Prominent Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson apologized Saturday for saying in a public speech that economist John Maynard Keynes’ policies were too short-sighted because he was gay and did not have children.
“My disagreements with Keynes’ economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation,” Ferguson said in a statement. “It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life.”
Ferguson made the remarks at the Altegris Strategic Investment Conference in Carlsbad, Calif. this week. He was responding to a question about Keynes’ oft-quoted warning against thinking too far ahead while making economic policy, “In the long run we are all dead.”
Ferguson said that children and grandchildren bear such ‘long-run’ burdens of economic policies, which, he argued, Keynes did not understand.
In his apology Saturday, Ferguson wrote: “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.”
Ferguson is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, has written extensively on international history and economic history. He was a financial advisor for US Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.
Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin declined to comment.
Jami Schlicher, a spokeswoman for conference organizers, said she did not have a transcript or recording of Ferguson’s remarks.