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Niall Ferguson Argues That Empires Can Collapse Very Suddenly
Old 08-17-2010, 01:47 PM   #1
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Niall Ferguson Argues That Empires Can Collapse Very Suddenly

The 2010 John Bonython Lecture - Niall Ferguson on Vimeo

This may be too long of too specialized for some of you, but it is interesting on many levels, not the least of which is as a fascinating historical summary.

The long introduction by the host can be skipped with no loss.

Ha
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Old 08-17-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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Like Hemingway said, which applies equally to individuals as well as Empires,:

"How did you go broke?" Bill asks.
"Two ways," Mike said. "Gradually and then suddenly."
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:07 PM   #3
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Ha
You are sounding like me. Great minds think alike.

the decline and fall of the american empire


I like the video. No US politician would say what that guy said. And the US will not address the issue.

Interesting that he mentioned that England's & Russia's collapse began after leaving the Afghanistan area.
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Old 08-17-2010, 06:01 PM   #4
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Here's a link tailor made for you great minds, a live discussion thread 29 pages long - and growing:

In one convenient place, a life's supply of Doom and Gloom

Knock yourself out.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:19 PM   #5
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Well, that is a bit unfair. I am a happy guy; I just think that the US is nearing a big change, one that its citizens would never choose for themselves.

I also wonder why America, alone among all other examples of overextended and essentially broke nations/empires should be the one to get away with it.

Lastly, Niall Feguson is a very entertaining speaker and certainly awhole lot better informed than I might ever be.

When the sh*t hits the fan I plan to be on a dancefloor somewhere.

Ha
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:47 PM   #6
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Well, that is a bit unfair. I am a happy guy;
Hey, I think it unfair to say it's unfair.
I'm only reflecting upon what I see posted on this thread.

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When the sh*t hits the fan I plan to be on a dancefloor somewhere.
We all gotta be somewhere and I can sure think of a lot of worse places to be than tripping the light fantastic.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:07 PM   #7
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When the sh*t hits the fan I plan to be on a dancefloor somewhere.

Ha
WADR I didn't bother to read the article, I may have read something similar by someone who beat him to it. WTFC?
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:12 PM   #8
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WADR I didn't bother to read the article, I may have read something similar by someone who beat him to it. WTFC?
Well that is one approach.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:13 PM   #9
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WTFC?
No, it wasn't an article about the Women's Trade and Finance Counsel...
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:29 PM   #10
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:17 AM   #11
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Wasn't this alluded to in Bernstein's "Retirement Calculator from Hell" ?

Yes. Part III - The Retirement Calculator from Hell, Part III

DD
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:27 AM   #12
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Wasn't this alluded to in Bernstein's "Retirement Calculator from Hell" ?

Yes. Part III - The Retirement Calculator from Hell, Part III

DD
Specifically:

Quote:
A wildly optimistic historian might give us another few centuries of economic, political, and military continuity. Back-of-the-envelope, that’s about an 80% survival rate over the next 40 years. Thus, any estimate of long-term financial success greater than about 80% is meaningless.


...history teaches us that depriving ourselves to boost our 40-year success probability much beyond 80% is a fool’s errand, since all you are doing is increasing the probability of failure for political, economic, and military reasons relative to the failure of banal financial planning.


...So live a little, and enjoy your money, for tomorrow we may be consumed by the ghosts of Hitler, Lenin, and Attila the Hun.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:21 PM   #13
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Well, that is a bit unfair. I am a happy guy; I just think that the US is nearing a big change, one that its citizens would never choose for themselves.

I also wonder why America, alone among all other examples of overextended and essentially broke nations/empires should be the one to get away with it.

Lastly, Niall Feguson is a very entertaining speaker and certainly awhole lot better informed than I might ever be.

When the sh*t hits the fan I plan to be on a dancefloor somewhere.

Ha
If you plan to be living it up (which is also my method of coping with an uncertain future), then why even spend time refining predictions about the future?

That's what I don't get.

If it's more of a hobby or intellectually interesting, then - I guess I can understand that (just barely). But if it is causing a reduction in quality of life today, affecting moods, etc., then I don't understand.

There is an X% chance that the US will suddenly fail in the near future. I don't know if it's high, I don't know if it's low, I'm pretty sure it is not 100% - there are other possible outcomes in my lifetime. And it is mostly completely out of my control.

What can I do about it? Not much. I don't see how one can effectively prepare for sudden "black swan" events in one's life, other than making sure you are not wasting your present life.

So why spend time anticipating an outcome that is not guaranteed?

It's kind of funny, because I live along a dangerous border. It's not dangerous here, but things are perilous not far away. I could see things "blowing up suddenly" along the TX border. That possibility seems a lot more immediate and probable to me than US civilization collapsing soon. Yet I live with it. We aren't going to stay away from living where we want to and enjoying it just because something "could" happen. Since I don't know what the future will bring, I just have to trust myself to make the right decisions when the future comes, and in the meantime, carpe diem.

Audrey
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:45 PM   #14
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If you plan to be living it up (which is also my method of coping with an uncertain future), then why even spend time refining predictions about the future?

That's what I don't get.

If it's more of a hobby or intellectually interesting, then - I guess I can understand that (just barely). But if it is causing a reduction in quality of life today, affecting moods, etc., then I don't understand.<snip>What can I do about it? Not much. I don't see how one can effectively prepare for sudden "black swan" events in one's life, other than making sure you are not wasting your present life.
One technical comment. As historian Ferguson sees these things, a collapse of empire due to debt overhang, etc. would not be black swan events. Collapse is a completely predictable, essentially deterministic event. Perhaps you listened to his speach? He refers to Keynesian endpoints. One is where interest spending on the public debt overtakes defense spending. The final collapse would be when interest spending consumes the entire tax receipts of the government. As a possibly interesting aside, a Texas hedge fund guy named Kyle Bass feels that Japan is already close to this final Keynesian endpoint. What he predicts is that they, (and later on some other governemnts including the US) will be forced to do is restructure their debt.

With respect to one's stance toward new information or differing ideas, you are making a lot of jumps, regarding who I am and how I may interact with other's viewpoints. Although Niall Ferguson has a rather dark outlook on the future of debt laden nations, he is a Glasgow native, graduate of Magdelen College, Cambridge, a chaired professor of history at Harvard University, and a very accomplished speaker. So, I expect some benefit from listening to his views. Overall, I would prefer to expand my outlooks and gather information and well reasoned viewpoints. I am one of those people who prefer learning about something to announcing what I already know or think I know. Everyone has opinions; some of these opinions are well reasoned and considered.

I am also one of those people who is not much bothered by cognitive dissonance. Que será, será. Which doesn't keep me from being interested in ideas about various possible futures. Occasionally I might even come across something which I can use to avoid falling into the barrel of poop that the world is rushing toward. But of course, YMMV, to each his own, horses for courses, etc..

I didn't post this to win over anyone to these ideas, I posted it only in hope of generating intelligent discussion.

Anyway, if you are concerned about my well being, just send donations to Ha%Martha-(my trusted agent in these matters). I will get proper therapy and higher quality meds to deal better with my distress. And thanks!

Ha
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:09 PM   #15
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If it's more of a hobby or intellectually interesting, then - I guess I can understand that (just barely).
I like history and stock market technical analysis because it is intellectually challenging as you say and to see what I can glean about now and the future.

I would really like it if there was a speaker who offer an opposing view to Ferguson's using the same techniques - history, economics, politics, human nature. But that type of opposing view has not been presented. Usually, what we get is something like 'People in the 60s said we would all starve because of over population but science solved that problem. We will be OK in the future.' I don't know how to classify that type of retort but it doesn't work for me.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:09 PM   #16
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Occasionally I might even come across something which I can use to avoid falling into the barrel of poop that the world is rushing toward.
"The world is going to hell soon for certain. I'm hoping to find a way to protect myself."

That seems to ultimately be the gist of thread discussing gloom and doom topics.

Sorry - I'm skeptical about this being purely "intellectual curiosity", but of course that's just my opinion. Share away.

I apparently can't resist continuing to ask - "what's the point?"

Audrey
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
"The world is going to hell soon for certain. I'm hoping to find a way to protect myself."

That seems to ultimately be the gist of thread discussing gloom and doom topics.

Sorry - I'm skeptical about this being purely "intellectual curiosity", but of course that's just my opinion. Share away.

I apparently can't resist continuing to ask - "what's the point?"

Audrey
For you, there is none.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:21 PM   #18
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I agree completely with both of you:

what's the point? clearly there is no point.

i'm interested and curious. me too. and i care and i don't really care.

and it's only contradictory if you think about it, which is the crux of the problem. but then it's only a problem intellectually, if there's a point...
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
"The world is going to hell soon for certain. I'm hoping to find a way to protect myself."

That seems to ultimately be the gist of thread discussing gloom and doom topics.

Sorry - I'm skeptical about this being purely "intellectual curiosity", but of course that's just my opinion. Share away.

I apparently can't resist continuing to ask - "what's the point?"

Audrey
I have a similar feeling when the 'Frugalistas' start a thread about some aspect of 'Frugalism'. It appears to me that the frugal glasses they put on influences (distorts?) their view of the world. Why do they want to live such a life? As you said I'm skeptical that their frugalism doesn't subtract from their enjoyment of life.


PS - I'm not talking about poor people trying to survive.
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Old 08-20-2010, 01:25 PM   #20
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Dex, I seem to remember reading in a previous post that you wanted to pull out of the market by the end of August, did you decide to do it? I am getting nervous again.
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