Harvard professor apologizes for anti-gay remarks at financial conference

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson

A Harvard professor has apologized for anti-gay remarks when he said famed British economist John Maynard Keynes‘ philosophy was flawed and suggested he didn’t care about future generations because he was gay and didn’t have children.

Niall Ferguson

The remarks by Niall Ferguson, a British historian and professor of history at Harvard University, came in response to a question about Keynes’ famous philosophy of self-interest versus the economic philosophy of Edmund Burke, who believed there was a social contract among the living, as well as the dead.

Tom Kostigen, the editor at large of Private Wealth and Financial Advisor magazines, reports:

Ferguson asked the audience how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of “poetry” rather than procreated. The audience went quiet at the remark. Some attendees later said they found the remarks offensive.


Apparently, in Ferguson’s world, if you are gay or childless, you cannot care about future generations nor society.


This takes gay-bashing to new heights. It even perversely pins the full weight of the financial crisis on the gay community and the barren.

Ferguson made his remarks before an audience of more than 500 financial advisors and investors at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., on Friday.

On Saturday, in response to growing criticism in the both the LGBT and financial communities, Ferguson issued this apology:

“I should not have suggested – in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation – that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’s wife Lydia miscarried.

“My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation.”

In 2009, Paul Krugman, a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, called Ferguson a “poseur.”

“When it comes to economics … he hasn’t bothered to understand the basics, relying on snide comments and surface cleverness to convey the impression of wisdom. It’s all style, no comprehension of substance.”

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