Bernard Finn: Underwater Cables: "In 1864 the India promoters laid a new flawless (but somewhat less ambitious) cable from the head of the Persian Gulf to Karachi.... Across the Atlantic... the Anglo-American Telegraph Company... complete[d] the 1865 cable, in 1866.... These first cables quickly spawned more. By 1873 they reached as far as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Sydney. The islands of the Caribbean were linked together and connected to the mainland; as were the islands of the eastern Mediterranean and those of the East Indies...

Rick Perlstein: The Jesus Landing Pad: "NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be 'the Christian Voice in the Nation’s Capital', the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state.... fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza... object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and Solomon’s temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won’t come back to earth. Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that 'the Gaza Strip had no significant Biblical influence such as Joseph’s tomb or Rachel’s tomb and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace'.... Affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, the Apostolic Congress is part of an important and disciplined political constituency courted by recent Republican administrations. As a subset of the broader Christian Zionist movement, it has a lengthy history of opposition to any proposal that will not result in what it calls a “one-state solution” in Israel...

Comment of the Day: JEC: "I think we should place more emphasis on the fact that the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis depended critically on the asymmetry between the American and Soviet political systems. A win-win outcome was possible only because Kennedy needed to 'win' in public, but could 'lose' in secret, while Khrushchev could tolerate a public 'loss' provided he could show CPSU insiders a secret 'win'. As a side note, I think this piece officially qualifies Niall as the 'Eugene Fama of historians', someone who's public polemic demonstrates a deep and profound ignorance of the body of knowledge created by his own discipline. Seriously, the Cuban Missile Crisis has been the subject of intense historical research since the collapse of the Soviet Union, approximately none of which supports Ferguson's 'take'...

## Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (February 18, 2019)

1. The Market: As an Institution, Its Pros, and Its Cons: People... want to enter into reciprocal gift-exchange relationships.... We devised property as a way of constructing expectations of trust.... We devised money as a substitute for trust.... And so, on the back of these human propensities... we have constructed a largely-peaceful global 7.4B-strong highly-productive societal division of labor... #berkeley #economics #marketfailure #marketsuccess #economicinstitutions 2019-02-18

2. Modes of Market Failure: At lunch last week Richard Thaler was skeptical that I had managed to identify ten different modes of market failure. I admit that this list has a little too much of the Borges-List Nature, but I do think it holds up. What do you think?: The Market Economy: Modes of Failure: Markets can go wrong—badly wrong. They can... #berkeley #economics #marketfailure 2019-02-18

3. Still Haunted by the Shadow of the Greater Recession... #presentations #greatrecession #macro #economicgrowth #economichistory #economics #finance #monetaryeconomics 2019-02-16

4. Hoisted from the Archives: Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War: "Harry Dexter White... George Kennan... George Marshall... Arthur Vandenberg... Paul Hoffman... Dean Acheson... Harry S Truman:... Dwight D. Eisenhower... Gerald Ford... George Shultz... #hoistedfromthearchives #politics #security #history 2019-02-15

1. I don't know about this "global middle class from 10 to 100 dollars a day" stuff. That seems much too low to me...: Homi Kharas and Kristofer Hamel: A global tipping point: Half the world is now middle class or wealthier

2. Wikipedia: European Research Group

3. Wikipedia: Steven van Zandt

4. Deepak Hegde, Kyle Herkenhoff, and Chenqi Zhu: Patent Publication and Technology Spillovers: "Invention disclosure through patents (i) increases technology spillovers at the extensive and intensive margins (ii) increases overlap between distant but related patents and decreases overlap between similar patents (iii) lowers average inventive step, originality, and scope of new patents (iv) decreases patent abandonments and (v) increases patenting...

6.Wikipedia: Valle de Bravo

2. Wikipedia: Hohenzollern-Hechingen

3. Wikipedia: House of La Fayette

4. History Matters: Eight Hours for What We Will!

5. Octavia

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (February 18, 2019)" »

## The Market: As an Institution, Its Pros, and Its Cons

The Market as an Institution: “The Market” as an Institution:

• We start from what look like to us deep truths of human psychology

• People are acquisitive
• People engage in reciprocity—i.e., want to enter into reciprocal gift-exchange relationships
• In which they are neither cheaters nor saps
• With those they trust…
• We devised property as a way of constructing expectations of trust…

• We devised money as a substitute for trust…

Continue reading "The Market: As an Institution, Its Pros, and Its Cons" »

## Modes of Market Failure

At lunch last week Richard Thaler was skeptical that I had managed to identify ten different modes of market failure. I admit that this list has a little too much of the Borges-List Nature, but I do think it holds up. What do you think?: The Market Economy: Modes of Failure: Markets can go wrong—badly wrong. They can:

1. not fail, but be failed by governments, that do not properly structure and support them—or that break them via quotas, price floors/ceilings, etc....

2. be out-of-equilibrium...

3. possess actors have market power...

4. be afflicted—if that is the word—by non-rivalry (increasing returns to scale; natural monopolies)...

5. suffer externalities (in production and in consumption, positive and negative; closely related to non-excludibility)...

6. suffer from information lack or asymmetry...

7. suffer from maldistributions—for the market will only see you if you have a willingness to pay, which is predicated on an ability to pay…

8. suffer from non-excludability (public goods, etc.)...

9. suffer from miscalculations and behavioral biases...

10. suffer from failures of aggregate demand...

Continue reading "Modes of Market Failure" »

Patrick Skinner: @SkinnerPm: "Shift ended with one of the worst calls. But what I remember is a call at a diner where a neighbor struggling with serious mental issues wouldn’t/couldn’t pay her $18 bill. Easiest call I handled all day. And best$28 bucks I spent in ages (ex waiter, tip big & tip big often...) Theresa... says ‘I’m guessing it wasn’t you eating at (name of random place in my precinct)’ when she does the checking account.... We’re very fortunate & it’s not often & it saves money overall by avoiding dumb jail for truly truly struggling neighbors.... Plus it’s nicer...

It is long past time to stop pretending that Trump has coherent policy goals that he can attain. And, on trade, having conspicuously folded on NAFTRA, he has no leverage in any dispute he gins up with China: Michelle Klieger: Is Trump Playing Trade War Checkers, While Xi Plays Chess?: "Trade talks starting to look like a familiar trap.... Break it, Restore the Status Quo, Claim Victory. Looking at the last few weeks, the biggest trade headlines were about auto tariffs, soybeans, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales and biotechnology approvals... easy wins China was hoping to give the United States to end the trade war. These concessions make great headlines and don’t cost China much if anything. If this is all we get out of the talks in January, then Trump played right into China’s hand. Trump didn’t get stronger intellectual property protection for American companies. He did not get China to end or change its Made in China 2025 campaign. He did not reduce the trade deficit. And foreign companies are still discriminated against under Chinese law. So what was achieved?...

The Philips Curve was always properly used as a heuristic framework for thinking about issues, not as a machine for generating certainty-equivalent forecasts to use in month-to-month policy decisions: Jeanna Smialek: RIP Phillips Curve? The Fed's Wonky Guidestar May Be Dimming: Fed has been moving from tight labor-brings-inflation logic. They’re now waiting for actual, not anticipated, price gains...

Josh Micah Marshall (2002): The real Whitewater Shocker: "People at the highest levels of the Bush administration found out about the Whitewater referral and started in motion a series of actions intended to speed up the handling of it.... Edie Holiday, the secretary to the Cabinet... then-Attorney General William Barr... then-White House counsel C. Boyden Gray.... Washington is replete with rules prohibiting or discouraging contact.... And most cover inappropriate contact between the political side of the executive branch and the law enforcement side of the executive branch... political appointees trying to use their influence over the executive law enforcement agencies for political gain...

Dunning-Kruegerrands, and Dunning-Kruegerranderss: Paul Krugman: "Both Ferguson and Taylor signed the infamous letter declaring that Bernanke's policies would produce runaway inflation. Ferguson also, also infamously, fell for bogus claims that inflation was really much higher than reported. You might think that such experiences would make people wonder, at least a bit, about whether they understood monetary economics as well as they thought they did. (Yes, I've made mistakes—and promptly owned up to them. They haven't.) But no. I'm on record as saying that crypto is a mishmash of technobabble and libertarian derp. But I guess that I should add that it's also a giant draw for sufferers from Dunning-Kruger syndrome...

Wise words about how we think we understand things and underestimate uncertainty. What I am not clear about is whether modern tools of communications are truly a source of disruption, or whether it was just that from 1952 to 2007 all of the big surprises (e.g., fall of the Berlin Wall) were good ones: Charlie Stross: Someone Please Cancel 2019 Already?: "The event horizon in politics in a democracy is no more than... the maximum time between elections.... Consider Germany in January 1934, and how outlandish and dystopian the situation would have sounded if you'd described it to a German citizen in January 1929. (30% unemployment! A dictator and a state of emergency! Concentration camps! Anti-Jewish laws!)... The value proposition of democracy is that it provides for a peaceful transfer....But when you get a faction, party, or regime that no longer subscribes to the idea of democracy and refuses to back down gracefully, you get back the old problems... pressure for change builds up and when it erupts the effects can be devastating and unpleasant—especially, as we've had a crash-course reminder... when the tools of communication make it really easy for dangerous demagogues to draw a following...

Endorse: for the upper middle class who own stocks, Jack Bogle was the greatest philanthropist of this or any age. He could have claimed to have alpha magic and collected a vast fortune, but he worked for his clients and the public instead: Barry Ritholtz: Remembering Jack Bogle: "Warren Buffett.... 'The person who has done the most for American investors... Jack Bogle. For decades, Jack has urged investors to invest in ultra-low-cost index funds... [has] amassed only a tiny percentage of the wealth that has typically flowed to managers who have promised their investors large rewards while delivering them nothing–or... less than nothing.... Jack was frequently mocked by the investment-management industry. Today, however, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me'...

Yes, it looks lie the world economy is now entering a recession—one that the U.S. is so far escaping: Brad Setser: China's Slowdown and the World Economy: "China, it now seems, has entered into a real slump.... China's total imports remained pretty strong though until the last couple of months. But they have now turned down. Sharply.... China (still) isn’t that important a market for the rest of the world’s manufactures. China’s overall imports (of goods) are significant, at around $2 trillion. But about a third are commodities, about a third are parts for re-export (think$800 billion of processing imports vs. exports of around \$2.4 trillion), and a bit less than a third are imports of manufactures that China actually uses at home.... A fall in Chinese auto demand has a big impact on Chinese domestic output (most Chinese cars are made in China, with largely Chinese parts, thanks to China’s tariff wall), a measurable impact on the profits of some foreign firms with successful Chinese JVs, a modest impact on German exports and, at the margin, a measurable impact on global growth in oil demand...

Simon Wren-Lewis: The Tory Party Lost Its Way from 2010, Not 2016: "'I have had it up to here with the Conservative party.' So writes a one time editor of the Spectator, Matthew d'Ancona. It is a good read: for example 'a chilling populism is now creeping into the language of mainstream Toryism: the language of treachery, snarling tribalism and impatience with anything that smacks of prudence, compromise or caution'. He is talking about Brexit of course, and he is entirely right. What he misses, in my view, was that this problem did not begin with the EU referendum, but six years earlier, with the Tory ‘modernisers’, Cameron and Osborne...

## Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted from the Archives: Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War:

• Harry Dexter White: Treasury Assistant Secretary* who was the major force behind the Bretton Woods Conference and the institutional reconstruction of the post-World War II world economy. He accepted enough of John Maynard Keynes's proposals to lay the groundwork for the greatest generation of economic growth the world has ever seen. It was the extraordinary prosperity set in motion by the Bretton Woods' System and institutions--the "Thirty Glorious Years"--that demonstrated that political democracy and the mixed economy could deliver and distribute economic prosperity.

• George Kennan: Author of the "containment" strategy that won the Cold War. Argued--correctly--that World War III could be avoided if the Western Alliance made clear its determination to "contain" the Soviet Union and World Communism, and that the internal contradictions of the Soviet Union would lead it to evolve into something much less dangerous than Stalin's tyranny.

• George Marshall: Architect of victory in World War II. Post-World War II Secretary of State who proposed the Marshall Plan, another key step in the economic and institutional reconstruction of Western Europe after World War II.

• Arthur Vandenberg: Leading Republican Senator from Michigan who made foreign policy truly bipartisan for a few years. Without Vandenberg, it is doubtful that Truman, Marshall, Acheson, and company would have been able to muster enough Congressional support to do their work.

• Paul Hoffman: Chief Marshall Plan administrator. The man who did the most to turn the Marshall Plan from a good idea to an effective aid program.

• Dean Acheson: Principal architect of the post-World War II Western Alliance. That Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, and the United States reached broad consensus on how to wage Cold War is more due to Dean Acheson's diplomatic skill than to any single other person.

• Harry S Truman: The President who decided that the U.S. had to remain engaged overseas--had to fight the Cold War--and that the proper way to fight the Cold War was to adopt Kennan's proposed policy of containment. His strategic choices were, by and large, very good ones.

• Dwight D. Eisenhower: As first commander-in-chief of NATO, played an indispensable role in turning the alliance into a reality. His performance as President was less satisfactory: too many empty words about "rolling back" the Iron Curtain, too much of a willingness to try to skimp on the defense budget by adopting "massive retaliation" as a policy, too much trust in the erratic John Foster Dulles.

• Gerald Ford: In the end, the thing that played the biggest role in the rise of the dissident movement behind the Iron Curtain was Gerald Ford's convincing the Soviet Union to sign the Helsinki Accords. The Soviet Union thought that it had gained worldwide recognition of Stalin's land grabs. But what it had actually done was to commit itself and its allies to at least pretending to observe norms of civil and political liberties. And as the Communist Parties of the East Bloc forgot that in the last analysis they were tyrants seated on thrones of skulls, this Helsinki commitment emboldened their opponents and their governments' failures to observe it undermined their own morale.

• George Shultz: Convinced Ronald Reagan--correctly--that Mikhail Gorbachev's "perestroika" and "glasnost" were serious attempts at reform and liberalization, and needed to be taken seriously. Without Shultz, it is unlikely that Gorbachev would have met with any sort of encouragement from the United States--and unlikely that Gorbachev would have been able to remain in power long enough to make his attempts at reform irreversible. *Also, almost surely an "Agent of Influence" and perhaps an out-and-out spy for Stalin's Russia. If so, never did any intelligence service receive worse service from an agent than Stalin's Russia did from Harry Dexter White....

#hoistedfromthearchives #politics #security #history #highlighted


Is employer-side monopsony the reason the effective labor demand appears to be so inelastic when incresaes in the minimum wage are concerned? Or are we just not being creative enough? And why does the idea that, in America today, minimum-wage increases are "job killers" continue to have rhetorical purchase?: Doruk Cengiz, Arindrajit Dube, Attila Lindner, and Ben Zipperer: The Effect of Minimum Wages on Low-Wage Jobs: Evidence from the United States Using a Bunching Estimator: "Infer[ring] the employment effect of a minimum wage increase by comparing the number of excess jobs paying at or slightly above the new minimum wage to the missing jobs paying below it... using 138 prominent state-level minimum wage changes between 1979 and 2016. We find that the overall number of low-wage jobs remained essentially unchanged over five years following the increase. At the same time, the direct effect of the minimum wage on average earnings was amplified by modest wage spillovers at the bottom of the wage distribution...

On how to do microfoundations right: Atif Mian: In Conversation with Heather Boushey: "Our number of theories is much larger than the number of observations we have, which is a limiting factor of macroeconomics just from an empirical standpoint.... This is where I feel micro data comes in.... Let me just give you one quick example.... The 2000s... you see credit going up, you see aggregate income going up as well.... If it were higher incomes that were driving credit growth, then since income growth is concentrated in the top 1 percent, we should really expect the top 1 percent to borrow a lot more.... Yet that clearly was not the case. So, even a basic breakdown of the data along a more micro level starts to give you a lot more insights than you might be able to deduce from just looking at the macro aggregates...

I confess I do not understand the Brexiteers these days at all. Consider Clive Crook. It used to be the case—before George W. Bush's "victories" in the 2000 election and in the Iraq War—that I disagreed with him but that his arguments were coherent and made sense. Ever since then, however, he seems to have lost coherence. And now there seems to be no reason.

He says that the Britain-EU relationship is a very valuable thing "achieved to great mutual advantage" but had the drawback that it did not allow Britain to throw citizens of other EU countries out when it wishied. In this case one would think the Theresa May deal would be an acceptable thing, because that is what it delvers. But no. Let's try to follow his thought, and fail: Clive Crook: The European Union Could Also Use a Brexit Policy: "Europe could have avoided Brexit altogether... agreed to the request for modest concessions on free movement of people... David Cameron made.... Europe wasn’t really saying it couldn’t be done; it was merely refusing to do it. The result of that intransigence was the referendum and Brexit...

## Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (February 14, 2019)

1. Jill Abramson, Formerly of the New York Times, Has Both a Depraved Heart and a Social Intelligence Deficit: She thus made seven changes to Malooley's first sentence, in the process dividing it into two.... She thus made one change to Malooley's second sentence. She then left Malooley's third sentence alone. Clearly the effort of making seven discrete changes to the first sentence had exhausted her...

2. Note to Self: Thinking About Blanchard's Presidential Address...: Blanchard's calculations of the effect of debt on welfare in his AEA Presidential Address all take the form of evaluating the welfare of a generation of economic agents young in some period t after the resolution of all period-t stochastic elements. That is a fine thing to do. That is not quite the same thing as the effect on expected well-being behind the veil of ignorance...

3. Note to Self: All of these people are now very, very quiet: Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor.... James C. Miller III... Barry W. Poulson... Charles W. Calomiris... Donald Luskin... 95 others... Susan Collins...

4. Note to Self: Speaker: "We are bursting at the seams! We have more students than robots!...

1. Jeff Yarbro: @yarbro: "The Constitution anticipates a President like this. It does not anticipate a Congress so indifferent to a President like this...

2. Abba P. Lerner (1943): Functional Finance and the Federal Debt

3. Patrick Iber: "I hereby donate 'Reichstag Fyre Festival' to the public domain...

4. Alex Ward: 25th Amendment: Andrew McCabe says in 60 Minutes Interview that DOJ Discussed Option to Oust Trump: "McCabe is back with a vengeance.... Some top Trump officials feel the president isn’t up to the job...

5. Wikipedia: 1989 murders of Jesuits in El Salvador: "Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J. Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J. Segundo Montes, S.J. Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J. Joaquín López y López, S.J. Amando López, S.J. Elba Ramos. Celina Ramos...

6. The Browser

7. Michael K. Spencer: The Failure of Crypto Tribalism: "The majority of ICOs aren’t genuine companies, don’t have real products and never were intended to be sustainable business models. That’s a severe problem in ethics of these young engineers and young executives playing with Dapps and investors who are prone to fraud, hype and crypto trafficking of the worst kind-deceit...

8. Zack Beauchamp: Watch Rep. Ilhan Omar hold Elliott Abrams, Trump Venezuela envoy, accountable - Vox: "A rare example of elite accountability...

9. John Scalzi: Courtesy of @joshtpm, a principle henceforth to be known as "Trump's Razor": Josh Marshall: Dominance and Humiliation, No Middle Ground: "I’ve been praised in recent months for having some handle on the Trump phenomenon. The truth is a little different. Early on I realized that when it came to Trump if I figured out the stupidest possible scenario that could be reconciled with the available facts and went with it, that almost always turned out to be right. The stupider, the righter.... I just kept following that model and it kept working...

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (February 14, 2019)" »

Paul Krugman: What’s Wrong With Functional Finance?: "MMT seems to be pretty much the same thing as Abba Lerner’s 'functional finance'.... So what I want to do in this note is explain why I’m not a full believer in Lerner’s functional finance; I think this critique applies to MMT as well, although if past debates are any indication, I will promptly be told that I don’t understand, am a corrupt tool of the oligarchy, or something...