Rocky Vega

With over 143,000 views, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s recent video, on empires on the edge of chaos, has at least a lot of social proof going for it that it’s worth a gander. He gave his lecture to the Centre for Independent Studies, a public policy think tank within Australasia, and addresses questions such as: What if history isn’t cyclical and slow moving? And, what if collapse doesn’t amicably settle in over centuries, but instead comes quickly, or overnight?

With these questions in mind, about the true nature of complex systems, he considers implications for the United States. He portrays the US as a complex system, which appears to be stable, or in equilibrium, but is constantly evolving and mutating. Just a small trigger can lurch its seemingly benign system into an abrupt collapse… at a scale that’s impossible to anticipate.

Here are a few of his thoughts, paraphrased:

  • The US fiscal numbers are bad, but perception may be even more crucial… because imperial crises are about expectations of future power, for the empire itself and, more importantly, in the eyes of its enemies.
  • Right now, the impression is that the Western world expects the US to muddle through, the normalcy bias we have discussed before, and that’s a pretty strong incentive for congressmen to do nothing and leave the problem for the next generation.
  • Finally, Ferguson asks: Are we ready for a dramatic change in the global balance of power? Drama lies ahead, and soon… as the nasty fiscal arithmetic of imperial decline drives yet another great power over the edge of chaos.

Just the introduction is found below, while what are among the most intriguing sections can be found here:

Chapter 4: Complexity Theory

Chapter 7: Failure of Perception

Chapter 8: Debt Payment Overtaking Defense Spending

Rocky Vega

Rocky Vega is publisher of Agora Financial International, where he advances the growth of Agora Financial publishing enterprises outside of the US. Previously, he was publisher of The Daily Reckoning, and founding publisher of both UrbanTurf and RFID Update -- which he ran from Brazil, Chile, and Puerto Rico -- as well as associate publisher of FierceFinance. Rocky has an honors MS from the Stockholm School of Economics and an honors BA from Harvard University, where he served on the board of directors for Let?s Go Publications, Harvard Student Agencies, and The Harvard Advocate.

  • http://cubaninga.blogspot.com/ Omar

    I saw the entire video. Sadly, everyone marches on as things will miraculously get better…as it always has (perception).

Recent Articles

Why the Fed Will Launch Another Round of QE

Richard Duncan

Ben Bernanke introduced the world to the concept of "quantitative easing" back in 2002. It was an "unorthodox plan" to save the economy from the horrors of deflation. But the monstrous economy it has actually created is in some ways far worse. And as Richard Duncan explains, it's not going to end any time soon. Read on..


How to Safeguard Your Digital Currency

Dominic Frisby

While the technical details of Bitcoin may intimidate the novice, they shouldn’t keep him from getting in on a digital currency revolution that -- while taking different forms -- isn’t going away. How do you get the simplest, easiest-to-act-on tips about how to invest, safeguard and grow your digital wealth? Dominic Frisby has more…


Solar to Save the World, Ebola to Maim it

Chris Campbell

The duality is stark. In one hand, we have an energy renaissance underway, in the other, a virus is threatening to wreak havoc on the markets and, potentially, your life. Nothing we’re currently doing to fight the Ebola virus will work in 2014, say the researchers. Nothing we’re currently doing will beat it in 2015, either. We need a new game-plan. Read on…


How to Profit From the “Cycle of Hype”

Greg Guenthner

Lose your shirt in 3D printing stocks this year? Don’t kick yourself. You’re not alone. (Okay, kick yourself a little if it’ll make you feel better.) You need to make sure you don’t lose your 3D-printed shirt in the next tech craze. Because there will be a next time. Look, it’s really not your fault if you got taken for a ride on 3D stocks. Greg Guenthner has more...