Jan 20: Introduction: Why Are We Here?
Assignments and notes at: http://delong.typepad.com/economics_210a_spring_201/2010/01/first-class-resources.html
Jan 27: One Economics or Many?
Feb 3: The Malthusian Economy
Feb 10: Industrious Revolutions
Feb 17: Industrial Revolutions
Feb 24: Globalizations
Assignments and notes at: http://delong.typepad.com/economics_210a_spring_201/2010/02/globalizations.html
Mar 3: Divergences
Mar 17: WWI and the Great Depression
Mar 19: Paper prospectus due, 5 PM
Mar 31: WWII and the Thirty Glorious Years
Apr 7: The Forward March of Social Democracy Halted?
Apr 21: China Stands Up
April 28: Macroeconomics to 2007
May 5: The Panic of 2007-2010
May 12: Reflections
May 12: Paper due, 5 PM
Economics Learning Goals: CT2: Apply economic analysis to evaluate specific policy proposals. CT3: Compare two or more arguments that have different conclusions to a specific issue or problem. CT4: Understand the role of assumptions in arguments. QT1: Understand how to use empirical evidence to evaluate an economic argument. PS1: Solve problems that have clear solutions. PS2: Propose solutions for problems that do not have clear answers, and indicate under what conditions they may be viable solutions. CS1: Communicate effectively in written, spoken, and graphical form about specific economic issues. CS2: Formulate a well-organized written argument that states assumptions and hypotheses, which are supported by evidence. LL3: Understand and evaluate current economic events and new economic ideas.
Economics 210a is required for first-year Ph.D. students in Economics here at Berkeley. The course introduces selected themes from the economic history literature but does not claim to present a narrative account of world economic history. Emphasis is placed on the uses of economic theory, and on the insights (if any) a knowledge of history can give to the practicing economist.
Requirements are: (i) doing the reading, (ii) attending the class, (iii) talking in class, and (iv) writing the papers. When the course goes well, it is primarily discussion; when the course goes badly, it is primarily lecture. Because discussion will focus on the issues raised, resolved, and left unanswered by the assigned readings, readings should be completed before class.
Grades will be based 40 percent on one to two-page memos due before each class meeting, 20 percent on class participation, and 40 percent on the research paper. Two- page memos cannot be exhaustive, nor can they provide definitive answers. But they can explain why the question asked is important, summarize how at least some of the articles assigned for the upcoming class approach it, and provide a provisional assessment of conclusions.
Your research paper is due on Wednesday, May 12th (that is, exactly one week after the last class meeting). The paper should provide new information or evidence on a topic in economic history. It should not simply summarize an existing literature. The writing and submission process requires that you meet two benchmarks. You should discuss your paper topic during office hours during the first half of the semester, and then submit a brief paper prospectus prior to the commencement of spring break. Your prospectus should motivate the topic (explain why it is important), state your hypothesis (or question), and describe the historical materials that you will use to analyze it. The grade you receive on your paper will depend also on the quality of the prospectus and on your meeting these two benchmarks.
This paper should go beyond summarizing or synthesizing a literature: students should use the tools of economic theory and empirical analysis to pose and answer an historical question. The paper must have historical substance. The paper may cover almost any topic in economic history. You are not limited to the material covered in 210a. The only requirement is that the topic must genuinely involve the past. Comparisons of past and current events are certainly fine, but studies of developments solely after 1973 are not. Aim at a length of 5 to 10 pages or so for the prospectus, and more for the final paper. A final paper less than 15 pages tends to make your instructor suspicious, while a final paper more than 25 pages tends to make your instructor cranky.
Coming up with a promising paper topic is part of this exercise. Your entire graduate career (indeed, for most of you, your entire career) will center around identifying interesting questions to be answered. Successful papers in the past have generally come out of a comment on or an extension of an interesting paper assigned in this course (or one not assigned in this course); a comparison of some past episode with present; the finding of an interesting dataset; a new test of an old debate; or some historical natural experiment.
Readings are available on the web. Access to readings available through Jstor and other proprietary sources may require you to log on through a university-recognized computer and/or enter your Calnet ID.
The first class of the course will be a very big-picture overview: How are economies different across time and space? How are they organized? Can all economies be fruitfully analyzed with the tools that we use to analyze modern market economies? Or must economies elsewhere and elsewhen from the modern North Atlantic (which somehow includes Hawaii, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand) be analyzed with different tools because they follow different laws of motion and behavior? This first week will lead us into the first part of the course which will cover the long era between 8000 BC and 1800 or so during which people were very poor, populations were very slowly-growing, the pace of technological and organizational innovation was very very low by our standards, and life was typically nasty and brutish and short.
I. Pre-Industrial Economies
The second part of the course will cover modern industrial economies: from the British Industrial Revolution up to the present day, focusing mostly on the North Atlantic but with side glances elsewhere in the world.
II. The Industrial Economic World
The third part of the course will take a historical look at the current financial crisis, and also at how economists have thought about financial crises for the past roughly two hundred years since the start of the industrial business cycle.
The first week of three will examine financial crises, their impact on the real economy, and economists' thoughts about financial crises and the industrial business cycle over the century between 1825 and 1914. It will thus trace both the birth of the industrial business cycle and also the birth and development of economists' thought about the industrial business cycle--that is, the birth of macroeconomics as we have known it.
The second week of three will consider the period from 1914 up through 1970 or so that spans World War I, post-WWI inflations, the Great Depression, WWII, and then the boom and inflation of the post-WWII period that catalyzed the development of the useful macroeconomics that we can use today to understand the current financial crisis, and what economic policies governments should try to cure it. The last of the three weeks on financial crises will start by looking at the history of macroeconomic thought from 1970 to 2008--a history that I think all have to admit is a somewhat sorry history, as it has left us with a discipline that is, as Narayana Kocherlakota says, of little use in helping us to understand either the cause or the development or the cure of our current macroeconomic distress. The bulk of this third class, however, will cover the cause, development, and potential cures for our current financial crisis and macroeconomic distress. I will thus break a treaty between macroeconomic theorists on the one hand and economic historians on the other by which we economic historians are supposed to keep our noses on the far side of 2000.
III. Macroeconomics in Historical Perspective
The last class of the semester will be a separate part for the course, a reflection and a kind of preachy summing-up.
Who I Am:
Spring 2010: Th9-10, 11-1, Qualcomm Cafe, Sutarja Dai Hall, or by appointment. Sign up for times at We Join in: http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 20: How Did We Get Here? http://delong.typepad.com/economics_210a_spring_201/2010/01/first-class-resources.html
J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics at U.C Berkeley, a Research Associate of the NBER, a Visiting Scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Chair of Berkeley's Political Economy major.
Among his best works are: "Is Increased Price Flexibility Stabilizing?" "Productivity Growth, Convergence, and Welfare," "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," "Equipment Investment and Economic Growth," "Princes and Merchants: European City Growth Before the Industrial Revolution," "Why Does the Stock Market Fluctuate?" "Keynesianism, Pennsylvania-Avenue Style," "America's Peacetime Inflation: The 1970s," "American Fiscal Policy in the Shadow of the Great Depression," "Review of Robert Skidelsky (2000), John Maynard Keynes, volume 3, Fighting for Britain," "Between Meltdown and Moral Hazard: Clinton Administration International Monetary and Financial Policy," "Productivity Growth in the 2000s," "Asset Returns and Economic Growth."
The Eighteen-Year-Old is going to college next year, which means that I need to think about making more money. (The idea that one might write checks to rather than receive checks from universities is now strange to me.) So I have signed up with the Leigh Speakers' Bureau which also handles, among many others: Chris Anderson; Suzanne Berger; Michael Boskin; Kenneth Courtis; Clive Crook; Bill Emmott; Robert H. Frank; William Goetzmann; Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin; Paul Krugman; Bill McKibben; Paul Romer; Jeffrey Sachs; Robert Shiller;James Surowiecki; Martin Wolf; Adrian Wooldridge.