Niall Ferguson

Milbank Family Senior Fellow

Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Center for European Studies, Harvard, where he served for twelve years as the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History. He is also a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation Distinguished Scholar at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of fifteen books, most recently The Square and the Tower. His previous book, Kissinger, 1923-1968: The Idealist, won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. He is an award-making filmmaker, too, having won an international Emmy for his PBS series The Ascent of Money. His many other prizes include the Benjamin Franklin Prize for Public Service (2010), the Hayek Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2012) and the Ludwig Erhard Prize for Economic Journalism (2013). In addition to writing a weekly column for the Sunday Times (London) and the Boston Globe, he is the founder and managing director of Greenmantle LLC, an advisory firm. He also serves on the board of Affiliated Managers Group. His new book, The Square and the Tower, in published in the U.S. in January.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Don’t Let Brexit Take The Tory Out Of Tolkien

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, December 17, 2018

You really know your political career is in trouble when people start comparing you to Gollum. Poor Theresa May was on the wrong end of some Tolkien-inspired satire last week, when the actor Andy Serkis released a spoof video with the title “LEAKED: Footage from Inside No. 10 Downing Street!” Serkis, who played Gollum in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of “The Lord of the Rings,” had the inspired idea of combining the characters of Britain’s prime minister and Tolkien’s cadaverous, covetous, conflicted villain.


Why It’s Not As Simple As “Breaking Up Big Tech”

by Niall Fergusonvia Prospect Magazine
Friday, December 14, 2018

Is big tech too big? In the past year, interest has grown in the idea that the giants of Silicon Valley have morphed into monopolies. Tim Wu of Columbia Law School argues they should be broken up: Facebook should relinquish Instagram and WhatsApp; Google should give up YouTube and DoubleClick; Amazon should spin off Amazon Web Services. Such arguments have ceased to be the preserve of progressives. Even President Donald Trump is said to have “wondered aloud if there may be any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law.”

Analysis and Commentary

When It Comes To Politics: Nothing Works

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, December 10, 2018

Back in the 1970s, the joke was that run-down Glasgow was Disneyland. “Aye, because this disnae work, and that disnae work. . . . ” Well, we all live in Disnaeland now.


The G-20 Dines A Lot, But It Doesn’t Make Progress

by Niall Fergusonvia The Boston Globe
Monday, December 3, 2018

At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the delegates danced almost as much as they negotiated. As the Prince de Ligne put it: “The Congress dances a lot, but it doesn’t make progress.” The dancing was a distraction. What mattered was that the monarchs of Europe — or, to be precise, their ministers — established a new order in Europe. After the upheavals of the French Revolution and Napoleon’s short-lived and unruly empire, five great powers combined to limit the threats posed to monarchy and aristocracy by liberalism and nationalism.


Has Trump Peaked?

by Niall Fergusonvia The Boston Globe
Monday, November 26, 2018

Thanksgiving is a wonderful festivity. Unlike Christmas, it has somehow eluded commercialization. The formula remains the time-honoured one: Get your family together, eat turkey, count your blessings. Asked on Thursday what he was thankful for, President Trump replied: “For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country. . . . This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn’t believe it.”

Analysis and Commentary

Mueller And A Blue House Could Bring Down Trump

by Joshua Zoffer, Niall Fergusonvia The Atlantic
Friday, November 23, 2018

On May 17, 1973, Senator Sam Ervin Jr. opened Senate hearings into the Watergate affair. “It is the constitutional duty of this committee,” he said, to expeditiously investigate allegations that American democracy “has been subverted and its foundations shaken.” Ervin, a Democrat, did not mince words in characterizing the gravity of the accusations leveled against Richard Nixon’s campaign and administration.


The Brexit Mess Calls For A Tory Henry VIII

by Niall Fergusonvia The Boston Globe
Monday, November 19, 2018

“A failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis.” You might think former United Kingdom Transport Minister Jo Johnson’s parting shot at Prime Minister Theresa May stands a fair chance of attaining immortality in the British history exams of the future. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times attempted the question. “Comparisons with the 1956 Suez crisis do not get close to the mark,” he opined last week. “This is a far more significant mess than that.”


What Is To Be Done? Safeguarding Democratic Governance In The Age Of Network Platforms

by Niall Fergusonvia Governance In An Emerging New World
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Once upon a time, only the elite could network globally. David Rockefeller—the grandson of the oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller—was a pioneer networker. According to a recent report, “He recorded contact information along with every meeting he had with about 100,000 people world-wide on white 3-by-5-inch index cards. He amassed about 200,000 of the cards, which filled a custom-built Rolodex machine, a 5-foot high electronic device.”


Goodbye To All That, Again

by Niall Fergusonvia Boston Globe
Monday, November 12, 2018

To my 19-year-old son, World War I — which ended 100 years ago yesterday — is as remote an event as the Congress of Berlin was to me when I was his age. To my generation, World War I was not quite history. My father’s father, John Ferguson, had joined up at the age of 17 and fought on the Western Front as a private in the Seaforth Highlanders. He was one of more than 6 million men from Great Britain who served. Of that number, 722,785 did not come back alive. Just under half of all those who lost their lives were aged between 16 and 24 — a fact that never fails to startle.

Papers And Presentations

The 2008 Financial Crisis and the Ascent of Money

by Niall Fergusonvia Revisiting the 2008 Financial Crisis
Friday, November 9, 2018

Looking back ten years, I have been struck by two things. First, the analytical framework of The Ascent of Money served readers well. The book correctly foresaw that, bad as things already were in the summer of 2008, they were about to get a great deal worse.