Wanker of the century: Niall Ferguson

Wanker of the century: Niall Ferguson

by digby

There's a lot of chatter today about Niall Ferguson's odious comments about John Maynard Keynes.  This is the gist of it:

An excerpt from Lance Roberts' post at StreetTalkLive.com reporting a question from former PIMCO banker Paul McCulley (in bold) and Robertson's notes on Ferguson's response (its not clear whether these notes are verbatim or paraphrased):

Question By Paul McCulley: 
"The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs…in the long run we are all dead." 
Are we in a liquidity trap, are we at a zero bound of interest rates and stuck at 8% unemployment?

[Ferguson:] Keynes was a homosexual and had no intention of having children. We are NOT dead in the long run…our children are our progeny. It is the economic ideals of Keynes that have gotten us into the problems of today. Short term fixes, with a neglect of the long run, leads to the continuous cycles of booms and busts. Economies that pursue such short term solutions have always suffered not only decline, but destruction, in the long run.

Several details of Ferguson's remarks that were included in the Financial Advisor story have not been confirmed by other sources. For example, Financial Advisor reported that Ferguson asked his audience how many children Keynes had and "explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of "poetry" rather than procreated." Other sources have not reported that rhetorical question or the additional disparaging remarks in Ferguson's answer to it. No full transcript or video of Ferguson's remarks has yet emerged.
Just wow. Gay people don't care about the future because they don't have kids. Except, of course, many do. And many straights don't. Which means, what?

I'm always struck by this right wing fetish for austerity by people who seem not to realize that even their own worst case financial scenario is temporary even as they throw up their hands in the face of a very real existential crisis on the horizon. Ferguson to his credit, does acknowledge that climate change is a real thing. But for a man who apparently believes a love of one's own children is the only motive for caring about the future, he sure has a fatalistic (yet appropriately chauvanistic) view of a planetary calamity:

Unlike Europe and Japan, the United States is one of the global Big Five in terms of mineral wealth, with known reserves of fossil fuels and minerals worth at least $30 trillion — more than Australia, Saudi Arabia and China, though less than Russia. In particular, the United States is poised to profit from an energy revolution that has seen shale gas leap from 1 percent of U.S. natural gas production in 2000 to 35 percent today. American natural gas is a quarter the price of East Asian and a third the price of German. The combination of an increasingly competitive labor market and cheap energy is going to spark a remarkable recovery of U.S. manufacturing in the near future.
So, the good news is that the US can continue to exploit fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere. Awesome.

Even better:
Finally, as the world warms and climate becomes more volatile, North America will fare better than East Asia. Natural disasters will happen, of course, as Hurricane Sandy reminded us. But there will be more on the other side of the Pacific. Good luck to Asia’s coastal megacities. They will need it.
Niall apparently doesn't have any Asian children, which explains his cavalier dismissal of mass death and destruction "over there." (He's not saying we won't get our hair mussed, mind you. A few more Katrinas and Hurricane Sandys sure ...) Never mind about the refugees and the dead bodies everywhere and the inevitable resulting global social and economic chaos.

The good news is that if this fine fellow's belief system continues to prevail, we may be living in a global dystopia but, by God, we won't have to worry about a budget deficit. That's what right wingers call love.

Update: For those who may be unfamiliar with the full extent of Ferguson's odiousness, Kathy Geier put together a nice compendium for you.

Update II:  Ferguson apologized for his anti-gay remarks about Keynes. Good for him.

Update III: Brad DeLong fills us in on where Ferguson got the idea that so smoothly flowed from his silver tongue that night: Joseph Schumpeter via Gertrude Himmelfarb (aka William Kristol's mommy.) Apparently it has quite the right wing pedigree.

Update IV: Whoops. It looks as though this isn't the first time good old Niall said this.  He put it in one of his books. Here too.