestrated and funded by the US CIA. Any conclusions about money and Chile based on Ferguson’s set of falsehoods are invalid.

  • Gaylord

    Propaganda Broadcasting Company? The segment on Chile was beyond revisionist history. Like Iran, the CIA was instrumental in overthrowing the democratically elected president in Chile. Ferguson opposes welfare unless it goes to the very wealthy like Goldman Sachs. Insurance is having your former CEO (Paulson) run the Treasury Dept., so that when you fail, the taxpayers are forced to give you money. But it doesn’t stop there. You can rub in the peons’ face by rewarding your employees with average bonuses of $700,000. for selling trash to retirement funds, and rigging markets. God, I love America!

  • Paul Childs

    Ferguson’s distorted and incomplete version of events in Chile in 1973 and after is a perfect example of why many people have trouble with economists and see them as amoral social engineers. In hitting all the bogey man words ’socialist’ ‘Marxist’ and ‘communist’ about Chile’s government he neglects two key ones; ‘democratically elected’. The 1973 coup was the first political violence in Chile in close to 100 years. And discussing the coup without mentioning the US or nationalized copper mines is intellectually dishonest.

    Presumably in feeling that the experiment that the ‘Chicago boys’ and their friends in the junta imposed by force on Chile was ‘worth it’ he feels that thousands of dead, tortured, and exiled Chileans was ‘worth it’ too. Funny how he didn’t mention that.

    BTW, I am an economist.

  • Ryu

    Why the reactionary knee-jerk when Ferguson examines the cons of the welfare state? He examined both the pros and cons of every issue, but there was much more emphasis on how events played out economically.

    ElizaT, it is an economic fact that Japan’s current public deficit is 170% of GDP – in comparison the U.S. deficit is around 65% of GDP. Being half Japanese, I am a dual citizen of Japan and the U.S. and I came of age during Japan’s “lost decade”. This amount of debt is equivalent to a person spending $170,000 a year even though he/she only makes $100,000 a year – clearly an ineffective and unsustainable way to provide public services. This is in the same strain as Americans’ tendency to spend more than they earn which spurred the American credit crisis and housing collapse. I do admit that when demographic trends are right, socialized welfare works – but when demographic trends are poor (aging population and xenophobic immigration laws in the case of Japan), welfare stagnates.

    Also, Paul Childs, you fail to mention that though he was originally democratically elected, Allende was essentially creating a coup of his own and breaking constitutional law in his course of action – which ultimately triggered Pinochet’s equally unconstitutional counter-coup. Ferguson also took time to explain the brutal nature of the Pinochet regime (which you marxist apologists ignored). If you look deeper into the history of the “Chicago boys” and Milton Friedman’s plans, they sincerely believed that their economic liberalization of Chile was the best way to empower the public to eventually force the military dictatorship out of power and restore full freedom in both the economic and political sense. It was obviously the only non-violent route to democracy available under the terrifying constraints of the military regime. They were the ultimate moles, the most unflinching and steady patrons of freedom – yet many people commenting like to demonize the chicago boys.

  • Mal

    I knew Ferguson’s treatment of finance would be biased, but know what I know I have been watching the series.
    More than the disappointingly biased treatment of the subject, I loathe the way it’s been photographed and edited. A treat for those with a short attention span and video game-players.

  • paul childs


    Have you got evidence that what Allende was doing, or planned to do, would have left thousands dead, tortured, and exiled? Was he going to declare himself President until 1990 and enforce that with the military? If you do then you can equate the two.

    And just out of curiosity, when did the Chilean legislature ‘ask for a coup’?

    Funny, like Ferguson you also ignore the role of the United States in the coup and the aftermath. You don’t have to be a ‘marxist apologist’ (oooooh, marxist! booga booga booga!) to understand that. As others have noted, under Kissinger the US had a clear strategy to hobble the Chilean economy and eventually provided material and moral support for the coup when that policy didn’t yield results quickly enough.

    My point was Ferguson creates a false choice; the issue isn’t did the results the Chicago boys and their Chilean hosts achieved warrant whatever moral compromises they made to work with the junta; that’s between them, their, gods and their consciences.

    The question is; were the results worth the price paid by the people of Chile in blood and the destruction of one of the most stable and long lasting democracies in South America? Ferguson clearly thinks they were, but he waffles around that more troubling question.

    BTW, I’m not a marxist, please have the courtesy to ask before you try to insult me. Not that it’s relevant to this discussion or any of your business really.

  • stewart uk

    Speaking as an independent, hopefully thinking outside any particular box, the interesting thing about Ferguson’s Chile comments was not so much whether they were right or wrong, but that I had never heard such a viewpoint before. Having previously understood the Allende coup through the standard CIA/Dr K critique, Ferguson’a comments made me wonder whether I had been mugged by so-called ‘ left wing agit prop’ for the last 35 years ?

    The more ideological and values based a person’s point of view is, the more it will distort the reality of the world around them, so what interests me is the legitimacy of different points of view.

    There is something deeply paradoxical about the modern era that despite all the awareness that is available, many people seem to have become more intolerant rather than more enleightened. People are very good at asserting their own freedom of expression but pretty bad at extending that same freedom to others.

    In a Democracy, those that do not accept and respect other points of view are really heading towards a one party state – for their own party, of course. We should consider the expression of different and challenging viewpoints to be the norm in our societies. Therefore I say that Ferguson’s right to call it the way he sees it should be respected and, because of its obviously controversial nature, even welcomed.

    Even though I may actually diasgree with him, I accept that the cause of historical understanding is far better served by characters like Ferguson who are prepared to put their head on the block, than by the one dimensional utterances of ideologues.

  • Alcyon

    stewart uk, no, “historical understanding” is NOT served by characters like Ferguson, and he certainly was NOT “putting his head on the block”. This was just a blatant revisionist attempt driven by a smug ideology. Ferguson obviously thinks he can count on the short attention span and lack of any sense of history on the part of the American public. He perhaps also imagines that they are suckers for a British accent, perhaps subconsciously equating that with intelligence. I know lots of such “experts” get away with spouting total drivel and falsehoods (another case in point: Zanny Minton Beddoes on “NOW”) possibly because they talk in that all-knowing, erudite accent. While some of Ferguson’s presentations were obviously interesting (maybe because I don’t know enough about ancient monetary history), there were a few instances in the past when I clearly found his arguments specious and suspicious. This particular episode proves to me beyond any doubt where he is coming from. So if I ever watch his programs in the future, it will NOT be with the idea of learning something, but to spot falsehoods. I can’t believe PBS is being used by such characters to distort reality and history.

  • Dan

    It’s interesting to read the comments here after watching “Risky Business” to see that I am in good company with those who found it to be interesting but incomplete.

    Ferguson presented a fascinating and plausible interpretation of history. However, watching the show I kept getting this impression that like most economic schools of thought it seems incomplete and somewhat specious in it’s conclusions. It reminds me EXACTLY of the feeling I have when reading Paul Krugman’s interpretation of what works best in prescriptive economics. This makes me want to learn more and develop a “meta” understanding of how different schools of economics reach very different conclusions.

    Ferguson preaches the “capitalism is the best way to prosperity” idea, which has merit but ignores the criticisms of capitalism brought up by schools of thought like deep ecology and systems thinking, or the gross failures of capitalism that Naomi Klein, Simon Johnson and others point out.

    How does the European socialism model fit in? What about the hardship brought about by Thatcher’s privatization or the destruction caused by hot money in Latin America and Southeast Asia?

  • Reg

    Ferguson is far too kind to Milton Friedman. Does he really believe it was Allente’s fault that Chile’s economy collapsed? Does he think it was mere coincidence that Friedman turned up in Chile at just the right moment to point Pinochet in the “right” direction? Does he find Friedman guiltless in the death & suffering that occurred under Pinochet? Does he find nothing suspicious about the economic collapses in Argentina, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Malaysia & all the other countries, including, of course, Iraq, where Friedman or his disciples worked their magic?

    For his roll in destroying economies around the world, especially our own, Friedman deserves his place among what I call the 4 horsemen of the American Apocalypse. (The others, by the way, are John Dewey, who decimated the public education system, Benjamen Spock, who convinced millions of gullible parents that discipline is bad for children & Ronald Reagan who elevated perfidy in politics to such a level that even treason became acceptable practice & who paved the way for Bush Jr. to deliver the coup de gras to ethics in government.)

    The current crisis may not have been part of the plan, but its inevitability should have been apparent to anyone with the good sense to extrapolate upon Frieman’s essays. Having sunk the world into such deep debt that we will never be solvent again, the oligarchs Friedman created may be grinning now, as they sit upon the mountains of gold they stole from the rest of us. But they will soon discover they have destroyed themselves as well as us.

    Starry-eyed engineers at NASA fantasize about sending men to Mars in 30 years or so. It’s not going to happen. There’s not enough money. Even if there were, there’s not enough time. 30 years from now, no one will be thinking about Mars. Everyone will be thinking only about where his next bite of food & drink of water will come from.

    Green thumb environmentalists dream about saving us from global climate change with windmills, solar panels & such. It’s not going to happen. We don’t have the money. We don’t have the time. And we don’t have the political will. By the time the self-serving nitwits in Congress & the wicked wealthy who fund their re-election campaigns realize something has to be done, it will be too late. Way too late. It is probably already too late. It may have been too late 40 years ago, when we first began to worry about it. Or, maybe not. We might have listened to the Club of Rome & begun to throttle down our economies & look for alternative power sources. But we didn’t. Instead, beguiled by Friedman’s siren song, we set out to rev up our economies & look for ways to enrich ourselves at the expense of others. Now, we’ve come full circle & here we are, out of time & out of money.

    Congratulations Milton Friedman! You not only robbed us of our wealth. You robbed us of our only chance to save the planet.

  • Liz

    Liz says

    I watched a portion of one of the episodes of THE ASCENT OF MONEY, I don’t know which one numerically. I had to shut it off because the portion covering Chile was such irresponsible, neo-con garbage.

    It portrayed President Allende as a tyrannical dictator, when he was a national hero, who was succeeding if not for the economic sanctions imposed on Chile by the U.S. when he won office. Then, the authors had the audacity to cover General Pinochet’s military coup as a necessity to “save” Chile from the hands of an evil communist (Allende), while Allende’s human rights track record was clean and Pinochet ordered tens of thousands of people to be disappeared, tortured and killed. I am incensed that the authors of this documentary could be so biased and so insensitive to the the victims of Pinochet’s regime, predominantly innocent people who had previously supported Allende (who won by popular vote.) Not to mention the obvious fact that the U.S. planned and backed Pinochet’s ruthless coup, a very well documented fact, which was part of Henry KissOfDeath’s “Operation Condor,” which was obviously not mentioned.
    This is akin to making a documentary about Germany’s economic history and painting Hitler as the savior of the German people, and not bothering to mention all the people he had tortured and executed!!!!!! American corporations had a part to play in the holocaust too.
    Let me remind the dishonest, extremely biased authors, that Pinochet was placed under house arrest in Spain in 2002 and was finally tried for his Crimes Against Humanity, and died before his sentencing, after being found guilty.

    Furthermore, Allende’s “suicide” is mere legend. There isn’t and has never been any tangible evidence of his suicide.
    My feeling is that the rest of this documentary is nothing but a piece of shabbily put together hydra-headed propaganda which on the surface appears to be a critical analysis of the economic crash by looking back at world economic history, but in reality it is an apologist piece of garbage, designed to justify an economic system that has been mostly a sham from start to finish, designed from the very beginning to have a ruling class, empowered by a wide spreading cultural hegemony.
    I’m going to try to stomach the entire 4 episodes just to further prove my point.
    In the meantime I’m really angry at PBS and everyone who sold it out to the Corporate Fascists. SHAME, SHAME ON YOU PBS. I will not give you another penny and soon I will stop watching this channel and encourage others to shut you off and down, if you continue in this vein.
    I repeat the segment on Chile is a humongous piece of dishonest, erroneous, elitist, right wing imperialist B.S.
    Because all mainstream media (and soon the internet too) has been co-opted by greedy, psychotic, meglomaniacal One World Order totalitarians, we depend on PBS to acknowledge and represent the issues that concern the People of this country and the world, that is the PEOPLE, not corporate think tanks.


  • Micheal Turner

    I’m pleasantly suprised that PBS has aired such a clear explanation of the history of economics. It’s always refreshing to see a rational treatment of this subject as opposed to the overly emotional pleadings from those who have only studied Marx and Engles. I made it a point to rewatch the part on how Soros cornered the Bank of Britian.

  • dan

    why dont you people go to chile and ask them how they feel about 15% growth annually for 1o years straight. You communists where mistaken if you thought this was going to be a flop for you side. LOL. While capitalism isnt perfect, its been proven numberous times that communism is much more efficient at making people dirt poor if not killing them from neglect.

  • dan

    oh yea, im from Santiago de Chile so i guess you dont have to ask after all since you know already

  • Phil Defranco

    Great point of view. Very interesting series.

  • Markus

    It never ceases to amaze me how people who lable themselves as liberal react so vehemently in oposition to alternative points of view.

    I detected no smug attitude or misrepresentation of the facts in this series. The only irrational banter I see here are from those who would villainize a man for daring to stand by what he sees as good ecconomic sense.

    And for those of you who in any way sympathize with Marx and his ilk, try living in any communist country. When more than half of your family is deported and dies at the hands of idealistic neanderthals, then we can talk on equal footing. Until then, keep in mind that that the hammer and sickle is just as bloody as the swastika. The only difference is the murder was indescriminate.

  • Ed

    This episode’s sugar-coating of the Pinochet dictatorship and its exclusion of the destruction and death caused by The Chicago Boys sickened me so much that I turned it off in disgust. I am now reading The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism as an antidote to Niall Ferguson’s oblivious reverence for the callous, cruel, unregulated (NOT “free”) market. When is PBS going to present a series on humane, progressive economics which actually cares about people’s lives, not just profits?

  • Pedro Pereira

    What really blew my mind, never mind the Ferguson selective and revisionist “his story” of the Chilean coup, is that in an episode that deals so “deeply” into the welfare state, one cannot find the word Sweden anywhere. According to Ferguson, the welfare state is a British invention, taken up by the Japanese and Marxist governments of third-world countries like Chile. Apparently, Scandinavian countries don’t exist. His description of a government-industry-labor collaboration in the early days of FDR, which failed, is never compared to the Swedish Tripartite Commission (yes, same three parts), which was part of the creation of the Scandinavian Welfare State. That is, if there is such a place as Scandinavia, and such a country as Sweden.

    Why is it that American media are so compelled to ignore the Scandinavian experiment?

  • David Grennan

    This series, like his book – ‘Empire – 2003′, name brilliantly original and nicked off Gore Vidal (Empire – 1987), demomstrates his abominable admiration of the super-wealthy and the system that supports them – check out the sycophantic treatment of Ken Griffin (and Soros). The man is in love with the system and those who exploit it. An outstanding apologist for capitilism. Alas for his deceit he gets called by ‘The Times’ the most brilliant British historian of his generation – ‘Empire’ concluded with an awe stricken tone of the wonder of the British Empire. As an Irish man I beg to differ. Unfortunately, this series will continue to propogate the myth that the western financial system works for all. This is not about learning and understanding the world and the intricacies of finance – this is more about the ascent of Niall Ferguson in the system he profits from and propogates. Bold and daring it is not. The challenging of self evident truths about appalling dictatorships of the past is despicable, but not unexpected from such a writer.

  • Minos

    The level of vitriol in these comments would be alarming, even were those so confidently attacking Ferguson’s treatment of Chile coming from those deeply knowledgeable about what happened in 1973; it is more alarming given the rather simplistic picture that some seem to have of events. Allende was democratically elected, and very popular, it’s true. It’s also true that he had seized extra-constitutional powers, and that the legislature of Chile had called for his ouster (the Chilean constitution at the time lacked the capacity for impeachment). However, while Allende was dismantling the Chilean constitution, Pinochet’s coup destroyed it entirely-there is nothing more extra-constitutional than a coup. Friedman directly told Pinochet on his first visit that his “shock treatment” would undermine military rule in the long run, and he and the Chicago boys never stopped claiming that this was the road back to democracy. One can argue that they in fact *extended* the Pinochet regime by boosting the economy, but to me it’s more easily argued that, in fact, the rising power of Chile’s middle class ended the regime more rapidly than would have otherwise been the case.

  • kit


  • Shaw

    I found Ferguson’s series very interesting and informative until “Risky Business” aired. Saying the brutal killings of tens of thousands of Chilean citizens was “worth it” for Chile’s economy was evil. Would Ferguson have said the same if his father, mother, brother, sister or friend had been murdered by Pinochet? Friedman is in a special place in HELL.

  • forumobc

    Fantastic series! I have been a proponent of allowing people to opt out of Social Security in America, I was unaware that a similar system has been in place in Chile for a number of years. Give the people a choice.

  • m v naidu

    wonderful discovery channel episode.
    wanted a second hand book



  • Leslie

    Why does anyone think that letting wall street control social security is more secure than if the government controls it? Remember, what happened a year a go when the stock market crashed and your 401K tanked? That is what could happen to social security if Wall Street uses it for their gambling addiction. Even Warren Buffet thinks its a bad idea.

  • Hilary

    The “Ascent of Money” is scandalous capitalist propaganda: privatization, deregulation and the elimination of social programs are good things, allowing poor people to starve to death is a good thing, etc. PBS should be ashamed. But then again, PBS brought Friedmanism to the world in the 80’s with their cheer-leading series “Free to Choose”. Every time I watch PBS, I feel a little guilty for not contributing. I don’t feel so bad anymore.

  • Joann

    I wonder if we’ll get to see Michael Moore’s new film “Capitalism: A Love Story” on our PBS stations? Yeah, just like we’ve gotten to see other Moore films, like “Sicko” during the raging health care debates. I’ve stopped contributing, and this fiasco doesn’t make it any more likely I will resume.

  • Dustin

    This is a shameful misrepresentation of Salvador Allende. I cringed when he flippantly said “Allende Regime.” What a load of garbage. To all Allende haters out there, you are diseased! Pinochet was a tryant, who led a Military Coup on a popular DEMOCRATICALLY elected president, Salvador Allende. There was no internal Chilean uprising against Allende except Multinational corporate propogandists. PBS and everyone who sponsors PBS (heres looking at you Kauffman foundation of Entraprenuership and T.Rowe Price Investments) should be embarrassed by this program. I’m offended by it.

  • Juan Pablo

    I am ashamed by so many chilean brothers (I am chilean), who keep fighting for the past instead of looking together into the future. It is a fact that not everybody will agree with the information presented in this documentary, but I believe that the wisest way to integrate all its knowledge is to grab all the things that we did’t know and store the into our brain to be sure that humanity does not make the same mistake again, (economically and morally speaking) and the whole world can be a better and peacefull place to live.
    Please everybody, grow up, and look to the future.
    Or eventually we will destroy ourselves and there will be nothing else to save.

  • Hikikomori

    Wow the lefty loony’s are out in force on this one. The point wasn’t on social commentary but purely the economic effects of different govt policies.That said, I was almost considering them as serious arguments until someone mentioned Michael Moore as if he wasn’t a complete lying propagandist. Capitalism is what’s made it possible for people to have these utopian dreams (and made Moore rich)- but look at what’s happened when political correctness kicks in and we try the utopian path – Stalin, Castro (not the saint Moore makes him out to be), Mugabe – the list goes on.Capitalism isn’t perfect and certainly needs some degree of regulation – Australia and Canada seem the best examples of a decent balance – but what’s ever worked better?

  • Vinod K Murti

    I am very eager to buy CDS OR DVDs (in hindi)of all the episodes which were shown On Fox-History channel in last few months. Please suggest from where I can buy. Truely superb program.

  • Pranav J Madav

    I am very much thank full to you guys for such documentary program, but also request you to can we get the same about today’s economics realistic part,

  • Erik

    Interesting, but too simplistic.
    The reason for Japan’s 30 years of growth in Ferguson’s eyes is somehow ideologically inferior to Chile’s 30 years of growth. FYI, Japans per capita GDP is $33K, Chile’s is $14K.

  • ITT

    2 Hikikomori, You also forgot to thank US capitalism for dozen military bases in Japan and all over the world. There is nothing leftist about knowing history. Just open your eyes and stop praying to the golden bull. It won’t pay you back.

    2 others: What do you guys expect from a person who was asked by Kissinger himself to wright his biography?

    Mr. Ferguson didn’t mention that ATT is a monopolist of the phone service in Chile right now. That would be a good example of capitalism: destroy national company and bring US one on the foreign soil. All that is just for well-advertised reason: “Friedman’s freedom” aka proceeding “national security” agenda.

  • H. Stark

    It greatly explains why we have done what we did and why we do it. I was a diplomat in Chile in 75 and again in 81. Simply remarkable vis a vis the other countries in South America.

  • George

    I love it when people buy anti capitalism books,go to the theaters to watch anti capitalism movies,and wear, after they bought, anti capitalism merchandise.This is capitalism at its best!

  • Investing…

    [...] Watch this video. [...]

  • erik

    short sighted and historically inaccurate. who is paying for it?
    and it’s trying way too hard to be entertaining which down the pace.
    Niall this is very disappointing coming from you!

  • Justin Roberts

    Ferguson addressed the issue of Freidman and Pinochet with kid gloves. It’s disappointing that he quantifies the success of the nation with the growth of the economy. People were killed and a stable government was overthrown for the sake of denationalising the economy to allow MNCs to sell cheap fruit (United Fruit Co.) to the rest of the world. The neo-liberal policies in the post-Allende era were a microcosm of the lengths that corporations and Wetsern nations that ascribe to a “free market” system will go to ensure economic growth. Operation Condor and many other CIA operations across Latin America ruined the whole continent just so stockholders could make money. This episode was a disgusting glorification of ruining people’s lives in the name of making money.

  • Concerned veiwer

    At first I was repulsed at the idea of Pinochet’s regime and Soros financial gains being praised as financial genius, but then I realized how revealing this episode really is in explaining current economics. Chile’s economy under Pinochet increasing foreign debt by 300 percent, bailed out the private sector, and appointed to finance minister a manager from one of the companies to be bailed out. . . somehow this sounds familiar. . .and poverty rates doubled between 1970 and 1990 as Pinochet was busy ‘disappearing’ anyone of a political party not in favor of the dictatorship. Then he goes on to praise this guy ( Soros) who only through market knowledge made a ton of money in one day by gambling with amounts of money most people will ever see, without lifting a finger in any way to actually doing any service or producing anything that is of beneficial to anyone(except himself of course). Or perhaps even more interestingly showing the financial benefits in some situations that might otherwise be looked upon as bad news. Along with saying Griffin was “so successful” he gave himself a giant bonus who originally spoke so well of derivatives this episode takes the cake. Yep this was a real eye opener. . . thank you pbs for explaining the economy for us

  • WBA

    Only episode 3 is available? Is this permanent? An explanation would be nice.

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    [...] リンク: PBS | The Ascent of Money Episode 3: Risky Business [...]

  • claudia torrelli

    In chile people do not dance tango!!!! and the song the documentary plays is Argentinean. this is not nationalism, but rather discomfort. It is annoying to see once and again that because it sells other cultures are misrepresented. it is as if I m taking about England Victorian time and I play O sole mio cause it sounds good!

  • claudia

    And by the way, it is so nice to read people in the US who do not buy this biased account of Chile and also have a sense of what the US has done in other countries supporting the most regressive and conservatives forces. Also, liked the critiques to corporate America. The world needs changes here, and it will not happen unless there are more progressive people like you.

  • serafin trejo

    People who liked this series, remind me of the highly erudite and level headed political theorist that make up the majority of the tea baggers in contemporary american politics. So it was just a smart marketing move on the part of PBS to transform itself into The FOX History Channel. The new slogan for PBS could be, His story is always right.

  • Jaundiced

    Three criticisms:

    1. The title should be “The Ascent of Predatory Capitalism.” It would make Ayn Rand proud.

    2. Ferguson mischaracterizes all adversity of every kind as quantifiable financial risk. It would make Karl Marx proud.

    3. In the “dog-eat-dog world” described by Ferguson, the ends will always justify the means. However, Ferguson fails to explain how the “democracy” that followed Pinochet helped the “3,000 real and suspected communists” he murdered. Would Ferguson calculate a different “bottom line” if Pinochet had killed 3,000 “real or suspected” capitalists?

    In essence, Ferguson’s assessment of human history is intellectually debauched. A disappointing waste of a talented propagandist.

  • Rich Mansfield

    “Annie Middleton says: July 22, 2009 at 9:04 pm Ferguson’s light treatment of the Pinochet regime and Milton Friedman’s collaboration with him throws his entire narrative into doubt for me. I question his judgment and the reliability of his conclusions in general. He presents a rich supply of facts but their meaning is blurred by his virulent anti-Marxism.”

    But look at Chile since 1973 – It’s the fastest-growing economy in all of South America! It still amazes me that, after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, people still think that socialism is viable. Hell, the wall itself was meant to keep the people prisoners; no one from the capitalist world would have wanted to immigrate to East Berlin! I went there myself through Checkpoint Charlie in 1963 as a curious tourist, and was only too glad to get back out.

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  • Elizabeth Clarke

    I’m learning a lot from this program, but this 3rd segment is a huge disappointment because it’s exposing Niall Ferguson’s neo-conservative leanings. Saying that the Japanese system worked “too well” because there is now an increased life expectancy, is a truly barbaric, callous thing to say. Last time I checked, it’s a good thing when someone can have a long healthy life. Furthermore, praising “Chicago School” economics post the 2008 financial meltdown, which is a result of their philosophies of unchecked financial deregulation and privatization, is a really irresponsible stance.

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  • jack Goldman

    Nazis and Zionists, Capitalists and Communists, Liberals and Conservatives agree on invading, killing, stealing, and lying for loot. What they always disagree on and fight about is who to invade, who to kill, how to kill them, what to steal, how much to steal, what lies to tell, what loot to take, and who gets how much of the loot. In this sense Liberals and Conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, have a full time war of their own, waged forever, in Washington DC.

    The weapons of both sides are unlimited currency debasement since August 15, 1971, unlimited income taxes, unlimited public debt, unlimited support for allies, and unlimited wars for all who oppose the empire. The more things change, the more they stay the same. America was founded as an escape from evil empires. Now America IS the evil empire. The lies of the Democrats in Vietnam and the lies of Conservatives in Iraq are evidence. The only argument waged between each side is both argue their evil is good evil. Is it? Winners love wars. Losers hate wars. Protect yourself. No one else can or will. Jack Goldman, St. Paul, MN

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  • Jim Benn

    One tiny mistake. Ken Griffin made his first BIG money trading Over the Counter Warrants on mostly foreign exchanges. He is a Genius, and had the mathematics of risk figured out for those particular derivatives. He originally was the brains behind a venture funded company called “Wellington Partners”. He left that to found Citadel.
    Otherwise, you are batting “1000″. I did not see you explain where Milton Freidman went wrong, either. :-)

    Thank you for creating this show.

  • Paul

    “Annie Middleton says: July 22, 2009 at 9:04 pm Ferguson’s light treatment of the Pinochet regime and Milton Friedman’s collaboration with him throws his entire narrative

    into doubt for me. I question his judgment and the reliability of his conclusions in general. He presents a rich supply of facts but their meaning is blurred by his virulent anti-Marxism.”

  • Alex

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    Second, Milton Friedman’s impact around Chile globalized it’s economic system and consolidated your control over their economic system into the palms of worldwide finance institutions and also Chile’s prosperous households, including the Pinochets. Poor people throughout Chile are still miserably inadequate, and also have improved, not really decreased, when you noted, as can be observed when you examine carefully the phrase “poor” utilized by economic experts specifically in Chile’s finance institutions.
    Your are required for you to concern a correction, if you’re truthful.

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    re: Ferguson’s whitewashing of the atrocities in Chile… Occupy wall street! Occupy k street! Occupy everything and never give it back!

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