The Reith Lectures: Brain Food Vol.2

The 2012 Reith Lectures are presented by the economic historian Prof Niall Ferguson. Reith Lectures Brain Food Vol.2 provides links to articles and audio relating to some of the topics raised Prof Ferguson's second lecture, The Darwinian Economy.


  1. "What is the biggest problem facing the world economy today? To listen to some people, you might think the correct answer is insufficient financial regulation," ponders Niall Ferguson as he opens his second Reith Lecture.

    Many people believe the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 - which separated the activities of commercial and investment banks - was a fateful error, and if it was still in place, the financial crisis would have downsized.
  2. One of the most high-profile advocates of increased regulation is Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman.
  3. The US Congress agrees - and in 2010 passed the biggest reform of US financial regulation since the Great Depression.
  4. Although not everybody thinks this is a good idea...
  5. Niall Ferguson doesn't agree either. He says overly complicated financial regulation is one of the causes of financial crisis. "De-regulation isn't bad," he says "bad regulation is bad", not to mention a lack of will to enforce the law and punish bad bankers.

    One of the most-famous anti-regulation advocates is the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek - and that goes for the 'Austrian School' of economics as a whole.

    Radio 4's Analysis explored the ideas of the free market Austrian School, which has undergone revived interest in recent years.
  6. Analysis also explored the other side and the role deregulation has played in the expansion of consumer credit. Some observers on the left believe that the growth of the financial sector has given birth to a novel form of capitalism - credit serfdom - and with it, a new kind of worker exploitation.
  7. Despite the introduction of tighter financial regulation - are the banks up to their old tricks? In 2011, File on 4 investigated concerns that banks are continuing to sell high-risk investment products.
  8. Niall Ferguson says the continued criticism of the banking sector by the political classes is convenient - as it deflects blame away from their own failings. But this current level criticism of bankers is nothing compared to the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, says historian David Cannadine.