Niall Ferguson has apologised "unreservedly" for saying John Maynard Keynes didn't care about future generations because he was gay.
The Harvard history professor was talking during a Q&A session at a conference in California when he was asked about Keynes' observation "In the long run we are all dead".
Ferguson suggested because the famous British economist was gay and did not have children he could not have cared about future generations.
Ferguson has been criticised in the past for seeming to support British imperialism
Keynes was a highly influential thinker who died in 1946. Despite being married he was known to have had a number of gay relationships.
His wife, ballerina Lydia Lopokova, miscarried, a fact Ferguson said he had "forgotten".
Keynes was a key figure in shaping Britain's post-war economy
Writing on his blog, Ferguson said:
But I should not have suggested – in an off-the-cuff response that was not part of my presentation – that Keynes was indifferent to the long run because he had no children, nor that he had no children because he was gay. 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.
My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life. As those who know me and my work are well aware, I detest all prejudice, sexual or otherwise.
My colleagues, students, and friends – straight and gay – have every right to be disappointed in me, as I am in myself. To them, and to everyone who heard my remarks at the conference or has read them since, I deeply and unreservedly apologize.
Ferguson has made a name as an influential economist writing a number of books and presenting TV series such as 'The Ascent of Money' and 'Civilization: Is the West History?'.