Say it loud, say it proud

History matters! And Niall Ferguson says it with emphasis of the voice and excitement of the body. With a multiple lined affiliation: Harvard, Oxford, Hoover Institution, Ferguson writes popular books on finance and business history. He was writing on Empire(s) on the wake of 9/11 and after the housing bubble he moved to financial history.

Recently he wrote and presented for PBS (American public broadcasting TV) a documentary on the history of finance. In it he replays the parallel march of commerce, finance and political history. It is not a work for new insight. It is an exercise on breadth and an attempt to fit one and all in the same tidy box. Ferguson wants us to believe that financial innovation rules the world, and that only the historically minded can survive in the modern world.

My disquiet is that the documentary seems to assume that the economic past is easily knowable and interpretable and the sole key to our futures. I think that is slightly overselling it.

Here is an interview he gave to University of California TV a propos of his book, Ascent of Money.


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