University of Oxford

The Ascent of money: An evolutionary approach to financial history – Professor Niall Ferguson



Professor Niall Ferguson offers an evolutionary approach to financial history: he questions the impeding of natural selection by keeping the financial dinosaurs alive through the life support of monetary injections: without creative destruction, our economic system cannot be a healthy one.
The view that financial history could be evolutionary in fact pre-dates Darwin, born 200 years ago this year, but the view has been pushed into the hinterlands of contemporary thinking about the worlds of finance and economics.
Through the publication of his book, The Ascent of Money, Professor Niall Ferguson brought about a timely re-emergence of the evolutionary approach. By looking at finance along evolutionary lines, we can relate the long run of financial history to recent events and so illuminate them in a way which will perhaps offer us a clearer sight of how we should pull ourselves out of the current economic crisis.

Professor Niall Ferguson is the Laurence A Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, the William Ziegler Professor at Harvard Business School, a faculty member of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, a Senior Research Fellow Jesus College, Oxford University, a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and a contributing Editor of The Financial Times.

This was the 2009 Gresham Special Lecture.

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