Last Summer, while flicking around the dial, I happened across an utterly fascinating Bill Moyers interview on PBS with Niall Ferguson and fellow historian Simon Schama. It was intriguing, and in many was, chilling. What I found so fascinating about it was that these two courtly conservative British scholars were sounding the alarm about the decaying U.S. financial condition, and nobody was paying very much attention.
This was in July 2003. Here it is, 8 months later, and a paper Ferguson (along with Laurence Kotlikoff) published in October 2003 is starting to cause waves. Its discusses many of the same issues which were covered in the PBS interview, only this time, its starting to gain traction amongst economists. Just this week, Arnold Kling of the Library of Economics and Liberty and Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution referenced the Ferguson Kotlikoff paper.
I strongly suggets reading the full text (its only a dozen pages). To put it into richer context, read the Moyers interview with Ferguson and Schama. That frames the overall argument. If you want to read the abridged version, I put a few exercpts up here: The Triumphant Return of the British
Its a fascinating perspective, and one Americans have slowly been coming around to . . .
U.S. Power and Fiscal Over reach
National Interest, October 2003
Niall Ferguson, Simon Schama interview
PBS NOW July 18, 2003 transcript
(about halfway down the page)