Adrian: The 1600 Military Revolution and the Islamic World https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/note-to-self-we-hear-a-lot-about-the-military-revolution-at-the-end-of-the-sixteenth-century-we-hear-about-gustaf-adolf.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4c057ab200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4c057ab200d: 'Since the turn of the millennium there has been a fast developing historical literature on this. Khan (2004) on Mughals; Agoston (2005) on Ottomans; and Streusand (2011) on both + Safavids. State of the art is the idea of a Eurasian rather than European gunpowder revolution. But there is still perhaps something different emerging in C17th century Europe. In 1500 the Ottomans are the cutting edge by 1700 they look old fashioned.

Scott P.: "Well, in 1500 the Spanish are the cutting edge by 1700 they look old-fashioned, too....

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Walter Jon Williams: Reviews Too Late: Money Heist http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/2019/10/reviews-too-late-money-heist/: 'While recovering from surgery I binged, mainly continuing my exploration of Spanish TV with Money Heist (Casa de Papel, “House of Paper”)  I do like an intricate caper, as my Maijstral books demonstrate, and this is probably the longest caper ever filmed, something like sixteen hours of television originally split into two seasons.  (One crime over two seasons!)  The series was one of the most-watched in Europe last summer, which attracted the interest of Netflix.  When Netflix acquired the series it was re-edited into 22 episodes, and two more seasons were filmed.  (I’m halfway through Season Three, and Season Four has yet to be released.) So, whatta we got here?  Master criminal El Professor (Álvaro Morte) recruits a group of criminal specialists to take over the Spanish mint, run off a couple billion euros over a week’s time, and cleverly vanish along with the cash.  To preserve anonymity, each of the team adopts the pseudonym of a city, and the tale is narrated by Tokyo, a young woman with a history of robbing banks, and who recently watched her boyfriend gunned down when a heist she planned went terribly wrong.  Tokyo isn’t an unreliable narrator, exactly, but she’s an unreliable human being, prone to making an impulsive grand gesture at exactly the wrong moment. And in fact El Professor turns out to have made quite a number of mistakes in casting his crime...

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Note to Self: We hear a lot about the military revolution at the end of the sixteenth century: we hear about Gustaf Adolf, about Maurice van Nassau, even about (the earlier) Gonsalvo de Cordoba. We hear about the effective use of firearms and cannon. Discipline. Logistics—both ammunition supply and keeping guys fed and (relatively) plague free. And we hear of the victories won by Maurice van Nassau and Gustaf Adolf of Sweden over the half-modernized Spanish and Austrian armies, just as we hear of the victories won a century earlier by Gonsalvo de Cordoba and his half-modernized tercios over the unmodernized Italian mercenaries and French cavaliers. But we don't hear much about similarly striking victories won a little bit earlier somewhat further to the east...

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This is absolutely brilliant, and quite surprising to me. I had imagined that most of discrimination in the aggregate was the result of a thumb placed lightly on the scale over and over and over again. Here Pat and Chris present evidence that, at least in employment, it is very different: that a relatively small proportion of employers really really discriminate massively, and that most follow race-neutral procedures and strategies:

Patrick Kline and Christopher Walters: Audits as Evidence: Experiments, Ensembles, and Enforcement https://eml.berkeley.edu//~crwalters/papers/reasonable_doubt.pdf: "We develop tools for utilizing correspondence experiments to detect illegal discrimination by individual employers. Employers violate US employment law if their propensity to contact applicants depends on protected characteristics such as race or sex. We establish identification of higher moments of the causal effects of protected characteristics on callback rates as a function of the number of fictitious applications sent to each job ad. These moments are used to bound the fraction of jobs that illegally discriminate. Applying our results to three experimental datasets, we find evidence of significant employer heterogeneity in discriminatory behavior, with the standard deviation of gaps in job-specific callback probabilities across protected groups averaging roughly twice the mean gap. In a recent experiment manipulating racially distinctive names, we estimate that at least 85% of jobs that contact both of two white applications and neither of two black applications are engaged in illegal discrimination. To assess more carefully the tradeoff between type I and II errors presented by these behavioral patterns, we consider the performance of a series of decision rules for investigating suspicious callback behavior under a simple two-type model that rationalizes the experimental data. Though, in our preferred specification, only 17% of employers are estimated to discriminate on the basis of race, we find that an experiment sending 10 applications to each job would enable accurate detection of 7- 10% of discriminators while falsely accusing fewer than 0.2% of non-discriminators. A minimax decision rule acknowledging partial identification of the joint distribution of callback rates yields higher error rates but more investigations than our baseline two-type model. Our results suggest illegal labor market discrimination can be reliably monitored with relatively small modifications to existing audit designs...

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I suspect that this will be to the taste of very few people who read this. But I think that this—and Marshall Berman's (1982) All That Is Solid Melts into Air http://books.google.com/?isbn=0860917851—is well worth your attention. One way to approach it is to note that back before 1500 humanity's collective technological and organizational possibilities grew at a proportion rate of something like 0.04% per year. Now they grow at 2% per year. Thus changes in what we can do and how we can organize ourselves to do it that used to happen over a 50-year timespan now take place in one revolution around the sun. Thus "modern" people must continually reinvent and reinvent ourselves in a way very foreign to all of the memory of our past historical experience. What are the consequences of this? Humanist late-twentieth century New York CUNY Marxist took a stab:

Marshall Berman (1984): The Signs in the Street: A Response to Perry Anderson https://newleftreview.org/issues/I144/articles/marshall-berman-the-signs-in-the-street-a-response-to-perry-anderson: "‘To be modern’, as I define it... ‘is to experience personal and social life as a maelstrom, to find one’s world in perpetual disintegration and renewal, trouble and anguish, ambiguity and contradiction: to be part of a universe in which all that is solid melts into air. To be a modernist is to make oneself somehow at home in this maelstrom... to grasp and confront the world that modernization makes, and to strive to make it our own.’ Modernism aims ‘to give modern men and women the power to change the world that is changing them, to make them the subjects as well as the objects of modernization.’ Anderson is willing to accept this as a vision of 19th-century culture and politics, but he thinks that it is irrelevant to our century, let alone to our day.... I could assail Anderson’s reading of modern and contemporary history in plenty of ways, but it wouldn’t do anything to advance our common understanding. I want to try something different. Anderson’s view of the current horizon is that it’s empty, closed; mine is that it’s open and crowded with creative possibilities. The best way to defend my vision might be to show what this horizon looks like, what’s actually out there as I see it.... A massive black woman gets on, bent under numerous parcels; I give her my seat. Just behind her, her fifteen-or-so-year-old daughter undulates up the aisle, radiant, stunning in the skin-tight pink pants she has just bought.... They continue an argument.... The mother still won’t look, but after awhile she lifts her eyes slowly, then shakes her head. ‘With that ass,’ she says, ‘you’ll never get out of high school without a baby. And I ain’t taking care of no more babies. You’re my last baby.’ The girl squeezes her mother’s arm: ‘Don’t worry, Mama. We’re modern. We know how to take care of ourselves.’ The mother sighs, and addresses her packages: ‘Modern? Just you take care you don’t bring me no modern babies.’ Soon I get off, feeling as happy and whole as the girl in the bus. Life is rough in the South Bronx, but the people aren’t giving up: modernity is alive and well...

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As we hand more and more control over to agencies whee humans are not really in the loop, we are going to find lots of unintended and deleterious consequences. When the Sacklers sicked Purdue Pharma on the world to make themselves some money, did they imagine that it would decide that addicting lots of Americans to oxycontin was a strategy it would follow? Probably not. Corporations with diffused responsibility and everybody looking only at their narrow piece is one way to take humans out of the loop. Algorithmic systems are another:

Kris Shaffer: How Algorithms Amplify Our Own Biases and Shape What We See Online https://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/algorithms-bias-internet: "The following is an excerpt from Kris Shaffer’s book, Data Versus Democracy: How Big Data Algorithms Shape Opinions and Alter the Course of History. It is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis.... When a user performs a search, the model takes their search terms and any metadata around the search (location, timing, etc.) as inputs, along with data about the user from their profile and activity history, and other information from the platform’s database, like content features and the profiles and preferences of other similar users. Based on this data, the model delivers results—filtered and ranked content, according to predictions made about what the user is most likely to engage with...

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Doug Jones: Empires and Barbarians https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/empires-and-barbarians-5/: 'The fall of Rome involved the disintegration of the Roman state; the collapse of long-distance trade; the disappearance of mass-produced pottery, coinage, and monumental architecture over large areas; declining literacy among commoners and elites; great insecurity of life and property, and demographic collapse. The process was drawn out and played out differently in different regions. In the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, central government supported by taxation continued; in the West it largely disappeared. The nadir in the West was perhaps the tenth century. We might set the turning point at the battle of Lechfeld (955): a last set of invaders off the steppes, the Magyars, was defeated by the Emperor Otto, and then adopted Christianity, gave up nomadic marauding, and settled down as feudal lords in Hungary.... The overall trend of history is for more complex societies to replace less complex. (Important note: “more complex” is not the same as “nicer.”) But the process is an uneven one, in part because military effectiveness is only loosely coupled with social complexity...

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The Song Dynasty revolution: Doug Jones: A Cycle of Cathay https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/a-cycle-of-cathay-2/: 'Jacques Gernet: "The innovations which make their appearance in East Asia round about the year 1000… form such a coherent and extensive whole that we have to yield to the evidence: at this period, the Chinese world experienced a real transformation.… The analogies [with the European Renaissance] are numerous–the return to the classical tradition, the diffusion of knowledge, the upsurge of science and technology (printing, explosives, advance in seafaring techniques, the clock with escapement…), a new philosophy, and a new view of the world.… There is not a single sector of political, social or economic life in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries which does not show evidence of radical changes in comparison with earlier ages. It is not simply a matter of a change of scale (increase in population, general expansion of production, development of internal and external trade) but of a change of character. Political habits, society, the relations between town and country, and economic patterns are quite different from what they had been.… A new world had been born...

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*John Preskill *: Explains ‘Quantum Supremacy’ https://www.quantamagazine.org/john-preskill-explains-quantum-supremacy-20191002/: 'In the 2012 paper that introduced the term “quantum supremacy,” I wondered: “Is controlling large-scale quantum systems merely really, really hard, or is it ridiculously hard? In the former case we might succeed in building large-scale quantum computers after a few decades of very hard work. In the latter case we might not succeed for centuries, if ever.” The recent achievement by the Google team bolsters our confidence that quantum computing is merely really, really hard. If that’s true, a plethora of quantum technologies are likely to blossom in the decades ahead...

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Scott Aaronson: Quantum Supremacy: The Gloves Are Off https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=4372: 'does IBM’s analysis mean that “quantum supremacy” hasn’t been achieved? No, it doesn’t—at least, not under any definition of “quantum supremacy” that I’ve ever used. The Sycamore chip took about 3 minutes.... three minutes versus 2.5 days is still a quantum speedup by a factor of 1200. But even more relevant, I think, is to compare the number of “elementary operations.” Let’s generously count a FLOP (floating-point operation) as the equivalent of a quantum gate. Then by my estimate, we’re comparing ~5×10^9 quantum gates against ~2×10^20 FLOPs—a quantum speedup by a factor of ~40 billion.... The broader point is that neither party... denies that the top-supercomputers-on-the-planet-level difficulty of classically simulating Google’s 53-qubit programmable chip really is coming from the exponential character of the quantum states in that chip, and nothing else...

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Orlando Letelier (1976): The ‘Chicago Boys’ in Chile: Economic Freedom’s Awful Toll: Hoisted from the Archives

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Orlando Letelier (1976): The ‘Chicago Boys’ in Chile: Economic Freedom’s Awful Toll: 'It would seem to be a common-sensical sort of observation that economic policies are conditioned by and at the same time modify the social and political situation where they are put into practice. Economic policies, therefore, are introduced in order to alter social structures. If I dwell on these considerations, therefore, it is because the necessary connection between economic policy and its sociopolitical setting appears to be absent from many analyses of the current situation in Chile. To put it briefly, the violation of human rights, the system of institutionalized brutality, the drastic control and suppression of every form of meaningful dissent is discussed (and often condemned) as a phenomenon only indirectly linked, or indeed entirely, unrelated, to the classical unrestrained “free market” policies that have been enforced by the military junta. This failure to connect has been particularly characteristic of private and public financial institutions, which have publicly praised and supported the economic policies adopted by the Pinochet government, while regretting the “bad international image” the junta has gained from its “incomprehensible” persistence in torturing, jailing and persecuting all its critics...

...A recent World Bank decision to grant a $33 million loan to the junta was justified by its President, Robert McNamara, as based on purely “technical” criteria, implying no particular relationship to the present political and social conditions in the country. The same line of justification has been followed by American private banks which, in the words of a spokesman for a business consulting firm, “have been falling all over one another to make loans.”

But probably no one has expressed this attitude better than the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. After a visit to Chile, during which he discussed human rights violations by the military government, William Simon congratulated Pinochet for bringing “economic freedom” to the Chilean people. This particularly convenient concept of a social system in which “economic freedom” and political terror coexist without touching each other, allows these financial spokesmen to support their concept of “freedom” while exercising their verbal muscles in defense of human rights.

The usefulness of the distinction has been particularly appreciated by those who have generated the economic policies now being carried out in Chile. In Newsweek of June 14, Milton Friedman, who is the intellectual architect and unofficial adviser for the team of economists now running the Chilean economy, stated: “In spite of my profound disagreement with the authoritarian political system of Chile, I do not consider it as evil for an econ omist to render technical economic advice to the Chilean Government, any more than I would regard it as evil for a physician to give technical medical advice to the Chilean Government to help end a medical plague.”

It is curious that the man who wrote a book, Capitalism and Freedom, to drive home the argument that only classical economic liberalism can support political democracy can now so easily disentangle economics from politics when the economic theories he advocates coincide with an absolute restriction of every type of democratic freedom. One would logically expect that if those who curtail private enterprise are held responsible for the effects of their measures in the political sphere, those who impose unrestrained “economic freedom” would also be held responsible when the imposition of this policy is inevitably accompanied by massive repression, hunger, unemployment and the permanence of a brutal police state.

The Economic Prescription & Chile’s Reality: The economic plan now being carried out in Chile realizes an historic aspiration of a group of Chilean economists, most of them trained at Chicago University by Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger. Deeply involved in the preparation of the coup, the “Chicago boys,” as they are known in Chile, convinced the generals that they were prepared to supplement the brutality, which the military possessed, with the intellectual assets it lacked.

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has disclosed that “CIA collaborators” helped plan the economic measures that Chile’s junta enacted imme diately after seizing power. Committee witnesses maintain that some of the “Chicago boys” received CIA funds for such research efforts as a 300-page economic blueprint that was given to military leaders before the coup. It is therefore understandable that after seizing power they were, as The Wall Street Journal put it, “champing to be unleashed” on the Chilean economy.

Their first approach to the situation was gradual; only after a year of relative confusion did they decide to implement without major modification the theoretical model they had been taught at Chicago. The occasion merited a visit to Chile by Mr. Friedman himself who, along with his associate, Professor Harberger, made a series of well-publicized appearances to promote a “shock treatment” for the Chilean economy—something that Friedman emphatically described as “the only medicine. Absolutely. There is no other. There is no other long-term solution.”

These are the basic principles of the economic model offered by Friedman and his followers and adopted by the Chilean junta: that the only possible framework for economic development is one within which the private sector can freely operate; that private enterprise is the most efficient form of economic organization and that, therefore, the private sector should be the predominant factor in the economy. Prices should fluctuate freely in accordance with the laws of competition. Inflation, the worst enemy of economic progress, is the direct result of monetary expansion and can be eliminated only by a drastic reduction of government spending.

Except in present-day Chile, no government in the world gives private enterprise an absolutely free hand. That is so because every economist (except Friedman and his followers) has known for decades that, in the real life of capitalism, there is no such thing as the perfect competition described by classical liberal economists. In March 1975, in Santiago, a newsman dared suggest to Friedman that even in more advanced capitalist countries, as for example the United States, the government applies various types of controls on the economy. Mr. Friedman answered: “I have always been against it, I don’t approve of them. I believe we should not apply them. I am against economic intervention by the government, in my own country, as well as in Chile or anywhere else.”

This is not the place to evaluate the general validity of the postulates advanced by Friedman and the Chicago School. I want to concentrate only on what happens when their model is applied to a country like Chile. Here Friedman’s theories are especially objectionable—from an economic as well as a moral point of view—because they propose a total free market policy in a framework of extreme inequality among the economic agents involved: inequality between monopolistic and small and medium entrepreneurs; inequality between the owners of capital and those who own only their capacity to work, etc. Similar situations would exist if the model were applied to any other underdeveloped, dependent economy.

It is preposterous to speak about free competition in Chile. The economy there is highly monopolized. An academic study, made during President Frei’s regime, pointed out that in 1966 “284 enterprises controlled each and every one of the subdivisions of Chilean economic activities. In the industrial sector, 144 enterprises con trolled each and every one of the subsectors. In turn, within each of ‘these 144 manufacturing enterprises which constituted the core of the industrial sector, a few shareholders controlled management: in more than 50 percent of the enterprises, the ten largest shareholders owned between 90 and 100 percent of the capital.”

On the other hand, studies also conducted during the pre-Allende period demonstrated the extent to which the Chilean economy has been dominated by foreign-based multinationals. As Barnet and Müller put it in Global Reach, “In pre-Allende Chile, 51 percent of the largest 160 firms were effectively controlled by global corporations. In each of the seven key industries of the economy one to three firms controlled at least 51 percent of the production. Of the top twenty-two global corporations operating in the country, nineteen either operated free of all competi tion or shared the market with other oligopolists.”

From 1971 to 1973, most of the monopolistic and oligopolistic industries were nationalized and transferred to the public sector. However, the zeal with which the military dictatorship has dismantled state participation in the economy and transferred industries to foreign ownership suggests that levels of concentration and mo nopolization are now at least as high as they were before the Popular Unity (Allende) Government.

An International Monetary Fund Report of May 1976 points out:

The process of returning to the private sector the vast majority of the enterprises which over the previous fifteen years, but especially in 1971-73, had become part of the public sector continued [during 1975]…. At the end of 1973 the Public Development Corpo ration (CORFO) had a total of 492 enterprises, includ ing eighteen commercial banks…. Of this total, 253 enterprises…have been returned to their former owners. Among the other 239 enterprises…104 (among them ten banks) have been sold; sixteen (including two banks) have already been adjudicated, with the completion of the transfer procedure being a matter of weeks; the sale of another twenty-one is being negotiated bilaterally with groups of potential buyers.

Competitive bidding is still to be solicited for the remaining enterprises. Ob viously the buyers are always a small number of powerful economic interests who have been adding these enter prises to the monopolistic or oligopolistic structures with in which they operate. At the same time, a considerable number of industries have been sold to transnational corporations, among them the national tire industry (INSA), bought by Firestone for an undisclosed sum, and one of the main paper pulp industries (Celulosa Forestal Arauco), bought by Parsons & Whittemore.

There are many other examples to show that, as far as competition goes, Mr. Friedman’s prescription does not yield the economic effects implicit in his theoretical model. In the first half of 1975, as part of the process of lifting regulations from the economy, the price of milk was exempted from control. With what result? The price to the consumer rose 40 percent and the price paid to the producer dropped 22 percent. There are more than 10,000 milk producers in Chile but only two milk processing companies, which control the market. More than 80 percent of Chilean paper production and all of certain types of paper come from one enterprise—the Compañia Manufacturera de Papeles y Cartones, controlled by the Alessandri interests—which establishes prices without fear of competition. More than fifteen foreign brands are offered in the Chilean home appliances market, but they are all in the hands of only three companies, which assemble them in Chile and determine their retail prices.

Of course, any of the followers of the Chicago School would say that, with the liberalization of the interna tional market, as prescribed by the model, Chilean monopolies and oligopolies would be exposed to competition from abroad. However, that does not happen. Chile so lacks foreign currency that it cannot import what it needs, of even the most essential goods. Still more important is the fact that foreign enterprises are not interested in sending to Chile goods which could compete with those, manufactured by their own Chilean subsidiaries. Besides, in Chile the economic interests which control the manu facturing industry also control the financial apparatus and import activities. These groups are not disposed to compete with themselves. In short, the application of Friedman’s theories to the real world of Chile means that the industrialists can freely “compete” at whatever price levels they choose.

Other aspects of the brand of economics taught at the University of Chicago are conveniently ignored by the junta’s economic advisers. One is the importance of wage contracts freely negotiated between employers and workers; another is the efficiency of the market as an instrument to allocate resources in the economy. It is sardonic to mention the right of the workers to negotiate in a country where the Central Workers’ Federation has been outlawed and where salaries are established by the junta’s decree. It may also seem grotesque to speak of the market as the most effective instrument for allocating resources when it is widely known that there are practi cally no productive investments in the economy because the most profitable “investment” is speculation. Under the slogan “We must create a capital market in Chile,” selected private groups enjoying the junta’s protection have been authorized to establish so-called “financieras,” which engaged in the most outrageous financial specula tions. Their abuses have been so flagrant that even Orlando Saez, former president of the Chilean Indus trialists’ Association and a staunch supporter of the coup, could not refrain from protesting. “It is not pos sible,” he said, “to continue with the financial chaos that dominates in Chile. It is necessary to channel into productive investments the millions and millions of finan cial resources that are now being used in wild-cat specu lative operations before the very eyes of those who don’t even have a job.”

But the crux of Friedman’s prescription, as the junta never ceases to emphasize, is control of inflation. It should, according to the junta, enlist “the vigorous efforts of all Chileans.” Professor Harberger declared categori cally in April 1975: “I can see no excuses for not stop ping inflation: its origins are well known; government deficits and monetary expansion have to be stopped. I know you are going to ask me about unemployment; if the government deficits were reduced by half, still the rate of unemployment would not increase more than 1 percent.” According to the junta’s official figures, between April and December 1975, the government deficit was reduced by approxi mately the 50 percent that Harberger recommended. In the same period, unemployment rose six times as much as he had predicted. The remedy he continues to advocate consists of reducing government spending, which will reduce the amount of currency in circulation. This will result in a contraction of demand, which in turn will bring about a general reduction of prices. Thus inflation would be defeated. Professor Harberger does not say explicitly who would have to lower their standard of living to bear the casts of the cure.

Without a doubt, excessive monetary expansion con stitutes an important inflationary factor in any economy. However, inflation in Chile (or any underdeveloped country) is a far more complex problem than the one presupposed by the mechanical models of the monetarist theorists. The followers of the Chicago School seem to forget, for example, that the monopolistic structure of the Chilean economy allows the dominant firms to maintain prices in the face of falling demand. They also forget the role that so-called inflationary expectations play in generating price increases. In Chile, inflationary expecta tions have lately been approximating 15 percent per month. Looking ahead, firms prepare for rising costs by raising their own prices. This continuous price “leap-frogging” feeds a general inflationary spiral. On the other hand, in such an inflationary climate, no one with liquid assets wants to hold them. Powerful interest groups, operating without government control, can thus manipulate the financial apparatus. They create institutions to absorb any available money and use it in various forms of speculation, which thrive on and propel inflation.

The Economic Results: Three years have passed since this experiment began in Chile and sufficient information is available to con clude that Friedman’s Chilean disciples failed—at least in their avowed and measurable objectives—and particu larly in their attempts .to control inflation. But they have succeeded, at least temporarily, in their broader purpose: to secure the economic and political power of a small dominant class by effecting a massive transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to a select group of monopolists and financial speculators.

The empirical proof of the economic failure is over whelming. On April 24, 1975, after the last known visit of Messrs. Friedman and Harberger to Chile, the junta’s Minister of Finance, Jorge Cauas, said: “The Hon. junta have asked me to formulate and carry out an economic program primarily directed to eradicate inflation. To gether with a numerous group of technicians, we have presented to the Chilean authorities a program of eco nomic revival which has been approved and is begin ning. The principal objective of this program is to stop inflation in the remainder of 1975.” (The “group of technicians” is obviously Friedman and company.)

By the end of 1975 Chile’s annual rate of inflation had reached 341 percent—that is, the highest rate of inflation in the world. Consumer prices increased that same year by an average 375 percent; wholesale prices rose by 440 percent. Analyzing the causes of Chilean inflation in 1975, a recent report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says: “The cutback in government spending, with its adverse effects on employment, in housing, and public works, went significantly further than programmed in order to accommodate the large credit demands of the private sector.” Later on it states:

Overall monetary management remained expansionary in 1975. Moreover, continued high inflationary expectations and the public’s attendant unwillingness to increase its real cash balances greatly complicated the implementation of the monetary program.

Referring to private organizations which have begun to operate without any control, the report adds that the “financieras” have been allowed to operate beside the commercial banking system and at interest rates up to 59 percent higher than the maximum permissible banking rate. According to the same source, the “financieras” were operating in 1975 at an interest rate of 14 percent a month, or 168 percent a year; they obtained loans in New York at 10 percent to 12 percent a year.

The implementation of the Chicago model has not achieved a significant reduction of monetary expansion. It has, however, brought about a merciless reduction of the income of wage earners and a dramatic increase in unemployment; at the same time it has increased the amount of currency in circulation by means of loans and transfers to big firms, and by granting to private financial institutions the power to create money. As James Petras, an American political scientist, puts it: “The very social classes on which the junta depends are the main instrumentalities of the inflation.”

Concentration of wealth is not the marginal outcome of a difficult situation, but the base for a social project. The inflationary process, which the junta’s policies stimulated immediately after the coup, was slightly reduced in 1975 as compared to the unbelievable rate of 375.9 percent in 1974. Such a minor reduction, however, does not indicate any substantial approach to stabilization and seems on the whole utterly irrelevant to the majority of Chileans who must endure the total collapse of their economy. This situation recalls the story of a Latin Amer ican dictator at the beginning of this century. When his advisers came to tell him that the country was suffer ing from a very serious educational problem, he ordered all public schools closed. Now, more than seventy years into this century, there still remain disciples of the anec dotal dictator who think that the way to eradicate pov erty in Chile is to kill the poor people.

The exchange rate depreciations and the cutbacks in governmental expenditures have produced a depression which, in less than three years, has slowed the country’s rate of development to what it was twelve years ago. Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted during 1975, by nearly 15 percent to its lowest level since 1969, while, according to the IMF, real national income “dropped by as much as 26 percent, leaving real per capita income below its level ten years earlier.” The decline in the overall 1975 GDP reflects an 8.1 percent drop in the min ing sector, a 27 percent decline in the manufacturing indus tries and a 35 percent drop in construction. Petroleum extrac tion declined by an estimated 11 percent, while transport, storage and communications declined 15.3 percent, and com merce fell 21.5 percent. In the agricultural sector production appears virtually stagnant in 1975-76, with only an 0.4 percent variation from the previous agricultural year.

This stagnation has been caused by a combination of factors, including the con tinued rise in the cost of imported fertilizers and pesticides. The use of fertilizer dropped by an estimated 40 percent in 1975-76. The increase in import prices also accounted for the decline in production of pork and poultry, which are almost entirely dependent on imported feed. The re turn to the former owners of several million hectares of farm land that had been expropriated and transferred to peasant organizations under the 1967 Agrarian Re form Law, has also reduced agricultural production. As of the end of 1975 almost 60 percent of all agricultural es tates affected by the land reform—equivalent to about 24 percent of total expropriated land—has been subject to the junta’s decisions. Of this total, 40 percent of the agricul tural enterprises (75 percent of the physical acreage and more than 50 percent of the irrigated land) have entirely reverted to former owners.

In the external sector of the economy, the results have been equally disastrous. In 1975 the value of exports dropped 28 percent, from $2.13 billion to $1.53 billion, and the value of imports dropped 18 percent, from $2.24 billion to $1.81 billion, thus showing a trade deficit of $280 million. Imports of foodstuffs dropped from $561 mil lion in 1974, to $361 million in 1975. In the same period domestic food production declined, causing a drastic reduction in food for the masses of the popula tion. Concurrently, the outstanding external public debt repayable in foreign currency increased from $3.60 bil lion on December 31, 1974, to $4.31 billion on Decem ber 31, 1975. This accentuated Chile’s dependence on ex ternal sources of financing, especially from the United States. The junta’s policies have burdened Chile with one of the highest per capita foreign debts in the world. In the years to come the nation will have to allocate more than 34 percent of its projected exports earnings to the pay ment of external debts.

But the most dramatic result of the economic policies has been the rise in unemployment. Before the coup, unemployment in Chile was 3.1 percent, one of the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. By the end of 1974, the jobless rate had climbed beyond 10 percent in the Santiago metro politan area and was also higher in several other sections of the country. Official junta and IMF figures show that by the end of 1975 unemployment in the Santiago metro politan area had reached 18.7 percent; the corresponding figure in other parts of the country was more than 22 percent; and in specific sectors, such as the construction industry, it had reached almost 40 percent. Unemployment has con tinued to climb in 1976 and, according to the most conservative estimates, in July approximately 2.5 million Chileans (about one-fourth of the population) had no income at all; they survive thanks to the food and cloth ing distributed by church and other humanitarian organi zations. The attempts by religious and other institutions to ease the economic desperation of thousands of Chilean families have been made, in most cases, under the sus picion and hostile actions of the secret police.

The inhuman conditions under which a high percentage of the Chilean population lives is reflected most dramati cally by substantial increases in malnutrition, infant mortality and the appearance of thousands of beggars on the streets of Chilean cities. It forms a picture of hunger and deprivation never seen before in Chile. Families re ceiving the “minimum wage” cannot purchase more than 1,000 calories and 15 grams of protein per person per day. That is less than half the minimum satisfactory level of consumption established by the World Health Organization. It is, in short, slow starvation. Infant mortality, reduced significantly during the Allende years, jumped a dramatic 18 percent during the first year of the military government, according to figures provided by the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America. To deflect criticism from within its own ranks against the brutal consequences of layoffs, the junta in 1975 established a token “minimum employment program.” However, it covers only 3 percent of the labor force, and pays salaries amounting to less than $30—a month!

Although the economic policies have more mercilessly affected the working classes, the general debacle has sig nificantly touched the middle-class as well. At the same time, medium-size national enterprises have had their expectations destroyed by the reduction in demand, and have been engulfed and destroyed by the monopolies against which they were supposed to compete. Because of the collapse of the automobile industry, hundreds of machine shops and small industries which acted as sub contractors have faced bankruptcy. Three major textile firms (FIAD, Tomé Oveja and Bellavista) are working three days a week; several shoe companies, among them Calzados Bata, have had to close. Ferriloza, one of the main producers of consumer durables, recently declared itself bankrupt. Facing this situation, Raul Sahli, the new president of the Chilean Industrialists’ Association, and himself linked to big monopolies, declared earlier in the year: “The social market economy should be applied in all its breadth. If there are industrialists who complain because of this, let them go to hell. I won’t defend them.” He is so quoted by André Gunder Frank in a “Second Open Letter to Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger,” April 1976.

The nature of the economic prescription and its results can be most vividly stated by citing the pattern of domestic income distribution. In 1972, the Popular Unity Govern ment employees and workers received 62.9 percent of the total national income; 37.1 percent went to the propertied sector. By 1974 the share of the wage earners had been reduced to 38.2 percent, while the participation of property had in creased to 61.8 percent. During 1975, “average real wages are estimated to have declined by almost 8 percent,” according to the International Monetary Fund. It is probable that these regressive trends in income distribution have con tinued during 1976. What it means is that during the last three years several billions of dollars were taken from the pockets of wage earners and placed in those of capi talists and landowners. These are the economic results of the application in Chile of the prescription proposed by Friedman and his group.

A Rationale for Power: The economic policies of the Chilean junta and its re sults have to be placed in the context of a wide counter revolutionary process that aims to restore to a small minority the economic, social and political control it gradually lost over the last thirty years, and particularly in the years of the Popular Unity Government.

Until September 11, 1973, the date of the coup, Chilean society had been characterized by the increasing participation of the working class and its political parties in economic and social decision making. Since about 1900, employing the mechanisms of representative democ racy, workers had steadily gained new economic, social and political power. The election of Salvador Allende as President of Chile was the culmination of this process. For the first time in history a society attempted to build socialism by peaceful means. During Allende’s time in office, there was a marked improvement in the conditions of employment, health, housing, land tenure and education of the masses. And as this occurred, the privileged do mestic groups and the dominant foreign interests perceived themselves to be seriously threatened.

They have failed to destroy the consciousness of the Chilean people. The economic plan has had to be enforced. Despite strong financial and political pressure from abroad and efforts to manipulate the attitudes of the middle class by propaganda, popular support for the Allende government increased significantly between 1970 and 1973. In March 1973, only five months before the military coup, there were Congressional elections in Chile. The political parties of the Popular Unity increased their share of the votes by more than 7 percentage points over their totals in the Presidential election of 1970. This was the first time in Chilean history that the political parties supporting the administration in power gained votes dur ing a midterm election. The trend convinced the national bourgeoisie and its foreign supporters that they would be unable to recoup their privileges through the democratic process. That is why they resolved to destroy the demo cratic system and the institutions of the state, and, through an alliance with the military; to seize power by force.

In such a context, concentration of wealth is no acci dent, but a rule; it is not the marginal outcome of a difficult situation—as they would like the world to believe—but the base for a social project; it is not an economic liability but a temporary political success. Their real failure is not their apparent inability to redistribute wealth or to generate a more even path of development (these are not their priorities) but their inability to convince the majority of Chileans that their policies are reasonable and necessary. In short, they have failed to destroy the consciousness of the Chilean people. The economic plan has had to be enforced, and in the Chilean context that could be done only by the killing of thousands, the estab lishment of concentration camps all over the country, the jailing of more than 100,000 persons in three years, the closing of trade unions and neighborhood organizations, and the prohibition of all political activities and all forms of free expression.

While the “Chicago boys” have provided an appearance of technical respectability to the laissez-faire dreams and political greed of the old landowning oligarchy and upper bourgeoisie of monopolists and financial speculators, the military has applied the brutal force required to achieve those goals. Repression for the majorities and “economic freedom” for small privileged groups are in Chile two sides of the same coin.

There is, therefore, an inner harmony between the two central priorities announced by the junta after the coup in 1973: the “destruction of the Marxist cancer” (which has come to mean not only the repression of the political parties of the Left but also the destruction of all labor organizations democratically elected and all opposition, including Christian-Democrats and church organizations), the establishment of a free “private economy” and the control of inflation à la Friedman.

It is nonsensical, consequently, that those who inspire, support or finance that economic policy should try to present their advocacy as restricted to “technical consid erations,” while pretending to reject the system of terror it requires to succeed.


#equitablegrowth #hoistedfromthearchives #politicaleconomy #fascism #notebookslouching #2019-10-28

I wish to once again flag this: Recession Ready. We are not yet out of time to take steps to keep the next recession from turning into a depression. But the clock is ticking. Here is an issue are in which the sooner we take action, the better. And here we at Equitable Growth and the Hamilton Project have, I think, done a very good job: Equitable Growth: Recession Ready https://equitablegrowth.org/recession-ready-2/: "Economic recessions are inevitable and they are painful, with harsh short-term effects on families and businesses and potentially deep long-term impacts on the economy and society. But we can ameliorate some of the next recession’s worst effects and minimize its long-term costs if we adopt smart policies now that will be triggered when its first warning signs appear. Equitable Growth has joined forces with The Hamilton Project to advance a set of specific, evidence-based policy ideas for shortening and easing the impacts of the next recession...

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Looking forward to this. Still, Heather, $26.55 for an ebook?: Hooks Book Events: "Please join us Oct. 30th, for Programs w/ a Purpose with @HBoushey, Pres./CEO of @equitablegrowth. She will discuss her book, Unbound: Heather Boushey Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do about It: 'Many fear that efforts to address inequality will undermine the economy as a whole. But the opposite is true: rising inequality has become a drag on growth and an impediment to market competition. Heather Boushey breaks down the problem and argues that we can preserve our nation’s economic traditions while promoting shared economic growth...

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Let me highlight this once again: The very sharp Martin Wolf reacts to the Business Roundtable's recognition that it and the corporations of which it consists need to take on a much broader system-stabilization role. In my view, the first thing the Business Roundtable and its fellow travelers need to do is for them to recover control of the political right from the armies of political and media grifters. They need to weigh on on what right-wing politicians ought to stand for. So far they have not:

Martin Wolf: Why Rigged Capitalism Is Damaging Liberal Democracy https://www.ft.com/content/5a8ab27e-d470-11e9-8367-807ebd53ab77: "Economies are not delivering for most citizens because of weak competition, feeble productivity growth and tax loopholes.... The US Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executives of 181 of the world’s largest companies, abandoned their longstanding view that 'corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders'.... What does—and should—[this] moment mean? The answer needs to start with acknowledgment of the fact that something has gone very wrong. Over the past four decades, and especially in the US, the most important country of all, we have observed an unholy trinity of slowing productivity growth, soaring inequality and huge financial shocks.... The economy [is] not delivering... in large part... [because of] the rise of rentier capitalism.... Market and political power allows privileged individuals and businesses to extract a great deal of such rent from everybody else.... If one listens to the political debates in many countries, notably the US and UK, one would conclude that the disappointment is mainly the fault of imports from China or low-wage immigrants, or both. Foreigners are ideal scapegoats. But the notion that rising inequality and slow productivity growth are due to foreigners is simply false.... Members of the Business Roundtable and their peers have tough questions to ask themselves. They are right: seeking to maximise shareholder value has proved a doubtful guide to managing corporations. But that realisation is the beginning, not the end.... We need a dynamic capitalist economy that gives everybody a justified belief that they can share in the benefits. What we increasingly seem to have instead is an unstable rentier capitalism, weakened competition, feeble productivity growth, high inequality and, not coincidentally, an increasingly degraded democracy. Fixing this is a challenge for us all, but especially for those who run the world’s most important businesses...

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Jonathan Sallet: Competitive Edge: Five Building Blocks for Antitrust Success: The Forthcoming FTC Competition Report https://equitablegrowth.org/competitive-edge-five-building-blocks-for-antitrust-success-the-forthcoming-ftc-competition-report/: "Here are five building blocks for successful antitrust enforcement that the FTC should embrace in order to, as its Chairman Joseph Simons said (quoting his predecessor Bob Pitofsky), 'restore the tradition of linking law enforcement with a continuing review of economic conditions to ensure that the laws make sense in light of contemporary competitive conditions'.... Pay attention to growing market concentration.... Business models are evolving... today, multisided business models intersect with other economic trends that include network effects, the aggregation of data, and vertical integration.... Antitrust enforcement protects competition, not just consumers.... Modern economic analysis is up to the challenge.... Congress gave the FTC broader enforcement tools than just the Sherman and Clayton Acts...

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Comment of the Day: Maynard Handley https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/very-briefly-noted-2019-10-07-1-clearkimura-_how-to-convert-document-from-google-docs-to-text-file_-no-need-to.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4b711d1200d#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4b711d1200d in "How to Convert Document from Google Docs to Text File"Even more useful is that Google Docs provides access to what has been (in my experience) by far the best OCR system available. Upload a JPG (and I'm guessing probably other image formats like PDF scans, but I haven't yet tried that) to your Google Drive, and then in your browser in the Google Drive window, right/ctrl-click on the image and choose "Open in Google Docs". You'll get a document opened with the text of the image. I've found that this works not just for the easy cases, but even the tough stuff -- small low quality images, multiple columns, things like that. A little more hassle than the various OCR+scanner apps I've paid for but vastly higher quality. (Supposedly MS Live can do the same thing, but I tried getting to MS' OCR from a dozen different angles, on iOS and Mac, through the web and through OneNote, and gave it up. MS may have the greatest OCR scheme on earth, but they've hidden access to it so well it's useless to me.) (Apple have adopted a strange tactic WRT to OCR. Many things on an iOS13 system are automatically text OCR'd, like any scans or images you dump into Notes or Messages. And this text is indexed, so that the relevant scans/images appear in searches. But you can't get at the underlying text for other purposes, whether to edit it or just to read it. It's unclear if this was just not enough time to ship by iOS13, or if it's an attempt to warn other OCR vendors to find some other app category soon, so that there's less grumbling and the usual anti-competitive complaints when Apple does ship. Either way, this particular design choice means that, at least right now, I can't yet compare the quality of Apple's work to that of Google.)...

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Milton Friedman (1982): Free Markets and the Generals: Weekend Reading

Milton Friedman* (1982): Free Markets and the Generals: "The adoption of free-market policies by Chile with the blessing and support of the military junta headed by General Pinochet has given rise to the myth that only an authoritarian regime can successful ly implement a free-market policy. The facts are very different. Chile is an exception, not the rule. The military is hierarchical, and its personnel are imbued with the tradition that some give and some obey orders: it is organized from top down. A free market is the reverse. It is voluntaristic, authority is dispersed; bargaining, not submission to orders, is its watchword; it is organized from the bottom up...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-27:

  1. Mark Graham: The Wayback Machine’s Save Page Now is New and Improved https://blog.archive.org/2019/10/23/the-wayback-machines-save-page-now-is-new-and-improved/: 'You can now save all the “outlinks” of a web page with a single click.... When users are logged in with their free Archive.org account, SPN-generated archives can be saved to that user’s “My web archive” public gallery of archived pages.... In addition to capturing more high-quality archives of web page elements (HTML, JavaScript, Image files, etc.), SPN can now also produce a screenshot...

  2. Roderick Long: Old Philosopher Yells at Clouds https://aaeblog.com/2019/10/21/old-philosopher-yells-at-clouds/: 'I’m sure I can’t be the first to notice the ways in which Plato’s Protagoras is framed as a response to Aristophanes’ Clouds, but I’m not aware of any previous discussion of the connections I have in mind.... I have in mind a more specific set of dramatic parallels...

  3. Alison Flood: Susan Sontag was true author of ex-husband's book, biography claims https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/may/13/susan-sontag-her-life-benjamin-moser-freud-the-mind-of-the-moralist-philip-rieff: 'Sontag: Her Life says she wrote Freud: The Mind of the Moralist by Philip Rieff, whom she married at 17...

  4. Allison Martell: Canada's Trudeau Clings to Power, but Loses Some of His Luster https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-election-trudeau-newsmaker/canadas-trudeau-clings-to-power-but-loses-some-of-his-luster-idUSKBN1X1065: 'Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held on to his job in Monday’s election, securing his spot as one of the world’s few high-profile progressive leaders, but tarnished by scandal and with his power diminished...

  5. Kevin Jones: Downtown Berkeley's Logan Park Wins Zoning Board Approval Thursday Night https://www.berkeleyside.com/2019/10/25/downtown-berkeleys-logan-park-wins-zoning-board-approval-thursday-night: 'Logan Park is... what owner William Schrader Jr. described as “the largest project possible allowed under the downtown plan and the density bonus”... two buildings that will occupy much of the block on Shattuck Avenue between Channing Way and Durant... hundreds of units for residents—most likely students—and many retail spaces as well...

  6. Apple: Record Video and Audio in a Keynote Presentation https://support.apple.com/kb/PH28041?locale=en_US...

  7. Apple: Edit Video and Audio in Keynote Presentations https://support.apple.com/kb/PH28037?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US...

  8. Wikipedia: List of Marshals of France https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Marshals_of_France#Vincent_Auriol,_1947%E2%80%931954...

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That your grandfather Governor John Buchanan campaigned against federal voting rights acts, raised the poll tax, and established pensions for Confederate veterans—that all that goes unmentioned in the context of "I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination...", "From that day forward I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination..." and "'fairness' assumed for me a central normative position..." demonstrates either an absolutely stunning lack of self-awareness or a conscious intellectual judo move to distract attention from the racial politics of the white southern establishment: James Buchanan (2009): Karen Ilse Horn, ed, "Roads to Wisdom: Conversations with Ten Nobel Laureates in Economics" https://delong.typepad.com/document.pdf: "What did the Navy teach you?... I experienced overt discrimination for being a non-Easterner, a nonestablishmentarian. In the whole group of 600 boys, there were only about twenty who were graduates of Yale, Harvard, Princeton—all Ivy League. By the end of this first boot camp period, they had to select midshipman officers. Out of the 20 boys from the establishment universities, 12 or 13 were picked, against a background of a total of 600. It was overtly discriminatory towards those of us who were not members of the establishment... James Buchanan (2009): Better than Plowing: "From that day forward I have shared in the emotional damage imposed by discrimination, in any form, and 'fairness' assumed for me a central normative position decades before I came to discuss principles of justice professionally and philosophically...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-25:

  1. Bret Devereaux https://acoup.blog/author/aimedtact/

  2. Wikipedia: Antonine Plague: Smallpox?...

  3. Wikipedia: Plague of Cyprian: Ebola variant? Measles?...

  4. Wikipedia: Valerian: 253-260...

  5. Wikipedia: Gallienus: 253-268...

  6. Wikipedia: Plague of Justinian: Bubonic Plague?...

  7. Xenophon: Anabasis http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1170/1170-h/1170-h.htm...

  8. Pseudo-Aristotle: Oeconomica https://ia600201.us.archive.org/9/items/oeconomica01arisuoft/oeconomica01arisuoft.pdf...

  9. Xenophon: The Economist http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1173/1173-h/1173-h.htm...

  10. Wikipedia: Aleksandr Tsekalo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Tsekalo...

  11. Mark Graham: The Wayback Machine’s Save Page Now is New and Improved https://blog.archive.org/2019/10/23/the-wayback-machines-save-page-now-is-new-and-improved/: 'Have you ever wanted to archive all the web pages linked from an email message?  Well, you are in luck because now you can forward that email to “savepagenow@archive.org” and after a few minutes you will get an email back filled with Wayback Machine playback URLs...

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Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense: Weekend Reading

Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense https://www.lawfareblog.com/collapse-presidents-defense: 'President Trump’s substantive defense against the ongoing impeachment inquiry has crumbled entirely—not just eroded or weakened, but been flattened like a sandcastle hit with a large wave. It was never a strong defense. After all, Trump himself released the smoking gun early in L’Affaire Ukrainienne when the White House published its memo of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That document erased any question as to whether Trump had asked a foreign head of state to “investigate”—a euphemism for digging up dirt on—his political opponents. There was no longer any doubt that he had asked a foreign country to violate the civil liberties of American citizens by way of interfering in the coming presidential campaign. That much we have known for certain for weeks. The clarity of the evidence did not stop the president’s allies from trying to fashion some semblance of defense. But the past few days of damaging testimony have stripped away the remaining fig leaves. There was no quid pro quo, we were told—except that it’s now clear that there was one. If there was a quid pro quo, we were told, it was the good kind of quid pro quo that happens all the time in foreign relations—except that, we now learn, it wasn’t that kind at all but the very corrupt kind instead. The Ukrainians didn’t even know that the president was holding up their military aid, we were told—except that, it turns out, they did know. And, the president said, it was all about anti-corruption. This was the most Orwellian inversion; describing such a corrupt demand as a request for an investigation of corruption is a bit like describing a speakeasy as an alcoholism treatment facility. As this tawdy fact pattern has become increasingly exposed, the only defense that remains to the president is that it does not amount to an impeachment-worthy offense—an argument difficult to square with either the history of impeachment or its purpose in our constitutional system...

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Note to Self: Industrial Policy in Korea: Readings:

Alice Amsden (1989): Asia's Next Giant https://www.google.com/books/edition/Asia_s_Next_Giant/j0E9qKIqD-cC chs. 1-6...

Nathan Lane (2019): Manufacturing Revolutions: Industrial Policy and Networks in South Korea https://delong.typepad.com/lane-korea.pdf...

L.E. Westphal: (1990): Industrial Policy in an Export Propelled Economy: Lessons from South Korea’s Experience https://delong.typepad.com/files/westphal.pdf

Ha-Joon Chang (1993): The political economy of industrial policy in Korea." Cambridge Journal of Economics 17.2 (1993): 131-157 https://delong.typepad.com/files/chang.pdf

Rodrik, Dani. "Getting interventions right: how South Korea and Taiwan grew rich." Economic Policy 10.20 (1995): 53-107 https://delong.typepad.com/files/rodrik-korea-taiwan.pdf

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Matthew Yglesias: Impeachment Protests and Mass Resistance Are Needed to Beat Trump https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/10/18/20905686/resistance-protest-impeachment-rallies-trump: "Watergate is the ur-text for how Americans imagine the defeat of a sitting president, but it shouldn’t be how to think about the impeachment of Donald Trump.... A lawless government cannot be constrained by the institutions of the law alone. It is popular mass resistance that creates a crisis point and forces action. And if Democrats want to beat Trump’s stonewalling tactics in 2019, they should consider doing it again.... Defeating Nixon... meant winning a series of difficult elite insider games.... Building a consensus that compelled the president to resign was arduous, and the people who did it are rightly proud of their work. But none of this is relevant to contemporary politics, any more than the Senate’s unanimous passage of the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act has relevant lessons for contemporary climate politics. Today’s Congress is much more partisan and much more ideological, featuring many members who have no personal loyalty to Trump but who can nevertheless be expected to stand by him through thick and thin, thanks to broader partisan and policy objectives. In an extraordinary moment, you need to reach beyond ordinary politics.... The mechanisms through which protest works seem multifaceted, with some of the impact driven by direct personal participation, some driven by witnessing the protest themselves, and some driven by media coverage which serves to rebroadcast key elements of the protest message. The key to it all, however, is that bothering to show up to a march is a moderately costly investment of time and energy. When a bunch of people do that, it serves as a powerful signal to the rest of society that something extraordinary is happening.... The Constitution is in need of defending. And it would be extremely foolish to believe that Republican senators and Federalist Society judges are going to come riding out of the woods in order to do the job....

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Alice Dreger: Napoleon Chagnon Is Dead https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/20191023-dreger-chagnon: "The peer-reviewed article I ultimately published in Human Nature about the AAA task force is the angriest academic piece I have ever written.... Tierney had misrepresented so much. The chair of the AAA task force knew it too. That was Jane Hill, former president of the AAA. During my research, Sarah Hrdy shared with me a previously confidential message, dated April 15, 2002, in which Hill responded to Hrdy’s concerns about the task force’s work. 'Burn this message', Hill told Hrdy. 'The book [by Tierney] is just a piece of sleaze, that’s all there is to it (some cosmetic language will be used in the report, but we all agree on that). But I think the AAA had to do something because I really think that the future of work by anthropologists with indigenous peoples in Latin America—with a high potential to do good—was put seriously at risk by its accusations, and silence on the part of the AAA would have been interpreted as either assent or cowardice. Whether we’re doing the right thing will have to be judged by posterity.'... Of course, the failure of facts in the Darkness case extended beyond academe. If The New Yorker and W.W. Norton had done proper fact-checking, so much mischief would have been avoided. Still, the AAA made it all much worse. The AAA could have done what the National Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Human Genetics, the International Genetic Epidemiology Society, and the Society for Visual Anthropology did: looked at the facts and condemned Tierney. Instead, the AAA thanked Tierney 'for his valuable service.' A kangaroo court. A show trial. That’s how many saw the AAA investigation. The AAA membership eventually voted to rescind acceptance of the report. 'It was really amateur hour' at the AAA, Hagen told me...

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The best thing I have yet seen on how industrial organization, concentration, and monopsony drive the conclusion that increases in the minimum wage do not reduce employment in the United States today—or, rather, for which groups of workers minimum wage increases lower and for which raise employment:

José Azar, Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, Ioana Marinescu, Bledi Taska, and Till von Wachter: Minimum Wage Employment Effects and Labor Market Concentration: "Why is the employment effect of the minimum wage frequently found to be close to zero? Theory tells us that when wages are below marginal productivity, as with monopsony, employers are able to increase wages without laying off workers, but systematic evidence directly supporting this explanation is lacking. In this paper, we provide empirical support for the monopsony explanation by studying a key low-wage retail sector and using data on labor market concentration that covers the entirety of the United States with fine spatial variation at the occupation-level. We find that more concentrated labor markets–where wages are more likely to be below marginal productivity–experience significantly more positive employment effects from the minimum wage. While increases in the minimum wage are found to significantly decrease employment of workers in low concentration markets, minimum wage-induced employment changes become less negative as labor concentration increases, and are even estimated to be positive in the most highly concentrated markets. Our findings provide direct empirical evidence supporting the monopsony model as an explanation for the near-zero minimum wage employment effect documented in prior work. They suggest the aggregate minimum wage employment effects estimated thus far in the literature may mask heterogeneity across different levels of labor market concentration...

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David Glasner: What’s Wrong with DSGE Models Is Not Representative Agency https://uneasymoney.com/2019/09/16/whats-wrong-with-dsge-models-is-not-representative-agency/: "The completely ad hoc and artificial concept of a representative firm was not well-received by Marshall’s contemporaries.... The young Lionel Robbins... subjected the idea to withering criticism.... James Hartley wrote about the short and unhappy life of Marshall’s Representative Firm in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. One might have thought that the inauspicious career of Marshall’s Representative Firm would have discouraged modern macroeconomists from resurrecting the Representative Firm in the barely disguised form of a Representative Agent in their DSGE models, but the convenience and relative simplicity of solving a DSGE model for a single agent was too enticing to be resisted. Therein lies the difference between the theory of the firm and a macroeconomic theory. The gain in convenience from adopting the Representative Firm was radically reduced by Marshall’s Cambridge students and successors who, without the representative firm, provided a more rigorous, more satisfying and more flexible exposition of the industry supply curve and the corresponding partial-equilibrium analysis than Marshall had with it. Providing no advantages of realism, logical coherence, analytical versatility or heuristic intuition, the Representative Firm was unceremoniously expelled from the polite company of economists. However, as a heuristic device for portraying certain properties of an equilibrium state—whose existence is assumed not derived—even a single representative individual or agent proved to be a serviceable device with which to display the defining first-order conditions, the simultaneous equality of marginal rates of substitution in consumption and production with the marginal rate of substitution at market prices.... An excellent example of this heuristic was provided by Jack Hirshleifer in his 1970 textbook Investment, Interest, and Capital.... Here is how Hirshleifer explained what was going on:

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Comment of the Day: Grizzled https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/age-of-the-expert-as-policymaker-is-coming-to-an-end-financial-times.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dd9749200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dd9749200b in Age of the Expert as Policymaker Is Coming To an End: "Alas, I don't think it's usually possible for non-experts to evaluate expert judgements. The Reinhard and Rogoff example is more the exception than the rule. Consider the case of global warming. Google 'Conversion of a Global Warming Skeptic'. This is a case where is took 18 months of work, which was funded so it could be not only full time but assisted, for a Phd in physics to accumulate enough background to become convinced that the climate scientists had been right all along. This is not a level of investment available in the ordinary run of things. The practical question is how to pick experts to trust. I don't have a quick answer to that, other than to reject anyone associated with Republicans...

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The Berkeley History Department slavery studies group, plus David Blight on Yale, on how much of what we see as "scientific labor management" from the business side and "deskilling Taylorization" from the labor side has its roots in slaveholding society ideas of the worker as an "instrumentum mutum" in the words of Roman statesman Cato the Elder—merely a "tool that speaks": David Blight, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Caitlin Rosenthal, and Jennifer D. King: The Business of Brutality: Slavery and the Foundations of Capitalism:

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Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted from the Archives: Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/10/ricardos-big-idea-and-its-vicissitudes-inet-edinburgh-comparative-advantage-panel.html:

INET Edinburgh Comparative Advantage Panel


Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes

https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0QMFGpAUFCjqhdfLULfDbLE4g

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Hoisted from the Archives: From Eight Years Ago: The Way the World Looked to Me in the Summer of 2011

Hoisted from the Archives: The Way the World Looked to Me in the Summer of 2011: Back in the summer of 2009, Barack Obama had five economic policy principals on the Treasury Bench:

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Ian Dunt: "Caroline Lucas, Green https://twitter.com/IanDunt/status/1186680346408042498: 'I want to speak out on behalf of those who do not share this govt's vision of a mean-minded little Britain, with our borders closed and our horizons narrowed. For those like me who are proud to stand up for the precious right to be able to work and study and live and love in 27 other countries, who celebrate the contribution made by the 3 million EU citizens in our country. For those who recognise that imperfect thought it undoubtedly is, the EU remains the greatest international venture for peace, prosperity and freedom in history.' Thank f--- for Caroline Lucas, man. Really...

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Ian Dunt: "Rory Stewart. Let's find out where he's at https://twitter.com/IanDunt/status/1186677364878663680: Ah, maybe a good place. 'My big beg to the House, and here I am speaking to colleagues who voted for Brexit, is let's please in these very very final stages, do it properly. This is your great founding moment. This is your opportunity to create an enormous constitutional change that can last for 40 years. So do it properly.' Stewart valiantly pointing out that he has backed Brexit deals over and over again. 'I'm not a member of this party anymore. I don't get any bonus points. But in return, people deserve scrutiny. This is a hell of a big document. I know they'll be many voices in the Chamber who say we've been talking about this long enough. We cannot think like this. This is our parliament. We cannot do down our parliament. This was an exercise in regaining the sovereignty of parliament. And if it's about regaining the sovereignty of parliament, then treat parliament with respect. If you are taking back control, then show that you are worthy to exercise that control...

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Comment of the Day: Dilbert Dogbert https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/raymond-chandler-1938-_the-red-wind_-there-was-a-desert-wind-blowing-that-night-it-was-one-of-those-hot-dry-santa.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a48fd8d2200c#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a48fd8d2200c in Santa Ana Winds: "Back in the mid 50's I spent time with my older brother in San Bernadino. His house was near the El Cajon Pass. I remember a night spent listening to the winds roaring down the pass. Next day I wandered around the area. Near his house was a new cheap development of houses without garages. Just car ports. Most of them were blown over. Another memory was going to a near by airport to check the condition of the small plane he built. As we drove in I notice a ball of aluminum in a tree. A plane came loose and ended up there. My bros plane suffered a broken spar. He was an aircraft mech so he fixed it....

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Comment of the Day: Nils https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/raymond-chandler-1938-_the-red-wind_-there-was-a-desert-wind-blowing-that-night-it-was-one-of-those-hot-dry-santa.html?cid=6a00e551f0800388340240a4dc99d2200b#comment-6a00e551f0800388340240a4dc99d2200bin Santa Ana Winds: "I can reliably tell you that there was a Diablo wind on October 19 and 20, 1991, which led to the severity of the Oakland Hills fire. I was out at Mt. Tamalpais that day, and when we had hiked to the north end of the mountain near the Mountain Theater we could see a long streak of smoke trailing out to sea through the Golden Gate, at 11 am. I knew a serious fire had broken out, but of course could not tell where. I feared that my car at the East Gate parking lot was being consumed by wildfire and we were all going to die (or something like that). But when we got to East Peak and looked over the bay, about 1pm, we could see flames leaping in the Oakland Hills. I stopped worrying about me and worried about my aunt and uncle who lived in the hills above Tunnel Road (they got out OK but their house was gone, foundations calcined to a pile of sand, a few blobs of melted metal all that was left of my Grandmother's silver, although the gladiolus my aunt was planting that morning mostly survived). I take this sort of weather very seriously. PG&E is right to cut power no matter how inconvenient it is. We also, though, need more independent power, especially for critical installations like hospitals, nursing homes, schools. Off-grid living is becoming more and more a matter of survival and community resilience, less a fringe movement....

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Bret Devereaux: Battle Pachyderms https://acoup.blog/2019/07/26/collections-war-elephants-part-i-battle-pachyderms/: "One reading of the (admittedly somewhat poor) evidence suggests that this is how Pyrrhus of Epirus used his elephants–to great effect–against the Romans. It is sometimes argued that Pyrrhus essentially created an ‘articulated phalanx’ using lighter infantry and elephants to cover gaps–effectively joints–in his main heavy pike phalanx line. This allowed his phalanx–normally a relatively inflexible formation–to pivot...

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Bret Devereaux Elephants Against Wolves https://acoup.blog/2019/08/02/collections-war-elephants-part-ii-elephants-against-wolves/: "The playbook for dealing with elephants was actually fairly simple in concept–Vegetius, a later Roman military writer, manages to sum up the ‘best practices’ in less than a paragraph (Vegetius 3.24). Ideally, the elephants should be met by light infantry screening troops, whose freedom of movement allows them to avoid the elephant’s charge. Those light troops – armed with missile weapons (especially javelins, but also slings) should especially target the mahouts, in an effort to panic the elephants. Ideally, a space is left open for the elephants to flee too, although ancient sources are full of examples where they were simply driven back through the enemy formation. The goal isn’t to kill the elephant, but instead to panic the animal and drive it off or–better yet–drive it through the enemy. This latter point is notable: ancient military writer after ancient military writer notes how elephants were often as much a danger to their own troops as to the enemy, especially when wounded or frightened...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-21:

  1. David Frum: Can Brexit Survive a Second Referendum? https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/can-brexit-survive-second-referendum/600382/: "[Alexander Boris de Pfeffle Johnson’s hope is to get a withdrawal agreement in place before October 31, exit by that date, and only then force an election. With Brexit then irrevocable, British voters would confront the stark single-issue choice: Johnson or Corbyn? Johnson could expect to win a five-year mandate to repair the damage he himself inflicted by Brexit...

  2. Pierre Briant (2002): _ From Cyrus to Alexander: A History of the Persian Empire_ https://delong.typepad.com/files/briant-cyrus.pdf

  3. Susan M. Sherwin-White and Amélie Kuhrt (1993): From Samarkhand to Sardis: A New Approach to the Seleucid Empire https://delong.typepad.com/files/samarkhand.pdf

  4. Wayne E. Lee (2016): Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History https://books.google.com/?id=hbyYCgAAQBAJ: https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/wayne-e-lee-2016-_waging-war-conflict-culture-and-innovation-in-world-history_-excerpts-when-in-1996-lawrence.html...

  5. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo (2012): Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty https://books.google.com/?id=2dlnBoX4licC...

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ProGrowthLiberal: Robert Barro’s Misstated Case for Federal Reserve Independence http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2019/08/barros-misstated-case-for-federal.html: "There are two aspects of his case that strike me as silly to say the least starting with his opening sentence: 'In the early 1980s, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, was able to choke off runaway inflation because he was afforded the autonomy necessary to implement steep interest-rate hikes.' This statement glosses over the fact that we had a macroeconomic mess in 1982... an ill-advised fiscal stimulus initiated the moment St. Reagan took office.... To be fair–Barro continues his magical history tour in a reasonable way until we get this absurdity: 'One could infer the normal rate from the average federal funds rate over time. Between January 1986 and August 2008, it was 4.9%, and the average inflation rate was 2.5% (based on the deflator for personal consumption expenditure), meaning that the average real rate was 2.4%'.... Barro seems to be saying the long-run real interest rate has been the same for the last 23 years. There has been a lot of research to suggest otherwise...

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Wayne E. Lee (2016): Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History https://books.google.com/?id=hbyYCgAAQBAJ, excerpts: "When in 1996 Lawrence Keeley published War Before Civilization. Keeley made an impassioned plea for reimagining the role of violence in human experience, and he made the striking claim that prestate societies experienced extreme male fatality rates. Keeley's work and additional studies have settled on the somewhat shocking estimates... [that] between 15 and 25% of males and about 5% of females" in human forager societies died from warfare. This per capita rate far exceeds those of later state-based societies. Since Keeley's work, archaeologists and anthropologists have renewed the debate begun by Hobbes and Rousseau. To use the simplest terms, as suggested in a recent review, there are the 'deep rooters', who believe in the long evolutionary history of intergroup violence, and the "inventors", who argue that human conflict emerged more recently because of changes in human social organization...

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Bret Devereaux: War Elephants https://acoup.blog/2019/07/26/collections-war-elephants-part-i-battle-pachyderms/: "Part I (this one) is going to look at how the elephant functioned in battle: how did it work as a weapon-system and why would anyone want to have it? Part II (next week) will then turn and ask the question: if elephants are such awesome weapon systems, why did the Romans defeat and then abandon them (and why did the Chinese never meaningfully adopt them)? Part III (the week after that) turns this question on its head: if elephants were as useless as the Romans thought, why did Indian kings keep using them?...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings (October 20, 2019)...

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Must of the Musts:

  • Why am I hearing "very fine people on both sides!"? here: Robert Knight: Letters · LRB: Globalists: "Alexander Zevin writes that Friedrich Hayek opposed the use of sanctions against apartheid, and ‘confided to his secretary that he liked blacks no better than Jews’ (LRB, 15 August). The antisemitic antecedents of National Socialism are conspicuous by their absence in The Road to Serfdom; if we assume the manuscript was completed in 1943, it almost completely ignores a decade of antisemitic persecution and four years of Nazi war crimes and atrocities. In the Spectator in January 1947 Hayek attacked the ‘blunders’ of denazification in Austria, including the suspension of violinists from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra because they had been Nazi party members. It was, he wrote, ‘scarcely easier to justify the prevention of a person from fiddling because he was a Nazi than the prevention because he is a Jew’...

  • BREXIT!!!!!: Hugh Mannerings: "I'm not saying there wasn't a Democratic mandate for Brexit at the time. I'm just saying if I narrowly decided to order fish at a restaurant that was known for chicken, but said it was happy to offer fish, and so far I've been waiting three hours, and two chefs who promised to cook the fish had quit, and the third one is promising to deliver the fish in the next five minutes whether it's cooked or not, or indeed still alive, and all the waiting staff have spent the last few hours arguing amongst themselves about whether I wanted battered cod, grilled salmon, jellied deals, or dolphin kebabs, and if large parts of the restaurant appeared to be on fire, but no one was paying attention to it because they were all arguing about fish, I would like, just once, to be asked if I definitely still wanted the fish...

  • Once again, we have a piece by an impressively credentialed academic Republican economists that seems to me to have... no contact with reality. There is no economist I know of save for Robert Barro who has ever said or implied that the "neutral" real interest rate today is the same 2.4% that the average real interest rate was from 1986-2008. To the contrary, there has been a very long and active discussion—led over the past two decades by current New York Fed President John Williams—about how far the "neutral" rate has fallen, and how persistent that fall will be. And one conclusion of that debate has been that the current real federal funds rate of "only 0.7%" does indeed look "high" by some important metrics. So why would anyone write as thought this literature does not exist?: Robert J. Barro: Is Politics Getting to the Fed?: "One could infer the normal rate from the average federal funds rate over time. Between January 1986 and August 2008, it was 4.9%, and the average inflation rate was 2.5%...

  • My friend Jason Furman keeps telling me that the Obama Administration sincerely sought throughout its tenure in office to boost employment in America via expansionary fiscal policy. I agree that Jason did. But the administration? No. When Jason and company could win internal fights, yes. But otherwise the Obama Administration seemed to me to be focused on winning the day's media narrative, and if dingbat kabuki moves that were destructive of employment growth could attain that daily goal, they were gleefully and joyfully embraced—even if they were pointlessly cruel to those4 on whom the success of the Obama Administration rested. For example: Jack Lew (November 29, 2010): Tightening Our Belts https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2010/11/29/tightening-our-belts: "The freeze will apply to all civilian federal employees.... This pay freeze is not a reflection on their fine work. It is a reflection of the fiscal reality that we face: just as families and businesses across the nation have tightened their belts, so must the federal government...

  • There have been many disruptions of the functioning of the discursive public sphere by new communications technologies. The most recent significant one was the early-twentieth century disruption by radio. The very sharp and witty Maciej Ceglowski provides us with a brief introduction: Maciej Ceglowski: Legends of the Ancient Web: "It doesn't take long for politically talented people to discover how to use radio for their own ends. One of these early pioneers in the United States is Charles Coughlin, a Catholic priest and early religious broadcaster who notices that his angry rants on political topics net him a much bigger audience than his discourses on religion. By the middle of the 1930's, Coughlin has an active audience of ten million tuning in to hear him rail against against bankers and international conspiracies, in a way that sounds uncomfortably familiar in 2017. Here's Father Coughlin at the top of his game, yelling about banks...

  • Project Syndicate: No, We Don’t “Need” a Recession https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/no-we-dont-need-a-recession-by-j-bradford-delong-project-syndicate.html: "It was not uncommon for commentators to argue for a “needed” recession before the big one hit in 2008-2010. But I, for one, assumed that this claim was a decade dead. Who in 2019 could say with a straight face that a recession and high unemployment under conditions of low inflation would be a good thing? Apparently, I was wrong. The argument turns out to be an example of what Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman calls a “zombie idea … that should have died long ago in the face of evidence or logic, but just keeps shambling forward, eating peoples’ brains.” Clearly, those who claim to welcome recessions have never looked at the data. If they did, they would understand that beneficial structural changes to the economy occur during booms, not during busts...

  • Hoisted from the Archives from 2010: Perhaps. And Sometimes https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/perhaps-and-sometimes-cato-unbound.html: That Sherwood Forest is illegible to the Sheriff of Nottingham allows Robin of Locksley and Maid Marian to survive. But that is just a stopgap. In the final reel of Ivanhoe the fair Rebecca must be rescued from the unworthy rogue Templar Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert (and packed offstage to marry some young banker or rabbi), the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisborne must receive their comeuppance, the proper property order of Nottinghamshire must be restored, and Wilfred must marry the fair Rowena–and all this is accomplished by making Sherwood Forest and Nottinghamshire legible to the true king, Richard I “Lionheart” Plantagenet, and then through his justice and good lordship...

  • Comment of the Day: Harold Carmel on March of the Peacocks https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/comment-of-the-day-_harold-carmel_-in-paul-krugman-march-of-the-peacocks-as-prof-delong-has-often-pointed-out-obam.html: "Obama's turn toward austerity in that SOTU was a very dumb policy idea.... Obama presented himself as post-partisan and thought the Republicans would reciprocate. How did that work out?...

  • Comment of the Day: Phil Koop on Quantum Supremacy https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/comment-of-the-day-_phil-koop_-on-quantum-supremacy-in-reply-to-kaleberg-your-objection-is-mistaken-as-scott-aaronso.html: "Scott Aaronson explains: 'You don’t get to arbitrarily redefine whatever random chemical you find in the wild to be a “computer for simulating itself.” Under any sane definition, the superconducting devices that Google, IBM, and others are now building are indeed “computers”...

  • Comment of the Day: _Ebenezer Scrooge on Stanford Week: _ https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/10/comment-of-the-day-_ebenezer-scrooge_-in-stanford-week-the-formula-for-succeeding-as-an-undergrad-at-an-enormous-stat.html: "The formula for succeeding as an undergrad at an enormous state university is to pretend you're a grad student, and dive into a department full time. You're likely to get a decent mentor and adequate support, so you can ignore the bureaucratic madness...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-10-20:

Zamzar: File Conversion Made Easy https://www.zamzar.com/...

Josiah Ober (2009): Epistemic democracy in Classical Athens: Sophistication, Diversity, and Innovation https://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/ober/080901.pdf: "Analysis of democracy in Athens as an 'epistemic' (knowledge-based) form of political and social organization. Adapted from Ober, Democracy and Knowledge, chapters 1-4...

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Arthur Eckstein: Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome: "Thus Rome went to war for a city that no longer existed, and Carthage went to war for a political figure whom many Punic aristocrats distrusted. But beneath this apparently irrational conduct on both sides lay deep issues of pride, honor, and security. The Romans wanted their will obeyed, as had happened in 238/237—and the Carthaginians were adamant in refusing to obey another state’s will, in good part because of previous incidents with Rome, probably mixed now with new confidence from their Spanish conquests and resources (Polyb. 3.14.9–10: explicit). We must, of course, leave room for badly judged, vacillating, and even incoherent human decision making in the course of the crisis of 220–218. The purpose of the new Punic empire in Spain was to enhance the military and financial capability of Carthage and thus change the balance of power—but this need not have led to war with Rome. If Hannibal had agreed to leave Saguntum alone—and it was a small place—the Punic conquest of Spain might have continued unimpeded in other directions for years, with the balance of power continuing to shift, and Rome ever less able to impose her will. That was Polybius’s impression...

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