Niall Ferguson's assessment...

We face some unpleasant macroeconomic circumstances at the moment, with possibilities for stagflation, volatility, extended military conflict, and/or food-driven instability/unrest.

Bloomberg has published an important analytical commentary in the form of an opinion piece by Niall Ferguson, MA, D.Phil. A renowned historian, Dr. Ferguson is a Senior Fellow of Stanford’s Hoover Institution, as well as a senior faculty fellow of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

I don’t always agree with Ferguson’s conclusions, but I always appreciate his insights - especially given the man’s encyclopedic knowledge of history and its violent conflicts.

Seven Worst-Case Scenarios From the War in Ukraine

Most conflicts end quickly, but this one looks increasingly like it won’t. The repercussions could range from global stagflation to World War III.…

One scary section of the article assesses how Putin’s fear of downfall increases the risk he may resort to desperate measures (e.g., carrying out his nuclear threat). Furthermore, Ferguson’s concluding paragraphs describe how this conflict could portend a future of stagflation, instability, and nuclear proliferation.

I recommend reviewing Dr. Ferguson’s analysis in the Bloomberg piece so as to better assess your investment plans for an uncertain future. I also recommend reading one of his numerous books for the viewpoint of a great mind and deep-thinking scholar.


The article seems long on opinion and short on data.


I enjoyed several of Ferguson’s history books but was disappointed by his book on money because it was not about money per se but about money changers, the people Jesus kicked out of the Temple.

This war has turned into a game of nuclear chicken. If the West chickens out Putin wins and then Putin continues to roll back NATO until there is a nuclear war or global Russian hegemony. Churchill contemplated a similar situation before WWII.

Churchill’s words: Choosing between War and Shame—and getting both.

We seem to be very near the bleak choice between War and Shame. My feeling is that we shall choose Shame, and then have War thrown in a little later on even more adverse terms than at present.

I trust Churchill much more than Ferguson and Pinker.

The news tells me that the West is not chickening out. French nuclear submarines on the ready, British F-35s flying near the Russian border, Turkey supplying deadly drones and cutting Russian access to the Black Sea, increased military manpower in Eastern Europe, military equipment pouring into Ukraine, Europe cancelling Russian gas purchases.

Let’s face it, stagflation is better than nuclear war. Churchill’s “Never give in.”

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.…

The Captain


I’m sure glad that Niall Ferguson is not on the Ukrainian negotiating team, he does not have the equipment – testicles – for the job.

Below is the link to a fantastic panel discussion at the Hoover Institution with a former Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, and three historians including Niall Ferguson and Herbert R. McMaster a retired United States Army lieutenant general who served as the 26th United States National Security Advisor from 2017 to 2018. He is also known for his roles in the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. As expected the lieutenant general takes on the Churchillian role while Ferguson plays Neville Chamberlain. The peace talks are a game of chicken and Ferguson is too scared to win.

A Soviet Reunion: Michael McFaul On Putin | GoodFellows: Conversations From The Hoover Institution

The war continues in Ukraine while peace talks go forward in Istanbul – the outcome of both endeavors anyone’s guess. Michael McFaul, a Hoover senior fellow and former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, joins Hoover senior fellows Niall Ferguson, H.R. McMaster and John Cochrane to discuss the chances of a settlement that’s mutually beneficial to the two warring parties and the West, Vladimir Putin, plus the possibility of hostilities escalating.

Over an hour long but well worth the time.

The Captain