Niall Ferguson‘s latest Newsweek column offers some disturbing thoughts for those who believe historical patterns tend to repeat.

Those planning to come to London for the Olympics should read Joseph Roth’s Radetzky March. For London today resembles nowhere more closely than fin-de-siècle Vienna—in good ways, but also in bad. …

… A century ago, Europe was torn apart by a combination of imperial decline, ethnic conflict, and economic volatility. Worryingly, all three ingredients are present in Britain today. Earlier this month we were reminded that if you want to blow a really large hole in an American financial institution, London is the place to do it. In 2008 it was AIG. This year it has been JPMorgan Chase, which has lost at least $2 billion by selling the terrifyingly named credit default swap index CDX.NA.IG.9. The man responsible for the megatrade—which earned him the nickname the “London Whale”—has the ineffably Habsburg name of Bruno Iksil.

Like much of Europe, the U.K. economy now finds itself in a double-dip recession. Last week the Bank of England once again revised its growth forecast downward. Although (mercifully) outside the euro zone, Britain will suffer even more if the crisis over Greece escalates into a full-scale breakdown of the European monetary union. International financial crises are not good for international financial centers.

Karl Kraus once called Habsburg Austria “a laboratory of world destruction” (Versuchsstation des Weltuntergangs). I hate to worry the Olympics organizers, but could the same thing one day be said of Windsor England? I hope not. But I fear so.