Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: AP: No House vote on GOP health care bill today: "Canceling Thursday’s vote would amount to a significant political setback for Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan...
Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: AP: No House vote on GOP health care bill today: "Canceling Thursday’s vote would amount to a significant political setback for Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan...
What Does President Donald Trump Mean for the US Economy?: As the moment Trump took office, it seemed as though Trump could have become any one of three figures.
We really did not know which.
We had very little real indication of what policies Trump will follow, or what kind of president he would be. The US press corps had done an extraordinarily poor job in making the issues at stake in this election clear and transparent—not just to the mass audiences, but even to the most sophisticated of audiences, those that are very interested in asset prices and how they're affected by government policies.
Those three were:
Q: Prominent economists and politicians often say that free trade will benefit America in the long run. Many Americans disagree strongly. What is your take on this situation?
A: Well, typically and roughly, the average import we buy from other countries we get for 30% off--we use foreign currency that costs us $1.40 to purchase goods and services made abroad that would cost us $2.00 worth of time, energy, resources and cash to make at home.
But there's more.
Must-Read: Bob Christie: 380,000 Arizonans May Lose Medicaid: "The report looks at the patients who gained coverage under a Medicaid expansion pushed through in 2013 by former Gov. Jan Brewer...
2014: On Nicholas Lemann's Partial Recantation of His "Neoliberalism": On the career of the Washington Monthly: Nicholas Lemann: A bygone age…:
Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Erik Loomis: Dumbasses of America: "The genre of 'let’s talk to idiotic white voters who support Trump even though he will decimate their lives' is already more stale than bread baked on November 8...
...However, it does lead to the occasional special anecdote that truly sums up the stupidity of many white people:
(2007): Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed": Hoisted from the Archives: "I did not even loathe Nickel and Dimed because of the strong pains Barbara Ehrenreich took in her prose to demonstrate that she was not one of "them"...
Back in 1981, Lee Atwater said:
Now you don't quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying 'n_gger, n_gger, n_gger'. By 1968... that hurts you.... You... get... abstract... talk... about... cutting taxes and all these things... totally economic things, and the byproduct often is Blacks get hurt worse than whites.... If it is getting that abstract and that coded, that we're doing away with the racial problem one way or the other...
March 17, 2017 at 05:18 PM in Economics: History, History, Long Form, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Twentieth Century Economic History | Permalink | Comments (3)
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Lyndon Johnson (October 9, 1964): [: Speech at the Jung Hotel, New Orleans]: "Mr. Chairman; Governor McKeithen; your great senior Senator Allen Ellender, my old friend; your fine mayor, Mayor Schiro...
...Mrs. Long; my longtime and my valued friend and colleague, one of the most promising young men in this Nation, Russell Long; Congressman Willis, Congressman Morrison, Congressman Thompson, Congressman Gillis Long--all of whom serve this Nation and this State with great distinction and with credit to Louisiana and the Congress; Mr. Marshall Brown; Mr. Donelon--all my friends in Louisiana:
: As Cosma Shalizi (2010) Says, "The Singularity Is in Our Past": Look at the bleeding edge of urban North Atlantic or East Asian civilization, and you see a world fundamentally unlike any human past. Hunting, gathering, farming, herding, spinning and weaving, cleaning, digging, smelting metal and shaping wood, assembling structures--all of the ‘in the sweate of thy face shalt thou eate bread’ things that typical humans have typically done since we became jumped-up monkeys on the East African veldt--are now the occupations of a small and dwindling proportion of humans.
Cosma Shalizi (2010): The Singularity in Our Past Light-Cone (November 28) http://bactra.org/weblog/699.html
March 15, 2017 at 02:54 PM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, History, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science: Cognitive, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (4)
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Michael Maggidson (2000_: 1896: John Peter Altgeld: "John Peter Altgeld was born in the German village of Nieder Selters on December 30, 1847...
When he was about three months old, his parents brought him to the United States, settling in Ohio. After a brief stint in the Union Army during the Civil War, Altgeld read the law and was admitted to the bar in 1872. He served as city attorney of Savannah, Missouri and in 1874, was elected county prosecutor. He resigned this post after a year and moved to Chicago, where he established himself as a lawyer. He was married three years later. He soon began investing in real estate and made a small fortune.
There seemed, back in November, two ways the Trump infrastructure fiscal expansion could have gone.
The first was driven by the facts that Trump seemed to have ambitions that were "Pharoahnic", and that Trump had been a real estate developer.
Joseph Ford Cotto: Prominent economists and politicians often say that free trade will benefit America in the long run. Many Americans disagree strongly. What is your take on this situation?
Dr. J. Bradford DeLong: Well, typically and roughly, the average import we buy from other countries we get for 30% off--we use foreign currency that costs us $1.40 to purchase goods and services made abroad that would cost us $2.00 worth of time, energy, resources and cash to make at home.
March 15, 2017 at 01:37 PM in Berkeley, Economics: Growth, Economics: Inequality, Economics: Macro, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (1)
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Should-Read: Paul Demko: White House analysis of Obamacare repeal sees even deeper insurance losses than CBO: "A White House analysis of the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare shows even steeper coverage losses than the projections by the Congressional Budget Office...
Must-Read: Mark Thoma et al.: The Republican American Health Care Act
Mark Thoma: Why the Republican Health Care Plan Is Destined to Fail: "Healthcare often involves large, unexpected expenses...
Weekend Reading: Abraham Lincoln (1854): [Kansas-Nebraska]: "The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the propriety of its restoration, constitute the subject of what I am about to say.
...As I desire to present my own connected view of this subject, my remarks will not be, specifically, an answer to Judge Douglas; yet, as I proceed, the main points he has presented will arise, and will receive such respectful attention as I may be able to give them. I wish further to say, that I do not propose to question the patriotism, or to assail the motives of any man, or class of men; but rather to strictly confine myself to the naked merits of the question.
Reading: This paper seems to me to bury the lead--which is that it is the interaction of past slave-raiding and present decolonization that seems to be associated with very low present-day economic productivity. What are the mechanisms that could generate such an association?
Margherita Bottero and Björn Wallace: Is There a Long-Term Effect of Africa's Slave Trades?: "Nunn (2008) found a negative relationship between past slave exports and economic performance within Africa...
Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Is there a way to understand this other than as an implicit total admission of defeat and failure by Brownback on his part? Ambassador to FAO is not a job usually taken by U.S. senators and governors...
Kevin Drum: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Appears Desperate to Get Out of Dodge: "'Brownback is in talks with President Donald Trump’s administration about... an ambassadorship...
Project Syndicate: Trade Deals and Alternative Facts: BERKELEY – In a long recent Vox essay outlining my thinking about US President Donald Trump’s emerging trade policy, I pointed out that a “bad” trade deal such as the North American Free Trade Agreement is responsible for only a vanishingly small fraction of lost US manufacturing jobs over the past 30 years. Just 0.1 percentage points of the 21.4 percentage-point decline in the employment share of manufacturing during this period is attributable to NAFTA, enacted in December 1993.
A half-century ago, the US economy supplied an abundance of manufacturing jobs to a workforce that was well equipped to fill them. Those opportunities have dried up. This is a significant problem: a BIGLY problem. But anyone who claims that the collapse of US manufacturing employment resulted from “bad” trade deals like NAFTA is playing the fool. A BIGLY fool. Read MOAR at Project Syndicate
Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes (1938): John Maynard Keynes’s Private Letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt of February 1, 1938:
To Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1 February 1938
Private and personal
Dear Mr. President,
You received me kindly when I visited you some three years ago that I make bold to send you some bird’s eye impressions which I have formed as to the business position in the United States. You will appreciate that I write from a distance, that I have not revisited the United States since you saw me, and that I have access to few more sources of information than those publicly available. But sometimes in some respects there may be advantages in these limitations! At any rate, those things which I think I see, I see very clearly.
Weekend Reading: Rosa Luxemburg (1918): [: The Russian Revolution: The Problem of Dictatorship]:
Lenin says [in The State and Revolution: The Transition from Capitalism to Communism] the bourgeois state is an instrument of oppression of the working class; the socialist state, of the bourgeoisie. To a certain extent, he says, it is only the capitalist state stood on its head. This simplified view misses the most essential thing: bourgeois class rule has no need of the political training and education of the entire mass of the people, at least not beyond certain narrow limits. But for the proletarian dictatorship that is the life element, the very air without which it is not able to exist.
Daniel Davies (2012): New Ideas From Dead Political Systems:
Back in the days before I had realised that a guy who takes five years to deliver a simple book review probably ought to rein in the ambition a bit when it comes to larger-scale projects, I occasionally pitched an idea to publishers of management books. It was going to be called “Great Ideas From Failed Companies”, the idea being that when you have the perspective of the entire history of a corporate story, you’re probably going to get a more honest appraisal of its strengths and weaknesses, and that although companies like Enron, Northern Rock and Atari clearly had major problems, they quite likely also had some good points too, or how did they ever get so big in the first place?
Weekend Reading: Cosma Shalizi (2012): In Soviet Union, Optimization Problem Solves You: "Attention conservation notice: Over 7800 words about optimal planning for a socialist economy and its intersection with computational complexity theory. This is about as relevant to the world around us as debating whether a devotee of the Olympian gods should approve of transgenic organisms. (Or: centaurs, yes or no?) Contains mathematical symbols (uglified and rendered slightly inexact by HTML) but no actual math, and uses Red Plenty mostly as a launching point for a tangent.
The IMF's Finance and Development has paired me on "secular stagnation" with John Taylor.
When they told me that I would be paired with John Taylor, I protested: As I see it, sometime in the early 2000s John Taylor ceased being an economist and became a politician. Hence, I thought, he was likely to have very little of value to say to professional economists--to those of us who are trying to use the tools of economics to understand the world.
And I see that I was right: I do not think Taylor's piece has any value at all to professional economists.
Let me take especial note of five passages in Taylor's piece: passages that, in my view, a professional economist simply could not write:
Ian Morris (2015): Foragers, Farmers and Fossil Fuels: How Human Values Evolve <http://amzn.to/2lZUel9>
Five Orienting Questions:
Should-Read: Jonathan Chait: Trump’s Health-Care Nightmare Is Only Just Beginning: "Republican members of Congress do not agree with each other on the parameters of a replacement...
Willie Stark learns that his backers are not good-government types who want the best for the state, but rather from the Harrison machine and want him in the race as a spoiler candidate:
Robert Penn Warren (1946): All the King's Men: "Then Willie [Stark] stood all alone by the table...
...saying, “My friends,” and turning his alabaster face precariously from one side to the other, and fumbling in the right side pocket of his coat to fish out the speech. While he was fumbling with the sheets, and looking down at them with a slightly bemused expression as though the stuff before him were in a foreign language, somebody tugged at my sleeve.
My Great^6 Grandfather James DeLong left his bones in Wichita. But he did so only after carrying out the first-ever extraordinary rendition on the past of the U.S. government, and then getting fired by Abraham Lincoln for being too aggressive in waging the Civil War on all possible fronts...
It's disturbing. As we face the probable abrogation of NAFTA, possible trade wars with China, Germany, and others, and the total cluster** that is the Trump administration's policies (if any) toward NATO and Russia, a number of really smart and really well-intentioned people are, I think, making rhetorical--and in some cases substantive--errors that are degrading the quality of the debate and increasing the chances of bad outcomes. And they are doing it while trying to be forces for good, light, human betterment, truth, justice, and the American way...
So let me do some boundary policing here.
We need to remember who the deniers and the skeptics have been over the past 30 years: bad judgments and corrupt arguments need to be remembered.
First of all: I'm looking at you, Steve Dubner and Steve Levitt...
Live from the Mass Media: Bloomberg: DeLong Says Trump’s Tax Cuts Will Raise Demand for U.S. Dollars: "Berkeley professor Brad DeLong says Donald Trump’s big tax cuts will raise demand for U.S. dollars worldwide..."
Must-Read: The right moment for Republicans interested in health policy to intervene in the politics was back in 2010, when the "repeal and replace" meme was first decided on. They should have said: "Hell, no!--You really do not want to say that."
My suspicion is that they thought the battle was not worth fighting because the dog would never catch the car. The least they could do is apologize to the rest of us now...
David Anderson: Governing Is Hard: "The Republican Party has an ACA problem. The ACA is deficit reducing...
Why can't "fiscal conservatives" ever man up and take responsibility for their actions and their lives?
When you try to starve the government, sometimes you succeed--and then things that need to be done don't get done. Shame on the LA Time for publishing this.
Outsourced to Kevin Drum:
Kevin Drum: Blame Oroville on "Fiscal Conservatives": "Victor Davis Hanson is a native Californian who hates California because it's become too brown and too liberal...
Monday Smackdown: This may be the stupidest thing I have read this year! Shame on the FT for publishing it!
I get 4480 results on google for "Garland Tucker". I get no results before this morning for "'Garland Tucker' +Calhoun". The fact that Yale's Calhoun College has been named for John C. Calhoun all of Garland Tucker's life has never led him to say anything about how bad a person John C. Calhoun was. Garland Tucker has had his chance all his life before now to use the honor Yale has done Calhoun to, as he quotes Cicero, "not be a child". He whiffed it.
For, you see, Tucker doesn't think Calhoun is bad: his position as the most powerful pro-slavery politician and leading intellectual advocate for the expansion of slavery in the first half of the nineteenth century is, in Garland Tucker's eyes, vastly less important than Calhoun's being a "free trader and" and opponent of "expanding federal government... bloated bureaucracy, patronage abuses... and ever-higher tariffs..."
But John C. Calhoun's role in history is not "complex"--it is evil, starting at the top of the evil tree and hitting every branch all the way down:
Garland Tucker: Expunging slave-owners’ names erases our complex history: "Calhoun will no longer be Calhoun.... Yale... after eight decades it will rename one of its residential colleges...
Lisa Blades and Eric Chaney (2013): The Feudal Revolution and Europe’s Rise: Political Divergence of the Christian West and the Muslim World before 1500 CE <http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/chaney/files/feudalrevolutionfinal.pdf>: "We document a divergence in the duration of rule for monarchs...
...in Western Europe and the Islamic world beginning in the medieval period. While leadership tenures in the two regions were similar in the 8th century, Christian kings became increasingly long lived compared to Muslim sultans.
Robert Brenner (1979): Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe, Past & Present 70 (Feb.), pp. 30-75 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/650345>
Suresh Naidu and Noam Yuchtman (2013): Coercive Contract Enforcement: Law and the Labor Market in Nineteenth Century Industrial Britain, American Economic Review 103 (February): 107–144 <https://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.103.1.107>
Degrees of "Freedom"
Should-Read: Joachim Voth and I both focused on how Tsarist industrialization was hindered by monopoly power in manufacturing, and on the absence of a special bonus for the Stalinist construction of a heavy industrial sector in Magnitogorsk and elsewhere very far in the interior. The destruction of monopoly power via planning--along with the destruction of the peasant-collective barriers to mobility--was a big plus that largely offset the inefficiencies of central planning. The creation of a heavy industrial complex in Magnitogorsk was a priceless asset for the world come World War II.
Anton Cheremukhin et al. (2013): Was Stalin Necessary for Russia’s Economic Development?: "We construct a large dataset that covers Soviet Russia during 1928-1940 and Tsarist Russia during 1885-1913...
Robert C. Allen (2003): Farm to Factory: A Reinterpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 0691144311) <http://amzn.to/2kpLZd2>
The Big Question:
Was the Soviet Union an Asian economy, (like) a Latin American economy, a (central or western) European economy, or a settler-frontier economy?
If it was an Asian economy, than it did well on economic growth--even though horribly (save in comparison to Maoist China, the Khmer Rouge, and the Korean Hereditary Dictatorship of the God-Kings Kim) in terms of societal well being.
If it was a Latin American economy, it did OK in terms of economic growth--Allen says "good", but I think he overstates his case: "OK".
If it was a (central or western) European economy, it did very badly--badly enough to prompt its bloodless overthrow.
If it was a settler-frontier economy, its badness attains world-historical levels.
I reject Allen's conclusions, largely because of the regression-discontinuity study I did in the middle of the 1990s:
The discontinuity between the countries on the left and the countries on the right is simply where Stalin's (or Mao's, or Giap's) armies stopped. The communist countries were, as of the moment that the Iron Curtain collapsed, missing 88% of their prosperity as measured by what seems and seemed to be the most natural yardstick.
February 13, 2017 at 02:46 PM in Berkeley, Books, Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth | Permalink | Comments (5)
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Robert Solow (1974): The Economics of Resources or the Resources of Economics: The American Economic Review, Vol. 64, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Eighty-sixth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association. (May, 1974), pp. 1-14:
Harold Hotelling (1931): The Economics of Exhaustible Resources Journal of Political Economy
William W. Freehling (1990): The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854 (New York: Oxford University Press: 0195058143) <http://amzn.to/2jTYTon>: "Kentucky, while not as southern as Virginia, was more western...
...Kentuckians suffered from the usual western problem: too much land, not enough laborers. Slavery, prime solution to labor shortages deeper in the Southwest, could never be as widespread in Kentucky’s cooler climes. A low percentage of slaves arguably intensified the labor shortage, for potential white settlers preferred free Ohio, immediately to Kentucky’s north.
Ernest Gellner (1990): The Collapse of the Eastern European Marxist Faith
This is a passage from the 1990 Tanner Lectures series: Ernest Gellner (1990): The Civil and the Sacred analyzing the collapse of the Eastern European Marxist faith to which Vladimir Lenin had played St. Paul to Karl Marx as Jesus.
What is "civil society"? What does it do that is useful for a society?
What happens to a modern industrial economy if there is no "civil society"?
Why did the Eastern European Marxist belief system contain the idea that when it was in power it could survive without--indeed, needed to do away with--"civil society"?
What does Gellner mean by his claim that the Eastern European Marxist belief system was at bottom a middle class, a "bourgeois", idea--a reflection of the beliefs of the middle class in combination with their social and economic position?
Gellner divides really-existing socialism--the Eastern European Marxist faith in power--into five epochs: Origin, Terror, Thaw, Squalor, and Collapse. Why did Lenin's and Stalin's (and Mao's) rule-by-terror not weaken, but actually strengthen the belief system?
Most faiths survive empirical disconfirmation. Jesus Christ does not return while people who have known St. Paul are still alive. YHWH with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm does not raise up an Anointed One from the House of David to reestablish his and Solomon's kingdom. And yet the faiths thrive... Why was the Eastern European Marxist faith different from these others?
Gellner's analysis does not seem to apply at all to the vicissitudes of Marxism and the Communist Party in China--to "socialism with Chinese characteristics". I cannot ask you to provide answers as to why what Gellner lays out as the apparently-inescapable process of dissolution and decay followed by collapse of the Eastern European Marxist faith did not happen in China. But do think hard about it: understanding why the historical trajectories have been so different is one of the most important and most mysterious historical questions of our time.
Read not just the excerpted passage at http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/02/weekend-reading-from-ernest-gellner-1990-the-civil-and-the-sacred.html, but the whole Tanner Lecture at http://tannerlectures.utah.edu/_documents/a-to-z/g/Gellner_91.pdf!
From Ernest Gellner (1990): The Civil and the Sacred: "This... characterization of the south- easterly Muslim neighbor of Atlantic civilization... makes a neat contrast to the Marxist eastern one...
...there, we witness a virtually total erosion of faith, combined with a strong, in many cases passionate, yearning for Civil Society. In fact, the present vogue of the term originates precisely in the politico-intellectual life and turbulence of that region.
Benjamin Franklin (February 3, 1790): Petition from the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery: "To the Senate & House of Representatives of the United States...
...The Memorial of the Pennsylvania Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery, the relief of free Negroes unlawfully held in bondage, & the Improvement of the Condition of the African Races.
Ernest Gellner: Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and its Rivals: Chapter 1: "A new ideal was born, or reborn, in recent decades: Civil Society...
...Previously, a person interested in the notion of Civil Society could be assumed to be a historian of ideas, concerned perhaps with Locke or Hegel. But the phrase itself had no living resonance or evocativeness. Rather, it seemed distinctly covered with dust. And now, all of a sudden, it has been taken out and thoroughly dusted, and has become a shining emblem.
James Madison: Madison's Bill of Rights: "I am sorry to be accessory to the loss of a single moment of time by the House...
Looking Forward to Four Years During Which Most if Not All of America's Potential for Human Progress Is Likely to Be Wasted
With each passing day Donald Trump looks more and more like Silvio Berlusconi: bunga-bunga governance, with a number of unlikely and unforeseen disasters and a major drag on the country--except in states where his policies are neutralized.
Nevertheless, remember: WE ARE WITH HER!
"I now know it is a rising, not a setting, sun" --Benjamin Franklin, 1787