Harvard Historian Apologizes for “Doubly Stupid” Insult of John Maynard Keynes

Ever since John Maynard Keynes published his classic text on economic policy in 1936 entitled “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”, he has been regarded with deep reverence by many economists.

In fact, Keynes has been viewed very highly much as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been. Perhaps that is why Niall Ferguson, a prominent historian from Harvard, ought to have taken a more delicate approach when presenting his critical views of Keynesian economics. Ferguson was a guest speaker at the 2013 Altegris Investment Conference and was set to discuss why Keynesian economics is in wrong.

Ferguson made the initially quoted Keynes who criticized long-term economic projects as being of lesser importance than immediate short-term stimulus saying “in the long run we’re all dead”.

“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,” Ferguson wrote on his blog. “This was doubly stupid.”

“First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried,” he wrote in the blog, titled “An Unqualified Apology.”

Ferguson claimed that Keynes could adopt such a stance because he was fatherless and that lack of fatherhood was a result of his homosexuality.

Needless to say, the comment has touched off a firestorm. It is without a doubt that critics of Ferguson will seek to discredit his economic views on the basis of his homophobic comment. Ferguson has apologized for his “doubly” stupid remarks in an attempt to refocus his message on economics. Niall Ferguson has written books on historical economics such as “The Ascent of Money”.

The Scottish-born Ferguson, who has written critically acclaimed books on the history of finance and also writes for the Daily Beast website, added that his disagreements with Keynes’ economic philosophy “have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation.”

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niall ferguson apologizes for “off-the-cuff” keynes remarks