So I have no idea what got into Ferguson all of a sudden, but given his "killer app" metaphor, I'm tempted to assume he's been boning up on some Tommy Friedman and decided to up his book sales by giving that lazy tack a try. The earliest incarnation of "killer apps" seems apropos enough, anyway, in describing how the West surpassed the East after around 1500 (that is, around the time Vasco da Gama set the Portuguese navy in every seaport from Lisbon east to Macau, subjugated the natives and converted them at sword-point, and set up trading ports to put the locals out of business).
A knowledgeable historian without an agenda could easily pick apart most or all of these points, seeing as how Ferguson so easily elides over the era of colonialism, and the technological advantages provided by its immense labor-to-capital ratio. But to be fair, the era also brought us Scottish Enlightenment figures such as David Hume, James Watt, and Adam Smith -- the latter of whom is most important for pseudo-econs who have clearly never read Wealth of Nations as a totem to invoke every time they need to make a Serious Point about Capitalism.
Not only do they not understand capitalism nearly as much as they think they do (unless they seriously think that socialized debt and public subsidy of institutionalized, leveraged gambling has fuck-all to do with legitimate risk-reward scenarios), but they don't even understand that Smith himself very clearly came down dead against unproductive vorocracies masquerading as merchant princes, loyal to none but themselves and each other.
Anyhoo, where Ferguson really puts the rock on the ground is when he attempts to apply his "killer app" model to the current crises continuing apace:
Kee-rist. It goes on like that, and worse yet, Ferguson even musters Charles Bell Curve Murray for his arguments at one point.
Look, the problem is much simpler than all that. Thirty years ago it was decided that while Americans were happy and productive actually making things they and their neighbors wanted to use and buy, it simply cost the bosses too much. Margins could be increased by outsourcing manufacturing, and 'murkins would be retrained to make far more money selling each other five-dollar cups of coffee. Productivity increased massively over the last fifteen years, it's just that nearly every cent of gains went straight upstairs. There was not even the pretext of marginally spreading a bit of those gains around. Oh, and you're welcome, America. Enjoy your hi-def flat-screen, the better to see Chaz Bono's knee dimples.
Everything since then has been a futile attempt to paper the consequences of those decisions over, with cheerleading for the emerging economies and the rentier financiers running the shell game. They don't even bother to mask their contempt anymore, you all just get to bail out the TBTF banks that fucked you out of your job and are foreclosing your house. How you like them apples, Champ?
Ferguson gets close in his "reboot app" jabber, but what he misses is the most important thing -- health care is a racket. Ditto "higher education", credentialist mills that churn $200 textbooks and pull fat raises for academic sinecures on the backs of broke students and their strapped parents. Even the public education system, enough 'murkins have been bamboozled into believing that fat teachers' unions are bleeding them dry.
This absence of critical thinking, it should be pointed out, might just be the very consequence of a desiccated educational system that no one can afford anyway. Just a thought. But the fact is that all these "viruses" are not bugs, they're features built into the system.
The "updates" Ferguson refers to, in all these far-flung geographic locales, require government investment in infrastructure, massive revenue injections -- yes, tax increases, especially on the 1%, since they are the only ones who have anything anymore. Good luck selling that one.
The idea that only the plebes should suddenly have to learn the virtues of self-discipline is one that has probably underpinned the aristocratic philosophy since Sumeria. But hey, folks, just work harder and smarter, and this ol' ship'll turn right around.