The primary highlight is Ferguson's discussion on what may be the primary topic of 2011: whether ot not debt will trigger the collapse of the US. To wit: "Sometime over the next decade the US will reach the crossover point at which it will be spending more on debt service, than it is able to spend on defense...The Chinese have noticed what the rest of the world's investors pretend not to see: that the US is on a completely unsustainable fiscal course with no apparent political means of self-correcting. Ladies and gentlemen, military retreat from the mountains of the Hindu Kush, or the plains of Mesopotamia has long been the harbinger of imperial fall." Recommended viewing.
From the official presentation:
Throughout history the rise and fall of empires isn't slow or cyclical, as we like to think, but arrhythmic...it 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.