Welcome from the Blum Center Chief Economist

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Welcome!

The Blum Center for Developing Economies has never had a chief economist before. I have never been a chief economist before. It is thus a brand new job in two senses.

The upside is that I thus get to define what the job is. And let me begin to do so by asking you:

What do you think I should make the job of Blum Center Chief Economist be?

I am, at the moment, engaged in two major tasks with looming deadlines that have to do with the work of the Blum Center:

  • Co-editing a book, After Piketty, on how economists' research agendas should shift in the aftermath of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

  • Giving a lecture (on October 17, 2016) at Brown University on "Inequality", as part of their Janus Forum.

Sincerely yours,

Brad DeLong

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Musings on the Science of "Scaling"

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This is not at all the so-called "replication crisis".

The devices built work as assessed by all engineering yardsticks: cheap, easy to maintain, rugged, and simple to operate. The interventions conducted work as assessed by all social science standards: they pass gold-standard RCT tests with effects that are statistically and substantively significant.

And yet...

"Scaling" is very hard...

My largely uninformed and probably wrong view is that it has everything to do with organizational and systematic robustness. In the engineering lab and in the social science RCT 98% of things go right. But out in the real world societal capabilities vary: while Toyota can hit six nines--99.9999%--at times I think U.C. Berkeley is lucky to hit nine sixes, and Berkeley is, in global context, a relatively functional organization. So: engineering and societal organization institutions designed for robustness, to degrade gracefully when you cannot attain the degree of organizational tautness of a Toyota. How do we do that? That, I think, is the BIG QUESTION here.

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The Stakes of the Helicopter Money Debate: A Primer

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The swelling wave of argument and discussion around "helicopter money" has two origins:

First, as Harvard's Robert Barro says: there has been no recovery since 2010.

The unemployment rate here in the U.S. has come down, yes. But the unemployment rate has come down primarily because people who were unemployed have given up and dropped out of the labor force. Shrinkage in the share of people unemployed has been a distinctly secondary factor. Moreover, the small increase in the share of people with jobs has been neutralized, as far as its effects on how prosperous we are, by much slower productivity growth since 2010 than America had previously seen, had good reason to anticipate, and deserves.

The only bright spot is a relative one: things in other rich countries are even worse.

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Ken Pomeranz: Land Rights and Economic Development in China: a Long-Term Perspective

April 6, 2011, 5 p.m.

Blum Hall plaza level

University of California, Berkeley

Kenneth Pomeranz is UCI Chancellor's Professor of History at UC-Irvine. He received his PhD in 1988 from Yale University and has published extensively on the modern world economy and on social and economic development in modern China, including the following books: The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy in 2000, The World that Trade Created: Society, Culture, and the World Economy, 1400 to the Present (with Steven Topic) in 1999, and The Making of a Hinterland: State, Society, and Economy in Inland North China, 1853-1937 in 1993.

Cosponsored by the Blum Center for Developing Economies/Global Poverty and Practice Minor and presented with the support of the Institute of International Studies.

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The Value of Global History for Modern Political Economy

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Topic:

There is a growing faction in the academy arguing that education for global citizenship requires that students learn some "global history." Certainly our Political Economy major here at Berkeley has placed a lot of its chips on this bet. But is this argument true? What is the value of "global history" for the student and analyst of modern political economy issues, anyway?

Panel:

  • Chair, J. Bradford DeLong, UCB Economics
  • Speaker, Alan Karras, UCB International and Area Studies
  • Speaker, Mark Healey, UCB History and Latin American Studies

Location: Blum Hall Plaza Level

Time: 2:10-2:40: Panelists. 2:40-3:10: Discussion. 3:10-4:00: Reception.

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"Austerity" in the Context of the Global Economic Downturn

Topic:

For nearly two centuries years economists from John Stuart Mill through Walter Bagehot and John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman to Ben Bernanke have known that a depression caused by a financial panic is not properly treated by starving the economy of liquid cash money and of public demand.

So why does "austerity" have such extraordinary purchase on the minds of North Atlantic politicians right now?

Panel:

  • Chair, J. Bradford DeLong, UCB Economics (The End of Influence: What Happens When Other Countries Have the Money)
  • Speaker, Joseph Lough, UCB Political Economy (Max Weber and the Persistence of Religion)
  • Speaker, Rakesh Bhandari, UCB Interdisciplinary Studies ("Slavery and Wage Labour in History")

Location: Blum Hall Plaza Level

Time: 2:10-2:40: Panelists. 2:40-3:10: Discussion. 3:10-4:00: Reception.

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