Once again, not somebody who I see as underrated in the world at large. But the community in which he is well-known seems, once again, to have less overlap with it should with the community that reads here...
Once again, not somebody who I see as underrated in the world at large. But the community in which he is well-known seems, once again, to have less overlap with it should with the community that reads here...
Must-Read: I don't know if I dare show this to Joachim Voth, lest he be thereby driven into shrill unholy madness, and have to abandon his cushy chair at Zürich for one at Miskatonic University in haunted Arkham, MA...
There were a great many people who firmly believed and there was a very widespread sentiment that it was very important to keep the profit motive out of or to limit its influence over the grain trade. See, for example:
And, of course:
The view that when the stakes become high--matters of life and death--then market solutions can no longer be justified by the claim that they maximize a weighted sum of individual utilities, because the weight they then place on some people's utilities is zero. That's a very powerful argument. People should not pretend it doesn't exist:
Megan McArdle: Health Care Is a Business, Not a Right:
People need a lot of things. You’ll die without food long before you’ll die without health care, and yet few people say we need to “take the profit motive out of farming”. There are some, to be sure, but this was never a widespread sentiment even when food was a lot scarcer and more expensive). Why is health care special?...
Must-Read: Patrick Wallis et al.: Puncturing the Malthus Delusion: Structural change in the British economy before the industrial revolution, 1500-1800:
Accounts of structural change in the pre-modern British economy vary substantially...
No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate: A Brief History of (In)equality: Here we have a very nice set of slides http://tinyurl.com/dl20160725a. It comes from a talk in Lisbon given by Barry Eichengreen, my sixth-floor office neighbor here at the Berkeley Economics Department. The slides have one of the great virtues of economic history: We, unlike other economists, are allowed to at least gesture at and even glory at the complexities of a situation. We are not forced, as other economists are, into ruthless oversimplification in pursuit of conceptual clarity—to be followed by the intellectually-faulty imperialism overloading more of an explanation of the world on a simple model then it can rightfully bear. Read MOAR at Project Syndicate
Must-Read: Ruixue Jia (2014): The Legacies of Forced Freedom: China's Treaty Ports:
This paper investigates the long-run development of China's treaty ports from the mid-eighteenth century until today. Focusing on a sample of prefectures on the coast or on the Yangtze River, I document the dynamic development paths of treaty ports and their neighbors in alternate phases of closedness and openness. I also provide suggestive evidence on migration and sector-wise growth to understand the advantage of treaty ports in the long run.
Live from Trumpland: Who is attracted to voting for Trump? And why am I not--even as more than half of my income class is going to pull the lever for Trump this fall? Is it my urbanity? My education level? My unwillingness to fall for one of the most obvious grifts on the planet? The fact that I took too many American Studies courses as a child and so identify not as "white" but as "Yankee"--a descendant predominantly of East Anglian and Severn Valley Puritans, the position of whose culture and values in America today is not a result of relative numbers?
Josh Marshall wrestles with this hard problem, and comes up with a Polanyiesque interpretation: the disappointment by the market economic system of what had been thought as reasonable expectations leads to a politics of revenge--but not just of revenge against the Masters of the Universe, revenge against those who are somehow getting above themselves and getting free stuff:
Josh Marshall: Trumpism is a Politics of Loss and Revenge:
Trump support is highly correlated with areas experiencing rising mortality rates for whites--a massively important societal development, in addition to a tragedy....
Pseudoerasmus: Greece from Postwar Orthodoxy to “Democratic Peronism”:
In a paper which passes for a reasonable parody of the Washington Consensus fad of the 1990s...
August 18, 2016 at 01:30 PM in Economics: Finance, Economics: History, Economics: Macro, History, Moral Responsibility, Obama Administration, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science: Cognitive, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (4)
Must-Read: I am really glad that Fred and company have done this--helps explain why Big Defense is the only part of Big Government that America's southern and western conservatives will admit to liking...
Abstract: The "big push" theory claims that publicly coordinated investment can break the cycle of poverty...
Caroline Duroselle-Melish: Extravagantly Large Paper:
What should someone coming of age in 2020 or so--someone post-millennial, who has no memories of all of any part of the twentieth century--learn about communism, and really existing socialism?
It is, I think, very clear by now to everyone except the most demented of the herbal teabaggers--and it should be clear to all--that communism was not one of the brightest lights on humanity's tree of ideas. Nobody convinced by the writings of Marx and his peers that a "communist" society was in some sense an ideal who then achieved enough political power to try to make that vision a reality has built a society that turned out well. All, measured by the yardsticks of their time and geographical situation, were either moderately bad, worse, disastrous, or candidates for the worst-régime-every prize. None attained the status of:
a prayse and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “the Lord make it like that of New England.” For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill...
Just because people begin their papers with quotes from Ludwig von Mises does not automatically mean that they are wrong:
The hideously depressing thing is that Cuba under Battista--Cuba in 1957--was a developed country.
Question: If President Obama invited you into the Oval Office, told you that he recognized that the economic policies he has pursued to date haven't had the desired outcome, and gave you five minutes to tell him what in your opinion he should do now (setting aside whether Congress would go along)?
August 15, 2016 at 07:58 AM in Economics: History, Economics: Macro, History, Long Form, Obama Administration, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (2)
Brad DeLong (2013): Correct Predictions and the Status of Economists:
Paul Krugman is certainly right that history has judged... for James Tobin over Milton Friedman. There is not even a smudge left where Friedman's approach to a monetary theory of nominal income determination once stood....
Nimbyism in America: A Back-of-the-Envelope Finger-Exercise Calculation
Eve Fisher: The $3500 Shirt - A History Lesson in Economics:
One of the great advantages of being a historian is that you don't get your knickers in as much of a twist over how bad things are today. If you think this year is bad, try 1347, when the Black Death covered most of Europe, one-third of the world had died, and (to add insult to injury) there was also (in Europe) the little matter of the Hundred Years' War and the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (where the pope had moved to Avignon, France, and basically the Church was being transformed into a subsidiary of the French regime). Things are looking up already, aren't they?
Must-Read: Nikola Koepka and Joerg Baten (2005): "The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia":
Nikola Koepka and Joerg Baten (2005): "The biological standard of living in Europe during the last two millennia", European Review of Economic History 9:1 (April), pp. 61-95
Anoup: Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 130:
To Apion my kind lord, lover of Christ and the poor, all-esteemed and most magnificent patrician and dux of the Thebaid...
...from Anoup, your miserable slave upon your estate called Phakra.
Well, the stars have aligned. I will be teaching nothing but economic history next year: Survey (graduate students), 20th Century (undergraduates), American (undergraduates), and European (graduate students). This provides, I think, an opportunity for a complete rethink of the curriculum: what to teach them and how to teach it...
Searching for inspiration, random googling for things I have not read before leads me to the economic history reading list of the smart-and-mysterious Pseudoerasmus, who thinks like a very sharp Jeffrey Williamson student and who claims to dwell in￼ Chokurdakh in the Sakha Republic, population 2,367:
Yes, that Chokurdakh. You have heard of it:
So let me run through his reading list and pick up things he lists--and things that his listings make me think of--that I think have a very high value/length ratio:
What Was Herbert Hoover's Fiscal Policy?: In his Budget Message setting out his plans for taxes and spending for fiscal year 1932, Herbert Hoover begged Congress not to embark on any 'new or large ventures of government'. He admonished congress that even though 'the plea of unemployment will be advanced as reasons for many new ventures... no reasonable view of the outlook warrants such pleas'. And he boasted that he was proposing a balanced budget--even though revenues were mightily depressed by the Great Depression:
August 03, 2016 at 04:57 AM in Economics: Finance, Economics: History, Economics: Macro, History, Moral Responsibility, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (4)
Brad DeLong and David Beckworth: Macro Musings Podcast:
And the transcript, very kindly paid for by David, which I have not checked for correctness, consistency, or non-stupidity:
Hoisted from the Archives from Six Years Ago: Dean Acheson, FDR's Wishes, and the Origins of U.S. Engagement in World War II: I am always intrigued by Dean Acheson's account in Present at the Creation of how the U.S. escalated the Pacific crisis in 1941 by embargoing the export of oil from the U.S. (and Indonesia) to Japan. Roosevelt, it appears, had decided against embargoing oil exports as too provocative. Roosevelt, however, was willing to freeze Japanese assets--so that Japanese assets could be used only for purposes of which the U.S. approved.
Dean Acheson as Assistant Secretary of State responsible for implementing this policy decided that Japan should buy its oil not with frozen funds but with either (a) funds from Latin America not covered by the freeze, or (b) funds in the U.S. that had evaded the freeze. The Japanese government refused to admit the existence of any such funds. So no oil.
J. Bradford DeLong (2000): America's Historical Experience with Low Inflation, Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 32:4, Part 2: (November), pp. 979-993 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2601154
Abstract: The inflation of the 1970's was a marked deviation from America's typical peacetime historical pattern as a hard-money country. We should expect America to continue to be a hard-money--low inflation--country in the future, at least in peacetime.
July 31, 2016 at 04:02 PM in Economics: Finance, Economics: History, Economics: Macro, Long Form, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thinking About "Premature Deindustrialization": An Intellectual Toolkit I
OK. Popping the distraction stack again. The very sharp Matthew Yglesias writes about:
Matthew Yglesias: Premature Deindustrialization: The New Threat to Global Economic Development:
In the popular imagination, the old industrial landscape has moved abroad to Mexico or to China, perhaps due to bad trade policies or simply the vicissitudes of changing circumstance... [and] the migration of factory work to much poorer countries has been a boon to those countries' economic development.... [But] 'premature deindustrialization,' in which countries start to lose their manufacturing jobs without getting rich first....
Must-Read: John Maynard Keynes (1936): The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes:
Whilst, therefore, the enlargement of the functions of government, involved in the task of adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest, would seem to a nineteenth-century publicist or to a contemporary American financier to be a terrific encroachment on individualism, I defend it, on the contrary, both as the only practicable means of avoiding the destruction of existing economic forms in their entirety and as the condition of the successful functioning of individual initiative.
W. Arthur Lewis (1977): The Evolution of the International Economic Order
We must therefore turn to economic explanations. The most important... is the dependence of an industrial revolution on a prior or simultaneous agricultural revolution... already familiar to eighteenth-century economists, including Sir James Steuart and Adam Smith. In a closed economy, the size of the industrial sector is a function of agricultural productivity. Agriculture has to be capable of producing the surplus food and raw materials consumed in the industrial sector, and it is the affluent state of the farmers that enables them to be a market for industrial products.
Riffing off of yesterday's: : "'Gunpowder Empire': Should We Generalize Mark Elvin's High-Level Equilibrium Trap?"...
A generation ago Michael Kremer wrote a superb paper: Michael Kremer (1993): "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990", Quarterly Journal of Economics 108:3 (August), pp. 681-716 http://tinyurl.com/dl20160727a.
Kremer saw human populations as growing at an increasing rate over time. Population reached approximately 4 million by 10000 BC, 50 million by 1000 BC, and 170 million by the year 1. Population then reached 265 million by the year 1000, 425 million by 1500, and 720 million by 1750 before the subsequent explosion of the British Industrial Revolution and the subsequent spread of Modern Economic Growth.
OK. Popping the distraction stack again. A chance remark by the extremely sharp Cosma Shalizi when he came through Berkeley has caused me to spend a lot of time meditating upon a passage written by Bob Allen:
Robert Allen (2006): The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective:
The different trajectories of the wage-rental ratio created different incentives to mechanize production.... It was not Newtonian science that inclined British inventors and entrepreneurs to seek machines that raised labour productivity but the rising cost of labour... due to... Britain’s success in the global economy... in part the result of state policy... Britain['s] vast and readily worked coal deposits....
What field in the Levant could possibly require a plough pulled by 24 oxen? What is going on here?
1 Kings: 19:15-21:
And the Lord said unto [Elijah]: "Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
Tuesday Morning Distraction: Well, I was supposed to be sitting three tables down from Aaron Edlin at the Claremont Peets this morning doing research. But I got myself distracted--convinced myself that I ought to right something about the sharp Matthew Yglesias's (and why, Harvard Economics Department, was he not an economics major?) piece on premature deindustrialization. And then I got myself redistracted...
Let's start with one of the standard graphs: the American share of (nonfarm) employment that is in manufacturing:
Over at Project Syndicate: Which Thinkers Will Define Our Future?: BERKELEY – Several years ago, it occurred to me that social scientists today are all standing on the shoulders of giants like Niccolo Machiavelli, John Locke, Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, Max Weber, and Émile Durkheim.
One thing they all have in common is that their primary focus was on the social, political, and economic makeup of the Western European world between 1450 and 1900. Which is to say, they provide an intellectual toolkit for looking at, say, the Western world of 1840, but not necessarily the Western world of 2016. What will be taught in the social theory courses of, say, 2070? What canon – written today or still forthcoming – will those who end their careers in the 2070s wish that they had used when they started them in the late 2010s? Read MOAR at Project Syndicate
Live from Cyberspace: Welcome praise for J. Bradford DeLong (2015): The Scary Debate Over Secular Stagnation - Milken Institute Review: Hiccup ... or Endgame? Let me put a copy of the whole thing below the fold...
July 23, 2016 at 05:24 PM in Economics: Finance, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, Economics: Macro, Long Form, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (1)
Jake Nabel: Parthian Sources Online: The Vineyard of Copanis:
1 During the reign of the king of kings Arsaces, the Benefactor, the Just, the Mani-
2 fest, and the Lover of Greeks, and of the queens Siake, his agnate
3 sister and wife, and Aryazate who is surnamed
4 Automa, daughter of the great king Tigranes and his [i.e. Arsaces’] wife,
5 and of Azate, his agnate sister and wife, in the year 225,
Douglas Fraser: 1978 Letter from UAW President Douglas Fraser Resigning from the Labor-Management Group: "July 17, 1978: I have come to the reluctant conclusion that my participation in the Labor- Management Group cannot continue...
...I am therefore resigning from the Group as of July 19. You are entitled to know why I take this action and you should understand that I have the highest regard for John Dunlop, my colleagues on the labor side and, as individuals, those who represent the corporate elite in the Group.
As always, when the extremely sharp Dani Rodrick stuffs a book-length argument into an 800-word op-ed column, phrases acti as gestures toward what are properly chapter-long arguments. So there is lots to talk about.
Must-Read: Dani Rodrik: The Abdication of the Left: "This backlash was predictable...
...Hyper-globalization in trade and finance, intended to create seamlessly integrated world markets, tore domestic societies apart. The bigger surprise is the decidedly right-wing tilt the political reaction has taken. In Europe, it is predominantly nationalists and nativist populists that have risen to prominence, with the left advancing only in a few places such as Greece and Spain.... As an emerging new establishment consensus grudgingly concedes, globalization accentuates class divisions between those who have the skills and resources to take advantage of global markets and those who don’t. Income and class cleavages, in contrast to identity cleavages based on race, ethnicity, or religion, have traditionally strengthened the political left. So why has the left been unable to mount a significant political challenge to globalization?
I think that this paragraph above is largely wrong.
July 11, 2016 at 02:20 PM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, Economics: Macro, History, Long Form, Moral Responsibility, Obama Administration, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (2)
Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz: The Race Between Education and Technology http://amzn.to/29Yv3XC
Richard von Glahn: The Economic History of China: From Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century http://amzn.to/29jBkwt
Well, the stars have aligned, and those intelligences vast, cool, and unsympathetic...
No: That is not what I mean.
Well, the stars have aligned, and I will be teaching nothing but economic history next year:
Ian Morris: Why the West Rules--for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future http://amzn.to/29AVKTj
Live from the Foothills of Mont Pelerin: Storify: Why the Loss of Direction in 1980?: The End of the Social Democratic Era and of the Thirty Glorious Years in Retrospect: Dani Rodrik and Friends...
Gavin Wright: *Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South http://amzn.to/29pmIQV
Barry Eichengreen: Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses-and Misuses-of History http://amzn.to/29pp429
Robert Gordon: The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War http://amzn.to/29q7WX9
Robert Allen: From Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrialization Experience http://amzn.to/29lo36h
**Stanley Engerman and Kenneth Sokoloff: Economic Development in the Americas since 1500: Endowments and Institutions http://amzn.to/29pRxlx
Robert C. Allen: The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective http://amzn.to/29kOUhz
**Peter Temin and Joachim Voth: Prometheus Shackled: Goldsmith Banks and England’s Financial Revolution after 1700 http://amzn.to/29kqXMc
Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson: Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700 http://amzn.to/29xpaVm
Philip Hoffman: Why Did Europe Conquer the World? http://amzn.to/29qmfd7
From the best review of the book:
Dietz Vollrath (2015) Dumb Luck in Historical Development:
Philip Hoffman’s Why Did Europe Conquer the World? [is]... on its face, is another entry in a long line of... Western European... dominance... due to a rather specific characteristic: disease tolerance, or cows, or a knobbly coastline.... But Hoffman’s work is different... a model of learning-by-doing in gunpowder technology... only... if you actually fight.... Europe['s]... lead was not due to some unique European characteristic, but rather was luck of the draw.... Hoffman... saw a correlation between European states and higher firepower, but... was willing to accept that this correlation--while meaningful in giving Europe an advantage--did not necessarily imply some kind of deep structural advantage for Europe...
Six Orienting Questions for the Book as a Whole:
"I now know it is a rising, not a setting, sun" --Benjamin Franklin, 1787