Niall Ferguson apologizes for remarks made about Keynes’ sexual orientation


NEW YORK, N.Y. – Niall Ferguson, a Harvard history professor and author, apologized on Saturday for saying economist John Maynard Keynes was less invested in the future because he was gay and had no children.

Ferguson said his remarks at an earlier conference were “as stupid as they were insensitive.”

During a question-and-answer session after a prepared speech at the Altegris Strategic Investment conference in Carlsbad, Calif. on Thursday, Ferguson was asked to comment about Keynes, an influential 20thcentury British economist who advocated government spending as a way to make up for lagging demand in a down economy.

Ferguson suggested that Keynes philosophy was shaped by his homosexuality. Keynes, therefore, had no children so he wasn’t as invested in future generations as others might be, Ferguson said.

The remarks were reported by the website of Financial Advisor magazine and other online publications.

On Saturday Ferguson acknowledged the remarks and said he “deeply and unreservedly” apologized.

“I should not have suggested – in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation – that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay,” he said in a statement in response to an emailed query.

“It is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations,” he added.

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Niall Ferguson apologizes for remarks made about Keynes’ sexual orientation

  1. Pretty dumb remarks for such a supposedly smart guy.

    • He’s a hard-right conservative. These people tend to have many offensive beliefs. What gets them into trouble is when they let their guard down and speak them aloud.

      In his “Ascent of Money” documentary series, he says Pinochet’s fascist dictatorship was worth it because it rid the country of socialism.

      BTW, free marketers traditionally believe that no matter how disastrous economic conditions are, if they are left alone they will sort themselves out in the long run. Keynes’ reply to this was:

      “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.”

    • What’s really interesting is that he was not the first guy to say them, so why all the fuss over the statements now?

  2. Niall has more understanding of economic history and current events than the entire readership of macleans.

    The one thing I find most interesting here is that, once again, a statement was made, understood to be ‘offensive’ by the left, and then an apology issuedThe left never, ever recants from their ridiculous and offensive statements, yet the right does on a fairly regular basis. Both sides make stupid comments, of course, we are talking about people not robots. But the fact the right is more self-assure and confident in what they are saying that they can admit when they do stumble is surely notable.

    That should speak volumes about how the left sees itself as a perpetual victim, uses political correctness to limite speech and frame discussions, and can not admit their own faults.

    The article from macleans should focus on what niall has to say about the direction we are heading based on our current ideological and economin strategies. But no, it distracts us with a whole piece dedicated to a frivolous statement for which an apology was issued.

    • Mr. Ferguson has a greater knowledge of economic history than most. But since he filters it all through free-market ideology, his understanding of it is greatly compromised. One could say he’s on the wrong side of economic history.

      The fact is free-market ideology crashed and burned in two global economic meltdowns (1929 and 2008.) In between was the centrist Keynesian era which created modern living standards.

      Ferguson supports austerity as a means to stimulate economies still reeling from the second meltdown. This is based on the supply-side premise that cuts will foster confidence from the business community. (They didn’t.) This has been thoroughly debunked by modern Keynesians who have shown austerity in a slump is self-defeating (e.g., it killed the recovery in the UK which is now facing a triple-dip recession.) The Reinhart-Rogoff paper it was based on has also been discredited for containing cooked statistics.

      No doubt, Niall felt compelled to slander Keynes’ name out of sheer desperation. Considering he believes Chile is the ideal economic model (with average living standards and levels of inequality that would appall most people in developed countries,) we can all be thankful he fell flat on his face.

      • ‘..he filters it all through free-market ideology, his understanding of it is greatly compromised..’

        You mean, he’s not a socialist and therefore cannot possibly understand how money works…yeah right. Socialists sure got spending down-pat, its the wealth creation part that they can’t seem to get a grip on. Oh well, never mind – just tax or print it!

        • Wow. That’s a lot of labels with absolutely no reasoning behind them.

          Got any facts to back up that world view, or is “truthiness” all you need?

          • What, the fact that socialists spend money without any regard to earning it first….why don’t you take a look at Europe!

            In Europe these days (well, entire post-war) austerity is defined as deficit spending of not more than 3, 4, or maybe 5 percent (depends on latitude it seems). This is austerity mind you! However, austerity seems to have lost it flavour, now they are going full back on to spending without end, based on keynes’ model that gov’t spending can recover an economy. Where’s it come from, don’t -know and don’t care is the answer.

            No plans to grow the economy through any other means other than more gov’t spending/printing. I call that fact, however if you (or others) prefer label or caricature so be it, I clearly don’t define your socialist ‘lexicon’.

          • No, got any facts to back up that its’ because he’s “not a socialist”

            Filtering everything through a free-market ideology is just as bad as filtering everything through a libertarian ideology, or a communist ideology, or a socialist ideology, or any particular ideology.

            I was asking about the labels.. sorry if that was a little too complex for you to understand.

          • So you mean, in fact, that the one label (not lots) that you write. Well, you say it yourself, he follows the free-market which is not really a socialist thing.

            And just what do you filter things through, your crystal ball? Please explain to me where the free-market has got it wrong? Please explain how filtering it through a free-market ideology gets it wrong. Your writing implies that your a believer in keynes, even with all that it has wrought – particularly the lunacy that gov’t can spend its way out of a recession. How many times must this be tried before you can admit that it goes nowhere but into more debt, particularly when used by socialists to justify debt expenditure.

          • Yes, take a look at Europe. The top ranked countries in the world for quality of life and economic performance are the social democratic Scandanavian countries. Canada used to be able to give them a run for the money until the CRAP hacks poisoned the well.

          • Yes, take a close look at the scandinavian model.

            It used to work well, but now it is falling apart. It worked well when society, as a whole, tended to look down at those on welfare and would go out their way to encourage people back into a job and back to being self-sufficient.

            That has changed recently due to changes in attitude. Now, it is no longer seen as a stigma to be on welfare and numbers are increasing.

            The scandinavian model is taking a beating and won’t exist in its current form for more than a few years.

            As for the rest of Europe, please – they are ready to start a war with germany over their economic problems – is this really a model you want for Canada?

        • You are a caricature. A bloody-minded caricature.

          • Isn’t that a caricature as well?

          • Sometimes the truth is really ugly.

    • The left never, ever recants from their ridiculous and offensive statements

      “The left” probably recants less often because the need to do so occurs much less frequently.

      BTW, who exactly is this evil, monolithic “left”? Does that intellectually lazy catch-all label conveniently happen to include anyone with whom you disagree?

      • No, the left can’t recant because to do so, even in a very small way, opens the door for logic to enter. Once logic starts creeping into the world of the left it takes even stronger delusions to keep it all going.

        Who is this evil ‘right’ that I keep reading, is labelling people conbots more intellectually rigorous?

        • Recanting because of illogical political statements isn’t something people at either end of the spectrum are likely to do anytime soon, in part because political attitudes are more a matter of belief than logic.

          Having said that, recanting because of illogical political utterances isn’t quite the same thing as apologizing for patently boneheaded comments about someone’s sexual orientation. If someone of the “left-wing” persuasion said something equally stupid, I have little doubt they’d be roundly and deservedly condemned for doing so and we’d see a pretty hasty retraction and/or apology.

          Can you point to a case where that should have happened but didn’t?

          • How about Joe Biden on any particular day?
            However, your question is a diversion. Niall made a statement, apologized – do you accept that?

            You’ve already stated you don’t care for his economic views, which isn’t really a shock coming from you. The question is, what is factually wrong with them or is it just your labelling?

          • Get over yourself. Biden doesn’t doesn’t need to retract anything he says merely because you don’t agree with him. And I didn’t say anything was (or wasn’t) “factually wrong” with Ferguson’s worldview. I said I didn’t agree with it. I’m as entitled to reject it as you are to embrace it. As I said, IMO, political attitude is more the product of faith than reason.

            I asked you to back up your opening claim that “the left never, ever recants from their ridiculous and offensive statements” by providing one example of something as boneheaded as a comment about someone’s sexual orientation made by someone on “the left”, for which the speaker wasn’t castigated and who (more to the point) didn’t apologize. To my knowledge, Biden has never done so and you still haven’t proffered an example.

            Moreover, where have I said didn’t accept Ferguson’s apology (although I somehow doubt he’s been waiting for me to do so)? And how can you dismiss my question as a “diversion”? It’s a direct response to your own idiotic, unproven assertion that those on “the left” never recant or apologize.

            And finally, let me give you an example of a boneheaded comment made by someone whom you would probably consider a member of “the left”: In a public address, Obama recently described California’s Kamala Harris as “the best looking’ Attorney General”. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/04/obama-calls-californian-kamala-harris-best-looking-attorney-general/ In the pantheon of boneheaded remarks, I personally don’t consider that as egregious as Ferguson’s comment but he was widely rebuked for it and, contrary to your inane assertion, he almost immediately and categorically apologized.

            I would suggest that, before you accuse those on “the left” of lacking logic, you should go out and get some yourself.

          • Yes, so typical of defenders of the left. Biden is a classic example which is why I picked him. The man is a walking disaster and regularly makes comments against blacks, women, christians, various other races, etc but here we go again with someone (you) pretending that no-one else find this offensive. Or, if they do, (and it is the right type of offense) well then that is just good ole Joe, he certainly adds some colour to a boring talk and wink, wink we all know he’s a little senile and no-one really takes him seriously anyways. He makes 100 insane statements, apologizes for 1 (with little notice) and continues merrily on his way.

            I’ll give the left this, the left is consistently nothing if not hypocritical.

            Clearly I don’t expect that you will ever see the logic of my or any conbot argument because you have absolutely no desire to and are, in fact, afraid to acknowlegde in even the smallest way that your viewpoint is wrong. I am not even sure that you undertand what logic is, and by you I mean the entire left.

          • Despite your banal little rant about Biden, I’m waiting for a single specific incidence in which a proponent of the “the left” has uttered an offensive statement akin to Ferguson’s, for which the speaker failed to apologize.

            Evidently, you can’t provide it. So give it a rest.

          • By akin, you mean a conservative making a comment against gays! So ignore everything biden says! Ignore everything else that any leftie ever says, cause its irrelevant since its not a conservative saying it.

            Like I said, left ain’t nothing if not hypocrites.

          • By akin, I mean a personal comment (comparable to Ferguson’s) made by a “leftie” about someone’s age, gender, sexual orientation or other personal attribute, for which the speaker wasn’t publicly rebuked and who refused to retract or apologize for it.

            I’m not talking about political comments because, as I’ve said repeatedly in this tiresome exchange, political beliefs are, IMO, a product of beliefs, not “logic”. You may not care for Biden’s rhetoric but your opinion, in itself, is no reason why he should retract anything he’s said.

            If you want to get into a banal tit-for-tat about silly political comments made by prominent politicians, I could easily match you a Palin for every Biden.

            I’ve got better things to do than that. Go and play in some other sandbox.

          • This is why its pointless to even attempt to give a leftie a specific example, as there is always some new qualification or hoop to jump through before it can even be considered.

            Why does your opinion or your beliefs trump mine or any conservatives over what we find offensive. Answer: it doesn’t. However, you can’t possibly understand that, Due to liberal close-mindedness you simply find it impossible to accept that there are people with differing opinions than yours.

            It is clear, the right must tip-toe very carefully lest anyone take offense, the left can say whatever it damn well pleases.


          • This is tedious. Come back when you’ve learned the basic principles of logic.

          • I understand, it is difficult for you to argue when you know you’re taking a hypocritical stand and full of BS.

          • You seem to have the immature need to have the last word on this, so please let that be it. I have better than things to do.

  3. I never cared for Ferguson’s economic views. Now I don’t care for at least one of his personal values either.

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