Empires on the Edge of Chaos (Prof Niall Ferguson)

If you can spare an hour (or so) please listen to what Prof Ferguson has to say. Initially I was on really interested to hear what he said about the relationship between Empires – Complexity Theory – Economics but I was unable to drag myself away.

BUT do yourself a favour, skip the intro (it’s torture), click to “Watch Full Program” and, at least, spare 8mins to absorb Chapter 4. Unless you are pressed for time…or already know everything…you WILL watch more.

As he says, he is no Economist but I have heard more FACTS, forthright and common sense opinion from him than from many proponents…that’s the Scots for you!

He reminds us Brits about the scale and pace of the decline of our Empire.

He tells Americans what you don’t want , but need to hear…without any political spin or Fed endorsed guesswork.

Chapter 4. Complexity Theory

Elements of this lecture reminded me of my recent blog “Disaster Myopia” but, of course, since starting blogging almost 2 years ago I have made several references to the work of Joseph Tainter (Collapse of Complex Societies) and to Ulrich Beck (The Risk Society)

Current societies…are characterised by their extreme complexity at a moment in history in which traditional political institutions have lost much of the power, a power which has now passed into the hands of multinational companies

Ulrich Beck

One Response to Empires on the Edge of Chaos (Prof Niall Ferguson)

  1. Here is some noteworthy commentary, including some from Kenneth Rogoff, to whom Niall Ferguson refers in his lecture. If you are an American look away now!:

    How America will collapse (by 2025)

    …After leading the world for decades in 25- to 34-year-olds with university degrees, the country sank to 12th place in 2010. The World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly half of all graduate students in the sciences in the U.S. are now foreigners, most of whom will be heading home, not staying here as once would have happened. By 2025, in other words, the United States is likely to face a critical shortage of talented scientists.

    Such negative trends are encouraging increasingly sharp criticism of the dollar’s role as the world’s reserve currency. “Other countries are no longer willing to buy into the idea that the U.S. knows best on economic policy,” observed Kenneth S. Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. In mid-2009, with the world’s central banks holding an astronomical $4 trillion in U.S. Treasury notes, Russian president Dimitri Medvedev insisted that it was time to end “the artificially maintained unipolar system” based on “one formerly strong reserve currency.”

    Simultaneously, China’s central bank governor suggested that the future might lie with a global reserve currency “disconnected from individual nations” (that is, the U.S. dollar). Take these as signposts of a world to come, and of a possible attempt, as economist Michael Hudson has argued, “to hasten the bankruptcy of the U.S. financial-military world order….”

    Link: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/12/06/america_collapse_2025

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