Financial Evolution

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | 12:00 AM

Dr. Niall Ferguson holds dual appointments at Harvard and Oxford Universities, and is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. A prolific writer and commentator, Ferguson asks: Are we on the brink of a great dying - one of the mass extinctions of species that has occurred periodically in the history of life on earth, like the climatic crisis that killed off the dinosaurs?

Taking a long-run view of the development of financial services, Professor Ferguson argues that evolutionary forces are as much at work in the realm of money as they are in the natural world. As the subprime mortgage crisis works its way through the global financial system, the coming months will determine how far, in terms of its economic impact, the current crisis is a true "ice age" as opposed to just a severe winter.