Briefly Noted for 2020-09-25

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Well, a decade late and many dollars short, we seem to have become the conventional wisdom! Would only that the Economist had listened to our arguments, and been on our side a decade ago! It was always more than tenable. It was always very attractive:

Economist: Governments Can Borrow More than Was Once Believed https://www.economist.com/schools-brief/2020/09/12/governments-can-borrow-more-than-was-once-believed: ‘The global financial crisis pushed rates around the world to near zero.... In 2012 Larry Summers... and Brad DeLong... suggested a large Keynesian stimulus... the gains it would provide by boosting the growth rate of gdp might outstrip the cost of financing the debt…. As the years went by... the notion of borrowing for fiscal stimulus started to seem more tenable, even attractive…. Governments ideally ought to make sure that new borrowing is doing things that will provide a lasting good, greater than the final cost of the borrowing. If money is very cheap and likely to remain so, this will look like a fairly low bar…

 

Walter Womacka: Socialist "Realist" Stained Glass https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/12/walter-womackas-socialist-realist-stained-glass.html: ‘East Germany as it wished it had been, was, and would become…

Sagarmatha https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Everest

Bertolt Brecht: To Those Born Afterward https://holgerszesnat.wordpress.com/2005/04/25/bertolt-brecht-to-those-born-later/

URL to Interact https://url-to-interact.herokuapp.com/

Daron Acemoglu: Colonial Origins Data Archive https://economics.mit.edu/faculty/acemoglu/data/ajr2001: ‘The zipped data and program files necessary for reproducing the tables and figures in The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation...

Wikipedia: Dark Shadows https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Shadows_(televised_storylines): ‘Storylines…

Dan Seifert: Ring’s Latest Security Camera Is a Drone that Flies Around Inside Your House https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/24/21453709/ring-always-home-cam-indoor-drone-security-camera-price-specs-features-amazon

Chrystia Freeland: The rise of the New Global Super-Rich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6NKdnZvdoo

Walter Greason & Kari Leigh Merritt: The 2020 Election & Beyond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9XvCoYh6Tk: ‘Greason explains how we should not become solely focused on the upcoming election, but instead see the broader picture and honor the successes of the MOVEMENT. He discusses his experiences as a multi-cultural organizer and lays out a brilliant plan to help save higher education.... The importance of art, comics, and Afrofuturism.... The importance of friendship, camaraderie, and community…

At a 1% mortality rate, this means COVID-19 had as of three weeks ago already burned through 1/10 of the African-American community—as opposed to 1/20 of the white American community. But there is large differential mortality comparing African-Americans and white Americans as well, which I cannot now put my hands on good estimates of: Trevon Logan: ’1 in 1020 Black Americans https://twitter.com/TrevonDLogan/status/1309475741231460352 have died of COVID-19.

This is a very useful near real-time take on what is going on right now, out there in the economy: Raksha Kopparam & al.: Equitable Growth’s Household Pulse Graphs: September 2–14 Edition https://equitablegrowth.org/equitable-growths-household-pulse-graphs-september-2-14-edition/: ‘Over 50 percent of respondents in households making less than $50K reported having experienced loss of employment income since March 13…

I do not think we understand who the median effective investors in financial markets are, and why they think what they do: John Auther: It's a Weird World Where FANGs Are a Haven Asset https://delong.typepad.com/files/column-authers-2020-09-21-fangs.pdf: ‘FANG popularity... rests on the perception that they are defensive... eentrenched competitive position[s]... thought to offer safety. Meanwhile, the banks are the polar opposite…. [Since] March… the 10-year Treasury yield… has oscillated… around... 0.666% level... strange because the Federal Reserve isn’t yet formally attempting to control 10-year yields, despite widespread speculation that it will start to do so before long. And views on inflation... have gone through huge changes during the .666 era…

Shapiro and Varian have long had great success by saying that the information-age economy raises little in the way of questions about antitrust that the First Gilded Age did not. But that is not quite true: Michael Kades & Fiona Scott Morton: Interoperability as a Competition Remedy for Digital Networks https://equitablegrowth.org/working-papers/interoperability-as-a-competition-remedy-for-digital-networks/: ‘Addressing entry barriers created by network effects is critical to remedying... monopolization... (e.g. Facebook).... Interoperability... a necessary, but not necessarily a sufficient, condition.... How to make an interoperability requirement effective... how rulemaking could ameliorate these challenges…

Not even Johnson in Britain or Bolsonaro in Brazil has as limited and faulty a grasp of what's what as American president. And nobody in the administration appears to be doing anything constructive: Jonathan Bernstein: ‘Some 200,000 people in the U.S. have died.... https://delong.typepad.com/files/column-bernstein-2020-09-22-trump-denial.pdf The fight against the pandemic... has... severely disrupted the lives of almost everyone. For a dissenting view, however, we have the president… “Below the age of 18, like—nobody… It affects virtually nobody....” Emphasis added. Look: I don’t like to dwell on this stuff. But... this is monstrous behavior from any elected official…

Reporting from an Ohio county that went for Trump over HRC by 3-to-1 in 2016, John Scalzi finds the Trumpists will be dead and damned before they will mask up themselves: John Scalzi: The State of Masking in Trump Country: An Anecdotal Report https://whatever.scalzi.com/2020/09/22/the-state-of-masking-in-trump-country-an-anecdotal-report/: ‘Trump... has made wearing them both political and a referendum on masculinity, so it’s not entirely surprising if his supporters have followed suit. Does this mean that I am getting terrible looks from dudes because I’m wearing a mask? Not at all; mostly everyone in Kroger and elsewhere is working on minding their own business…. My anecdotal experience is anecdotal…. I’m not thrilled…. What I’m going to do is a) stay home most of the time, b) mask myself up when I do go out, and c) keep out of the way of the maskless when I can, and I mostly can…

 

Plus:

This is by far the worst news I have seen in six months, because Aaron Carroll is a very credible observer and guide, and he is now profoundly depressed. Given American political dysfunction and given the current prevalence of the virus, we need to get testing up to 10 million a day—and then act on what those tests tell us—to have a chance of pushing our current well below one so that anything like normal life can resume. Yet there are no signs we are on a path to anything like that outcome:

Aaron Carroll: Stop Expecting Life to Go Back to Normal Next Year https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/15/opinion/coronavirus-precautions.html?smid=tw-share: ‘We still need to figure out how to live in this new world, now, and that means embracing, finally, all the strategies for fighting the virus that many of us have resisted. It’s not too late to invest in testing both symptomatic and asymptomatic people. Back in the spring, I estimated that we might need a million tests a week to manage the virus. That estimate assumed that America would drive the prevalence rate of the disease into the ground, much as other countries did. We failed.... We need much more than a million tests a week... ubiquitous, cheap, fast tests... distributed widely... isolate... quarantine.... We need to normalize mask-wearing.... Finally, we need a functioning scientific infrastructure to provide detailed and specific plans.... This is a marathon, not a sprint. Both, though, require running…

 

Start with the propositions the role of the university system is to maximize societal value-added well also enabling upward social mobility. With those goals in mind, we could then have discussions about (a) how much to invest in higher-education institutions (b) of which types, and (c) how to allocate places in those institutions, plus (d) what is the best way to finance that societal investment. Very, very, very few discussions of admissions policies have this framing. One result is that we know astonishingly little about the effects of different setups. Here the very wise Zach Bleemer closes some of our knowledge gap:

Zachary Bleemer: Top Percent Policies & the Return to Postsecondary Selectivity http://zacharybleemer.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ELC_Paper.pdf: ‘University policies that boost the chances of admission for targeted groups with relatively low standardized test scores are highly controversial. I provide new evidence on the impact of a “top percent” admissions policy implemented by the University of California (UC) system between 2001 and 2011. Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) guaranteed admission to participating UC campuses for the top 4 percent of graduates from most California high schools. Using a novel longitudinal database covering the ELC era’s 1.7 million UC applicants–including each student’s enrollments, degree attainment, and early-career earnings–and a regression discontinuity research design, I begin by showing that ELC eligibility increased the likelihood that barely-eligible applicants from bottom-SAT-quartile high schools enrolled at four selective UC campuses by 16 percentage points, all of whom would have otherwise enrolled at a less-selective public college or university in California. Those barely-eligible ELC participants had higher five-year graduation rates than barely-ineligible students by 31 percentage points and higher annual mid-20s California earnings by $15,000. ELC participants who would have other- wise enrolled at community colleges or California’s least-selective public universities benefited the most from UC enrollment under ELC; indeed, universities’ graduation rates are shown to effectively proxy ELC participants’ causal effect of enrollment. These results suggest that ELC participants substantially gained from increased overall university quality despite having lower average SAT scores than their UC peers by almost 300 points, dispelling concerns about mismatched university ‘fit’ for the targeted high-GPA low-SAT applicants...

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-23

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William Cohan: Jay Powell Adds Voice to Small Business Cry for Help https://www.ft.com/content/60d8bd2b-0bb5-4e8a-99bc-93653277ec42: ‘US recovery will never come until the companies that account for most jobs get back on their feet…

Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Stupid Plot Tricks https://web.archive.org/web/20070930165557/http://sff.net/paradise/plottricks.htm: ‘The Evil Overlord Devises a Plot…

John Davis: The Mystery of Fort Zinderneuf in Beau Geste https://mysteriouswritings.com/the-mystery-of-fort-zinderneuf-in-beau-geste-by-john-davis/

Simple Minds: Don't You Forget About Me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfcwq44q-vA

Keri Leigh Merritt: 'Am absolutely THRILLED to announce my new fall #Merrittocracy series (in both @youtube & #podcast formats!) 🔥🔥🔥 https://twitter.com/KeriLeighMerrit/status/1303317030133805056. In the 6 weeks leading up to 2020 Election, I will interview 6 top scholars on: The 2020 Election & Beyond: The Possibilities & Pitfalls of a Post-Trump America…

Wikipedia: Lusitania https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusitania: ‘an ancient Iberian Roman province located where modern Portugal (south of the Douro river) and part of western Spain (the present autonomous community of Extremadura and a part of the province of Salamanca) lie…

Bertholt Brecht: To Those Born After http://languagehat.com/page/4/: ‘Men’s strength was little. The goal/Lay far in the distance,/Easy to see if for me/Scarcely attainable./So the time passed away/Which on earth was given me…

Elizabeth Bear: What to Do When You Feel Awful & Nothing Seems to Make Sense: Identifying & Navigating Gaslighting https://medium.com/@matociquala_57740/what-to-do-when-you-feel-awful-nothing-seems-to-make-sense-identifying-navigating-gaslighting-62918f7946c: ‘One mistake we often make is to assume that gaslighting is intentional and calculated. It’s not: like most abuse, it’s reactive and triggered. This status is precisely why the behaviors can seem so random and incomprehensible that they make us, the targets or observers of the behavior, feel out of control ourselves, or as if our own perceptions must be skewed…

Branko seems here to be saying something that is both true and not true: John Woodbridge: 'An old debate https://twitter.com/JVWoodster/status/1306101839205720064 https://youtube.com/watch?v=nsT6gQmesdQ between DeLong and Tim Kane. I feel like these right wing talking points of 1) things are much better than they were in 1910 (or pick a date) and 2) and the impact of technology and it's raising of living standards isn't captured by official statistics seem, honestly, pretty hollow. Branko Milanovic wrote about this comparison in a far more intelligent way than I can: "Had anyone tried grand-parental comparison in Eastern Europe in 1989, he would have been laughed out. And yet, there was not a single indicator (income, life expectancy, education level, housing space) that in 1989 was not better than in 1949...

How to be publicly effective in the dysfunctional public sphere created by the age of Trump—and after: Jonathan Crowe: Opposition in the Age of Gish Gallops https://www.jonathancrowe.net/2016/12/opposition-in-the-age-of-gish-gallops/: ‘The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is a rhetorical strategy of “drowning your opponent in a flood of individually weak arguments in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument collection without great effort…

How to be privately effective in the dysfunctional world created by the age of Trump—and after: Masha Gessen (2016): Autocracy: Rules for Survival https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/11/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival/: ‘The electoral college... two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be…

Norm-breaking as the road to catastrophe: historical analogy: Plutarch: Life of Tiberius Gracchus http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Tiberius_Gracchus*.html: ‘This is said to have been the first sedition at Rome, since the abolition of royal power, to end in bloodshed and the death of citizens; the rest though neither trifling nor raised for trifling objects, were settled by mutual concessions, the nobles yielding from fear of the multitude, and the people out of respect for the senate…

 

J. Bradford DeLong: Imperialism & Underdevelopment, 1870-1914: Intro https://share.mmhmm.app/71d9afc8ded940af83fcfdb582f0f658

J. Bradford DeLong & A. Michael Froomkin (1999): Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrow's Economy http://osaka.law.miami.edu/~froomkin/articles/spec.htm: ‘Adam Smith's case for the invisible hand... will be familiar to almost all.... The revolutions in data processing and data communications may shake these foundations…

 

Plus:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden (2003): As you know, Bob... http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004046.html: ‘I have to quote this one. LanguageHat posted it in the Egoscanning comment thread, in the wake of Arthur Hlavaty’s remark that “I cast no first stones; I was egoscanning when the Web was a scientifictional dream”...

Ralph 4CR looked around in astonishment. “You mean… there are invisible beams all around us, carrying information to all parts of the globe, even as we speak?” The Master of Communications turned towards him solemnly. “Yes,” he asseverated, “and the information is not carried whole, but is broken up into a myriad of infinitesimal packets, to be reassembled without fail when they reach their destination.” “You astonish me,” breathed Ralph. “And this information is accessible to all?” “It is,” nodded the Master. “The issues of the day are debated by all citizens, no matter where they may be located, and communication no longer waits on tides or weather.”

“And what are the great issues so decided?” The Master cast a glance at the poll on his screen: Which Jedi Knight Are You? He looked severe. “I fear our issues would mean nothing to you across the great gulf of time you have traversed. You should go now and refresh yourself. We will speak later. You have much to learn. Vanna, show our young guest to his room.” A lissome blonde appeared from behind a curtain and beckoned…

 

Joseph A. Schumpeter (1946): John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946 https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-schumpeter-keynes-obituary.pdf: 'He was not the sort of man who would bend the full force of his mind to the individual problems of coal, textiles, steel, shipbuilding.... He was the English intellectual, a little deracine... childless and his philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy...

...So he turned resolutely to the only "parameter of action" that seemed left... monetary management.... It might heal.... It would sooth.... Return to a gold system at pre-war parity was more than his England could stand.... Keynesianism is a seedling which cannot be transplanted into foreign soil: it dies there and becomes poisonous....

The social vision first revealed in the Economic Consequences of the Peace... in which investment opportunity flags and saving habits nevertheless persist, is... implemented in the General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money... consumption function... efficiency-of-capital... liquidity-preference... the given wage-unit and the... quantity of money "determine" income and ipso facto employment... the great dependent variables to be "explained."... With Marx, capitalist evolution issues into breakdown.... With Keynes, it issues into a stationary state that constantly threatens to break down.... In both theories, the breakdown is motivated by causes inherent to the working of the economic engine.... This feature naturally qualifies Keynes's theory for the role of "rationalizer" of anti-capitalist volition....

[In] the General Theory, we find... overstatements, moreover, which cannot be reduced to the defensible level, because results depend precisely upon the excess.... One word in the book that cannot be defended... the word "general."... Keynesians may hold that these special cases are the actual ones of our age. They cannot hold more than that.... Keynes wished to secure his major results without appeal to the element of rigidity, just as he spurned the aid he might have derived from imperfections of competition. There were points, however, at which he was unable to do so.... And at other points, rigidities stand in reserve....

It is, of course, always possible to show that the economic system will cease to work if a sufficient number of its adaptive organs are paralyzed. Keynesians like this fire escape no more than do other theorists. Nevertheless, it is not without importance. The classical example is equilibrium under-employment....

Most orthodox Keynesians are "radicals" in one sense or another.... Disciples... see one thing only-an indictment of private thrift and the implications... with respect to the managed economy and inequality of incomes.... Saving had come to be regarded as the last pillar of the bourgeois argument.... Adam Smith['s]... system... amounts to all-around vituperation directed against "slothful" landlords and grasping merchants or "masters".... Marshall and Pigou were in this boat... took it for granted that inequality... was "undesirable."... Many... who entered the field... in the twenties and thirties had renounced allegiance to the bourgeois scheme... sneered at the profit motive and at the element of personal performance in the capitalist process. But... they still had to pay respect to saving-under penalty of losing caste.... Keynes broke their fetters: here, at last, was theoretical doctrine that not only obliterated the personal element and was... at least mechanizable, but also smashed the pillar into dust.... Via saving, "the unequal distribution of income is the ultimate cause of unemployment." This is what the Keynesian Revolution amounts to...

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Meyer: Is America in Decline?—Comment

William Meyer: Is America in Decline? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/09/is-america-in-decline-pairagraph.html?cid=6a00e551f080038834026bde921572200c#comment-6a00e551f080038834026bde921572200c: ‘I have told many younger people that they don't know what prosperous times actually feel like. They've never felt the economy "roar." So, yeah, we're in decline and that's too bad. The truth is, however, that in the USA all the trends that have led us to such a decline are fairly ancient. White racism—based on massive economic exploitation of Native Americans, blacks and immigrants only gradually allowed into the "white" tent—has been a significant defect of America from long before our grandparents were born. The malign influence of great wealth has been a problem at least since the New Deal—if you look at the historical record, every aspect of conservativism has always been carefully watered and fertilized, if not virtually summoned up out of thin air, by ultra-conservative businessmen of great wealth. Our high-veto point Constitution has always been successfully manipulated to block human progress in our practical politics, and has always been far too susceptible and far too friendly to minority rule—a problem since Ratification. Our professional classes, since they got control of their own destinies in the early 20th century, have been ignoring the common good while entrenching their own profit in the law and in medicine. Yes, for a half century we were making progress in at least specific areas. But the malign aspects of the country somehow got the upper hand in the late 1970s and have never relinquished it since. It would be nice if in my adult life the underlying trends turned positive once more. Well, I can hope anyway…

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-22

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FOLD https://readfold.com/

William Baumol (1990): Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive, & Destructive https://delong.typepad.com/baumol-1990-entrepreneurship.pdf

Wikipedia: French Conquest of Algeria https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_conquest_of_Algeria

Gillian Tett, Paul Collier, & Martin Wolf: þe New Social Contract Agenda https://newsocialcontract.live.ft.com/agenda?login=ML: ‘Why Democracy's Future Depends on Citizenship…

Gideon Rachman: Germany Has More Pressing Concerns than Brexit https://www.ft.com/content/e9b7b193-47d4-4887-abe1-2c12f344922a: ‘Chatting to a diplomat in Berlin last week, I suggested that Brexit probably ranked about number four on the list of German foreign-policy concerns. He looked thoughtful and then replied: “I think lower than that”...

Mary Burfisher, Sherman Robinson, & Karen Thierfelder: Agricultural & Food Policies in a United States-Mexico FTA https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/106294089290004B: ‘This paper analyzes the effects of a U.S.-Mexico free trade agreement (FTA) on agriculture. We use a 28-sector, three-country computable general equilibrium (CGE) model in which we explicitly model agricultural and food policies in both countries, and differentiate land types…

W. Arthur Lewis (1977): þe Evolution of þe International Economic Order https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-lewis-evolution-selections.pdf...

Claudia Rei, Bitsy Perlman, & Felipe Valencia Caicedo: Virtual Economic History Seminar https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/crei/virhist/...

Joshua Gans: Reproduction Numbers Tend to 1 & þe Reason Could Be Behavioural https://voxeu.org/article/reproduction-numbers-tend-1-and-reason-could-be-behavioural: ‘Epidemiological models that incorporate rational economic agents tend to predict that pandemics may move towards a steady state for a significant period of time...

 

I confess that I had greatly underestimated the damaging effects of Jim Crow on even the “talented 10th” of the African-American population:

Eric S. Yellin: How þe Black Middle Class Was Attacked by Woodrow Wilson’s Administration https://theconversation.com/how-the-black-middle-class-was-attacked-by-woodrow-wilsons-administration-52200: ‘When Woodrow Wilson arrived in the nation’s capital in March 1913, he brought with him an administration loaded with white supremacists.... Wilson’s personal racism tends to distract us from a bigger story about the changing place of race in American life and politics. Wilson’s administration['s]... impact was not merely the result of one man’s prejudice...

 

The Economist now fears not that the Chinese model will fail and leave China much poorer than it has to be, but that it will succeed:

Economist: þe Chinese Economic Model: Xi Jinping Is Reinventing State Capitalism. Don’t Underestimate It https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/08/13/xi-jinping-is-reinventing-state-capitalism-dont-underestimate-it: ‘The Trump administration... [thought] China’s steroidal state capitalism is weaker than it looks.... Simple, but wrong.... Xi’s... ruthless mix of autocracy, technology and dynamism could propel growth for years. Underestimating China’s economy is hardly a new phenomenon...

 

Another thing that I would not have predicted: that TSMC would become such a key node, asset, and resource in the global economy—something not just producing great economic surplus for the world, but becoming a strategic key in the “weaponized interdependence“ sense:

Paul Mozur: TSMC https://stratechery.com/2020/an-interview-with-paul-mozur-on-technology-in-china: ‘TSMC has basically been pulled into the American camp.... It does feel like in that kind of geopolitical chess match, Taiwan and TSMC are now with the United States, and that leaves China in a very difficult position…

 

I am a sucker for “China pessimism“ pieces. But then, while I have been optimistic about the short-run future of state capitalism with Chinese characteristics, egalitarian aspirations, and Stalinist instincts for 40 years, I have also spent those same 40 years being pessimistic about the long-run future. 40 years is a long time, long enough for it to be clear that I was wrong. So I am not someone you should ask to peer into the crystal ball with respect to China:

Jamil Anderlini: Behind þe Recovery, China’s Economy Is Wobbling https://www.ft.com/content/ef2ac2d3-6389-4ac6-8608-90dbc3e68465?shareType=nongift: ‘The solid rebound was only achieved with Herculean effort from an interventionist state falling back on the same tools it has relied on since the financial crisis of 2008.... A bicycle laden with enormous boxes of debt, ridden by a drunk and with strategic competitors such as the US trying to knock it over...

 

Here the editorial board of the Financial Times grasps at the straw hope that modern neofascism will prove incompetent at governing, even according to the standards of its core supporters. They have not read their 1984. Orwell saw very clearly that what the fascist and Stalinist base want is not for the government to raise the chocolate ration, but only that they be told on the TV that the chocolate ration has been raised. The editorial board knows and they should reflect on how Boris Johnson has managed to move his goalposts so that after the fact he will proclaim Brexit to be a success no matter what happens—for at least England will have “stood up” against the eurocrats and the deracinated rootless cosmopolites:

Financial Times: Competence Is þe Test for Populists https://www.ft.com/content/8e375a56-fddb-4de4-965f-a8edab644a97: ‘Johnson’s campaign poetry has now caught up with him. Far from “getting Brexit done”, his own deal is—in his telling—getting in the way.... It is the political version of a Ponzi scheme: always move on to the next promise before you are asked to deliver on the last one…

 

Plus

Willem Jongman (2006): Gibbon Was Right: þe Decline & Fall of þe Roman Economy https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-jongman-gibbon.pdf: ‘Imagine a pre-industrial and largely agricultural economy in a fairly stable equilibrium. Next that equilibrium is disturbed by catastrophic mortality: what do we expect to happen when the proportion between people and assets changes?… Prices and wages rose quite dramatically in the wake of the Antonine Plague… [and] the coinage itself began its slide into substantial debasement. Theoretically, there was no need for that. The money stock was large, and by now even too large…

...The reason must have been the needs of the state. It had become difficult to collect taxes in the turmoil of the day, precisely when the state also had to finance huge military efforts…. The biggest economic and social change, however, was to the land-labour ratio…. Production per man hour must have gone up…. Conversely, rents [should] have gone down…. The Roman Empire should have turned into a world of happy and prosperous peasants, and much greater social equality…. Theory is impeccable….

Reality was, of course, different…. What we witness from the late second century is the emergence of a new social, political and legal regime, where oppression replaces the entitlements of citizenship…honestiores and humiliores…. Demand for slaves declined because citizens could now be exploited more fully…. Rome debased the value of citizenship and followed the same route that Prussian Junkers were to follow during the so-called second serfdom…. The coloni of the Saltus Burunitanus of 180 were not alone to complain to the emperor about increased oppression and growing abuse. When pushed hard enough, they could have moved, but that was precisely what was to become illegal. Tied to the land, they lost their powers in the market…. The declining legal status of citizens was… an instrument imposed in the face of what would have been an improved economic position for the peasantry if the market would have had its way.

This change in social relations is also reflected culturally. The late second century was a period of important cultural changes… Mithraism… Christianity… new forms of belonging and a sociability that no longer depended on civic life or patronal benevolence….

For me, the interesting thing is the resilience of the Roman state. For more than half a century, the Severan regime maintained the integrity and continuit …. The surprise is not that it finally collapsed, but that it survived… for so long that the crisis later became known as the crisis of the third century, rather than… of the second century…. Just as remarkable as the temporary Severan recovery is the recovery from Diocletian… [which] also generated a measure of economic recovery… substantial enough for late antique economic decline to be dramatic.

The real beginnings of that decline and fall, however, may have been in the beginning of a period of much colder and dryer weather, and in the scourge of the Antonine Plague. With the growth of its Empire, with the growth of its cities, and with the growth of a system of government and transportation based on those cities, Rome had created the perhaps most prosperous and successful pre-industrial economy in history. The age of Antoninus Pius was indeed probably the best age to live in pre-industrial history.

 

Is it the staying at home with lots of time to think, the economic distress and uncertainty, or the heightened fear and consciousness of mortality, or just chance that turn the coronavirus spring into Black Lives Matter spring? Barry Eichengreen believes that it is the second:

Barry Eichengreen: Rage Against þe Pandemic https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/covid19-racial-disparities-fuel-usa-protests-by-barry-eichengreen-2020-06: ‘The connection running in the other direction—from the pandemic to the demonstrations—has received far less attention. Without diminishing for a moment the horror of Floyd’s death, the question is: why now? After all, before Floyd, there was the police killing of Michael Brown... Eric Garner... nearly 100 African-Americans who died in police custody over the past six years...

...One explanation for why Floyd’s killing triggered a national uprising is that an especially horrific recording quickly dominated social media and traditional news outlets alike. But this answer will satisfy only those who have forgotten the equally horrific recording of Garner’s killing. A more convincing explanation must include the pandemic....

The COVID-19 mortality rate is 2.4 times as high among black Americans as white Americans. Even without more images of police brutality, the situation facing many African-Americans, disproportionately affected by the pandemic, was already approaching the unbearable. That is because of America’s threadbare social safety net. Unemployment insurance benefits are typically limited to 26 weeks in the US. Certain states in the South provide fewer. Indeed, some, such as Florida, have intentionally designed their bureaucracies to make applying for unemployment benefits as difficult as possible...

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Robbins: Sleepwalking into Depression: The Economic Response to COVID-19—Noted

Things have not gone as badly in the past two months as Jacob Robbins feared back in mid-July. But we still stand on the knife’s edge of an even deeper depression then we are currently in, with governments about to apply a large deflationary demand shock this fall:

Jacob Robbins: Sleepwalking into Depression: The Economic Response to COVID-19 in the United States https://equitablegrowth.org/research-paper/wage-discrimination-and-the-exploitation-of-workers-in-the-u-s-labor-market/: ‘The few green shoots of improved economic data belie the fact that the health and economic crises are far from over. In fact, we are in danger of sleepwalking into economic depression…. Thanks in large part to pandemic-related income support, spending recovered somewhat in May, rising 8.2 percent… I use real-time payment data from Earnest Research, a company that analyzes spending data from credit and debit cards, to study the latest on how consumer spending is responding to the pandemic…

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Islam: England Has Lost Control Again—Noted

England has now lost control of the coronavirus plague again:

Faisal Islam: 'The PHE surveillance report chart that I followed very closely in early March https://twitter.com/faisalislam/status/1306963521373175811... a leading indicator in showing the pandemic hitting care homes... Acute Respiratory Infections now back up to April levels, but this time fair chunk is in schools…

English acute respiratory infections

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Sahm: GET MORE MONEY OUT—Noted

I understood why professional Republican economists were opposed to expansionary fiscal policy from 2009 to 2013: they thought that multipliers were small, government debt was expensive, and that even extended spells of unemployment were salutory worker-discipline devices that boosted productivity (and made the income distribution more unequal and more just).

And I understood why Republican politicians went along: Democratic President Obama owned the economy, it was not the job of the opposition to be constructive, and, anyway, all Democratic policy initiatives are probably bad ideas.

But now it is a decade later, even the laggards among reality-based economists have learned a lot, and it is Republican President Trump who owns the economy. Thus it is the Republicans who have the incentive to try things. Yet those economists who are professional Republicans first and analysts second are being with absolutely no help. And Claudia Sahm is extremely alarmed:

Claudia Sahm: GET MORE MONEY OUT: IT IS AN AND / BOTH MOMENT!!! https://twitter.com/Claudia_Sahm/status/1306943139526119424: ‘Not holding my breath disappointed many times already... don’t think we are closing in. most important: $3 trillion is bare minimum we need, other smaller proposals are an insult to our crisis!! I am a broken record. NO REGRETS. DC is same train wreck as in Great Recession... we must not again.... We are dealing with the mother of all demand shocks. on top of a pandemic. get money out, and put politics aside!! IT IS AN AND / BOTH MOMENT!!! unemployed, communities small businesses, families ALL NEED MONEY from DC!!!…

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Ruffini: Worker Earnings, Service Quality, & Firm Profitability—Noted

The spring and summer of 2020 were exactly the wrong time to have an economy that places a very low weight on the quality of eldercare:

Krista Ruffini: Worker Earnings, Service Quality, & Firm Profitability: Evidence from Nursing Homes & Minimum Wage Reform https://equitablegrowth.org/working-papers/worker-earnings-service-quality-and-firm-profitability-evidence-from-nursing-homes-and-minimum-wage-reforms/: ‘A ten percent increase in the minimum wage raises low-skilled nursing home workers’ earnings one to two percent, reduces separations, and increases stable hires. These earnings gains and increases in firm-specific human capital translate into marked improvements in patient health and safety. A ten percent increase in the minimum wage would prevent at least 15,000 deaths, lower the number of inspection violations by one to two percent, and reduce the cost of preventable care…

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Gans: Reproduction Numbers Tend to 1 & þe Reason Could Be Behavioural—Noted

I confess that back in March I grossly misjudged the situation. I thought back then that one of two things would happen: (1) We would fail to knock the virus’s R[current] below 1, and the virus would rip through the population in a spring or spring and summer of horror, but it would be largely over by the fall. (2) We would knock the virus’s R[current] below one, and the virus would become a minor annoyance. I completely did not expect what we have now: a seriously depressed economy, with substantial but inadequate social-distancing, mask-wearing, and other measures, keeping the virus‘s R[current] around one, but with every prospect of this plague raging for years until policy somehow changes. Here the very sharp Joshua Gans says: We are economists. We are trained to look for equilibrium positions. So we should have expected this. Yes, I take his point. But I would never have imagined that the equilibrium caseload would be this high, and cause this big an ongoing depression:

Joshua Gans: Reproduction Numbers Tend to 1 & þe Reason Could Be Behavioural https://voxeu.org/article/reproduction-numbers-tend-1-and-reason-could-be-behavioural: ‘Standard epidemiological models that show how infection rates in the population rise and then fall assume that people do not understand what’s going on. When people react to infection rates by changing behaviour, the model’s predictions are no longer valid. This column explains why that can mean that pandemics don’t rage out of control but becoming something more endemic. In particular, epidemiological models that incorporate rational economic agents tend to predict that pandemics may move towards a steady state for a significant period of time...

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Bahn, Stelzner, & Openchowski: Wage Discrimination & þe Exploitation of Workers—Noted

It was decades ago that my ex-roommate Andrei Shleifer asked me: why are there Keynesians and monetarists and Hayekians and institutionalists in economics, but no Galbraithians? I did not have a good answer for him then. But I believe that now I do. It is: we are all Galbraithians now:

Kate Bahn, Mark Stelzner, & Emilie Openchowski: Wage Discrimination & þe Exploitation of Workers in þe U.S. Labor Market https://equitablegrowth.org/research-paper/wage-discrimination-and-the-exploitation-of-workers-in-the-u-s-labor-market/: ‘Characteristics specific to race and gender, such as the lower levels of wealth... increased household responsibilities... make workers of color and women more susceptible to exploitation.... Government support for workers to act collectively boosts worker power, reducing employers’ monopsony power—their ability to set and lower wages—and thus decreasing worker exploitation and wage differences that replicate discriminatory biases against these groups of workers…

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3.1. Imperialism & Colonized || Required Readings || Econ 115 || complete by We 2020-09-23

Prefatory note: In addition to chapter 6—Imperialism & Colonized—of the DeLong draft, the assigned reading this week contains two short pieces, selections from books.

 

The first reading is 19 pages from W. Arthur Lewis's 1977 book The Evolution of the International Economic Order. The 19 pages assigned cover Lewis's story of:

  • the division of the world as a result of 1870 to 1914 globalization into middle class farmers in the global north and poor farmers in the global south,
  • how cumulative processes amplified this difference by concentrating manufacturing with its powerful positive externalities for growth in the global north,
  • how global market fluctuations and depressions further hindered the prospects for growth of countries that were not lucky enough to find themselves in or elbow themselves into the charmed circle,
  • and Lewis’s one-page postscript that provides—from his late 1970s perspective—his list of practical and politically feasible action items to boost global south development.

Focus on Lewis’s major point: that it did not take bad will or large-scale theft and violence (although large-theft and violence there was) for the globalization that brought world trade and colonial rule to serve as a global inequality amplifier: the simple competitive workings of the market did that all on its own, and that outcome of the division of the world into the global north and global south was “efficient”, as economists use that word.

 

The second reading is 15 pages from Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, about the coming of colonialism to the Igbo people of what is now Nigeria. You should all, sometime, read this novel entire—indeed, I suspect that about half of you already have. The portion assigned is the end of the book: from protagonist Okonkwo’s return to his patriarchal-line community from exile to his death by suicide, as accident and conquest by the British colonial masters deprive him of the life he wanted to live, and he cannot find a way through. This is so even as others adjust to the New Dispensation:

The white man had indeed brought a lunatic religion, but he had also built a trading store and for the first time palm-oil and kernel became things of great price, and much money flowed into Umuofia…

Achebe firmly keeps the camera in the book on Okonkwo, but if you look at the margins of the scenes you can see how others react very differently to the inversion of authority and the creation of various kinds of opportunity that global trade, communication, ideas diffusion, and colonial rule bring. How would a novel about one of the other characters be different?

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Steindel: Wage Rigidity—Comment of the Day

Charles Steindel: Comment on Modigliani (1944): Liquidity Preference https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/modigliani-1944-liquidity-preferencenoted.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340263e9612965200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340263e9612965200b: ‘Modigliani '44--a grand vintage! (connoisseurs also should try the '63). Seriously, after 2008 I started musing on the concept of "rigid wages." We vaguely thought of that as essentially an ordinal variable. If wages were less rigid, the economy is more responsive to the real factors, less so to the monetary factors. Now a think it's a lot less linear. Flexible wages and prices (of goods and services) would, it seems, need to be a lot more like asset market prices to be in that blissful non-Keynesian world. But one could hardly live in it; it is convenient to know what a quart of milk will cost in dollars when setting out to the grocery store...

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-17

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George Orwell was very insightful. He focused on the fact that at the core of fascism, in both its right-wing and its left-wing versions and in whatever future versions may emerge, is the ability to tell public lies with impunity—and for supporters to then glory in the facts of the leaders were clever enough to tell them: Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism https://twitter.com/WindsorMann/status/1265793327884046336: ‘Instead of deserting the leaders... they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness…’ Media Matters: : ‘Rush Limbaugh praises the president for being "clever" in sharing conspiracy theories: “Trump is just throwing gasoline on a fire here, and he’s having fun watching the flames...

I think the very sharp Angus Deaton is wrong here. America’s federalism has not been an insuperable obstacle to united national action in the past. Of course, that required presidential leadership and an opposition party willing to buy in and except a share of credit for national action, rather than regarding its primary mission as making the president of the other party appear to be a failure. Perhaps that America that could have reacted properly to coronavirus even with its federalism is long gone: Angus Deaton: America’s Compromised State https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-connecticut-compromise-1987-and-failed-covid-response-by-angus-deaton-2020-07: ‘A malevolent, incompetent Trump administration bears much of the blame for America’s failure to control COVID-19. But there is an additional, less noticed cause: the Connecticut Compromise of 1787.... Each state follows its own instincts and perceived interests, usually myopically...

Looking greatly forward to this: Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Barry Eichengreen: New Thinking in a Pandemic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcHBD-D5CRQ&feature=youtu.be: ‘What will be the political legacy of the Coronavirus pandemic? Will COVID-19 renew or diminish public trust in science? How will the crisis shape “Gen Z”—those who are coming of age during the pandemic?...

I remember that after 2003 I waited for years for the New York Times deep dive: “how Judy Miller fooled herself and us on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons”. It never came. Instead, they went all in on the access journalism of which Judy Miller had been a master. And the problem with access journalism is that, in order to preserve your access, you have to work hard to mislead and misinform your readers. Duncan Black looks at yet another piece of the resulting flaming wreckage: Duncan Black: Scoop of a Lifetime https://www.eschatonblog.com/2020/08/scoop-of-lifetime.html: ‘Maggie Haberman.... “Treating the coronavirus as a blue state problem was a fairly widespread approach in the West Wing...”. Wow! If only you’d been a reporter at a prominent American news outlet so you could have informed the public!... Maggie isn't even saying she missed it, just that it wasn't worth being in the paper of record.... Not infrequently reporters... say, "oh, yes, we knew all that." Cool. Why didn't you tell us?...

And I found this greatly troubling as well: Here we have David Brooks saying: “American democracy is in trouble. Why? Because my journamalistic colleagues and I do not expect to do our jobs competently and truthfully to contextualize and interpret the world to our readers and viewers on the forthcoming November 3”: Steve M.: Just Do Your Damn Jobs https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/09/just-do-your-damn-jobs.html: ‘David Brooks writes: "On the evening of Nov. 3... Donald Trump seems to be having an excellent night..." Why? Why should what's happening be a gut punch? Why should it be perceived that Donald Trump is having an excellent night?...

And here is evidence on the strong positive effect of the 10% opportunity program in Texas: Sandra E. Black, Jeffrey T. Denning, & Jesse Rothstein: Winners and Losers?: The Effect of Gaining and Losing Access to Selective Colleges on Education and Labor Market Outcomes https://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/rothstein_-_winners_and_loosers_abstract_10_2019.pdf: ‘Students who gain access to the University of Texas at Austin see increases in college enrollment and graduation with some evidence of positive earnings gains 7-9 years after college. In contrast, students who lose access do not see declines in overall college enrollment, graduation, or earnings…

I would put this point considerably differently. The stock market is relevant only to how the upper class is doing, yes. But there is more. A high stock market can mean that the present and the future are bright for the upper class. But it can also mean that the future is crap—hence it is worth paying a fortune for anything, anything, that promises to give you even some income in the future. Yes, current stock market values are high. But expected cash flows as a proportion of capital invested—are those high? Really?: Heather Boushey: The Stock Market Is Detached From Economic Reality https://t.co/57ZOJhRJOt?amp=1: ‘Wealthy investors and the Fed have been propping up large companies. It can’t last.… If the stock market doesn’t reflect the health of our economy, what does it reflect? Most directly, it reflects the financial health of the richest among us...

Andrés Velasco: Are We All Keynesians Again? https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/states-must-be-insurer-of-last-resort-against-aggregate-risks-by-andres-velasco-2020-08: ‘Rich-country governments can comfortably borrow far more than fiscal prudes once thought possible... and markets have yet to bat an eyelash.... When the nominal interest rate is at or near zero... savers are happy to hold the dollars, pounds, and euros central banks are printing with abandon. Inflation is nowhere on the horizon...

Steven J. Davis & Till von Wachter: Recessions and the Costs of Job Loss http://www.econ.ucla.edu/tvwachter/papers/BPEA_JobDisplacement_Davis_vonWachter.pdf: ‘Men lose an average of 1.4 years of predisplacement earnings if displaced in mass-layoff events that occur when the national unemployment rate is below 6 percent. They lose a staggering 2.8 years of predisplacement earnings if displaced when the unemployment rate exceeds 8 percent. These results reflect discounting at a 5 percent annual rate over 20 years after displacement

Steve Randy Waldmann: Social democracy & Freedom https://www.interfluidity.com/v2/7557.html: ‘We should return to the wisdom of Milton Friedman, that political freedom is a structural matter, inextricable from economic arrangements.... What is required is some system in which the economic stakes of unpopular speech are unlikely to be so horrible, because the distance between lives of the conformist elite and unwashed others is not so great...

Duncan Black: Medicaid Expansion https://www.eschatonblog.com/2020/08/medicaid-expansion.html: ‘The way the press covers this stuff is that Dems can't support crazy lefty economic policies in swing states because those old white guys in diners can't handle the communism.... That isn't actually how it works. As a now former senator explained... "the Chamber would go after me." He didn't mean "the Chamber" would run a bunch of ads about his support for increasing the minimum wage. That would have been a favor! It was popular! It passed overwhelmingly! He meant they would have dumped a bunch of money in the race nuking him on other issues. Any issue at all. Staying out of it was one way to just keep their money out of the race...

Sean Gallagher: Ars Readers on the Present & Future of Work https://arstechnica.com/features/2020/08/ars-readers-take-on-the-present-and-future-of-work/: ‘“It will suck, until it suddenly stops sucking.”... I’ve curated some of the thoughts of the Ars community on the topics of working better from home and what our shared experiences have taught us about the future of collaboration technology and the future nature of the corporate office...

Ben Smith: I’m Still Reading Andrew Sullivan. But I Can’t Defend Him https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/30/business/media/im-still-reading-andrew-sullivan-but-i-cant-defend-him.html: ‘Sullivan... finds himself now on the outside, most of all, because he cannot be talked out of views on race that most of his peers find abhorrent. I know, because I tried...

Anne Booth and Kent Deng: Japanese Colonialism in Comparative Perspective https://delong.typepad.com/japanese-colonialism-2017.pdf...

Atul Kohli: "Where Do High Growth Political Economies Come From? The Japanese Lineage of Korea's 'Developmental State'" https://delong.typepad.com/highgrowth09_1994.pdf...

Chez Panisse Restaurant: Café Menu https://www.chezpanisse.com/menus/cafe-menu...

 

Plus

Paul Romer (2016): The Trouble with Macroeconomics https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-romer-2016-trouble-macro.pdf: 'For more than three decades, macroeconomics has gone backwards. The treatment of identification now is no more credible than in the early 1970s but escapes challenge because it is so much more opaque. Macroeconomic theorists dismiss mere facts by feigning an obtuse ignorance about such simple assertions as "tight monetary policy can cause a recession." Their models attribute fluctuations in aggregate variables to imaginary causal forces that are not influenced by the action that any person takes. A parallel with string theory from physics hints at a general failure mode of science that is triggered when respect for highly regarded leaders evolves into a deference to authority that displaces objective fact from its position as the ultimate determinant of scientific truth...

Financial Times: Keeping þe Torch of Global Democracy Alight https://www.ft.com/content/4f10a2d7-d380-4b53-a864-35f40aaef298: ‘In Belarus this week, protests over rigged elections have been met by mass arrests and a hail of rubber bullets.... In Hong Kong, China has stepped up its crackdown on democracy and press freedom.... Yet it is not necessarily authoritarians who should be taking heart.... The autocrats may force the democratic impulse underground, but it will not die.... Black Lives Matter rallies in the US and elsewhere demonstrate the urge even in richer countries to oppose injustice.... This year’s US election will be a test. If, as some Americans fear, Mr Trump adopts tactics verging on the authoritarian, the damage to the global democratic cause will be hard to repair…

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-16

Robert Bates: Markets & States Duology: Markets & States in Tropical Africa: The Political Economy of Agricultural Policies https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-bates-markets.pdf || When Things Fell Apart: State Failure in Late-Century Africa https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-bates-state-failure.pdf...

Chinua Achebe: Pentalogy: Things Fall Apart https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-achebe-things.pdf || _No Longer at Ease https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-achebe-ease.pdf || The Arrow of God https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-achebe-arrow.pdf || A Man of the People https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-achebe-people.pdf || Anthills of the Savannah https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-achebe-anthills.pdf...

Colin Leys (1982): Samuel Huntington & the End of Classical Modernization Theory https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-leys-1982-huntington.pdf...

Keri Leigh Merritt: Merrittocracy https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM-jYKFxM03QrkSjvf5MhwA

Joseph Schumpeter (1947): The History of Economic Analysis https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-schumpeter-history-of-economic-analysis.pdf...

David Glasner: Schumpeterian Enigmas https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-glasner-schumpeterian-enigmas.pdf: ‘Schumpeter exhibited a generosity of spirit in his assessments of the work of other economists in... The History of Economic Analysis.... Schumpeter’s own tragic and largely unrealized ambition to achieve the technical analytical breakthroughs to which he accorded highest honors in his assessments of the work of other economists, notably, Quesnay, Cournot and Walras…

Paul Krugman (1989): History vs. Expectations https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-krugman-1989-history.pdf || (1990) Increasing Returns & Economic Geography) https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-krugman-1990-increasing.pdf || (1992): _A Dynamic Spatial Model https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-krugman-19920dynamic-spatial.pdf || (1995): Globalization & the Inequality of Nations https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-krugman-1995-globalization.pdf || (2010): The New Economic Geography: Now Middle-Aged https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-krugman-2010-geography.pdf...

 

Plus

Stefan Gerlach: Crunch Time for Central Banks https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/central-banks-response-to-public-opinion-on-inequality-environment-by-stefan-gerlach-2020-09: ‘In little more than a decade, the global financial crisis, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic have transformed the environment in which central banks operate–and public opinion is not on their side.... Central banks’ responses to the financial crisis and the pandemic have triggered a huge increase in wealth inequality.... That is how monetary policy works. But a large part of the public finds it grossly unfair…

Edward Luce: Donald Trump’s Orwellian Jamboree https://www.ft.com/content/593edb26-f117-4fab-942e-c2e704567582: ‘This year’s Republican convention proves the party is post-ideas—the plan is simply the man.... The image of the US president’s eldest son may differ in the details from that of Big Brother’s boot stamping on the human face. But the message of this week’s Republican National Convention is Orwellian. There is no perceptible platform or even ghost of a second term agenda for Donald Trump’s party. There is thus no possibility of dissent. His chief surrogates are his own family members. The message is Mr Trump, the whole Mr Trump and nothing but Mr Trump...

This is simply an truly excellent two-pager: Equitable Growth: Reforming Unemployment Insurance across the United States https://equitablegrowth.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/conventions-ui-fs.pdf: ’Longstanding problems with the Unemployment Insurance system in the United States are immediately evident amid the coronavirus recession and echo the problems experienced during the Great Recession…. Administrative failures at state Unemployment Insurance agencies. Lack of a permanent Unemployment Insurance program that includes the self-employed and others traditionally left out of the program. Low benefit levels that require emergency top-offs. The temporary nature of fixes when recessions hit, which, in turn, requires renegotiations just months after political compromises are reached. The current disarray in the Unemployment Insurance system is neither a surprise nor an accident. It is the result of decades of conscious choices made by policymakers…

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-14

Brilliant: Austin City Limits (2014): Celebrating 40 Years https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM0fXtg4SOY: ‘An all-star lineup celebrating four decades of Austin City Limits culminates in Buddy Holly's classic "Not Fade Away"...

Tasty: Imperial Tea Court: Our Berkeley Teahouse https://www.imperialtea.com/category-s/1874.htm

Something that has been bugging me for a while that I did not know. why is this office different Wikipedia: The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod: 'The office was created in 1350 by royal letters patent.... The title is derived from the staff of office.... Black Rod is principally responsible for controlling access to and maintaining order within the House of Lords and its precincts.... Black Rod's official duties also include responsibility as the usher and doorkeeper at meetings of the Most Noble Order of the Garter...

I confess I have not seen this "certification trust" taking shape. Where is it? Who controls the keys to it? How does it become a social fact: Mihnea Moldoveanu: How Our Response to COVID-19 Will Remake Higher Ed https://hbsp.harvard.edu/inspiring-minds/how-our-response-to-covid-19-will-remake-higher-ed: ‘A decisive change is afoot: a digital higher education “certification trust” has taken shape over the past two years. This digital ledger will allow students to certifiably, verifiably, and securely guarantee their range of educational credentials to their college, a potential employer, financial institutions, loan providers, recruiters, and others...

It is nice to see the Fed recognize reality. It would have been much, much better if Greenspan had been willing to do so in real time: Tim Duy: Fed Lacks Consensus on Implementation, Data Generally Solid https://blogs.uoregon.edu/timduyfedwatch/2020/08/30/fed-lacks-consensus-on-implementation-data-generally-solid/: ‘The previous guidance constrained the Fed, or so they believed, to setting policy to return to the 2% target without overshooting that target. The Fed wanted flexibility to overshoot.... From a practical perspective, the Fed simply updated its guidance last week to match how they were already setting policy...

And Adam Posen reminds us he has been calling for this for eight years: Adam Posen: 'What matters from what Federal Reserve Chair Powell did and did not say.... https://twitter.com/adamposen/status/1299031917665439744?s=21 The process of doing the review was as important as the results of the review. The trust bought in from Congress and interested public made room for current policies. The substance of the review was rightly framed as catching Fed strategy up to economic realities.... Some of us had asked Fed to take these realities into account a while ago.... See me and Danny Blanchflower (2014)...

Am I profoundly stupid, or is Uncle Judea's framework of causal confounders—colliders—mediators a huge advance, perhaps not in helping those of you who think carefully do non-stupid statistics, but in helping those of us who do not think carefully do non-stupid statistics, and in providing a royal road to teaching people how to do not-stupid statistics?: Cosma Shalizi: No, it really is that awesome! Of course, I would think that: https://twitter.com/henryfarrell/status/796786137989840896...

This is a sign of a very serious problem in the legitimacy of our police force, and in their ability to understand the people they are supposed to serve: Zack Beauchamp: Why Police Encouraged Shooting Suspect Kyle Rittenhouse to Patrol Kenosha’s Streets https://www.vox.com/2020/8/27/21404117/kenosha-kyle-rittenhouse-police-gun-populism: ‘Police in Wisconsin told armed militia members that “we appreciate you guys.” Some new research helps us understand the racial roots of their irresponsible behavior...

A very nice debate: Nir Kaissar & Barry Ritholtz: Best Route to Wealth: Savings or Earnings, a Debate https://ritholtz.com/2020/05/debate-saving-or-earning/: BR: 'Let’s bring this back to my biggest issue with frugality, and that’s mental bandwidth. Will power is finite.' NK: 'The irony is that you’re a good example of the mindful consumption I’m advocating. You focus your spending on the things and experiences you find meaningful, and you spend much less than you make, all of which allows you to save and pursue the big things. In my experience, you’re the vast exception...'

A nice skewering of the lies from the Trump administration, and all its Republican, neo-fascist, and journalistic enablers: Ezra Kleini: 3 Charts Disprove Donald Trump’s 2020 RNC Speech https://www.vox.com/2020/8/28/21405053/donald-trump-republican-convention-speech-2020-record-charts-facts-lies: ‘Trump wants to take credit for something he didn’t do, and dodge blame for something he did do.... If Trump’s economic policy was so masterful, why is it impossible to pinpoint his takeover on a simple chart of job growth?.... The Trump administration had to defend America against coronavirus. It failed, and horribly so.... The core of Trump’s reelection message: You should give him credit for the economic recovery he inherited from Obama. And you should blame someone else for the disastrous response to the coronavirus...

Not so much technology—organization too is necessary: Reka Juhasz, Mara Squicciarini, Nico Voigtländer: Technology adoption and productivity growth https://voxeu.org/article/technology-adoption-and-productivity-growth: ‘The adoption of mechanised cotton spinning in France during the Industrial Revolution to study the short-run and long-run effects on firm productivity.... Firm productivity gains from this technology materialised slowly in the 19th century, consistent with the need to establish the complementary organisational practices to efficiently operate the cotton mills…

I have no idea who the "Roman despot" was. Diocletian perhaps? But 1500 years would put us in the reign of Justinian...: Herbert Hoover: Against That Communist Roosevelt, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and ??? https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/07/herbert-hoover-against-that-communist-roosevelt-karl-marx-john-maynard-keynes-and.html: ‘I rejected the schemes of economic planning to regiment and coerce the farmer. That was born of a Roman despot 1400 years ago and grew into the A[gricultural ]A[djustment ]A[ct]. I refused national plans to put government into business in competition with its citizens. That was born of Karl Marx. I vetoed the idea of recovery through stupendous spending to prime the pump. That was born of a British Professor...

The importance of civil rights, the rising significance of class, the productivity slowdown that started in the 1970s, the reaction of local governance to the crime wave that began in the 1960s and to the Great Migration—all of these play a powerful role in the setbacks that Black workers in America have experienced since the end of the 1960s. This is the best thing I have heard on these topics: Soumaya Keynes & Chad P. Bown: Trade Talks: Opportunities & Setbacks for Black Workers in the 20th Century https://www.tradetalkspodcast.com/podcast/134-opportunities-and-setbacks-for-black-workers-in-the-20th-century/: ‘Economic gains for America’s Black workers stalled in the 1970s. Why things had improved during the Great Migration, why that stopped, and what international trade had to do with it. Ellora Derenoncourt (UC Berkeley), Mary Kate Batistich (Notre Dame) and Timothy Bond (Purdue University) join to explain…

 

Plus

One of the best assessments of the extremely strange James Buchanan I have read: Daniel Kuehn: James M. Buchanan, Political Regionalism, & þe Southern Agrarians https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-kuehn-buchanan-agrarians.pdf: 'The importance of dispersing population to rural areas was tied to Buchanan’s concerns about the negative externalities associated with cities. In “A Future for ‘Agricultural Economics’?” Buchanan writes, “Few among us can look optimistically at the pattern that threatens to emerge with coalescence centered primarily on age, race, innovation in behavioral perversity, and, finally, terror. Perhaps I both exaggerate the seriousness of the portent and grasp at straws of my own prejudice. But radical dispersal of people over space appears almost to be a necessary complement to any policy of hope.”... Buchanan further issued a “plea” for scholars to provide intellectual support to “enlightened leaders” of rural areas who “espouse the virtues of smallness, of limited power of man over man, of decentralized authority, of the clean pure air of the countryside, which every man must seek and few men find”.... The thread of Southern distributism running through Jefferson’s Arcadia and the Agrarians’ yeoman farmer class is clearly identifiable in Buchanan.. and not just in his beloved southwest Virginia farm, which taught him the “valuational content” of “the Southern Agrarians of the 1930s”... but in some of his most famous papers and policy proposals...

True words about why Donald Trump is not something that should come as a surprise to anyone who has been watching Republidans over the past, say, 40 years: Ezra Klein: The Continuity Between George W. Bush & Donald Trump https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/8/27/21403153/bush-iraq-financial-crisis-trump-coronavirus-government-small-draper-book: ‘Those who like government least govern worst: From the Iraq War to the coronavirus: why Republicans fail at governance.... When Bush left the White House in 2009, the Iraq War was a recognized debacle, with thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, casualties of its chaos. The global economy was in collapse, driven by a calamitous void of regulatory oversight of Wall Street, and the disastrous decision to let Lehman Brothers fall. Less than 10 years later, the next Republican president is ending his first term with nearly 200,000 Americans dead of the coronavirus—the worst pandemic performance, by far, of any rich nation—and an economy in shambles. Bush and Trump are... personally different.... It feels awkward to compare them.... But in his new book, To Start a War, Robert Draper chronicles the internal deliberations and dynamics that led the Bush administration into Iraq. In doing so, Draper reminds us of the throughline between the two administrations: a toxic contempt for the government itself...

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-13

Nancy LeTourneau: Biden Has a Plan to Reopen Schools. Trump Does Not https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020/09/03/biden-has-a-plan-to-reopen-schools-trump-does-not/: ‘The safety of this country’s children is on the ballot.... The first step of Biden’s plan, released over a month ago, includes something the Trump administration has failed to do: get the virus under control via actions such as implementation of nationwide testing-and-tracing. Take a look at how Biden’s message is totally different from Trump’s nonsense…

Doris Goodwin: þe Way We Won: America's Economic Breakthrough During World War II https://prospect.org/health/way-won-america-s-economic-breakthrough-world-war-ii/: 'High growth needn’t require a war.... It is no exaggeration to say that America won the war abroad and the peace at home at the same time. No doubt the historical conditions of America's economic surge during World War II were singular. But we have much to learn...

Itamar Drechsler & al.: þe Financial Origins of þe Rise & Fall of American Inflation https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3538569: ‘We argue that its rise was due to the imposition of binding deposit rate ceilings under the law known as Regulation Q, and that its fall was due to the removal of these ceilings.... The degree to which Regulation Q was binding has a large impact on local inflation.... In the presence of financial frictions the Fed may be unable to control inflation regardless of its policy rule…

More "but umbrellas cause rain!" journamalism from the Wall Street Journal: Donald Luskin: þe Failed Experiment of Covid Lockdowns https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-failed-experiment-of-covid-lockdowns-11599000890: ‘New data suggest that social distancing and reopening haven’t determined the spread…

McCormick: Maryland Crab Soup Recipe https://www.mccormick.com/old-bay/recipes/soups-stews/old-bay-maryland-crab-soup

Collider: Best Movies on Netflix Right Now (September 2020) https://collider.com/best-movies-on-netflix-streaming

Raymond Chandler: þe Simple Art of Murder https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-chandler-murder.pdf...

Colin Leys (1982): Samuel Huntington & þe End of Classical Modernization Theory https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-leys-1982-huntington.pdf...

 

Plus

Christopher Tassava: þe American Economy during World War II https://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-american-economy-during-world-war-ii/: ‘The federal government emerged from the war as a potent economic actor, able to regulate economic activity and to partially control the economy through spending and consumption. American industry was revitalized by the war, and many sectors were by 1945 either sharply oriented to defense production (for example, aerospace and electronics) or completely dependent on it (atomic energy). The organized labor movement, strengthened by the war beyond even its depression-era height, became a major counterbalance to both the government and private industry. The war’s rapid scientific and technological changes continued and intensified trends begun during the Great Depression and created a permanent expectation of continued innovation...

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Five Books on the Classical Economists || Five Books Expert Recommendations

Classical economists

Five Books Expert Recommendations: Books on the Classical Economists https://fivebooks.com/best-books/classical-economists-brad-delong/: Recommended by Brad DeLong. They were an eclectic bunch, including, among others, a stock market speculator, a moral philosopher, a cleric, a lawyer and a journalist. From the late-18th to the mid-19th century, they provided the first systematic explanations of how economies work, where they fail and how they might be made to work better. Here, Brad DeLong, a professor of economics at UC Berkeley, introduces the classical economists, and suggests books to read to learn more about them and what they were trying to achieve.

Interview by Benedict King:

Q: Before we get into the books, could you just set the scene by telling us who the classical economists were, individually speaking. There was Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and Jean-Baptiste Say in France. Are there other obvious ones that you would include in that list?

I would say that Smith, Malthus and Ricardo are the big three, although you can argue about whether Smith was a classical economist or rather a pre-economist. Smith viewed himself very much as a moral philosopher. He always had a much broader range and scope than Malthus or Ricardo in terms of the business that he thought he was in.

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-12

Ghouls. Ghouls all the way down: Xeni Jardin: Herman Cain, Who Died of Covid-19, Tweets 'þe Virus Is Not as Deadly' as Believed https://boingboing.net/2020/08/31/herman-cain-who-died-of-covid.html: ‘@THEHermanCain: "It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be. 08:49 8/31/20..." Herman Cain died of COVID-19. That's it. That's the blog post...

The StoryGraph Beta https://beta.thestorygraph.com/

Wikipedia: Henry Bartle Frere https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Bartle_Frere#Outbreak_of_Zulu_and_Boer_Wars

Wikipedia: Annette Gordon-Reed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annette_Gordon-Reed

Wikipedia: History of Grand Central Terminal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Grand_Central_Terminal#Grand_Central_Depot

Fire in California: Fire Activity Map https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Safety/Current/

All Turtles https://medium.all-turtles.com/

Economic History Association: Conference Program and Papers https://eh.net/eha/conference-program-and-papers-4/

 

Plus:

Buce: The Luckiest Horse in the Fifth Millennium BCE https://underbelly-buce.blogspot.com/2008/08/luckiest-horse-in-fifth-millennium-bce.html: ‘David W. Anthony... The Horse, the Wheel, and Language.... he date is about 4800 BCE; the place is in what he chooses to call “the Pontic-Caspian steppes,” just above the Caspian Sea. The “why” is interesting: apparently not for riding, but for food—horses were big and meaty and could live over the winter in cold climates (riding came later). AS to “how,” the flip answer is “it wasn’t easy,” which is not surprising when you stop to think of it: horses—or, more precisely, stallions—are a notoriously tricky lot and they wouldn’t take kindly to being stabled or hobbled or slapped into harness. But as to precisely how, the DNA evidence provides a remarkable clue.... "the male aspect of modern horse DNA, which is passed unchanged on the Y chromosome from sire to colt, shows remarkable homogeneity. It is possible that just a single wild stallion was domesticated…. [A] relatively docile and controllable stallion was an unusual individual—and one that had little hope of reproducing in the wild. Horse domestication might have depended on a lucky coincidence: the appearance of a relatively manageable and docile male in a place where humans could use him as a breeder of a domesticated bloodline. From the horse’s perspective, humans were the only way he could get a girl. From the human perspective, he was the only sire they wanted..." So here’s to you, Mr. Lucky, the granddaddy of them all…

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Lightcap: Sokrates vs. Machiavelli on the Educational Process—Comment

Tracy Lightcap: Sokrates vs. Machiavelli on the Educational Process | Lecture https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/sokrates-vs-machiavelli-on-the-educational-process-lecture.html?cid=6a00e551f080038834026bde8e351c200c#comment-6a00e551f080038834026bde8e351c200c: ‘The great book How Learning Works has a typology that I like to use in explaining what I'm trying to do and what education is about. It has four categories of expertise...

  1. Ignorant and Unconscious: This is a way to describe a good part of the population. They don't know much and they are unconsicious of how little they know. Of course, this can apply to even highly educated people in fields where they don't know anything, if they are unwilling to admit their ignorance. This is important thing to keep in mind as you learn more.

  2. Ignorant and Conscious: This is where. most freshmen and sophomores are in college. They have learned just how little they know and they are being forced to deal with it. Usually, they do. Some drop out instead. Some do only what is necessary to pass in subjects that don't require much development of expertise. It's easy to fail on this.

  1. Expert and Conscious: This is where we want juniors and seniors to be. It is where you have expertise and you can apply it if you are careful and work hard. Good subjects (and courses) give you opportunities to do this.
  1. Expert and Unconscious: Unfortunately for you, this is where most of your professors are. They are expert and they apply their knowledge in ways that have become second nature to them. That means they often have a hard time breaking down all the steps they follow to reach conclusions. "Why didn't they get this? Everybody knows it! Besides, we went over a lot of it before!" You have to be patient and ask us about what you don't understand. We try to get across what we are doing, but sometimes we forget a step or two or forget that what you had in a related course isn't obviously relevant to you in this course. You have to remind us. And tell us when we are going right over your head. But this is what where we are aiming to get you and where, if you are diligent, you will end up. I might add that this is what people pay you for.

When I give this talk, I invariably have students come up to me afterwards and thank me. They have never been told why they are being educated and what they are expected to get out of the process. It's all been "Get a degree! You'll get paid more." Almost nobody tell what they are being paid for and why a degree is important.

This is really strange…

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Horn: Robert E. Lee & Co.'s Road to Cemetery Ridge—Weekend Reading & Noted

Robert e lee on traveler charlottesville

This, from Jonathan Horn, is the best thing I have ever read on the road that led Robert E Lee and George Pickett's division to Pennsylvania—where they grabbed American citizens and shipped them south to be sold as slaves—and then to the disastrous charge up Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett division soldiers dead at Gettysburg could have kept the American Civil War going for one or two months more. At war's end Ulysses S. Grant "felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse":

Jonathan Horn The Man Who Would Not be Washington https://books.google.com/books?id=n_5tAwAAQBAJ: 'Winning a major battle on Northern soil might end the war, and that, as Lee would later say, was his chief purpose. “I went into Maryland to give battle.”... Lee intended to isolate Washington, DC, from the west. He would not let reinforcements from the mountains and beyond rescue the eastern cities. He would destroy the B&O Railroad and, once more, that pesky Potomac canal.... When Brigadier General John Walker visited Lee’s tent, he learned what else his chief had in mind.... Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and blow up the railroad bridge over the Susquehanna. “There will [then] remain to the enemy but one route of communication with the West, and that very circuitous, by way of the Lakes,” Lee explained. “After that I can turn my attention to Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, as may seem best for our interests.”

The audacity of it all astonished Walker.... The concern showed on Walker’s face. “Are you acquainted with General McClellan?” Lee asked rhetorically. “He is an able general but a very cautious one. His enemies among his own people think him too much so. His army is in a very demoralized and chaotic condition, and will not be prepared for offensive operations—or he will not think it so—for three or four weeks.” By then, Lee planned to have his columns consolidated and in Pennsylvania, no less...

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Yes Samuel P. Huntington & His Disciples Are Loons—Note to Self

This has surfaced again in my feed. Please, people stop ending it to me! It leads me down rabbit-holes—what a loon Samuel P. Huntington was, and how favorably citing him is a powerful sign that you are a loon unmoored from reality yourself—that I don't have time for today!

Anyone who thinks—as Gregory Mitrovich apparently does—that Great Britain in 1920 had intrinsic strengths then that enabled it to thereafter retain its global dominance is truly a total idiot. When did Britain dominate anything after 1920? Gregory Mitrovich: Beware Declinism: America Remains Poised for Greatness https://nationalinterest.org/feature/beware-declinism-america-remains-poised-greatness-163810: ‘There can be no doubting that America’s international standing has been undermined by ill-considered wars and the deadly failures of Trump’s pandemic response. However, the intrinsic strength of the United States will, like that of Britain a century ago, enable America to retain its dominance...

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Malik: How I Stay Sane in 2020—Noted

Om Malik: How I Stay Sane in 2020 https://om.co/2020/09/04/how-i-stay-sane-in-2020/: ‘Twitter: no alerts, view in latest tweets mode, never use it between 7 pm and 7 am. Forget about using Twitter on the weekends. Liberally mute accounts and mute words. Block accounts that exceed the boundaries of propriety. Set your trends location to a place where you don’t know the language or is sparsely populated. I also use the Nuzzel app.... Instead, I want to read a whodunnit. And drink some great coffee.... Download a couple of albums from Bandcamp. On the first Friday of every month, all money goes to the artists. Given the persistent smoky conditions, and my desire to not be outside as much, I also have some shows I want to watch this weekend: Young Wallander: If you were a fan of Kurt Wallander, a fictional detective created by Swedish writer Henning Mankell, then this one would be an excellent series to watch on Netflix. Enola Holmes: Wait, Sherlock Holmes has a sister? Enough said—more goodness on Netflix. Sadly it is not launching till September 23rd. But for now, the trailer will do!…

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Is America in Decline? || Pairagraph

Pairograph: Is America in Decline? https://www.pairagraph.com/dialogue/fc2f8d46f10040d080d551c945e7a363: Life expectancy at birth in the United States today is 78.6 years. Life expectancy at birth in Japan today is 84.5; in Singapore, 85.1; in Switzerland, 84.3; France, 83.1; in Germany, 80.9. U.S. life expectancy is on a par with Poland, Tunisia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Albania; below Peru, Columbia, Chile, Jordan, and Sri Lanka; and only a year greater than China.

The United States currently has ~300 deaths per hundred million people per day from the coronavirus plague. The United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Germany, and Canada each have less than 10...

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Eichengreen: Pandemic’s Most Treacherous Phase—Noted

Barry Eichengreen: The Pandemic’s Most Treacherous Phase https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-pandemic-crisis-will-worsen-in-october-by-barry-eichengreen-2020-09: ‘The more dangerous phase of the crisis in the US may actually be now.... Fatalities are still running at roughly a thousand per day... matches levels at the beginning of April.... Many surviving COVID-19 patients continue to suffer chronic cardiovascular problems and impaired mental function.... [This] new normal['s]... implications for morbidity–and for human health and economic welfare–are truly dire.... Americans[']... current leaders are willing to accept 40,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths a day... inured to the numbers... impatient with lockdowns. They have politicized masks.... Congress seems incapable of replicating the bipartisanship that enabled passage of the CARES Act at the end of March.... If the economy falters a second time, whether because of inadequate fiscal stimulus or flu season and a second COVID-19 wave, it will not receive the additional monetary and fiscal support that protected it in the spring.... If steps are not taken to reassure the public of the independence and integrity of the scientific process, we will be left only with the alternative of “herd immunity,” which, given COVID-19’s many known and suspected comorbidities, is no alternative at all…

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COVID & the Economy: As of 2020-09-09—Lecture

What can we say about the economy? That depends on the course of the coronavirus plague. So what can we say about the coronavirus plague? We can say, it turns out, little that is good. (22 minutes).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKpEKGhBvLE

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David Brooks: "I Am Not Going to Do My Job on November 3"—Noted

David Brooks says: "American democracy is in trouble because my journamalistic colleagues and I will not do our jobs on November 3":

Steve M.: Just Do Your Damn Jobs https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/09/just-do-your-damn-jobs.html: ‘David Brooks writes: "On the evening of Nov. 3... Donald Trump seems to be having an excellent night. Counting the votes cast at polling places, Trump is winning Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.... Trump quickly declares victory. So do many other Republican candidates. The media complains that it’s premature, but Trumpworld is ecstatic. Democrats know that as many as 40 percent of the ballots are mail-in and still being counted... but they can’t control the emotions of that night. It’s a gut punch." Why? Why should what's happening be a gut punch? Why should it be perceived that Donald Trump is having an excellent night?... What happens on TV on election nights? On MSNBC, to take one example, Steve Kornacki stands at a digital map and discusses not just the current vote totals but the nature of the votes that haven't been counted... that the untallied votes come from precincts or counties that are stronger for one party than another. He'd give us a sense of what it would take for the candidate who's trailing to make up the deficit. And up to a point in every contest he'd say: This is why we can't call the race yet…

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Modigliani (1944): Liquidity Preference—Noted

Franco Modigliani (1944): Liquidity Preference and the Theory of Interest and Money https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-modigliani-liquidity-preference.pdf: ‘As long as wages are flexible, the long-run equilibrium rate of interest is determined exclusively by real factors... the propensity to save and the marginal efficiency of investment. The condition, money saving = money investment, determines the price level and not the rate of interest. If wages are rigid... the propensities to save and to invest but the situation is now more complicated; for these propensities depend also on money income and therefore on the quantity of active money which in turn depends itself on the level of the rate of interest.... In a system with rigid wages not only interest but also almost every economic variable depends on the quantity of money.... [In] the "Keynesian [liquidity trap] case"... the long-run equilibrium rate of interest is the rate which makes the demand for money to hold infinitely elastic... [and] the rate of interest is determined exclusively by institutional factors.

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Irwin Collier: Schumpeter's Macro Syllabus 1948—Noted

Irwin Collier: Harvard. Advanced Economic Theory, Second Term. 1948 http://www.irwincollier.com/harvard-advanced-economic-theory-second-term-schumpeter-1948/: ‘Joseph Schumpeter: "Economics 103b. Spring Term 1947-48. Plan of Course and Suggestions for Reading. The plan of the course is to start from and to build upon Professor Haberler’s lectures in the Fall Term (103a). We shall start from the statics of equilibrium and then discuss at some lengths the use and limitations of the method of Comparative Statics. After this, we shall survey various Dynamic Models. These models will be made the starting points of excursions...

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Themes | Lecture

When do I say the Long 20th Century really started? 1870. Why then? The third modern watershed—the third step-up in the global pace of economic growth—globalization, and the start of the American century. When do I say the Long 20th Century really ended? 2016. Why then? Four reasons: (1) end of the American century, (2) slowdown in global-north growth, (3) failures of economic management, (4) revival of what we now call neo-fascism as a challenge to liberal democracy...

Quantities: What was the typical human standard of living back in 1870? Perhaps $4/day—$1300/year. What is the typical human standard of living today? Perhaps $35/day—$12000/year. Is there a "typical" human standard of living today? Maybe not: global inequality is much greater than it was in 1870, and even more so in 1800. A global north of 800 million with a typical standard of living of $50000/year—$150/day; a global south of 6.8 billion with a typical standard of living of $7000/year—$20/day Is the world today a utopia? Definitely not… Is greater San Francisco today a utopia? What do you think?

Grand Narrative

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.1-grand-narrative-%23tceh.pdf
https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.1-grand-narrative-%23tceh.pptx

21:00 of audio

 

Inequality & Humanity

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.2-inequality-%23tceh.pdf
https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.2-inequality-%23tceh.pptx

14:00 of audio

 

What Has Gone Badly Wrong?

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.3-going-wrong-%23tceh.pdf
https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.3-going-wrong-%23tceh.pptx

15:30 of audio

  Slouching Towards Utopia?

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.4-slouching?-%23tceh.pdf
https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-1-lecture-3.4-slouching?-%23tceh.pptx

4:30 of audio

.#berkeley #economichistory #highlighted #lectures #tceh #themes #2020-08-30

Dasgupta on Doing Economics | Lecture

Why would one want to “think like an economist”?: What is “thinking like an economist”? Cost-benefit, opportunity cost, system equilibrium, marginality. This turns out to be useful for thinking about the economy. (Other things too: but mostly the economy.) But Dasgupta has a different take, a game theorist's take...

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-0-lecture-3.3-dasguptas-take-%23tceh.pptx

 

.#berkeley #cognition #economics #highlighted #lecture #rhetoric #2020-08-29

Sokrates vs. Machiavelli on the Educational Process | Lecture

On books:

Machiavelli: "I… step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where, solicitously received by them... I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of their human kindness, answer me..."

Sokrates: "The creations... if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence…. [Words] once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not..."

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-0-lecture-3.2-education-process-%23tceh.pptx

 

.#berkeley #books #cognition #educationalprocess #highlighted #lecture #2020-08-29

Macroeconomics for Beginners | Optional Lecture

The “general glut”: What people used to talk about, instead of recession and depressions. It focuses on what is going on: excess supply in pretty much all of the markets. Back Up to 1803: Jean-Baptiste Say argued back then that a “general glut” was a metaphysical impossibility: “If certain goods remain unsold, it is because other goods are not produced; and that it is production alone which opens markets to produce.... Whenever there is a glut, a superabundance, [an excess supply] of several sorts of merchandize, it is because other articles [in excess demand] are not produced in sufficient quantities...” By 1830 Say had changed his mind...

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-5-lecture-3.O.1-optional-macro-for-beginners-%23tceh.pptx

 

.#berkeley #economics #highlighted #lecture #macro #monetaryeconomics #monetarypolicy #optional #2020-08-29

Lectures: Left- & Right-Wing Alternatives to þe ‘Classical Liberal’ Order

6.3.1. Alternatives to the ‘Classical Liberal’ Order: Really-Existing Socialism

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-6-lecture-3.1-alternatives-%23tceh.pptx

 

6.3.2. The Rule of Josef Stalin

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-6-lecture-3.2-stalin-%23tceh.pptx

 

6.3.3. Fascism

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-6-lecture-3.3-fascism-%23tceh.pptx

 

6.3.4. Naziism

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-6-lecture-3.4-naziism-%23tceh.pptx

 

6.3.5. How Many Species of Anti-Democratic Totalitarian Movements?

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-6-lecture-3.5-totalitarianism-%23tceh.pptx

.#berkeley #economichistory #lectures #tceh #2020-08-28

A "Liberal" Education | Optional Lecture

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/lecture-optional-liberal-education.pptx

“Liberal education” ≠ “kinda left- wing education” here. “Liberal education” here means “appropriate to somebody free”. Someone with control over their own destiny. Someone with a share of control over our common destinies. Not a serf, not a cleric, but also not a vassal—not somebody embedded in the system in a fixed place...

.#berkeley #cognition #education #humancapital #lecture #optional #2020-08-27

The Ethics of a University | Optional Lecture

https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/lecture-optional-ethics-university.pptx

Never thought this was necessary before... It probably still isn’t necessary today... But this past decade has been a very weird, very norm-breaking decade in a lot of ways So it is best to be clear on what we are doing here... This is a university... A safe space for its members, and a safe space for their ideas...

.#berkeley #cognition #education #lecture #optional #moralresponsibility #2020-08-27

Things I Have No Time to Teach þis Fall, But þt I Would Like to—Note to Self

school-of-athens-banner

"Data Science" & "Thinking Like an Economist":

 

Andy Matuschak would approve of how Niccolo Machiavelli reads:

html https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/things-i-have-no-time-to-teach-this-fall-but-that-i-would-like-tonote-to-self.html
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Briefly Noted for 2020-08-22

James Baldwin: The American Dream Is at the Expense of the American Negro https://www.tor.com/2020/08/16/lovecraft-country-sundown-episode-1-review/: ‘I picked the cotton, and I carried it to the market, and I built the railroads under someone else’s whip for nothing…

Berkeley: GSI Remote Teaching Hub https://grad.berkeley.edu/gsi-remote-teaching-hub/

Fred: COVID Dashboard https://research.stlouisfed.org/useraccount/dashboard/56322#: ‘Initial Claims, Continued Claims, Personal Income, Personal Consumption…

Robert de Nero: The Good Shepherd https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/script-the-good-shepherd.pdf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Shepherd_(film)

Gretal Kovach (2007): Pizza Chain Takes Pesos, & Complaints https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/15/us/15Pizza.html: ‘“I certainly wasn’t expecting ‘pizza for pesos’ to become a touchstone for the immigration issue,” Mr. Swad said. It was nothing more than an effort to “reinforce our brand promise to be the premier Latino pizza chain,” he said. “We’re businessmen. The Latino population is significant and it’s important,” Mr. Swad continued. “It’s here to stay. The United States... is going to be different, and it has an opportunity to be better.” Mr. Swad, who is Italian-Lebanese and was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, did not speak Spanish when he opened his first take-out pizzeria in Dallas in 1986…

Gretal Kovach (2007): Pizza Chain Takes Pesos, & Complaints https://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/15/us/15Pizza.html: ‘“It’s a trivial example, but Hispanics now have their own pizza chain,” Mr. Krikorian said. “It’s a consequence of having too many people arrive from a single foreign culture, and may well reflect a kind of cultural secession”…

Daniel Voshart: Photoreal Roman Emperor Project https://medium.com/@voshart/photoreal-roman-emperor-project-236be7f06c8f: ‘Using the neural-net tool Artbreeder, Photoshop and historical references, I have created photoreal portraits of... the 54 emperors of The Principate (27 BC to 285 AD)…

x*Charlie Stross*: Dead Plots http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2020/08/dead-plots.html: ‘the eminent mainstream literary faculty are still turning out deeply sensitive realist-mode explorations of the human condition that totally neglect the tech dimension. We live in a world with killer drones, state level actors gaslighting each others' electorates with bots and sock puppets and AI generated user icons... where private space launch companies are listed on the stock market and cars park themselves. A realist-mode 21st century novel that ignores phenomena that were tropes in 20th century SF is a de-facto historical novel, or a retro nostalgia trip for people who are deeply uneasy about modernity...

Continue reading "Briefly Noted for 2020-08-22" »


McSweeney's: Miskatonic University’s Draft Reopening Plan—Noted

Miskatonic seal

McSweeney's: Arkham Board of Health Feedback on Miskatonic University’s Draft Plan for a Safe Campus Reopening https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/arkham-board-of-health-feedback-on-miskatonic-universitys-draft-plan-for-a-safe-campus-reopening?fbclid=IwAR3q4m50xLFQcW4MyAsREYP9Qv_ZCrdhqo5Kll58wwMmbWavlIvod8j5DVA: ‘Library services: You note that all of your library’s holdings have been digitized for online reading, including certain “foul, repellent, and irrudinous tomes that bespeak eldritch accursed rites and which, once made public, may unleash nameless aeon-dead horrors”...

Continue reading "McSweeney's: Miskatonic University’s Draft Reopening Plan—Noted" »


Briefly Noted for 2020-08-21

I do confess that I am flummoxed by self-identified positively-valenced “white supremacy” as a thing.

My WASPy view was always that America was an America of ethnicities underpinned by the dominant myth-message: “people coming from elsewhere to build a utopia in which we all could live better lives”. This mosaic worked, with cultural influences flowing every which way, with the ideas and cultural orientations of WASPy Massachusetts Puritans, Virginia libertarians, and Kentucky pioneers serving as the first layer of the cultural matrix. The exchange in the 2006 movie The Good Shepherd between Joe Pesci and Matt Damon grossly overstates the case, but is in the right direction:

Joe Pesci: “Let me ask you something…. We Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland, Jews their tradition; even the n------, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?”

Matt Damon: “The United States of America…”

Yes, African-Americans were always at the bottom, but there was no monolithic “whiteness” in the mosaic anywhere. Remember: when I was at Harvard in the 1980s, when an Italian-American Catholic married an Irish-American Catholic in Boston, it was a “mixed marriage”, and people would shrug their shoulders and say it was unlikely to last.

I look at how somebody by the name of Mark Krikorian can raise the alarm on behalf of "whiteness" against the idea of “Hispanics now hav[ing] their own pizza chain…. [It] may well reflect a kind of cultural secession…” Mark Krikorian finds it alarming that an Italian-Lebanese-American born in Columbus, OH sees a market for Hispanic-inflected pizza in Dallas and moves to satisfy it. And then I think: this was always a grift, this is the fascist playbook—create the bigotry against a despised other, and then use that bigotry to create a volk:

Sean Illing: Why Rev. William Barber Thinks We Need a Moral Revolution in America https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/8/18/21327358/william-barber-poor-peoples-campaign-moral-mondays: '“Racism may target Black people, but it damns a democracy and it damns humanity”'…

 

This is why retail businesses need large permanent financial transfers now. We do not want retail businesses that are not coronavirus transmission hotspots from receiving erroneous “shut down“ signals from the market. And yet that is what is happening when we do not make them whole from the effects of the crisis of March and April:

Jason Del Rey: Amazon, Walmart, & Target Reap þe Rewards of Covid Restrictions https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/8/20/21375942/amazon-walmart-target-pandemic-earnings-q2-2020-essential-retailers: ‘Some feared the pandemic would widen the gap between the haves and have-nots of retail. That fear is now reality…

 

Not that Isaac Asimov’s 1950s novel The Naked Sun Is either a great mystery novel or a great science fiction novel. But it is a place to start in thinking about how this next upward leap in interacting with each other via symbols and screens is going to work. What personality types are going to do well? What personality types are going to do badly? In in-person interactions, a great deal of the information channels our bids and offers about authority because rapidly reaching consensus about what the group was going to do trumped reaching the best decision at the price of maybe reaching no decision at all. But those channels do not operate through screens, as anyone who has ever participated in a flamewar Or watched trolls destroy an online discussion knows very well:

Sean Gallagher: Respawn Point: þe Inevitable Reincarnation of þe Corporate Office https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/08/work-from-home-03-the-office/: ‘Stanford Institute for Economic Research figures in June showed only 42 percent of the US workforce working from home full-time—the fact remains that people's relationship with their workplace has been dramatically restructured, perhaps permanently…

 

Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus (155): The Roman Oration https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/aelius-aristides-the-roman-oration-it-is-a-time-honored-custom-of-travelers-setting-forth-by-land-or-sea-to-m.html

Wikipedia: Wrought Iron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrought_iron | Cast Iron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cast_iron | Bessemer Process https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessemer_process | Steel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel

Boichik Bagels https://boichikbagels.myshopify.com/

Constance Hunter (2020-08-19): Riding the Covid-Coaster https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/presentation-hunter-covid-coaster.pdf

Casey Johnston: How to Fit in a Real Workout When You Have Only 20 Minutes https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/889bxx/how-to-get-a-real-workout-only-20-minutes: ‘[Randi Zuckerberg takes] a slightly more aggressive line here with her “pick three” rule: “Work. Sleep. Family. Friends. Fitness. Pick Three.” But I often see this rule separated from Zuckerberg’s follow-up clarification: “I can pick a different three tomorrow, and a different three the following day. But today, I can only pick three. As long as I wind up picking everything over the long run, then I’m balancing my imbalance”…

Jim Wendler: How to Fit in a Real Workout When You Have Only 20 Minutes https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/889bxx/how-to-get-a-real-workout-only-20-minutes: ‘This is my favorite. I don’t recommend it, but it’s useful for non-beginners who have limited time to train. The I’m Not Doing Jack Shit program entails walking into the weight room, doing the big lift for the day (bench, squat, military or deadlift), and then walking out… I’ve made this deal with myself many times before I’ve trained: If I do X weight for X amount of reps, I’m leaving…

2020 Democratic Party Platform https://www.demconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2020-07-21-DRAFT-Democratic-Party-Platform.pdf

Wikipedia: Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus Pius https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoninus_Pius#Marriage_and_children

Wikipedia: Faustina the Elder—Annia Galeria Faustina https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faustina_the_Elder

 

Plus:

FRED: COVID Dashboard https://research.stlouisfed.org/useraccount/dashboard/56322#: Initial Claims, Continued Claims, Real Personal Income, Real Personal Consumption Expenditures...

Covid fred dashboard 2020 08 21

Continue reading "Briefly Noted for 2020-08-21" »


The Pompeians Commanded by Afranius Surrender: Liveblogging þe Fall of þe Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

And the Pompeians surrender. It is June 10, -49. In six and a hal months since crossing the Rubicon, Caesar has forced the disbanding of the equivalent of eight Pompeian legions without doing more than skirmishing, moving rapidly, and cleverly managing logistics and intercepting supply lines:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10657/pg10657-images.html: ‘In this work, and the deliberations on it, two days were spent. By the third day a considerable part of Caesar's works was finished. To interrupt his progress, they drew out their legions about the eighth hour, by a certain signal, and placed them in order of battle before their camp. Caesar calling his legions off from their work, and ordering the horse to hold themselves in readiness, marshalled his army: for to appear to decline an engagement contrary to the opinion of the soldiers and the general voice, would have been attended with great disadvantage...

But for the reasons already known, he was dissuaded from wishing to engage, and the more especially, because the short space between the camps, even if the enemy were put to flight, would not contribute much to a decisive victory; for the two camps were not distant from each other above two thousand feet. Two parts of this were occupied by the armies, and one third left for the soldiers to charge and make their attack. If a battle should be begun, the nearness of the camps would afford a ready retreat to the conquered party in the flight.

For this reason Caesar had resolved to make resistance, if they attacked him, but not to be the first to provoke the battle.

Afranius's five legions were drawn up in two lines, the auxiliary cohorts formed the third line, and acted as reserves. Caesar had three lines, four cohorts out of each of the five legions formed the first line. Three more from each legion followed them, as reserves: and three others were behind these. The slingers and archers were stationed in the centre of the line; the cavalry closed the flanks.

The hostile armies being arranged in this manner, each seemed determined to adhere to his first intention: Caesar not to hazard a battle, unless forced to it; Afranius to interrupt Caesar's works. However, the matter was deferred, and both armies kept under arms till sunset; when they both returned to their camp. The next day Caesar prepared to finish the works which he had begun. The enemy attempted to pass the river Segre by a ford. Caesar, having perceived this, sent some light-armed Germans and a party of horse across the river, and disposed several parties along the banks to guard them.

At length, beset on all sides, their cattle having been four days without fodder, and having no water, wood, or corn, they beg a conference; and that, if possible, in a place remote from the soldiers. When this was refused by Caesar, but a public interview offered if they chose it, Afranius's son was given as a hostage to Caesar. They met in the place appointed by Caesar.

In the hearing of both armies, Afranius spoke thus:

That Caesar ought not to be displeased either with him or his soldiers, for wishing to preserve their attachment to their general, Cneius Pompey. That they had now sufficiently discharged their duty to him, and had suffered punishment enough, in having endured the want of every necessary: but now, pent up almost like wild beasts, they were prevented from procuring water, and prevented from walking abroad; and were not able to bear the bodily pain or the mental disgrace: but confessed themselves vanquished: and begged and entreated, if there was any room left for mercy, that they should not be necessitated to suffer the most severe penalties.

These sentiments were delivered in the most submissive and humble language.

Caesar replied,

That either to complain or sue for mercy became no man less than him: for that every other person had done their duty: himself, in having declined to engage on favourable terms, in an advantageous situation and time, that all things tending to a peace might be totally unembarrassed: his army, in having preserved and protected the men whom they had in their power, notwithstanding the injuries which they had received, and the murder of their comrades; and even Afranius's soldiers, who of themselves treated about concluding a peace, by which they thought that they would secure the lives of all. Thus, that the parties on both sides inclined to mercy: that the generals only were averse to peace: that they paid no regard to the laws either of conference or truce; and had most inhumanly put to death ignorant persons, who were deceived by a conference: that therefore, they had met that fate which usually befalls men from excessive obstinacy and arrogance; and were obliged to have recourse, and most earnestly desire that which they had shortly before disdained.

That for his part, he would not avail himself of their present humiliation, or his present advantage, to require terms by which his power might be increased, but only that those armies, which they had maintained for so many years to oppose him, should be disbanded: for six legions had been sent into Spain, and a seventh raised there, and many and powerful fleets provided, and generals of great military experience sent to command them, for no other purpose than to oppose him; that none of these measures were adopted to keep the Spains in peace, or for the use of the province, which, from the length of the peace, stood in need of no such aid; that all these things were long since designed against him: that against him a new sort of government was established, that the same person should be at the gates of Rome, to direct the affairs of the city; and though absent, have the government of two most warlike provinces for so many years: that against him the laws of the magistrates had been altered; that the late praetors and consuls should not be sent to govern the provinces as had been the constant custom, but persons approved of and chosen by a faction.

That against him the excuse of age was not admitted: but persons of tried experience in former wars were called up to take the command of the armies, that with respect to him only, the routine was not observed which had been allowed to all generals, that, after a successful war, they should return home and disband their armies, if not with some mark of honour, at least without disgrace: that he had submitted to all these things patiently, and would still submit to them: nor did he now desire to take their army from them and keep it to himself (which, however, would not be a difficult matter), but only that they should not have it to employ against him: and therefore, as he said before, let them quit the provinces, and disband their army.

If this was complied with, he would injure no person; that these were the last and only conditions of peace.

It was very acceptable and agreeable to Afranius's soldiers, as might be easily known from their signs of joy, that they who expected some injury after this defeat, should obtain without solicitation the reward of a dismissal. For when a debate was introduced about the place and time of their dismissal, they all began to express, both by words and signs, from the rampart where they stood, that they should be discharged immediately: for although every security might be given that they would be disbanded, still the matter would be uncertain, if it was deferred to a future day.

After a short debate on either side, it was brought to this issue: that those who had any settlement or possession in Spain, should be immediately discharged: the rest at the river Var.

Caesar gave security that they should receive no damage, and that no person should be obliged against his inclination to take the military oath under him…  

.#history #livebloggingthefalloftheromanrepublic #politics #2020-08-18
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Foreshadowing from Gaius Sallustius Crispus https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/foreshadowing-from-gaius-sallustius-crispus-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: A strongly unconventional high politician facing the expiration of his term of office. He knows that there is a very high probability that, because of his actions in office, his adversaries will try and convict him of crimes after he lays down his power. Let us start with some foreshadowing from Gaius Sallustius Crispus...


Pompey's Strategy and Domitius' Stand https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/burns-pompeys-strategy-and-domitius-standnoted.html: In his The Civil War Gaius Julius Caesar presented "just the facts" in a way that made Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus look like a cowardly and incompetent idiot. The attractive interpretation is that Ahenobarbus was just trying to do the job of defeating Caesar, but had failed to recognize that Pompey was not his ally but, rather, was somebody whose first goal was to gain the submission of Ahenobarbus and the other Optimates, and only after that submission was gained would he even think about fighting Caesar. Still an idiot, but not an incompetent or a cowardly one…

Marcus Tullius Cicero's Take on the First Three Months of -49 https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/marcus-tullius-ciceros-take-on-the-first-three-months-of-49-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: ‘We have another primary source... in addition to Gaius Julius Caesar's deceptively powerful plain-spoken "just the facts" narrative: Cicero. Caesar makes himself out to be reasonable, rational, decisive, and clever. Cicero... lets his hair down. He is writing to someone he trusts to love him without reservation. He is completely unconcerned with making himself appear to be less flawed than he appears. And the impression he leaves is absolutely dreadful: erratic, emotional, dithering, and idiotic…

Reflecting on the First Three Months of -49 https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/reflecting-on-the-first-three-months-of-49-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: ‘The key question for the first three months of the year -49 is: what did the factions anticipate would happen in that year? The Optimates seemed to think that they had Caesar cornered. My guess is that Pompey found himself allied with the Senate in January-February of -49, but not in command. So he retreated to Greece, where he was in undisputed command…


Caesar Offers a Compromise Solution (or So Caesar Says) https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/caesar-offers-a-compromise-solution-or-so-caesar-says-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: The Beginning of Caesar's Commentaries on the Civil War, in which Caesar says that he had proposed a compromise solution, but the firebreathers had rejected it: 'Scipio... "if [the Senate] hesitated and showed weakness, then, should they want [Pompey's] help later, they would ask for it in vain…

The Optimate Faction Rejects Caesar's Compromise https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/the-optimate-faction-rejects-caesars-compromise-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Caesar narrates the reasons that the leaders of the Optimate faction—Cato, Lentulus, Scipio, and Pompey—worked hard to set the stage for war, and how the majority of Senators in the timorous middle were robbed of the power to decide freely…

The Optimate Faction Arms for War, & Illegally Usurps Provincial Imperium https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/the-optimate-faction-arms-for-war-illegally-usurps-provincial-imperium-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Caesar narrates: Whatever norms he may or may not have broken during his consulate—in order to wrest land from the hands of corrupt plutocrats and grant it to the deserving—he says, the Optimate faction does much worse, beyond norm-breaking into outright illegality. And to that they add impiety…

Caesar Presents His Case to the 13th Legion, & Negotiates Unsucccessfully with Pompey https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/caesar-presents-his-case-to-the-13th-legion-negotiates-unsucccessfully-with-pompey-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-rep.html: Caesar presents his case to the 13th Legion, and wins its enthusiastic support. Caesar and Pompey negotiate, but Pompey refuses to give up his dominant position…

The Optimate Faction Panics and Abandons Rome https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/the-optimate-faction-panics-and-abandons-rome-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Caesar narrates: The Optimate faction panics and flees. The towns of Italy support Caesar. And Pompey's attempts to reinforce his army by recruiting veterans who had obtained their farms through Caesar's legislative initiatives did not go well...

Caesar Besieges Domitius in Corfinum https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/caesar-besieges-domitius-in-corfinum-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus concentrates 13000 soldiers in the town of Corfinum and decides to make a stand. Pompey calls him an idiot. He, Pompey, "cannot risk the whole war in a single battle, especially under the circumstances"…

Caesar Captures Corfinum https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/caesar-captures-corfinum-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus's deception that Pompey is coming to the Optimates' aid in Corfinum falls apart, Ahenobarbus tries to flee. Before Corfinum Caesar had had two legions in Italy to the Optimate and Pompeian six. After Corfinum Caesar has seven legions in Italy to the Pompeian three…

Pompey Refuses to Negotiate & Flees to Greece https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/pompey-refuses-to-negotiate-flees-to-greece-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Pompey flees to the southern Adriatic port of Brundisium. Caesar catches up to him and begs him to negotiate. Pompey refuses and flees. Caesar decides not to follow, but to turn and first defeat the Pompeian armies in Spain...

Cementing Caesarian Control of the Center of the Empire: Late March -49 https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/cementing-caesarian-control-of-the-center-of-the-empire-late-march-49-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Caesar offers to share power with the dysfunctional Senate but, filibustered and vetoed by Optimate tribunes, he consolidates his hold and heads for Spain…

Treachery at Massilia: April-May -49 https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/treachery-at-massilia-april-may-49-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: The Massiliotes profess neutrality—until Pompeian reinforcements arrive. Pompeians to whom Caesar had shown clemency at Corfinium have again taken up weapons against him again…

Rendezvous in Spain, at Ilerda https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/rendezvous-in-spain-at-ilerda-livelogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-repubvlic.html: Caesar moves to deal with the Pompeian forces in Spain to his west…

Caesar Begins His First Spanish Campaign https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/caesar-begins-his-first-spanish-campaign-livelogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Caesar has his men build a fortified camp close enough to the Pompeian base that the soldiers will inevitably start to fraternize...

Heavy But Inconclusive Skirmishing Between the Military Camps at Ilerda https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/heavy-but-inconclusive-skirmishing-between-the-military-camps-at-ilerda-livelogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html

Floods and Supply Lines https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/floods-and-suppyl-liner-livelogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: Caesar faces logistical difficulties…

Caesar Turns the Tables on the Pompeian Skirmishers https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/caesar-turns-the-tables-on-the-pompeian-skirmishers-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: ‘Caesar overcomes his logistical difficulties…

The Caesarian Navy Led by Decimus Brutus Wins a Victory at Massilia https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/the-caesarian-navy-led-by-decimus-brutus-wins-a-victory-at-massilia-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html

Afranius & Petreius Fear Caesar's Cavalry & Decide to Retreat https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/afranius-petreius-fear-caesars-cavalry-decide-to-retreat-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: ‘Logistics and diplomacy reverse the situation at Ilerda in northeast Spain, as Caesar gains an advantage in allied cavalry that makes Afranius and Petreius fear their position will soon become logistically untenable…

Caesar Pursues the Retreating Pompeians https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/caesar-pursues-the-retreating-pompeians-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic.html: ‘Caesar learns that Afranius and Petreius have decided to retreat. So when they do, he sets his army in hot pursuit…

Caesar Steals a March on þe Pompeians https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/caesar-pursues-the-retreating-pompeians-liveblogging-the-fall-of-the-roman-republic-1.html#more: ‘Caesar learns that Afranius and Petreius have decided to retreat, and pursues. These overly-cautious Pompeian generals begin to lose the war of maneuver…

Caesar Cuts the Pompeians Off from þe Ebro & þeir Line of Retreat https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/caesar-cuts-the-pompeians-off-from-þe-ebro-þeir-line-of-retreat-liveblogging-þe-fall-of-þe-roman-republic.html: ‘And he begins trying to woo the soldiers over to his side. The Pompeian generals Afranius and Petreius react badly—and so it becomes clementia vs. crudelitas…

Caesar's Army Traps the Pompeians https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/08/caesars-army-traps-the-pompeians-liveblogging-%C3%BEe-fall-of-%C3%BEe-roman-republic.html: ‘The Pompeians attempt to retreat, and then fortify themselves on unfavorable ground with neither water nor forage available…


Briefly Noted for 2020-08-19

The end of California’s “Mediterranean climate”? Nah. It’s still cooler in the summer than Greece, or Catalonia, or Sicily—by a lot:

Daniel Swain: https://weatherwest.com/archives/7427 https://weatherwest.com/: ‘A very intense and prolonged heatwave now appears likely for a large portion of California over the next 7-10 days, and this event will likely have wide-ranging impacts from human health, wildfire, and electricity demand perspectives.... A strengthening ridge axis... from the southeast... a humid tropical airmass... from the southwest... remnants of former Hurricane Elida... locked in place for at least the next 7 days, and very possibly longer…

 

It now looks like there was enough of a bounceback in July to give us a 5% boost to third quarter GDP—that is a 20% reported annualized growth rate for Q3 –unless the economy is falling off a cliff now or does so in September. Unfortunately, the economy may well fall off a cliff this month or next. The renewed spread of the coronavirus plague, plus Trump's and McConnell‘s decision that they would rather have no fiscal stimulus at all then negotiate with Pelosi, are not pieces of good news for aggregate demand:

Tim Duy: Fiscal Follies Continue* https://blogs.uoregon.edu/timduyfedwatch/2020/08/10/fiscal-follies-continue/: ‘Incoming data still reflects the push-pull dynamics of the shutdown and reopening; we *don’t have a clear picture of the growth trajectory after those dynamics play out. Fiscal policy in the U.S. is a mess…

 

Duncan Black is depressed. And there is, admittedly, a lot to be depressed about. But I think that the elected politicians here are right. The best thing we can do is to vote in November and throw the fascist bastards out. The second best thing we can do is scare the fascist-enabling bastards today with the thought that they are going to be thrown out in November unless they frantically start blocking the idiocies of Trump’s goons:

Duncan Black: The Plan Is Hope https://www.eschatonblog.com/2020/08/the-plan-is-hope.html: ‘I was never a SUPER DC INSIDER, but I used to be a bit more connected.... Not so much anymore.... Members of Congress are tweeting, "nothing we can do, please vote." I am dumb and not important and nobody tells me anything anymore, but…

 

This is not coherent: If "those people“ are not going to use their Medicaid benefits because of their attitudes toward life—which the likely future senator from Kansas says he is “not judging”-then those Medicaid benefits are not a burden on the federal or the state treasury, hence not a problem:

Nancy LeTourneau: The Extremist Agenda of Establishment Republicans https://washingtonmonthly.com/2020/08/12/whats-the-difference-between-establishment-and-extremist-republicans/: ‘It can be difficult to distinguish between candidates who are “establishment” and those who are “extreme.”... [Roger] Marshall is touting the fact that he is “trusted by Trump”... in the center of efforts to repeal Obamacare and oppose Medicaid expansion in Kansas... "even with unlimited access to health care [they] are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought [in]…”

 

Steve M.: Donald Trump, A Force for "Stability"? https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/07/donald-trump-force-for-stability.html: ‘One participant... really seemed to misread the country: "'The more demonstrations there were, the more demands for recounts, the more legal challenges there were, the more funerals for democracy were held, the more Trump came across as the candidate of stability', said Edward Luce, the US editor of the _Financial Times, who played the role of a mainstream media reporter during one of the simulations." Donald Trump has many weapons at his disposal if he wants to try to cling to power after an election loss, but the general impression that he's a figure of stability is not one of them...

Julian E. Zelizer with Rick Perlstein: _ A discussion of Zelizer's latest book, Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=lRopePOgjzE&feature=emb_logo...

Zack Budryk: 'Pastor who urged people https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/510274-pastor-who-urged-people-not-to-cower-in-fear-tests-positive-for not to "cower in fear" tests positive for coronavirus…

Jo Walton: Designing People & Societies: C.J. Cherryh’s "Cyteen" https://www.tor.com/2011/08/08/designing-people-and-societies-cj-cherryhs-cyteen/_: "Cherryh chose to show us Union society first from outside in Downbelow Station, where they are the implacable enemy. I didn’t want to read Cyteen when it was first published because I didn’t want to spend that much time in Union. It becomes clear that Alliance don’t understand Union. Close up it’s… both better and worse than it seemed from outside.... If you were an ordinary CIT in Union, your life would be much nicer and more free than I would have imagined. But for an azi or somebody who isn’t ordinary, it’s much worse.... We also know, because Cherryh had written books set later in the history of this universe, that it doesn’t ultimately work.... I’ve probably read Cyteen forty times, but it always grabs me and won’t let go, and I always see more in it...

Brian Resnick & Umair Irfan: Covid-19 Antibodies, Herd Immunity, & Vaccines, Explained https://www.vox.com/2020/7/22/21324729/getting-covid-19-twice-immunity-antibodies-vaccine-herd-immunity: ‘While there is no guarantee that a successful Covid-19 vaccine will be made, some scientists are optimistic that one or more will be available in record time. One big reason: Most people survive the infection on their own, showing that the immune system can be coached to fend off the pathogen.... Our first line of defense against the virus is the cells within us, but stopping the outbreaks will depend on the whole world working together…

Cicero: Pro Balbo: ‘It has been imputed to [Balbus] also that he has become one of the tribe Clustumina, a privilege which he obtained by means of the law concerning bribery, and which is less invidious than the advantages acquired by those men who, by the assistance of the laws, obtain the power of delivering their opinion as praetor, and of and of wearing the purple-striped toga...

Cicero: Pro Roscio: 'I come now to that point to which my desire does not lead me, but good faith towards my client. For if I wished to accuse men, I should accuse those men rather by accusing whom I might become more important, which I have determined not to do, as long as the alternatives of accusing and defending are both open to me. For that man appears to me the most honourable who arrives at a higher rank by his own virtue, not he who rises by the distress and misfortunes of another...

Herodian: Commodus http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/herodian_01_book1.htm#C1

Google: Google One https://one.google.com/home?utm_medium=email&utm_source=welcome&utm_campaign=new_member_explore_g1_top&utm_content=cta_explore_g1_top

 

Plus:

Follower of Hieronymus Bosch: Christ in Limbo:

Bosch school christ in limbo

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Brief Procrastinatory Thoughts on American Slavery, Power & Economists' Rhetoric—Highlighted

When the very sharp Eric Hilt writes of "Fogel and Engerman’s analysis of slavery as...brutal but efficient", I wince. "Efficiency" is an engineering term, meaning: achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. A steam boiler powering the lifting of ore out of a mine that converts only 55% of the stored chemical energy in the coal burned into the extra gravitational potential energy of the ore is 55% efficient. The other 45% of the energy is waste heat. An efficient process is one that produced little waste. In striking contrast with an efficient engine that produces little in the way of waste products, slavery produced enormous amounts of waste: death, family separation, pain, overwork, imprisonment, unfreedom. You can call slavery "brutal, but effective in producing profits for the slavelords", and I will not quarrel: that is very true. But please don't call slavery "efficient". To do so makes a normal person think that you are an empathyless moron, or neo-Confederate-adjacent.

OK. So why does Eric Hilt, who is neither an empathyless moron nor Neo-Confederate-adjacent approvingly cite Fogel and Engerman for their "analysis of slavery as... brutal but efficient"? Because economists redefined "efficient" in a particular way. Economists called a situation "efficient" in which there were no uncompleted win-win market exchanges of commodities for money. And, indeed in slavery, there were no uncompleted win-win market exchanges of commodities for money. American slaves (in contrast to at least some Roman slaves) had no chance or opportunity to buy their freedom. So it was efficient. American slavery would only have been inefficient if masters could have (a) freed their slaves, (b) charged them a market rent for their farms, and (c) collected more in rent than they had previously extracted at the point of the lash.

Now Adam Smith thought that that was in fact the case:

The pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him so much as to be obliged to condescend to persuade his inferiors. Wherever the law allows it, and the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of freemen.... The profits of a sugar plantation... are generally much greater than those of any other... and the profits of a tobacco plantation, though inferior to those of sugar, are superior to those of corn.... Both can afford the expense of slave cultivation but sugar can afford it still better than tobacco...

I always thought that Fogel and Engerman, in arguing that American slavery was "efficient", were in fact arguing against neo-Confederate-adjacents who lamented the "tragedy" of the Civil War. Their adversaries had thought that what the South needed was not Sherman commanding Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland, Schofield and his Army of the Ohio, and McPherson and his Army of the Tennessee, but rather forebearance and persuasion. That would, in the minds of these adversaries, lead to the diffusion of commercial values into the south, and then the slavelords would realize that they could make more money by going full-throttle toward the market economy, freeing their slaves, and becoming normal landlords than by the continuation of their neo-feudal fantasies.

Adam Smith (and those who followed him in seeing slavery as an expensive luxury chosen only by a ruling class in love with its image of itself as made up of dominating masters) were, I think, wrong—and the work done in Time on the Cross is a good part of what, I think, demonstrates that they were wrong.

But there is still this problem with the word "efficiency". It would be innocuous if you were talking only to economists. It would be innocuous if you wrote, instead "efficiency-in-economese". But writing that slavery is "efficient" when your audience includes any people who are in any way not full-fledged economists expecting you to speak in economese conveys the false message that American slavery was not very wasteful. And yet what is the destruction of humans' autonomous lives that is the core of slavery as an institution and practice but immense waste?

Eric Hilt: Slavery, Power and Cliometrics: A Brief Comment on Rosenthal https://economic-historian.com/2020/08/slavery-power-and-cliometrics/: ‘Rather than attempt to comment on all of Rosenthal’s paper, here I would like discuss some insights from the literature on Time on the Cross that relate to some parts of it.... Fogel and Engerman’s analysis of slavery as a brutal but efficient labor system clearly has echoes in some of the new books by historians on slavery...

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Loomis: American Fascism: þis Is þe Real Thing—Noted

I agree with Erik here. The Trump administration isn't "creeping fascism" any more. This is the real thing. Their plan is to have Breitbart, Fox, Sinclair, & QAnon come out hard Wednesday after the election saying "nobody can really tell who won", and then see what happens on the streets: Erik Loomis: American Fascism https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/08/american-fascism-3: ‘Anyone who sees this as bluster and doesn’t take it seriously are equivalent to those who didn’t really take Hitler or Mussolini seriously early on: Reporter: "Is the President saying if he doesn't win this election that he will not accept the results unless he wins?" Kayleigh McEnany: "The President has always said he'll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath"… .#fascism #highlighted #moral responsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #moralresponsibility #2020-08-19


Caesar's Army Traps the Pompeians: Liveblogging þe Fall of þe Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

The Pompeians attempt to retreat, and then fortify themselves on unfavorable ground with neither water nor forage available:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10657/pg10657-images.html: ‘Afranius's men were distressed in foraging, and procured water with difficulty. The legionary soldiers had a tolerable supply of corn, because they had been ordered to bring from Ilerda sufficient to last twenty-two days; the Spanish and auxiliary forces had none, for they had but few opportunities of procuring any, and their bodies were not accustomed to bear burdens; and therefore a great number of them came over to Caesar every day...

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Caesar Cuts the Pompeians Off from þe Ebro & þeir Line of Retreat: Liveblogging þe Fall of þe Roman Republic

Mausoleum of the julii in glanum

Caesar cuts the Pompeians off from the Ebro River, and begins trying to woo tghe soldiers over to his side. The Pompeian generals Afranius and Petreius react badly—and so it becomes clementia vs. crudelitas:

Gaius Julius Caesar: The Civil War http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10657/pg10657-images.html: ‘The contest depended entirely on despatch, which should first get possession of the defile and the mountain. The difficulty of the roads delayed Caesar's army, but his cavalry pursuing Afranius's forces, retarded their march. However, the affair was necessarily reduced to this point, with respect to Afranius's men, that if they first gained the mountains, which they desired, they would themselves avoid all danger, but could not save the baggage of their whole army, nor the cohorts which they had left behind in the camps, to which, being intercepted by Caesar's army, by no means could assistance be given...

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Jefferson: Notes on Virginia—Noted

Thomas Jefferson: Notes on þe State of Virginia http://tjrs.monticello.org/letter/1314: ‘Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made... will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.... Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid: and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.... We know that among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of the blacks on the continent of America… .#noted #2020-08-16