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Niall Ferguson: Will Debt Trigger US Collapse?

Complete video at: Harvard historian Niall Ferguson predicts that within the next five years, the U.S. will be spending so much on interest payments, it will have to slash defense spending. "Military retreat from the mountains of the Hindu Kush, or the plains of Mesopotamia," Ferguson warns, "has long been a harbinger of imperial fall." ----- Throughout history the rise and fall of empires isn't slow or cyclical, as we like to think, but mostly happens very, very suddenly. America is a superpower on the edge of chaos, according to economic historian and author Niall Ferguson. U.S. debt levels, he says, and its unwillingness to address the problem, has put it in the same category as other great empires which have collapsed throughout the ages. Ferguson argues the world is changing. There's the rise of authoritarian China as a super-power; a Keynesian president leading a weakened United States; the re-emergence of democratic India as a great power; the continued decline of Japan; and the probability of continued global economic instability ahead. Is the rise and fall of empires cyclical or arrhythmic? How does economic profligacy -- whether the result of arrogance or naivety -- contribute to the downfall of civilizations? Not to be missed, the address will offer a timely review of primacy, leadership, and the complex factors behind the rise and fall of great powers and civilizations. - Australian Broadcasting Corporation Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil., is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is a resident faculty member of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Length: 04:02


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