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Niall Ferguson: The jokester king of capitalism

The 37th International Emmy Awards Gala ? Press Room

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Niall Ferguson won an Emmy in 2009. He also has some pretty funny lines about capitalism.

Niall Ferguson is an extremely well-known and at times extremely controversial historian of finance, money, and imperialism. Born in Scotland, he now operates from a perch at Harvard. He's not afraid to tangle. And he's not afraid to be funny, something you have to concede no matter what you think of his conservative (some would say reactionary) politics. 

I'd never seen him in action until yesterday, when at the Milken Institute Global Conference taking place this week in L.A. I caught him participating in a panel with the modest title of "The Future of Capitalism."

Prof. Ferguson outlined three varieties of existing capitalism: the old-school version we all know so well; a very new state-sponsored variation (see: China); and "cheese-eating" capitalism.

Ferguson enjoyed pronouncing those last few words. The cheese-eaters come from where you think they would: Europe. Social democrat-flavored Europe. Your socialist candidate for president of France, François Hollande, is a pretty solid example of Ferguson's cheese-eater. Hollande probably enjoys his cheese, so it's hardly a leap.

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