A Historical Perpective on Populist Politics

Published on
March 29th, 2019
41 minutes

A Historical Perpective on Populist Politics

The Larry McDonald Series ·
Featuring Niall Ferguson

Published on: March 29th, 2019 • Duration: 41 minutes

Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, is one of the foremost financial historians of our time. In this conversation with New York Times best-selling author Larry McDonald, he outlines why he looks at history for its predictive ability. Ferguson also explains to McDonald how populism will change Europe, and gives his view of what to make of the economic changes and trade talks with China. Filmed on March 1, 2019 in New York. Find more information about Larry McDonald’s work at http://www.thebeartrapsreport.com.



  • DS
    David S.
    16 January 2020 @ 20:38
    I agree that China is probably not trying to be the reserve currency, but the SWIFT system will be marginalized as FinTech from China and others take over. The major US banks will join the FinTech but will have problems overcoming the memory of the US weaponizing the dollar. With all the fiat currencies in FX a reserve currency will become moot. The Chinese trade deal is done in January 2020. No tech resolution. Chinese will buy US agricultural goods which they were already buying on the world markets - much of it probably trans-shipped US goods. Economically China won on this round. DLS
  • PJ
    Paul J.
    11 May 2019 @ 18:10
    About to watch this vid, hope Ferguson doesn't mention his wife in this one.
  • AE
    Abou E.
    6 April 2019 @ 10:31
    Great interview. Bring him back in 6/8 months for a follow up.
  • IF
    Ian F.
    2 April 2019 @ 17:32
    How does one figure that Trump's trade policies have hurt his base? What metric or framework is one using to come up with this?
    • DH
      Daniel H.
      5 April 2019 @ 06:25
      Rotting piles of soybeans is one example. Surely you can google the others.
  • DP
    David P.
    30 March 2019 @ 00:57
    Good interview. There's another Scotsman who would be great to have on - Russell Napier.
    • DC
      Dave C.
      2 April 2019 @ 01:26
      He is Irish (Ulster).
    • WB
      William B.
      5 April 2019 @ 01:17
      And he's already done two interviews for RV.
  • BM
    Beat M.
    4 April 2019 @ 07:25
    Everything is Cyclical, nothing is linear
  • JL
    James L.
    4 April 2019 @ 03:51
    awesome video, bring Niall back on the regular
  • TD
    Thomas D.
    3 April 2019 @ 23:54
    Excellent interview. Thank you both.
  • MR
    MARK R.
    3 April 2019 @ 21:38
    beautiful Persian rug!! i have very similar in my living room!! nice video too - could listen to thesetwo all day. great points on chimerica/appl
  • VS
    Victor S. | Contributor
    31 March 2019 @ 22:50
    China will never last. We must understand that a planned economy must fail. Read Hayek as they can never have the knowledge to replace “the Market”. The one belt one road is an example where the debt they create will be the death of the China’s success. Great interview !
    • TR
      Travis R.
      1 April 2019 @ 21:15
      I tend to agree. However Chinas insatiable gold demand gives me pause. I remember when there was the Russia "crisis" a few years ago; kept telling people Russia was going to be just fine since they have been buying gold and have tons of oil. "He who has the gold makes the rules." - Unknown
    • DS
      David S.
      3 April 2019 @ 07:54
      Nothing ever lasts. DLS
    • DR
      David R.
      3 April 2019 @ 16:38
      China is regressing under Xi, but compared to 3-4 decades ago and thanks to Deng and his successors (until Xi), China is a lot less centrally planned or controlled than most realize, especially those who never get some boots on the ground. The US is becomingincreasingly planned, mostly by its Deep State, and suffering from excessive government interference and regulation, as is obvious to any entrepreneur (thus the corporate birth to death rate in US has collasped and become negative; the opposite of China where corp startups hugely outnumber shutdowns). Not everything about planning is bad. A well-planned corporation with a good execution plan tends to crush a spontaneous, chaotic corp. But free markets in the US are under siege and see what happens if the Dems retake the presidency or all branches next year given that their rhetoric sounds quite Marxist-Leninist.
  • SM
    S M.
    29 March 2019 @ 21:59
    Thanks for the interview. With these types of interviews, I always reassure myself once again that how wrong Pro-Chinese economists, historians and others. He spent too much on persuading himself and others to believe that china is different and they will lead the world after coming out of this world reset, instead of looking at the facts and real numbers. The fact of the matter is that, China has a fake economy and it's controlled fake state with tyrant regime.
    • RL
      Roman L.
      1 April 2019 @ 18:29
      Maybe you should elaborate what do you mean fake economy? One of the key indicators of economic growth is productivity per capita and China's is 5x of the US. I am not saying your statement is false as I do believe the State in China do publish many improved numbers such as the current 6.9% gdp growth they have. If you have that kind of growth , the PBOC wouldn't be printing money at the fastest pace it has in years to stop a slowdown.
  • DS
    Darryl S.
    1 April 2019 @ 12:12
    Not sure who arrived at the conclusion that the CNY wants to be a reserve currency but do go on
    • RL
      Roman L.
      1 April 2019 @ 18:20
      Them buying gold is a sign of it and indebting many countries through the belt & road initiative.
  • SC
    Sejong C.
    1 April 2019 @ 07:59
    Finally, a volume control. This was very much needed. Keep up the good work RV!
  • PG
    Philippe G.
    31 March 2019 @ 22:15
    Fantastic conversation!
  • DR
    Dick R.
    30 March 2019 @ 13:51
    Niall Ferguson has argued that British aggression started WWI, and if innocent Germany had been allowed to win, it would have prevented America's rise to world power. ... Ferguson believes in colonialism and the White Man's Burden, and that we should conquer Third World countries for their own good. ... Ferguson predicted Trump's humiliation in the Republican primaries, then that he would lose to Hillary Clinton, and we all know how that turned out. ... Ferguson advised President Trump to cede vast swaths of Eurasia and the Middle East to a Russian sphere of influence (thanks, buddy). ... Ferguson supported the candidacy of Marine Le Pen. ... Ferguson supports privatizing and vouchering Social Security and Medicare (not a winning concept these days). ... In New York in 2009, Ferguson engaged in public debate with Paul Krugman and was laughed off the stage. Subsequent events showed Ferguson to be wrong on all counts. ... Ferguson accused Keynes of being indifferent to the future because he was gay and childless. ... It's all in his Wikipedia entry. The man loves to be contrary, whether he knows what's actually going on or not. You can build a whole career that way.
    • SA
      Stephen A.
      30 March 2019 @ 21:16
      If Krugman is laughing at Feguson, that only confirms that Ferguson is right.
    • GB
      Gary B.
      31 March 2019 @ 18:44
      Virtually anyone who is considered a conservative have lies written about them in Wikipedia bios. Virtually all the issues you list are complete lies. Ferguson is a great historian. Plenty of room to criticize him, as with any opinionated economist or historian. I have read a lot of his work and listened to videos of his speeches. Yes, he predicted Trump would lose, along with the rest of the western world. Otherwise, I have never heard him espouse any of the positions you list. You hate him, good for you, just get your facts straight.
  • SA
    Stephen A.
    30 March 2019 @ 14:58
    Great interview. Niall Ferguson is a real gem. My favorite part was the intellectual cyclical vs stochastic debate that erupted mid-session. The entertaining thing is that both gentlemen are right. Every system no matter how simple or complex has a life cycle (human body is a also a complex system of body parts). In hindsight the life cycle is clear. However, Ferguson rightly points out that you can't predict a complex system (stochastic process) by analyzing the life cycle of simpler systems because new interactions can lead to different outcomes. Anyway, gotta love two British (sorry Scottish) intellectuals casually dissing each other in the middle of serious discussion. Priceless.
  • SD
    S D.
    30 March 2019 @ 03:48
    I think the comments on the end of Chimerica and the pending collapse of the Trans-America model are important, and the shift in perspective to emphasize the tech relationship/war is very valuable. Welcome riposte to Kyle Bass. What does he have to say about this?
    • SD
      S D.
      30 March 2019 @ 03:50
      Meant Trans Pacific.
  • FG
    Flavio G.
    29 March 2019 @ 16:58
    Interesting guy but he blew it completely in the aftermath of the financial crisis when he predicted that inflation and yields would shoot up (Weimar Republic inflation instead of Japan deflation << you need to pick the right bit of history). The other thing that is a bit insufferable is listening to that academic-fake-grave-intonation which is ok to project aplomb and impress an average audience but I guess here we know better and go beyond form and value the content. There quite a few 'nerd-interviewees' here in RV that provide better content.
    • JH
      Jesse H.
      29 March 2019 @ 17:11
      Flavio - with all due respect mate, that’s not academic intonation or condescension you’re hearing — he is Scottish, and that’s how many highly educated Scottsmen would speak. It’s not arrogance; it’s mostly his accent. Cheers.
    • FG
      Flavio G.
      29 March 2019 @ 17:22
      Jesse, I've worked with Scottish people, I know how they speak and enjoy the accent. I also like listening to posh English and I do realize Ferguson's accent is a Scottish-posh hybrid with curious elements of American-English. I was referring here to the intonation part that is not accent.
    • WM
      Will M.
      29 March 2019 @ 18:40
      Flavio, I am Scottish and I would agree with Jesse, he is not being condescending, he just varying his intonation and delivery with clear and persuasive delivery. He is after all academic, very used to public speaking and skillful in debate.
    • GM
      Gabriel M.
      29 March 2019 @ 20:27
      Ele errou uma previsão, óbvio que pundits cometem erros. Agora compare com o track record de erros do Paul Krugman: impacto da internet, déficts do Bush na inflação, colapso do subprime no sistema financeiro, dissolução da Zona do Euro em 2012(desculpa foi que não levou em conta atitude da Autoridade Monetária), colapso do mercado acionário com a eleição do Trump. Um desastre e muita gente o leva a sério.
    • DC
      Dave C.
      29 March 2019 @ 21:45
      Hugh Hendry was on the mark when he described his dealings with Mr Ferguson - what a shame he was not conducting this interview - something for RV to consider for the future?
    • FG
      Flavio G.
      29 March 2019 @ 22:28
      Well remembered David. I will quote H. Henry - 2009: "I even hear that some Wall Street legends are so convinced of the argument made by the likes of Niall Ferguson that they personally own Treasury put options and are actively counselling others to do the same". Source: https://www.mauldineconomics.com/outsidethebox/eclectica-november-fund-commentary-4240
    • DC
      Dave C.
      30 March 2019 @ 02:43
      Grant Williams interviews Hugh Hendry https://www.realvision.com/podcast/keys-to-the-kingdom-inside-the-beautiful-mind-of-hugh-hendry 35:30 the conversation turns to Niall - comedy gold IMHO
  • TR
    Thomas R.
    30 March 2019 @ 01:54
    Great discussion - and you can't have an historian with a financial markets perspective and not have a portion of the discussion on gold. Bull or Bear or indifferent - would love to have heard Mr Ferguson's perspective.
  • TC
    Trevor C.
    30 March 2019 @ 00:16
    great discussion all around!
  • BB
    Bojo B.
    29 March 2019 @ 11:43
    Excellent discussion! What I particularly appreciate about Mr. Ferguson is that he is a very clear thinker and a superb speaker.
    • HJ
      Harry J.
      29 March 2019 @ 23:50
      Here-Here Excellent job all around! Thanks RVTV
  • gg
    georgy g.
    29 March 2019 @ 22:51
    Enjoyed the interview but completely disagree on his view that China deal could wait. To me that’s the type of conclusion that undermines all the framework here. The deal can not wait, and that’s why it is coming much much sooner. Chinese could not do the deal because of mueller overhang but it is badly needed and coming shortly
  • WM
    Will M.
    29 March 2019 @ 18:53
    Very good indeed, have always appreciated Niall's thoughts, views and command of economic history. Like all "experts" he has many logical arguments, very few experts are right all the time or they would all be multi-billionaires by betting on their correct predictions. However, I cannot agree with Niall on cycles. There is simply too much evidence for cyclic activity, not only in economics but in nature. Suffice to say though, although it is true that history does not truly repeat, it most certainly does rhyme. What I do agree with is his comment that complex systems can often soldier on for ages, and then come to grief "all of a sudden". Suffice to say our current society is bound together and functions through a complex network of threads. You can break some of the threads and still the system persists, grow more connections and even thrive. However at some point the interconnectivity becomes so complex that severing one threads might unexpectedly lead to a chain reaction of breaks, potentially leading to the whole "ball of wax" collapsing. Debt, war, disease and natural ecosystem collapse can and will occasionally all combine to bring about tragedy.
    • DS
      David S.
      29 March 2019 @ 21:29
      Will M. - I do not think that you and Professor Ferguson are that far apart. Professor Ferguson believes that human reaction, individual or group, to any set of complex systems can be markedly different and unpredictable. He also believes that history can be “be used to think about counterparty problems.” IMO, he does use the “rhyme” of history to see how these conditions were resolved many times before, in addition to why this time it is different. He sees many twists and turns within the cycle which are not predictable by the cycle itself – rise and fall. After the cycle is complete, one can go back and construct a better narrative within the cycle like Hegel. DLS
  • my
    markettaker y.
    29 March 2019 @ 21:11
    Kinda meh...
  • Sv
    Sid v.
    29 March 2019 @ 19:54
    I am not always agree with the Hoover Institute, Scottish, economic historian, but I read all his books and really like to listen to his views. I thing history does rhyme, and cycles do repeat, if not exactly. Thank you for doing this session.
  • AP
    Andrew P.
    29 March 2019 @ 19:38
    Believe Ferguson is correct on Trump's base support for his China policies.
  • CS
    Christopher S.
    29 March 2019 @ 19:28
    I think we might just have an academic here who gets populism. I'd love to hear more from him on that in fact. Also he's non-partisan - which helps us guys who accept what is just is, and want to make money regardless.
  • JB
    Jason B.
    29 March 2019 @ 19:17
    I have read a few of Niall Ferguson's books and the most underrated financial historian is Murray Rothbard
  • JH
    Jesse H.
    29 March 2019 @ 17:09
    Very good interview and Niall Ferguson is such a fascinating (and dare I say, original) thinker. Brilliant remark that complex systems don’t operate in cycles. With that one insight, he has just changed my investment framework somewhat. Fantastic. Thanks, gents.
  • MN
    Maverick N.
    29 March 2019 @ 16:57
    Wonderful! Niall is capable of articulating his view with great simplicity. I've loved his writing. Thanks RV and Larry for bringing him on. So much to take away from this.
  • JA
    James A.
    29 March 2019 @ 16:42
    Larry. In reference to the Chinese currency are you calling it the won or the Yuan? It sounds awfully like the former!
  • GW
    Geoff W.
    29 March 2019 @ 15:27
    Love it. The fusion of politics, history and finance (without the confusion) is what I am most interested in
  • JS
    Jason S.
    29 March 2019 @ 14:50
    I'm only half way through this and am astonished that anyone can vote down this interview. Absolutely outstanding!
  • EL
    Elizabeth L.
    29 March 2019 @ 14:32
    Found myself wanting this discussion to go on for much longer. Thank You.
  • Nv
    Nick v.
    29 March 2019 @ 13:29
    Interesting take on Apple and US Semi conductor industry. Stocks definitely not priced for it