Niall Ferguson in Barron’s

Some highlights from this weekend’s Barron’s cover interview with business historian Niall Ferguson:

  •  The current period is similar to the pre-war period of 1880-1914, with “steady economic growth, low inflation,
    growing world trade, benign and liquid capital markets and a widespread
    belief in the ability of Great Britain, the world’s reigning military
    power, to keep world peace.” That period ended with World War I
  • He quasi-advocates a Rothschild’s portfolio of a third in securities, a third in real estate, and a third in art. He also likes commodities, with the exception of gold
  • He highlights the disconnect between the front page and the business page, with the former making it sound like the world is nigh, and the latter being more bullish than ever. Which one is right?
  • Critics carp about the usual problem, that there are lots of worries, but no timings — and you can lose a lot of money going bearish early and wrongly
  • Morgan Stanley investors at a recent private event groused that Ferguson is so depressingly bearish that they should maybe screen Mary Poppins or something else uplifting in future meetings.
  • He likes to highlight that bond investors didn’t seemingly see World War I coming, something I have also mentioned here

Related posts:

  1. Investing & the Price of Complacency
  2. The “Quiet Period” Myth
  3. Video Search Takes a Step Ahead
  4. Time vs. Barron’s on Google
  5. Recent AIM-Listed U.S. Companies are Largely Flops

Comments

  1. The description of 1880-1914 doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever read. If I recall correctly, the U.S. economy had already passed the U.K. by then, for the first time in a century Britain’s naval power was seriously challenged (by Germany), and the U.S. went through two near-Depressions and only narrowly avoided a complete collapse of its banking and financial systems. Granted, Russia and the Balkans were unstable and investors were losing their shirts (in railroad stock), so there were some similarities.

  2. Brian says:

    # He highlights the disconnect between the front page and the business page, with the former making it sound like the world is nigh, and the latter being more bullish than ever. Which one is right?
    I’d go for the page that has more verifiable facts. Just a hunch.

  3. Well, some of the stuff on the front page is long term, e.g. Global Warming. Some is hard to factor in, e.g. North Korea. Some matters in human terms, but not in market impact – even if Iraq becomes a killing field, each side still values the *oil* fields, so a million death toll on the front page wouldn’t necessarily affect the bullishness of the business page.
    What I don’t understand is the disconnect between the rumblings of an invasion of Iran and the oil market – *that’s* a real puzzle. Seems there should at least be a risk-premium which tracks the political developments.