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Historian Niall Ferguson on what the pandemic means for the global economy, geopolitics-and parties

by Charlotte Beale | Source: World Economic Forum




In January, Niall Ferguson warned his readers to “brace yourself for a coronavirus pandemic”.


The economic historian has been a vocal critic of early complacency in the face of uncertainty around the virus, and a supporter of countries that reacted fast and decisively, such as South Korea.


"There have been two pandemics in history that killed nearly a third of humanity", Ferguson said.


"One in the time of the ancient Romans, the Antonine Plague, and of course the Black Death of the mid-14th century. There was no way of knowing in January if this was the big one.


"The 1918-19 influenza killed 3% of the world's population - not in the same league as the Black Death, but 3% of today's world population is a pretty big number.

"So getting people to realize the risk in January, when we knew almost nothing except that there was an infectious disease, that it was going from human to human, and that it was killing people, was difficult."


In an interview for the World Economic Forum’s World vs Virus podcast, Ferguson discussed lessons from history for the economic recovery ahead; the potential impact of the virus on geopolitics and globalization; and why lockdown life suits some people - including him.


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