33 responses

  1. political economist
    May 6, 2013

    The ad hominem attacks of Ferguson are quashed, smothered, pounded and annihilated by Bill Black.
    And, that’s not the best part of the article.
    The end is a great summary of the Obama administration’s failure to right the ship of state and then turn it into a yacht for the 1%.
    Guess who will not be appearing on your corporate talking-heads show this weekend.

  2. Joe Firestone
    May 6, 2013

    Great post, Bill. Ferguson reminds me of Scalia and his evil rantings.

  3. Christiän
    May 6, 2013

    I hope Ferguson doesn’t use a spreadsheet.


    • Roger Erickson
      May 8, 2013

      or a wide stance

  4. Gary Goodman
    May 6, 2013

    Overwhelming. Destroy All Monsters.

  5. PhilJoMar
    May 6, 2013

    One more thing…it seems like Ferguson, like many who misuse this word, does not understand the meaning of effete…look it up…I can’t see how it makes sense in the way he is reported to have used it. Crap at economics, crap at lexicology…crap at history?

    • reserveporto
      May 7, 2013

      “crap at history”

      I wouldn’t say that. He has a bunch of interesting anecdotes and tidbits. He is really quite entertaining as a speaker and is always quick and eager to adopt whatever highly controversial position he can find – especially when that position lets him denounce 1980’s leftist political villains and their policy ideas. It’s a very off-putting attitude common amongst such self-styled “conservative” pundits and political figures. The ’80s were a quarter century ago, I still like much of the music, but, hey, get over it. I often find myself disagreeing with his viewpoints, but usually find myself intrigued and amused.

    • Tim
      May 7, 2013

      As you note, it is a very common misusage, so common that some dictionaries will now actually list “effeminate” as a kind of synonym. I suspect that people started using it not so much because they were genuinely confused about which word they meant, but because it seemed like a sly way to suggest effeminacy in the mind of the listener/reader without the rudeness or bluntness. People also started using the word “fey” when they wanted to say “gay” but it was still considered “not nice” to talk about the possibility of someone’s being gay.

      An excellent takedown by the estimable Bill Black, who is a national treasure.

    • kyle
      May 8, 2013

      Actually “effete” works just fine for the picture Ferguson was painting. Effete means played out, exhausted of vitality — like a man who can’t get it together to reproduce and instead reads poetry to his ballerina wife. Too much culture, too little reproductive drive.

      Note that I don’t agree w/ the assessment, not least because Keynes showed remarkable energy in pursuing his work and, at times, his pickups. But Ferguson used the word correctly.

  6. Daniel D
    May 7, 2013

    An absolutely great post Professor Black.

    Thank you Sir !

  7. Thomas Bergbusch
    May 7, 2013

    Wonderful article. And not just for the acuity of Black’s thought. Bill Black writes beautifully. Such a pleasure to read on all counts.

  8. Phil Perspective
    May 7, 2013

    Kicking someone when they’re down, eh? It’s certainly deserved on Ferguson’s part.

  9. planckbrandt
    May 7, 2013

    Meanwhile, how does Laurence Tisch and Harvard University get a tax-exemption for funding a chair for this kind of propagandist. If his history writing errors are so obvious and so easily traceable and verifiable, how come Harvard and the Tisch fortune continue to get away with this? The American people, including students at our “finest” university can be thus propagandized? We have a few calls to the IRS General Counsel to make here. The time is up. This kind of blatant legalized sophistry has got to come to an end. They are destroying this country propagating this. And, Tisch and Harvard are no seriously implicated. That will never change. They did it to themselves. The decline here into violence is traceable to their choices. They might as well just book themselves into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission docket!

  10. Javed Mir
    May 7, 2013

    –that adults who do not have children do not care about future generations – why did he raise Keynes’ sexuality? —

    This is simple black mailing by Ferguson. Any one who does believe in saving and prefers consumption, does not mean he is to be declared a gay.

  11. Javed Mir
    May 8, 2013


    Please correct the above sentence as follows:

    — Any one who does not believe in savings and pefers consumption ——-

  12. Leading Edge Boomer
    May 8, 2013

    One hopes that this monumental takedown of Mr. Ferguson’s baseless pontifications will cause him to re-examine his whole life and conclude that he is better suited for a career in plumbing (not meaning to insult plumbers). But it won’t.

  13. Pete Shanks
    May 8, 2013

    Thanks for this, an excellent summary. Ferguson is clearly flailing (in the Harvard Crimson piece), and it is hard to avoid thinking that he is trying rather desperately to secure his speechmaking income. It would be a rather delightful turn of events if his career were effectively to be ruined by a gratuitous insult.

  14. Hal
    May 8, 2013

    As a Keynesian, I enjoyed this piece – and have especially enjoyed the resurgence of more level-headed economists since the Reinhart-Rogoff watershed.

    I would just suggest not using “Nobel Prize Laureate” in referring to Krugman, since it suggests that his authority emanates from the award and not from his arguments. As Krugman said on “Wait, Wait,” lots of questionable economists have won the award. Further, theoeconomists often use that phrase for people like Hayek to beg the question of whether his argument is right, and it’s poor logic. (Incidentally, would Hayek have won the Nobel Prize in any year but 1974?)

    • Charles Fasola
      May 12, 2013

      Questionable economists like himself, included.

  15. Chris Engel
    May 8, 2013

    An absolutely brilliant raw synopsis of Ferguson’s failures.

    The icing on the cake is that the guy is not only a neo-liberal partisan hack, but a war-monger to boot who suggested the American military should just go around deposing dictators (while pumping money into the military-industrial complex to achieve this end).

    Your work is priceless, Dr. Black. A truly independent voice.

  16. Kelly Brother
    May 8, 2013

    “Krugman must have suffered a childhood trauma that must have caused some “deep insecurity” and that must have left him unable to ‘debate a question without insulting his opponent.’ ”

    Perhaps Mr. Ferguson, instead, is speaking of himself? Excellent, thorough and well-deserved smack-down. Thank you, Mr. Black.

  17. Jonathan Ogilvie
    May 8, 2013

    An excellent, scathing, and well-deserved takedown.

    Pedantic grammar note:

    “Ferguson is on to something important when he speaks of the failure of enforcement (and should of have spoken of “too big to prosecute”)

  18. James Turner
    May 8, 2013

    Talk about a classic, thorough take down. Bloomin’ brilliant!

  19. Tums
    May 8, 2013

    Yes how delicate and sensitive of Scumpeter to refer to Keynes’ “childless vision”. Just the facts, please Ma’am. Let the forensics experts write up the knife wounds.

  20. Roger Erickson
    May 8, 2013

    Core problem is the Harvard tenure process?

  21. rpwpb
    May 9, 2013

    An aside about Ferguson’s failure to answer the query ‘Are we in a liquidity trap?’ That failure is likely rooted in the fact that Ferguson doesn’t really know what a liquidity trap is. After all, he is not an economist, he is a historian. And a number of economists (on the right) can’t even agree whether there is such a thing as a liquidity trap.

    Ferguson joins both Kristols and Himmlefarb as a textbook definition of an arrogant, elitist intellectual wannabe.

  22. Nooman Haque
    May 9, 2013

    Dr Black

    In this monumental post you omitted an insight very relevant to the matter – that Ferguson probably made his remark about Keynes because he thought it would go down well with his audience. Anyone who purports to uphold the integrity of academia has no business playing to the gallery as a hired hand. In this context, his apology is really just an attempt to minimise loss of earnings. I predict he will continue to reinforce the views and preconceptions of his typical paying audience.

  23. steve
    May 9, 2013

    In addition to knowing nothing about Economics and being a homophobe, his defense of imperialism is not holding up too well either; see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/08/britain-imperial-myth-repackaging-fantasy. Maybe that whole Straight White Male civilizing influence thing needs to be rethought? Although to be “fair” it has worked out well for his bank account and career up to know. Power, money, privilege and truthiness does tend to trump actual reality and true morality every time. Alas.

  24. Calgacus
    May 10, 2013

    Keynes’s great quote should be paired with Harry Hopkins’s, which deserves to be better known, that helps explain that quote and Keynes’s economics.

    “People don’t eat in the long run, Senator. People eat every day.”

  25. Charles Fasola
    May 12, 2013

    While the article certainly “takes down” Ferguson, are so many words required. Those not taken in by the dark side are or should be well aware he is nothing more than a piece of dung. Devoting thousands of words in order to discredit the moron is a waste of time which could well have been spent on topics much more deserving. Ferguson and his disciples do not deserve any sort of acknowledgement.

  26. me
    May 13, 2013

    Ah, Neocon Niall: http://boingboing.net/2010/05/19/tom-the-dancing-bug-3.html

    Not just wrong… Neocon wrong. If only you believed their BS so your character would improve, then America could be great once again.

  27. Gzoref
    October 22, 2013

    And stay down!

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