Noted for March 17, 2013
Highlighted on Brad DeLong's Weblog

Noted for March 18, 2013

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  • Gillian Flaccus: LA Archdiocese Settles Four Sex Abuse Cases For $10M: "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese… will pay nearly $10 million… priest… told Cardinal Roger Mahony nearly 30 years ago he had molested children…. Mahony… didn’t do enough to stop Baker…. Mahony… was rebuked by his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, last month after confidential church files showed the cardinal worked behind the scenes to shield molesting priests and protect the church from scandal."

  • Paul Krugman: Delusions at the European Commission: "[T]he European Commission… is pursuing a 'delicate balance'… how does that… feel in countries with 15, 20, 25 percent unemployment?… [I]t’s quite a spectacle to see officials patting themselves on the back over an economic strategy that… tipped Europe back into recession…. For me, however, the real 'tell' is… 'In Germany, the fiscal stance is now broadly neutral, hence consistent with the call for a differentiated fiscal stance according to the budgetary space.' Translation: Germany isn’t imposing Greek-level austerity, which proves that we’re flexible!… Europe as a whole is pursuing… fiscal austerity… inappropriate in a still-depressed economy…. [T]he Commission should be urging those countries not suffering from a debt crisis to be engaged in offsetting expansion — not giving Germany a thumbs up when it has in fact been moving in the the wrong direction…. Instead, they’re engaged in self-justification, covering over the horror of the European situation with a blanket of soothing words."

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  • From Nixon in China: "Young as we/are we expect fear,/every year/more of us bow/beneath the shadow/of the next blow./Down on all fours/our grandfathers/swallow abuse/as if by choice/the humble flesh/kisses the lash,/spit and polish,/polish and spit/blacken the boot/and they submit,/embrace the foot,/cushion the kick:/rabbit and snake/dance cheek to cheek./we are awake,/we know these matters,/how the poor debtors/still sell their daughters,/how in the drought/men still grow fat/on the profit/won grain by grain/from other men/caught in the famine/who trade their oxen/for a day’s ration;/then the plow goes,/then tools, then clothes,/at last the land./Where is the bound,/naked and stunned/Hand over hand/he drags his skin./Look at him grin/he can’t complain./Look at that thing/that was his tongue/he won’t be long."

  • Emily Gowers: Roman Markets: "[T]he extraordinary minute gradations of choice we know were available in imperial Rome – Pliny lists at least nine different types of writing paper, twelve kinds of plum, twenty-seven varieties of liner – speak of a complex system of discrimination and a demanding consumer base…. Arcane vocabulary attached itself to various trades: purpurarius meant a dealer in purple cloth, crepidarius maker of sandals, coactilarius a felt worker, faber oculariarius a maker of eyes for statues… seasonal peaks, like the rush on sigillaria (traditional figurines), hams and candles before the December Saturnalia; specialist shopping districts, like the Horrea Piperataria for spices; and out of town production sites, like the tile and brick factory owned by Domitia Lucilla, mother of Marcus Aurelius…. There were customs duties, credit mechanisms and even the odd 'pop-up' shop for merchandise that had fallen off the back of a chariot…. The review illustrates the early emergence of market-based economic activity of longevity undermining Polanyi’s claims of the uniqueness of 19th-century capitalism…. Roman civilisation added another major ingredient of market economies, namely large government spending, particularly in Rome’s case that of an active garrison army dispersed to all regions of the Empire."

  • Brad DeLong (2010): What is the second most important thing for you to remember from your Econ 1 course?: "It is how… many ways a market economy can go wrong…. If your wealth and income are zero, then the market literally does not care whether you live or die--it is of no interest to it at all. Second, the market will go wrong if commodities do not have the proper characteristics. Remember: rivalry, excludability, and also information--people have to know what they are buying…. Third… that the market is efficient hinges on the absence of market power…. Fourth, the market will go wrong if prices do not equalize quantities supplied and quantities demanded at every moment… for any sociological or psychological reason…. Fifth, the market will go wrong if Say's Law breaks down. If there is substantial downward pressure on spending on currently-produced goods and services because of an excess demand for financial assets of a kind that the private sector cannot immediately and instantaneously generate on a large scale, then… we will have a downturn and a depression…. Sixth, the market will go wrong whenever its prices function as forecasting mechanisms. A proper forecasting mechanism would weigh each individual's opinion by the precision of his or her knowledge. A market tends on the contrary to weigh each individual's opinion by his or her wealth…. Bubbles and crashes, manias and panics, are thus built into the system. Seventh, the market will go wrong whenever individuals are bad judges of their own long-term interests…. A good government will put its thumb on the scale in order to offset all of these seven forms of market failure. A great government will have foresight and take care to structure political-economic institutions to make these seven arenas of myopia and market failure as small as possible. Remember this. Keep it as an active process running on your wetware always. Lay up this idea in your heart and in your soul. Bind it for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. Teach it to your children when thou sittest in thine house, when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: that thy days and the days of thy children--or at least the commodities they own--may be multiplied."

On March 17, 2013: