Opening Up the Mailbag: A Word From Niall Ferguson

By James Fallows

I received the following note today. As requested, I am sharing it here. 

Dear James, 

I wanted to pass along the below ["Klugtron the Invincible"]. As someone who has commented adversely on my public commentary on the past, you will -- I feel sure -- not hesitate to link to it.

Yours,
Niall. 

On the background of commenting adversely, you can look into the "Obama is like Felix the Cat" controversy (here and here, the latter being the source of the Pluto illustration). Also here, on whether China is likely to take over the world. 

On the merits of Niall Ferguson's latest item—saying that Paul Krugman has been wrong in his predictions of a Eurozone breakup—I invite readers to judge for themselves. I have never held myself out as knowing enough about the Eurozone to forecast anything there.

I have dared make predictions about the Chinese economy, the U.S. budget-deficit situation, and U.S.-China relations. In those cases, my outlook has differed from Niall Ferguson's, and I think that—so far—reality has favored my side. (To oversimplify, I have argued that the Chinese economy faces more serious problems than he has suggested; that the near-term U.S. budget deficit is not as big a menace as he has claimed; that U.S.-Chinese relations are not headed for the U.S.-deficit-induced crackup that he has foreseen; and that the rise of Imperial Germany in the early 20th century tells us almost nothing about the rise of China in the 21st. For more on forecasting, check out Business Insider and Noah Smith).

Of course all forecasts are subject to ongoing comparison with reality, and we'll see how things play out.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/10/opening-up-the-mailbag-a-word-from-niall-ferguson/280417/