Should-Read: David Anderson: A BFD that Passed amongst the Chaos: "Repeal and Replace or Repeal and Delay and Pray is dead...
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...
Last night, February 1, while I was teaching, a number of people came to the Berkeley campus to hear a speaker invited by the Berkeley College Republicans. A larger number came to peacefully demonstrate against the speaker--to express their belief that the speaker was not invited because people thought that he had great and important insights about politics and moral philosophy, but rather because he is a specialist in making Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Muslim, and other minorities feel small and unsafe.
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. Read MOAR at Project Syndicate
Joshua Gans: "The Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto...
...is offering to help scholars and students impacted on by the new US immigration restrictions. We would like to hear from anyone who:
Live from the First Congress: WTF, Daron?:
This leaves us with the one true defense we have, which Hamilton, Madison, and Washington neither designed nor much approved of: civil society’s vigilance and protest...
Mr. Madison: "I will state my reasons why I think it proper to propose amendments [to the Constitution]...
...and state the amendments themselves....
First. That there be prefixed to the Constitution a declaration, that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from, the people.... That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate....
Fourthly.... The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, or to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable. The people shall not be restrained from peaceably assembling and consulting for their common good; nor from applying to the Legislature by petitions, remonstrances, for redress of their grievances...
Every time I start thinking about Thomas Jefferson, I get distracted by the family psychodrama—and by the plight of the Hemings family—and by the fact that TJ named one of his sons by Sally Hemings, born at the start of Jefferson's second term as president, "Madison".
I wonder what Jemmy Madison thought of that, and whether Jefferson told him personally that he had done so...
January 31, 2017 at 06:09 AM in Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Science: Cognitive, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: (Wednesday) Economic History, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth | Permalink | Comments (6)
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Notes: Hayek and the "Shut Up and Be Grateful You Were Even Born!" Argument: Archive Entry: I have long been of the opinion that Friedrich von Hayek saw more deeply into why the market economy is so productive--the use of knowledge in society, competition as a discovery procedure, et cetera--than neoclassical economics, with its Welfare Theorems that under appropriate conditions the competitive market equilibrium (a) is Pareto-Optimal or (b) maximizes a social welfare function that is the sum of individual utilities in which each individual's weight is the inverse of their marginal utility of income.
Robert Reich (2015): Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few (New York: Knopf: 0385350570) http://amzn.to/29Viz6w
Can This Capitalism Be Saved?: Robert Reich in his Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few http://amzn.to/29Viz6w wants to remind us Americans of our strong record of “expanding the circle of prosperity when capitalism gets off track.” We have in our past no fewer than four times built up countervailing power to curb the ability of those controlling last generation’s wealth and this generation’s politics to tune institutions, property rights, and policy to their station.
Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson (2016): American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper (New York: Simon and Schuster: 1451667825) http://amzn.to/29ZTpPq
The Loss of Pragmatic Can-Do America: Hacker and Pierson's thesis runs exactly parallel to the thesis of Steven S. Cohen and my Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy http://amzn.to/2a9xzfg.
Barry Eichengreen (2008): Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 0691139377) http://amzn.to/2kG1v57
Chapter 1: Introduction: Six Questions:
For almost my entire adult life--since I was a sophomore, IIRC--I have thought that the key social theorist for our age is neither Marx nor Mill nor Toqueville nor Weber nor Durkheim, but rather John Maynard Keynes. Now I think, I am slowly swinging around to thinking that the key social theorist is Karl Polanyi. The problem is that Polanyi writes so damnably badly--a fault he shares with, among others, Hyman Minsky. Just as Charlie Kindleberger is a much better Minsky than Minsky is, we need a much better Polanyi than Polanyi...
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapter 5 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, chapter 6 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, chapter 7 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapter 8 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapter 9 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), Epilogue http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Guillaume Daudin et al.: Globalization 1870-1914 <http://tinyurl.com/dl20161210g>
Norman Angell (1909): Europe's Optical Illusion, chapters 6-9 http://tinyurl.com/dl20161210i
Norman Angell's pre-World War I works are perhaps the saddest on my bookshelf. Angell explains, patiently and relentlessly, that humanity has outgrown war.
To much of the industrial world—especially to those engaged in commerce, trade, and enterprise—World War I seemed impossible to imagine beforehand, and like a bad dream as it happened. The British economist John Maynard Keynes, one of those who saw the war as a previously-unimaginable horror, was afterwards to write of the pre-World War I upper-class inhabitant of London:
for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages...
And he wrote, the upper-class Londoner saw:
Vladimir Lenin (1902): What Is to Be Done? http://tinyurl.com/dl20161210n
Patrick O'Brien (1982): European Economic Development: The Contribution of the Periphery: "Throughout the early modern era connexions between economies (even within states) remained weak, tenuous, and liable to interruption...
...Except for a restricted range of examples, growth, stagnation, and decay everywhere in Western Europe can be explained mainly by reference to endogeneous forces. The "world economy", such as it was, hardly impinged. If these speculations are correct, then for the economic growth of the core, the periphery was peripheral...
O'Brien's piece is a critique of a large strand of 1970s literature about how exploitation not of internal western European populations but of people outside of Western Europe--Amerindians, mestizo and other inhabitants of the Americas, Asians, and Africans--was the driving force behind the accumulation of capital and the growth of Western Europe from 1500 well into the post-1750 Industrial Revolution era. O'Brien's point is that this argument was always innumerate: trans-oceanic trade flows were simply too small to matter in any simplistic way in which more resources flowing to the elite produce significantly faster economic development. I think his case is air-tight. If you want to draw significant causal links between trans-oceanic exploration, trade, conquest, and exploitation on the one hand and Western European growth after 1500 on the other, you need to tell a much more sophisticated and less simplistic story.
Bonnie Kristian: We're All Public Intellectuals Now: "Michael C. Desch, ed., Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits? http://amzn.to/2kx3M6U (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016), 416 pp., $55.
If there is a single theme running through Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits?, a new anthology edited by Michael C. Desch, it is a word of caution for those who would guide the public mind.
Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: The orange-haired baboon is far from being the only baboon in the cage:
Scott Lemieux: Just How Monstrous is the Contemporary GOP?: "Matt Lewis discovers that why Republicans never have an alternative health care plan. Perhaps the most instructive part of the piece is this bit of throat-clearing:
Conservative philosophy—from Burke to Hayek—suggests that comprehensive plans are a fatal conceit; the world is too complex to plan. The notion that Republicans could magically “fix” the largest sector of the world’s largest economy is dubious, at best.
Sure, every other liberal democracy in the world uses more government intervention to deliver health care to everyone for considerably less money. But “philosophy” tells us that this is unpossible! Cf. Edumund Burke on the French Revolution.
IAMA economist Brad DeLong, an economist to be found at http://bradford-delong.com and @delong, a Berkeley professor and a former Clinton administration official. I am here to talk about why Trump's trade policies are highly likely to be disastrous failures—the normal result of a moron singularity.
But ask me anything.
The Age of Incompetence: BERKELEY – On January 20, 2017, US President-elect Donald Trump will take office having received almost three million fewer votes than his opponent; and he will work with a Republican Senate majority whose members won 13 million fewer votes than their Democratic opponents. Only the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, has any claim to represent a numerical majority of the 55% of Americans who voted on Election Day 2016. Trump will also begin his presidency with an approval rating below 50%. This is unprecedented – or “unpresidented,” as one of his semi-literate tweets put it (before he deleted it) – in the history of such ratings... **Read MOAR at Project Syndicate
Live from Bloomberg News: "Tom Keene... featured your excellent Vox essay as his Morning Must Read...
...on Bloomberg Surveillance.... He would be honored to speak with you tomorrow about the essay. Are you available at 9:30am ET/6:30am PT [Thursday] on the phone on Bloomberg Radio?
Yes I am available. It should be fun...
Want the elevator pitch version of: NAFTA and other trade deals have not gutted American manufacturing—period?
Here it is: Technology has driven our manufacturing share of non-farm employment down from 30% to 12%. Lousy macroeconomic policies--Reagan and Bush 43's generation of large wrong-time government deficits, an inappropriate overly strong dollar policy kept long past its sell-by date, etc--further pushed it down from 12% to 9%. Our assisting in the extraordinarily rapid industrialization of China from 9% to 8.7%. NAFTA from 8.7% to 8.6%. And given all the benefits we have gotten from NAFTA--and the much bigger ones Mexico has gotten--NAFTA was a good (albeit small) deal for the U.S.
Live at Vox.com: NAFTA and Other Trade Deals Have Not Gutted American Manufacturing—Period: Politically speaking, there was no debate on United States international trade agreements in 2016: All politicians seeking to win a national election, or even to create a party-spanning political coalition, agree that our trade agreements are bad things.... From the left... Bernie Sanders.... From the right—I do not think it’s wrong but it’s not quite correct to call it “right,” at least not as Americans have hitherto understood what “right” is—but from somewhere... now-President Donald Trump....
From the center establishment... popular vote–winning (but Electoral College–losing)... Hillary Rodham Clinton.... “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.…” The rhetoric of all three candidates resonates with the criticism of trade agreements that we heard way back when NAFTA was on the table as a proposal—not, as today, something to blame all our current economic woes on... Read MOAR at http://vox.com
January 24, 2017 at 06:35 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (68)
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Will competition in health insurance survive?
The answer now is “perhaps”.
The federal courts, at their lowest district court level, have just weighed in on the side of more competition and fewer behemoth health insurance companies; on the side of more competition and fewer monopolies and near monopolies. This matters for consumers: monopolies are bad news, and monopolies where what is being sold is a very expensive necessity—which health insurance coverage is—very bad news for consumers, and so for societal well-being. If we are to retain a market-based health insurance system, people need effective options. A market in which there is only one insurance company, or two companies that collude to match each other’s prices, has all the bureaucratic drawbacks of a single-payer system plus all the drawbacks of a monopoly.
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapters 2 and 3 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Bob Allen has his own theory of what laid the foundations of the Industrial Revolution of 1750-1870. It is a smart theory. It is a good theory. It is a well-argued theory. It is an evidence-based theory. But it is a contested theory. Others, as smart as Allen, think it is wrong.
In this chapter Allen presents his theory.
He takes occasional swipes at other theories. Treat them more seriously than he does.
Allen's theory is, basically, that technological developments in ocean sailing and cannon produce maritime empires that encourage and dominate trade; that trade produces high wages in the imperial center; and thus it becomes, for probably the only time in history, profitable to develop the steam engine--if you also have a culture of mechanical engineers, really cheap coal, and excellent water transport. Thereafter what your engineers have learned from building the first generation of steam engines allows them to improve it and build other machines. And the Industrial Revolution is off and running. Try to grasp the whole theory as you read.
As you read, note:
The coming of agriculture would seem to have only pluses:
What's the downside? Jared Diamond says that there are very powerful downsides to the invention of agriculture and the adoption of an agricultural lifestyle? What are they? Is he right?
Trevon Logan (2015): A Time (Not) Apart: A Lesson in Economic History from Cotton Picking Books
I--that is, Brad DeLong, the lecturer--am an economist. Trevon Logan is an economist too. We focus on numbers: prices and quantities, incomes and expenditures, productivity and preferences. In our view, the economy is overwhelmingly what you get out of it for what you give up, and what the alternative options are. Here in his presidential address Trevon Logan argues that that economists' approach misses a good part--half? more than half?--of what is really going on and what is really important. Do you think he is right?
Think about this during the course. Would you feel comfortable answering a question on the final exam about how taking Trevon Logan seriously ought to have led me to teach a different course? There may well be such a question...
Trevon ends his article with: "It is relatively easy to count up the pounds of cotton picked per person per day, but much harder to face the reality of what that calculation means to those whose hands picked that cotton. Economic history requires that we face that reality.... There are lived experiences beneath the data, after all, and there are lessons beyond what is recorded in quantitative sources which may be far more valuable to our empirical knowledge. If we are to tell the lessons of economic history we have to be certain that we are telling all of it." Numbers are required to understand whether anecdotes are typical or exceptional. Anecdotes are required to learn what numbers mean. I assigned this paper primarily because I want you to take it to heart. I want you, throughout this course, to remember it and be constantly asking yourselves "what do these numbers mean?"
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!
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