Three Great Books to Have Read—But Not Nefessarily to Read

I have been remiss in posting here because I have had the unexpected load of getting together lectures for the last 40% of: Economics 105: The History of Economic Thought: Smith, Marx, Keynes.

So let me apologize for the dearth of material by stepping through my lecture notes:

1) Smith, Marx, Keynes: The aim of this course it to examine the history of economic thought through the lens of three major economic thinkers: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes, each of whom wrote one long, difficult, but undeniably great book. Adam Smith in 1776 published his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Karl Marx in 1867 published his Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (volume 1). John Maynard Keynes in 1936 published his The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (note the absence of the Oxford comma from Keynes’s title: Keynes was a British academic but not one from Oxford but rather from the University of Cambridge). In addition, read Robert Heilbroner’s excellent (if old) The Worldly Philosophers, a short survey of the history of economic thought, for context and background.

Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Marx’s Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, and Keynes’s The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money are great books to have read, if not easy books to read. They are, in fact, downright painful. (Heilbroner’s The Worldly Philosophers is, by contrast, painless, easy, and still great.) Learning how to read great but difficult books and make sense of them on your own is a very valuable skill to learn, but a difficult one to teach in any way but by doing it. Moreover, a great book is a great book only if the reader is ready and prepared to read it—and so learning to figure out how to become the kind of reader to appreciate a particular great book is another important skill to learn as well.

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Lecture Notes: Smith, Marx, Keynes: A View of the History of Economic Thought (UNFINISHED)

Well, I have wound up, by surprise, giving the last third of the lectures in Economics 105: The History of Economic Thought: Smith, Marx, Keynes. I admit I was not as averse to being imposed on by the Department as I might have been because I thought it might push me to get my head and my thoughts together.

Here they are—unfinished. But I should give the students an opportunity to see how I think about these thinkers and their works: https://www.icloud.com/pages/0howtV7CndvjkSCCLmtjmq_SA

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The calculations I was doing for the first-year graduate students yesterday were that, in terms of the proportional rate of increase in our stock of productive ideas about technology and organization, we are now creating them at a proportional rate 100 times the rate at which useful ideas were being created as recently as 1500. Is that going to speed up as ideas increasingly need instantiation not in large clunky macro arrangements of atoms but as patterns of information? Quite possibly...


Doug Jones: Copernicus Versus the Scientific Method https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/2019/11/02/copernicus-versus-the-scientific-method-5/: 'Ptolemy needed to assume that the five planets (not counting the sun and moon) have both cycles (the big circles) and epicycles (the little circles).... Some of the cycles and epicycles vary independently, while others are exactly tied to the motions of the sun. For Mercury and Venus, the epicycles vary independently, taking different periods of time (88 days, 225 days) to complete a circuit. Their cycles, by contrast, take exactly one Earth year to complete a circuit. Furthermore, the deferent, the point at center of each epicycle, is always exactly in line with the sun. For Mars, Jupiter and Saturn on the other hand, it’s the other way around. The cycles vary independently (1.88, 11.86, and 29.46 years to make a complete circuit). But the epicycles take exactly one Earth year... [and] the line from deferent to planet is exactly parallel to the line from Earth to Sun.... Copernicus’s model, by contrast, doesn’t just replace five circles (the cycles for Mercury and Venus, and the epicycles for Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) with one (for the Earth going around the Sun). It also automatically explains why the five superfluous cycles show an otherwise unexplained synchronic parallelism. People who read Copernicus 1543 book carefully (not many at first) could see he had a real explanation for something that’s just a mysterious coincidence in Ptolemy.... Solomonoff induction... can explain why Copernicanism is a better theory.... Bayes’ Rule.... And where do scientists get their prior probabilities?... Solomonoff... He argues that we can use the theory of algorithmic complexity, as developed by Kolmogorov.... If your theory were turned into a computer program, how long would the program be? The longer the program, the lower the prior probability, where probabilities fall off exponentially with length of program...

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Jeremiah Dittmar and Kipper Seabold: New Media and Competition: Printing and Europe's Transformation after Gutenberg http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1600.pdf: "We study the role of book content in economic, religious, and institutional development after the introduction of printing, and the role of competition in determining the amount and content of local printing. We focus on (1) business education content and (2) religious ideas during the Protestant Reformation. We construct data on printing output and competition in European cities 1454-1600.We document positive relationships between business education content and city growth, and Protestant content and institutional change. We find competition predicts content. We confirm the relationships between competition, content, and outcomes using printer deaths as a source of exogenous variation...

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Matthew Chapman: Uber and Lyft Put Up $60 million for Ballot Fight: 'On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported that ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft are prepared to spend 60 million in support of a potential California ballot question in 2020 that would prevent their workers from being classified as employees. The push comes as the California legislature advances AB 5, which would require any workers who perform functions that aren’t outside the course of their employer’s business to be classified as an employee—codifying a decision last year by the California Supreme Court. Uber and Lyft have kept their margins low by classifying their workers as self-employed contractors who just happen to use their app as a social network to find passengers. This means that they are not covered by a number of protections that employees receive, like the right to unionize or to receive overtime pay...

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A very nice look-back at a big story from a decade ago that simply did not happen:

Ben Casselman: The White-Collar Job Apocalypse That Didn’t Happen https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/27/business/economy/jobs-offshoring.html: "'Where in retrospect I missed the boat is in thinking that the gigantic gap in labor costs between here and India would push it to India rather than to South Dakota', Mr. Blinder said in a recent interview.... Adam Ozimek revisited Mr. Blinder’s analysis to see what had happened over the past decade. Some job categories that Mr. Blinder identified as vulnerable, like data-entry workers, have seen a decline in United States employment. But the ranks of others, like actuaries, have continued to grow.... Over all, of the 26 occupations that Mr. Blinder identified as 'highly offshorable' and for which Mr. Ozimek had data, 15 have added jobs over the past decade and 11 have cut them. Altogether, those occupations have eliminated fewer than 200,000 jobs over 10 years, hardly the millions that many feared.... In the jobs that Mr. Blinder identified as easily offshored, a growing share of workers were now working from home. Mr. Ozimek said he suspected that many more were working in satellite offices or for outside contractors, rather than at a company’s main location. In other words, technology like cloud computing and videoconferencing has enabled these jobs to be done remotely, just not quite as remotely as Mr. Blinder and many others assumed.... Call centers. Telemarketing jobs have declined sharply in the United States since 2007, as much of the work was sent overseas. But the number of customer service representatives has continued to grow.... Telemarketers are essentially selling products and often working from a script. Customer service and other call-center work like tech support often require a more nuanced understanding of the customer experience...

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There are remarkably good odds that the next global recession will be triggered by the miscalculations of politicians who have no business holding any office whatsoever. I have but one quibble with Nouiiel Roubini's argument here. The situation in Argentina is dire for Argentina and the southern cone, but it is not the kidn of thing that can provoke a global recession. Trump and Johnson, by contrast, might: 

Nouriel Roubini: Four Collision Courses for the Global Econom https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/playing-chicken-with-global-economy-trump-china-iran-argentina-by-nouriel-roubini-2019-09: "Between US President Donald Trump's zero-sum disputes with China and Iran, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's brinkmanship with Parliament and the European Union, and Argentina's likely return to Peronist populism, the fate of the global economy is balancing on a knife edge. Any of these scenarios could lead to a crisis with rapid spillover effects.... In each case, failure to compromise would lead to a collision, most likely followed by a global recession and financial crisis.... The problem is that while compromise requires both parties to de-escalate, the tactical logic of chicken rewards crazy behavior. If I can make it look like I have removed my steering wheel, the other side will have no choice but to swerve. But if both sides throw out their steering wheels, a collision becomes unavoidable...

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Of all the very strange things the New York Times has published since October 1, 2016, perhaps the strangest is the Bret Stephens column comparing George Washington University Professor Dave Karpf to Joseph Goebbels.

Why did Stephens do this? Because Karpf had tweeted “the bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens” in reply to New York Times assistant editor Stuart A. Thompson's tweet that there were bedbugs in the New York Times newsroom.

In response to things like this, I find the Washington Post's Alexandra Petri usually responds at the appropriate level. And she does so here:

Alexandra Petri: I Am a Bedbug and Would Like to Be Kept Out of This Mess: "My name has been soiled and made dirty like a place I would love to relax at with my blood meal. Please, I would like to be kept out of this mess. I know that, as a bedbug, this is not a phrase you would expect to hear vibrate forth through my rostrum, but hear me out. I am just trying to live my life. Instead, I have been thrust into a story I never asked to be part of. This is not my fight, and I don’t know any of the people involved. Please, stop using me to insult people. I don’t know these people. I don’t know anything other than that some of them emit kairomones and I need to make use of them for a blood meal to escape my final nymphal stage. That’s it. So stop invoking my name! Fight your own battles. I understand very well that I am not welcome in your society. This is the double standard. I have spent a long time developing a thick, chitinous skin, covered with bristles and hairs. But that does not mean that words do not sting, too...

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No matter what our domestic economic problems, it is still essential to remind ourselves that for humanity as a whole the years since 1980 have seen the greatest improvement in economic well-being, globally, of any forty-yer period in human history. We have been truly blessed:

Noah Smith: Globalization Has Cut Inequality Between Rich and Poor Countries https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-24/globalization-has-cut-inequality-between-rich-and-poor-countries: "Up through the 1980s, the blessings of the Industrial Revolution seemed largely confined to a handful of countries in Western Europe, East Asia, the U.S., Australia and Canada. But in the past three decades, there has been a sea change, and developing countries have made great strides in catching up. Although inequality has risen within some nations, at the global level it’s going down: Much of this catch-up is happening in countries that are still largely poor, such as India or Indonesia. To an economist—or someone who cares about alleviating the suffering of the world’s poorest people–this still represents a miracle. But a skeptic of globalization might wonder whether it can really be called a success if broad middle-class living standards still remain the exclusive privilege of a handful of nations, many of them former colonial powers...

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John Authers: Newsletter: Powell Will Need a Horror Show to Cut Again https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwDrvGtsgdxLzJlcxQKswVjrTMM: 'Every so often, I make a good call. It’s nice when it happens. So I start by drawing your attention to... “Could this be the point when Powell tries to stake out his hawkish credentials once again, and stock market day-traders, mugs though they are, show they have at last learned to anticipate this and price it in? We will know soon enough.” It turns out that the answer was “yes”.  One more good call and I can say I am right more often than a broken clock.... The Federal Open Market Committee cut its target rate for the third meeting running, and tried to give itself space not to cut again, also for the third time running.... But it still included a caveat which was enough to reassure everyone that he was no more hawkish than they had feared: “if developments emerge that are a cause for a material reassessment of our outlook, we would respond accordingly.”... A “material reassessment” would imply the Fed would need to be proved seriously wrong, which in turn would imply a recession. So we could go along with the gloriously lugubrious assessment of TS Lombard’s U.S. economist Steve Blitz: “This means it will take recessionary signals to cut and that, in turn, means they will be too late to avoid recession.” That is in line with the lesson of history... either there is a recession, or the Fed has cut as much as anyone could have hoped. Now, eat, drink and make merry...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (October 31, 2019)

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MUST OF THE MUSTS

  • Comment of the Day: Grizzled in Age of the Expert as Policymaker Is Coming To an End https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/comment-of-the-day-_grizzled_-in-age-of-the-expert-as-policymaker-is-coming-to-an-end-alas-i-dont-think-its-usual.html: 'Alas, I don't think it's usually possible for non-experts to evaluate expert judgements. The Reinhard and Rogoff example is more the exception than the rule. Consider the case of global warming. Google 'Conversion of a Global Warming Skeptic'. This is a case where is took 18 months of work, which was funded so it could be not only full time but assisted, for a Phd in physics to accumulate enough background to become convinced that the climate scientists had been right all along...

  • Hoisted from the Archives: _Orlando Letelier (1976): The ‘Chicago Boys’ in Chile: Economic Freedom’s Awful Toll: _ https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/orlando-letelier-1976-the-chicago-boys-in-chile-economic-freedoms-awful-toll-hoisted-from-the-archives.html: 'It is nonsensical... that those who inspire, support or finance that economic policy should try to present their advocacy as restricted to “technical consid erations,” while pretending to reject the system of terror it requires to succeed...

  • Hoisted from the Archives: Contra Raghu Rajan: Economic Stimulus Has Not Failed, It Has Not Been Tried (on a Large Enough Scale) https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/contra-raghu-rajan-economic-stimulus-has-not-failed-it-has-not-been-tried-on-a-large-enough-scale.html: 'Back in 2007 I would have said that every macroeconomist who has done any homework at all believes that coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion together increase at least the flow of nominal GDP. Now comes the very smart Raghu Rajan to say, apparently, not so...

  • Weekend Reading: Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/benjamin-wittes-the-collapse-of-the-presidents-defense-weekend-reading.html: 'It was never a strong defense. After all, Trump himself released the smoking gun early in L’Affaire Ukrainienne when the White House published its memo of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That document erased any question as to whether Trump had asked a foreign head of state to “investigate”—a euphemism for digging up dirt on—his political opponents. There was no longer any doubt that he had asked a foreign country to violate the civil liberties of American citizens by way of interfering in the coming presidential campaign. That much we have known for certain for weeks. The clarity of the evidence did not stop the president’s allies from trying to fashion some semblance of defense. But the past few days of damaging testimony have stripped away the remaining fig leaves...

  • Weekend Reading: Milton Friedman (1982): Free Markets and the Generals https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/milton-friedman-1982-free-markets-and-the-generals-weekend-reading.html: 'Military juntas in other South American countries have been as authoritarian in the economic sphere as they have been in politics.... None, with the exception of Chile, has supported a fully free market economy as a matter of principle. Chile is an economic miracle. Inflation has been cut from 700% a year in mid-1974 to less than 10% a year. After a difficult transition, the economy boomed, growing an aver age of about 8% a year from 1976 to 1980. Real wages and employment rose rapidly and unemployment fell. Imports and exports surged after export subsidies were eliminated and tariffs were slashed to a flat 10% (except for temporarily higher rates for most automobiles)...

  • Voltaire: The Presbyterians https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/voltaire-the-works-of-voltaire-vol-xix-philosophical-letters: 'Though the Episcopal and Presbyterian sects are the two prevailing ones in Great Britain, yet all others are very welcome to come and settle in it, and they live very sociably together, though most of their preachers hate one another almost as cordially as a Jansenist damns a Jesuit. Take a view of the Royal Exchange in London, a place more venerable than many courts of justice, where the representatives of all nations meet for the benefit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian transact business together, as though they were all of the same religion, and give the name of Infidels to none but bankrupts; there the Presbyterian confides in the Anabaptist, and the Churchman depends upon the Quaker’s word. At the breaking up of this pacific and free assembly, some withdraw to the synagogue, and others to take a glass. This man goes and is baptized in a great tub, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that man has his son’s foreskin cut off, and causes a set of Hebrew words—to the meaning of which he himself is an utter stranger—to be mumbled over the infant; others retire to their churches, and there wait the inspiration of heaven with their hats on; and all are satisfied. If one religion only were allowed in England, the government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another’s throats; but, as there is such a multitude, they all live happy, and in peace...

  • The fall of the Roman Empire in the west: implications for literature and literary culture: Erich Auerbach: Mimesis: 'Gregory of Tours: "Serious local fighting arose at that time between inhabitants of the region of Tours. For Sicharius, son of the late John, celebrated the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord at the village of Manthelan with Austrighiselus and the other neighbors. And the priest of the place sent a boy over to invite some of the men to come to his house for a drink. When the boy got there, one of those he invited drew his sword and did not refrain from striking at him. He fell down and was dead. Sicharius was friendly with the priest, and when he heard that one of his boys had been murdered, he took his arms and went to the church to wait for Austrighiselus...

  • But... But... But... There are no hot summer nights in Sausalito!: Wikipedia: Sausalito Summernight https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sausalito_Summernight...

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IMHO, the late Marty Weitzman's finest work. I would give a testicle or equivalent value to have written this:

Marty Weitzman: Prices vs. Quantities https://delong.typepad.com/prices-vs-quantities.pdf: "There is, it seems to me, a rather fundamental reason to believe that quantities are better signals for situations demanding a high degree of coordination. A classical example would be the short run production planning of intermediate industrial materials. Within a large production organization, be it the General Motors Corporation or the Soviet industrial sector as a whole, the need for balancing the output of any intermediate commodity whose production is relatively specialized to this organization and which cannot be effortlessly and instantaneously imported from or exported to a perfectly competitive outside world puts a kink in the benefit function. If it turns out that production of ball bearings of a certain specialized kind (plus reserves) falls short of anticipated internal consumption, far more than the value of the unproduced bearings can be lost. Factors of production and materials that were destined to be combined with the ball bearings and with commodities containing them in higher stages of production must stand idle and are prevented from adding value all along the line. If on the other hand more bearings are produced than were contemplated being consumed, the excess cannot be used immediately and will only go into storage to lose implicit interest over time. Such short run rigidity is essentially due to the limited substitutability, fixed coefficients nature of a technology based on machinery. Other things being equal, the asymmetry between the effects of overproducing and underproducing are more pronounced the further removed from final use is the commodity and the more difficult it is to substitute alternative slack resources or to quickly replenish supplies by emergency imports. The resulting strong curvature in benefits around the planned consumption levels of intermediate materials tends to create a very high comparative advantage for quantity instruments. If this is combined with a cost function that is nearly linear in the relevant range, the advantage of the quantity mode is doubly compounded...

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Carmen Ye: Why We Need Better Re-Employment Policies For Formerly Incarcerated African American Men: "African American men... 33 percent of the 1.56 million Americans held in state or federal prisons.... When these men are released from prison, what will their employment prospects look like?... Black applicants with no criminal record receive a callback or job offer at the same rate as white applicants with a felony conviction. Yet black applicants without a criminal record were three times as likely to get a callback as those with a record...

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I have some disagreements with this by the smart Sufi, Mishkin, and Hooper: the evidence for "significant nonlinearity" in the Phillips Curve is that the curve flattens when inflation is low, not that it steepens when labor slack is low. There is simply no "strong evidence" of significant steepening with low labor slack. Yes, you can find specifications with a t-statistic of 2 in which this is the case, but you have to work hard to find such specifications, and your results are fragile. The fact is that in the United States between 1957 and 1988—the first half of the last 60 years—the slope of the simplest-possible adaptive-expectations Phillips Curve was -0.54: each one-percentage point fall in unemployment below the estimated natural rate boosted inflation in the subsequent year by 0.54%-points above its contemporary value. Since 1988—in the second half of the past 60 years—the slope of this simplest-possible Phillips curve has been effectively zero: the estimated regression coefficient has been not -0.54 but only -0.03. The most important observations driving the estimated negative slope of the Phillips Curve in the first half of the past sixty years were 1966, 1973, and 1974—inflation jumping up in times of relatively-low unemployment—and 1975, 1981, and 1982—inflation falling in times of relatively-high unemployment. The most important observations driving the estimated zero slope of the Phillips Curve in the second half of the past sixty years have been 2009-2014: the failure of inflation to fall as the economy took its Great-Recession excursion to a high-unemployment labor market with enormous slack. Yes, if we had analogues of (a) two presidents, Johnson and Nixon, desperate for a persistent high-pressure economy; (b) a Federal Reserve chair like Arthur Burns eager to accommodate presidential demands; (c) the rise of a global monopoly in the economy's key input able to deliver mammoth supply shocks; and (d) a decade of bad luck; then we might see a return to inflation as it was in the (pre-Iran crisis) early and mid-1970s. But is that really the tail risk we should be focused monomaniacally on? And how is it, exactly, that "the difference between national and city/state results in recent decades can be explained by the success that monetary policy has had in quelling inflation and anchoring inflation expectations since the 1980s"? Neither of those two should affect the estimated coefficient. Much more likely is simply that—at the national level and at the city/state level—the Phillips Curve becomes flat when inflation becomes low:

Peter Hooper, Frederic S. Mishkin, and Amir Sufi: Prospects for Inflation in a High Pressure Economy: Is the Phillips Curve Dead or Is It Just Hibernating? https://delong.typepad.com/files/phillips-hibernating-1.pdf: "Evidence on whether the Phillips curve is dead, i.e. that its slope has flattened to zero. National data going back to the 1950s and 60s yield strong evidence of negative slopes and significant nonlinearity in those slopes, with slopes much steeper in tight labor markets than in easy labor markets. This evidence of both slope and nonlinearity weakens dramatically based on macro data since the 1980s for the price Phillips curve, but not the wage Phillips curve. However, the endogeneity of monetary policy and the lack of variation of the unemployment gap, which has few episodes of being substantially below zero in this sample period, makes the price Phillips curve estimates from this period less reliable. At the same time, state level and MSA level data since the 1980s yield significant evidence of both negative slope and nonlinearity in the Phillips curve. The difference between national and city/state results in recent decades can be explained by the success that monetary policy has had in quelling inflation and anchoring inflation expectations since the 1980s. We also review the experience of the 1960s, the last time inflation expectations became unanchored, and observe both parallels and differences with today. Our analysis suggests that reports of the death of the Phillips curve may be greatly exaggerated...

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There is no single effect of "automation" on the workforce and the labor market. It is long past time for us to dig deeper, and here is a good piece of spadework:

Sotiris Blanas, Gino Gancia, and Tim Lee: How Different Technologies Affect Different Workers https://voxeu.org/article/how-different-technologies-affect-different-workers_: "Since the early 1980s, technology has reduced the demand for low and medium-skill workers, the young, and women, especially in manufacturing industries. The column investigates which technologies have had the largest effect, and on which types of worker. It finds that robots and software raised the demand for high-skill workers, older workers, and men, especially in service industries.... From 1982 to 2005, using data from 30 industries spanning roughly the entire economies of ten high-income countries.... We used the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) to evaluate which jobs are more prone to automation based on the type of tasks they require.... Industrial robots decrease low-skill employment, while they increase the income shares of high and medium-skill workers, old workers, and men.... In manufacturing, robots lower low-skill, young, and female employment, while in services, they increase medium-skill and male employment. In both sectors, robots increase the income shares of high-skill, old, and male workers. Our results are consistent with the view that robots replace workers who perform routine tasks, especially in sectors where automation is more widespread, such as manufacturing. By contrast, they increase employment and incomes in sectors where automation has started more recently, such as in services, a sector in which new occupations are appearing. Given the industrial and occupational composition of these sectors, that robots are likely to complement engineers, product designers and managers–that is, occupations that are dominated by high-skill, more senior, and male workers. Software has a similar effect to robots, whereas ICT capital is associated with employment gains mostly for medium and low-skill workers...

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Gary Forsythe: A Critical History of Early Rome: 'By 264 B.C. peninsular Italy was firmly under Roman military control. Its population consisted of three different categories of people. First of all, there were the Roman citizens. They occupied the actual territory of the Roman state, which stretched across central Italy from the Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic, extended southward in a strip down along the Volscian coast to the Bay of Naples, and included northern Campania. According to Roman census figures, which seem to be credible from the early third century B.C. onwards, the adult male Roman population at this time numbered more than a quarter of a million. Secondly, there were the states allied to Rome. In geography and population they formed the largest of the three categories. They were the various Etruscan, Umbrian, Picene, Sabellian, Messapic, and Greek communities of northern and southern Italy, who still exercised local autonomy over their own affairs but were bound to Rome by individual bilateral treaties. Generally speaking, these states were governed by republican constitutions of various configurations, and political power was largely in the hands of local landed elites, who had the same basic social, economic, and political interests and outlook as the Roman aristocracy. The third category of people in Roman Italy were the Latin colonies scattered throughout the peninsula. Since their inhabitants enjoyed Latin status and had Rome as their mother-city, they were closely bound to the Roman state by law, language, culture, and sentiment. Though numerically the smallest of the three categories, their numbers were deployed geographically to best safeguard Roman interests in the lands of the allied communities. Rome held the commanding central position of this legal structure, which integrated all these peoples into a single military organization. Both the Italian allies and the Latin colonies were bound directly to Rome by individual treaties which spelled out their rights and obligations. As long as domestic tranquillity was maintained, Rome was content to allow the allied...

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Phoebe Weston: Ancestral Home of All Human Beings Discovered https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/homo-sapiens-origin-humans-botswana-zambezi-river-a9174396.html: 'Vast wetland south of Zambezi river was cradle of all mankind and sustained our ancestors for 70,000 years: Scientists have pinpointed a fertile river valley in northern Botswana as the ancestral home of all human beings: The earliest anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens) arose 200,000 years ago in a vast wetland south of the Zambezi river which was the cradle of all mankind, a new study has revealed. This lush region–which also covered parts of Namibia and Zimbabwe – was home to an enormous lake which sustained our ancestors for 70,000 years, according to the paper published in the journal Nature. Between 110,000 and 130,000 years ago, the climate started to change and fertile corridors opened up out of this valley. For the first time, the population began to disperse–paving the way for modern humans to migrate out of Africa, and ultimately, across the world...

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Alwyn Young (1994): The Tyranny of Numbers: Confronting the Statistical Realities of the East Asian Growth Experience https://www.nber.org/papers/w4680: 'The fundamental role played by factor accumulation in explaining the extraordinary postwar growth of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.... While the growth of output per capita in these economies has averaged 6% to 7% per annum over the past two and a half decades, the growth of output per effective worker in the non-agricultural sector of these economies has been only 3% to 4% per annum.... Total factor productivity growth rates... are well within the bounds of those experienced by the OECD and Latin American economies over equally long periods of time. While the growth of output and manufacturing exports in the newly industrializing economies of East Asia is virtually unprecedented, the growth of total factor productivity in these economies is not...

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Justin August: Upgrading to OSX Catalina as an Anaconda User https://medium.com/@justinaugust/upgrading-to-osx-catalina-as-an-anaconda-user-2e71db194764: 'Big news! There’s a new MacOS out! It brings lots of nice features. Bad news! If you’re a user of the Anaconda distribution for Python, Data Analysis and Jupyter Notebooks you may want to wait. Installing Catalina will disable your Anaconda distribution and move the folder from your root directory to a folder on your desktop called Relocated Items. More details can be found here. My steps for correcting this were...

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The fall of the Roman Empire in the west: implications for literature and literary culture: Erich Auerbach: Mimesis: 'Gregory of Tours: "Serious local fighting arose at that time between inhabitants of the region of Tours. For Sicharius, son of the late John, celebrated the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord at the village of Manthelan with Austrighiselus and the other neighbors. And the priest of the place sent a boy over to invite some of the men to come to his house for a drink. When the boy got there, one of those he invited drew his sword and did not refrain from striking at him. He fell down and was dead. Sicharius was friendly with the priest, and when he heard that one of his boys had been murdered, he took his arms and went to the church to wait for Austrighiselus...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-29:

  1. Boing Boing: Multi-Tools https://www.getgeekey.com https://kelvintools.com/product/kelvin-spinner/ https://1tac.com/shop/accessories/wallet-multi-tool https://www.gearinfusion.com/products/everratchet...

  2. Daniella Thompson: High-Peaked Colonial Revival, a Bay Area Phenomenon

  3. Nadiezda Kizenko (2000): A Prodigal Saint: Father John of Kronstadt and the Russian People https://books.google.com/books?isbn=027101976X: "Three introductory comments.... While I have tried to do justice to a figure as complex as Father John, this is not a hagiography.... Because I intend this book... for readers... interest[ed] in the history of Russia and... of Christianity, I have included background material.... I am well aware that Father John still sparks intense reactions...

  4. Orlando Letelier: The ‘Chicago Boys’ in Chile: Economic Freedom’s Awful Toll https://www.thenation.com/article/the-chicago-boys-in-chile-economic-freedoms-awful-toll/: 'Repression for the majorities and “economic freedom” for small privileged groups are two sides of the same coin...

  5. Joshua Gans: Does Being Rich Make You Better at Allocating Capital? https://digitopoly.org/2019/10/27/does-being-rich-make-you-better-at-allocating-capital/...

  6. Steven Greenhouse: Where Are the Workers When We Talk About the Future of Work? https://prospect.org/labor/where-are-the-workers-when-we-talk-about-the-future-of-work/: 'CEOs, Silicon Valley investors, and techno-academics talk to themselves about new technologies, but workers must have a say in these debates as well...

  7. Emily Stewart: Elizabeth Warren Has a Lot of Supporters on Wall Street Over Trump https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/10/23/20916138/wall-street-elizabeth-warren-supporters-donald-trump: '“I’m fully on board with soaking the rich, 100 percent, and if that involves me paying more taxes, let’s go”...

  8. João Medeiros: This Economist Has a Plan to Fix Capitalism. It's Time We All Listened https://www.wired.co.uk/article/mariana-mazzucato: 'Mariana Mazzucato has demonstrated that the real driver of innovation isn't lone geniuses but state investment. Now she's working with the UK government, EU and UN to apply her moonshot approach to the world's biggest challenges...

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Contra Raghu Rajan: Economic Stimulus Has Not Failed, It Has Not Been Tried (on a Large Enough Scale)

Hoisted from the Archives from 2013: Contra Raghu Rajan: Economic Stimulus Has Not Failed, It Has Not Been Tried (on a Large Enough Scale): "Back in 2007 I would have said that every macroeconomist who has done any homework at all believes that coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion together increase at least the flow of nominal GDP. Now comes the very smart Raghu Rajan to say, apparently, not so.... From my perspective... Raghu is... saying that if we were to undertake more aggressive coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion we would hit the inflation wall sooner than I think likely--that the difficulties of retraining and readjustment mean that the division of the increase in the flow of spending would soon shift to 100% inflation, 0% extra production. Perhaps it will. But we have not gotten there yet. We are still in a world where the flow of nominal GDP in the North Atlantic is some six percentage points below its pre-2008 trend. Fix that trend of nominal GDP first via coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion, and then we will examine the division at the margin of PY into P and Y, and talk…...

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