Speaking to an investors’ conference early this month, historian Niall Ferguson was asked what John Maynard Keynes meant by his famous statement that “in the long run, we are all dead.” In an ad lib response, Ferguson suggested that Keynes’s philosophy reflected the fact that the “effete” economist was gay and childless, and therefore did not care much about the fate of future generations.
No one can complain of a shortage of information about the Great Financial Meltdown. The biggest growth industry today is words: A whole new vocabulary has spread from board tables to kitchen tables. Superannuated whiz kids planting cabbages to offset their newly straitened means can blame their troubles on collateralized debt obligations, special investment vehicles, credit default swaps. Subprime mortgage holders find themselves censured for a new and virulent disease called toxic debt.