Should-Read: Manu Saadia: Why Peter Thiel Fears “Star Trek”: "Asked... whether he was a bigger fan of 'Star Wars' or 'Star Trek'...
Let me start this course about American economic history with a story:
This is a story about a guy born in the late 19th century, in 1879, on the prairie: his family's homestead was 17 miles from the nearest post office. In historical terms, the horse-riding nomads who had dominated the prairie had only recently been driven off by the guns of government soldiers. Agricultural settlement in one of the richest soil regions of the world was well advanced, but frontier life was still raw and uncivilized.
J. William Ward (1962): Andrew Jackson: Symbol for an Age 0195006992 http://amzn.to/2jAbLvi: "IN the spring of 1822, Noah M. Ludlow, prominent in the beginnings of the theater in the western United States...
...was in New Orleans. One day early in May he received, as was the custom in the early theater, a ‘benefit’ night. Remembering the occasion some years later, Ludlow could not recollect what pieces had been acted on that evening but he did recall doing something that was as a rule ‘entirely out of [his] line of business.’ As an added attraction he had sung a song he thought might please the people. The song was ‘The Hunters of Kentucky.’
Comment of the Day: James: Nancy Letourneau: Republican Confusion Over Obamacare Repeal: "Hoisted from 2012 http://www.bradford-delong.com/2012/10/john-podhoretz-badly-needs-some-better-friends-than-fred-barnes.html...
...But there is something serious to be written here about Orwell, "1984", and the ability of the Inner Party to keep its understanding of the world separate from the propaganda they feed to the Outer Party and to the proles.
I always assumed they knew this and were just trying to figure out who to blame when they didn't pass a plan.
January 11, 2017 at 04:04 PM in Information: Better Press Corps/Journamalism, Moral Responsibility, Obama Administration, Politics, Science: Cognitive, Streams: (Monday) Smackdown Watch, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: Comment of the Day, Streams: Cycle | Permalink | Comments (2)
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Last chance to change any of them out. Are these the right readings? Which will fail in their task? What should I replace the ones that will fail with? What things I have not included must be added?
From left and right alike we hear something called "globalization" condemned. The forces driving the world economy toward increased economic integration are sinister. On the left politicians like Democratic congressman David Bonior begin speeches by noting three things that come to the U.S. from Mexico--dirty trucks, drugs, and hepatitis. On the right politicians like ex-Republican Pat Buchanan blame a century-old conspiracy to deliver America into the hands of the international bankers--and somehow to Buchanan the bankers are always named Goldman, Sachs, or Rubin; never Morgan or Baker.
January 10, 2017 at 07:23 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Macro, History, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (2)
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Not running the table in January 2009 to make a V-shaped recovery all but inevitable, but instead trusting to good luck and the accuracy of the forecast. An obvious mistake then. An obvious mistake now. And I have never heard a good account of why it was made--other than that Obama, Emmanuel, Plouffe, and Axelrod bonded with Geithner, and that Geithner is always "let's do less", no matter how strong the arguments to do more are:
Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:
Can anybody give me a model-based or a framework-based on an empirical data- or observation-based rationale for what John Taylor was saying here about Japan in early 2009?
We have very little indication of what policies Donald Trump will try to follow or even what kind of president he will be. The U.S. press corps did an extraordinarily execrable job in covering the rise of Trump--even worse than it usually does. Even the most sophisticated of audiences--those interested in asset prices and how they are affected by government policies--have very little insight into Trump's views or those of his key associates.
I. The Third Coming of John A. Hobson
In my view, the current debate about “secular stagnation” started by Larry Summers is best thought of as the third coming of John A. Hobson.
Ah. Memories of 1981...
Back in 1981 the Reagan administration promised big tax cuts for the rich; higher defense spending; no spending cuts in programs that were really useful but only in rent-seeking waste, fraud, and abuse; and a balanced budget. They didn't add up. They went forward anyway.
The consequence was the huge full-employment Reagan budget deficit, and gave America a Hobson's choice between:
Hoisted from the Archives from 2000: The Neoliberal Bet: January 15, 2000 ; Our panelists--Robert Kaplan, Saskia Sassen, and Manuel Castells--are all seeing not a crowded, thirsty world, but a crisis of urban governance. We are becoming an urban world. Cities require a lot of public services to function well. And our panelists seem to have no confidence in the ability of city governments in what we call emerging market economies to deliver services--police, electricity, roads, schools.
Donald Trump lost the 2016 national popular vote_ by 2,860,000 votes.
Over the past three cycles, Republicans candidates have received United States--I think--18.3 million fewer votes than Democratic candidates. (There are a lot of ways to try to do this calculation. But they all show a Democratic edge.)
Only Paul Ryan has a popular vote majority: his supporters won 56.3 million votes, while Nancy Pelosi's won only 53.2 million.
Live from Cyberspace: Noah Smith: On Twitter: "The history of Twitter in three tweets..."
A correspondent reminds me of [a moment] almost four years ago that powerfully drove home to me how low the intellectual standards are on the American right. This will be very important to remember over the next four years--especially since the Trumpists are not the brightest of the lights on the American right as it stands today, never mind how it stood before the ascendancy of George W. Bush fifteen years ago, and never never mind how it stood before the ascendancy of Newt Gingrich twenty-five years ago.
It takes some wind-up, however. Let's start with the (usually) very sharp Thomas Nagel:
Thomas Nagel (2012): Mind and Cosmos: "If I decide, when the sun rises on my right, that I must be driving north instead of south...
[a moment: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/03/why-oh-why-cant-we-have-a-better-press-corps-andrew-ferguson-of-the-weekly-standard-edition.html
Should-Read: Cosma Shalizi (2015): ibn Khaldûn, 'Abd-ar-Rahmân Abû Zayd ibn Muhammad ibn Muhammad, 1332--1406: "Having tried my hand at explaining the core of ibn Khaldûn's theory of history already, I will basically repeat myself for the next three paragraphs...
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
"Ricardian Equivalence" Is a Claim That Tax Cuts Are Ineffective Stimulus, Not That Spending Increases Are: I learned this from Andy Abel and Olivier Blanchard, almost before my eyes first opened: increases in government purchases are ineffective at boosting real aggregate demand only if both (a) 'Ricardian Equivalence' holds, and (b) what the government buys (and distributes to households) is exactly what households would buy for themselves.
'Ricardian Equivalence' by itself simply does not do it.
In retrospect, I like my "The Economist as...?: The Public Square and Economists" paper for the Notre Dame "public intellectualism" conference (and the newly-published conference volume) very much indeed.
It would be very nice if more people read it, and talked about it...
A discussion page...
Plus my note on an unfavorable review of the book in the Wall Street Journal, and some recent musings on failures of economists as public intellectuals.
Michael C. Desch, ed.: Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits? (South Bend, IN: University of Notre Dame Press: 0268100241) http://amzn.to/2ifc7qn
Missing the Economic Big Picture: As former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said earlier this month in my hearing, quoting from a conversation between Wu Jincang and Chinese Sixth Buddhist Patriarch Huineng:
"When the philosopher points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger". Market capitalism is the moon. Globalization is the finger.
Between the Little Englanders' BREXIT vote and those currently installing Donald Trump in the American presidency in the belief that he will make America great again by negotiating very different "trade deals", there has been a lot of finger-watching this year.
A correspondent tells me that the Wall Street Journal has reviewed the book from our Notre Dame public intellectuals conference of three years ago and that, while the book is trashed, my piece is called "entertaining and enlightening" by the reviewer Daniel Johnson. This greatly pleases me--enlightenment is all one can hope for, and if one is entertaining as well one may be read even by those who do not get paid to do so. That makes my--personal--day, and I gratefully thank him.
Unfortunately, he also writes:
Live from the Electoral College: KStreet607: Final Popular Vote Total Shows Hillary Clinton Won Almost 3 Million More Ballots Than Donald Trump: " Hillary Clinton won a total of 65,844,610 votes--48.2 percent--compared with Trump’s 62,979,636 votes--46.1 percent--according to David Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report...
Hoisted from Others' Archives:
...was an unrepentant reactionary who was on the wrong side of every major legal controversy of the twentieth century. The fifty-eight senators who voted against Bork for confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1987 honored themselves, and the Constitution. In the subsequent quarter-century, Bork devoted himself to proving that his critics were right about him all along.
Stupidest Man Alive Nomination: Larry Kudlow: Hoisted from the Archives from 2008: One would think that National Review would want to maintain a smidgeon of a reputation, and hence at least edit Larry Kudlow for his biggest howlers. But no. Eschaton reader js informs Atrios of the stupidity:
John Holbo (2008): Shameless: "I know logically that Larry Kudlow has no shame, because...Larry Kudlow!...
I have only been on the same stage as Larry Kudlow twice in my life. In neither case did he provide any intellectual substance at all. This was the second time:
Hoisted from the Archives from 2007: I was sitting on the right end of an nine-person panel at the New School Friday morning http://www.cepa.newschool.edu/events/events_schwartz-lecture.htm#webcast. Bob Solow was sitting on the left end--Solow, Shapiro, Schwartz, Rohatyn, Kudlow, Kerrey, Kosterlitz, Hormats, DeLong. Bob Solow expressed concern and worry over the declines in the U.S. savings rate over the past generation. Larry Kudlow, in the middle of the panel, aggressively launched into an unbalanced and nearly fact-free rant...
Has macroeconomics gone right? After three years, how is this working out?...
Paul Krugman (2013): The Neopaleo-Keynesian Counter-counter-Counterrevolution: "OK, I can’t resist this one — and I think it’s actually important...
...Brad DeLong reacts to Binyamin Appelbaum’s piece on
Young FrankensteinStan Fischer by quoting from his own 2000 piece on New Keynesian ideas in macroeconomics, a piece in which he argued that New Keynesian thought was, in important respects, a descendant of old-fashioned monetarism. There’s a lot to that view.
Pascal Lamy: "When the wise man points at the moon, the fool looks at the finger..."
Perhaps in the end the problem is that people want to pretend that they are filling a valuable role in the societal division of labor, and are receiving no more than they earn--than they contribute.
But that is not the case. The value--the societal dividend--is in the accumulated knowledge of humanity and in the painfully constructed networks that make up our value chains.
Weekend Reading: John Steinbeck: The 1930s: A Primer: "Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted...
Science and Technology as Institutions
Partha Dasgupta (2007): Economics: A Very Short Introduction
Societal Well-Being and Democratic Government
What I (try to) make my principals students read before class begins; Partha Dasgupta (2007): Economics: A Very Short Introduction http://amzn.to/2gR2jH3. Question: should I try to make my students in my other classes read it too?
Me: Note: This is a game theorist's short introduction to economics. Its focus is on:
Live from Independence Hall: Mark Harris: On Twitter: "The entire Senate--2012, 2014, 2016--is likely to be 52R, 48D. Yet over the last three Senate elections, Ds got 13 million more votes."
Live from Independence Hall: Dave Wasserman: On Twitter: "Hillary Clinton's national popular vote lead just surpassed 2.5 million (1.9%)"
Live from Trumpland: Look for a lot of this from the right over the next four years--people deliberately missing the point that Trump is not up to the job, and that his decision are at best random monkeyshines:
Scott Eric Kaufman: [Media Criticism: Tears Brent Bozell into Shreds and Gobbets, and then Eats the Gobbets...]: "And the Award for Missing the Point goes to...
...Brent Bozell, of the ironically named “Media Research Center,” who refuted Oliver Stone’s comment that “Nixon always said Reagan was a dumb son of a bitch” by quoting a number of prominent figures in Reagan’s administration who thought Reagan was really smart.... Bozell to Stone:
When I was working in the Treasury in 1993, I was struck by how much it was the case that President Bill Clinton was still the ex-Governor of Arkansas, and that arguments that would have been powerful and important when directed at a Governor of Arkansas still resonated in his mind much more strongly than they perhaps should have if they were evaluated purely on technocratic grounds.
Germany does not have the rise of the overclass. And Germany does have the wage stagnation--even though it is done everything right to preserve manufacturing employment and nurture communities of engineering practicing excellence.
Can I take the Germany-U.S. comparison as strong evidence against the "globalization has driven wage stagnation" hypothesis?
Live from Indianapolis: Erik Loomis: Trump's Lies to Workers: "Donald Trump’s absurd attacks on USW Local 1999 president Chuck Jones gives him the opportunity to respond...
Hoisted from the Archives: Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...: I would not have thought it was possible.
Robert Waldmann has an interpretation of Karl Marx's "Critique of the Gotha Program" that I have never seen before.
Robert argues that the correct interpretation of Marx's phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," in context, is this:
Shorter Critique of the Gotha Program: We socialists cannot now--and probably never will--be able to inscribe on our banners the wacka-wacka primitive Christian slogan "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." And the Lasalleans are really stupid for thinking that we can and should do it now...
I find myself thinking of Ludger Schuknecht's very powerful and apposite comments about just what, even if you believe--as I do--that there are substantial spillovers for Germany and for the world for Germany to use its fiscal space for expansionary policies right now, it is supposed to use its fiscal space for...
The fiscal space is in Germany. The infrastructure needs are in Sicily.
Scott Lemieux: Today in False Equivalence: "I am beginning to wonder why I subscribe.... [Anemona Hartocollis]...
Bias incidents on both sides have been reported. A student walking near campus was threatened with being lit on fire because she wore a hijab. Other students were accused of being racist for supporting Mr. Trump, according to a campuswide message from Mark Schlissel, the university’s president.
Yeah, pretty much the same thing. Why are those liberal students so mean!
Should-Read: Nathan Lane: Readings in the History of Asian State Capacity: "A reading list related to a long undertaking with... Melissa Dell (Harvard) and Pablo Querubin (NYU), where we explore the historic roots of economic divergence in Asia...
Live from Tea Party Headquarters: Jonathan Chait: Donald Trump Has Proven Liberals Right About the Tea Party: "Conservatives insisted that what spurred protesters... were the timeless principles of conservative movement thought...
The very sharp Ken Rogoff predicts a boom over the next four years: "The biggest missing piece... is business investment, and if it starts kicking in... output and productivity could begin to rise very sharply.... You don’t have to be a nice guy to get the economy going.... It is far more likely that after years of slow recovery, the US economy might at last be ready to move significantly faster..."
I really can't see it as likely.
Time (1939): Adolf Hitler: Man of the Year, 1938: "What Adolf Hitler & Co. did to Germany in less than six years was applauded wildly and ecstatically by most Germans...
"I now know it is a rising, not a setting, sun" --Benjamin Franklin, 1787