Should-Read: Francis Wilkinson: Women Delivered a Body Blow to Trump's Populism: "If Trump embodies the people, who were those millions of bodies insisting that he doesn't represent them?...
Bonnie Kristian: We're All Public Intellectuals Now: "Michael C. Desch, ed., Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits? http://amzn.to/2kx3M6U (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016), 416 pp., $55.
If there is a single theme running through Public Intellectuals in the Global Arena: Professors or Pundits?, a new anthology edited by Michael C. Desch, it is a word of caution for those who would guide the public mind.
Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:
Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: The orange-haired baboon is far from being the only baboon in the cage:
Scott Lemieux: Just How Monstrous is the Contemporary GOP?: "Matt Lewis discovers that why Republicans never have an alternative health care plan. Perhaps the most instructive part of the piece is this bit of throat-clearing:
Conservative philosophy—from Burke to Hayek—suggests that comprehensive plans are a fatal conceit; the world is too complex to plan. The notion that Republicans could magically “fix” the largest sector of the world’s largest economy is dubious, at best.
Sure, every other liberal democracy in the world uses more government intervention to deliver health care to everyone for considerably less money. But “philosophy” tells us that this is unpossible! Cf. Edumund Burke on the French Revolution.
Must-Read: This does not seem to me to be terribly helpful. Dani Rodrik says, apropos of NAFTA:
That is all true. But in today's context it seems to me to be... a very partial truth... a somewhat truthy truth... unhelpful. In my view he should, instead, have written:
And, most important, Dani should not have allowed his readers to keep their illusion that NAFTA is responsible for any appreciable part of the decline in the manufacturing employment share:
Dani Rodrik: What Did NAFTA Really Do?: "The overall efficiency gains are quite small...
IAMA economist Brad DeLong, an economist to be found at http://bradford-delong.com and @delong, a Berkeley professor and a former Clinton administration official. I am here to talk about why Trump's trade policies are highly likely to be disastrous failures—the normal result of a moron singularity.
But ask me anything.
The Age of Incompetence: BERKELEY – On January 20, 2017, US President-elect Donald Trump will take office having received almost three million fewer votes than his opponent; and he will work with a Republican Senate majority whose members won 13 million fewer votes than their Democratic opponents. Only the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, has any claim to represent a numerical majority of the 55% of Americans who voted on Election Day 2016. Trump will also begin his presidency with an approval rating below 50%. This is unprecedented – or “unpresidented,” as one of his semi-literate tweets put it (before he deleted it) – in the history of such ratings... **Read MOAR at Project Syndicate
http://www.reddit/com/r/IAmA: I Am A, where the mundane becomes fascinating and the outrageous suddenly seems normal: Brad DeLong 2017-01-28 4 PM PDT
Must-Read: What produces manufacturing decline is not "trade deals" but stupid industrial and macroeconomic policies--like those of Reagan, and now Trump:
Paul Krugman: Reagan, Trump, and Manufacturing: "It’s hard to focus on ordinary economic analysis amidst this political apocalypse...
Should-Read: Mark Thoma: What if “alternative facts” spread to economic data?: "Donald Trump’s inability to accept news that disagrees with [his] view...
Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:
Must-Read: Donald Trump leads America's heel turn: the American Century as we have known it since 1940 is over:
Ed Luce: President Trump’s Speech Puts the World on Notice: "Combative address will go down as a turning point in America’s postwar role...
Should-Read: David Beckworth: It's Policy Divergence, Not China, Driving the Dollar: "President Trump is worried about the strong dollar... said... China holds down its currency...
Live from Bloomberg News: "Tom Keene... featured your excellent Vox essay as his Morning Must Read...
...on Bloomberg Surveillance.... He would be honored to speak with you tomorrow about the essay. Are you available at 9:30am ET/6:30am PT [Thursday] on the phone on Bloomberg Radio?
Yes I am available. It should be fun...
Should-Read: Ann Marie Marciarille: Email, The Gift That Keeps on Giving: "U.S. District Judge John D. Bates spilled a considerable amount of ink in yesterday's Memorandum Opinion enjoining the Aetna-Humana health insurance merger...
Must-Read: This is a different degree of idiocy than we saw under Bush-Cheney or Cameron-Osborne. It could have been the case that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear-weapons program. It could have been the case that the confidence benefits from fiscal austerity would have made it a good policy choice after 2010. It was unlikely in both cases. But there were possible worlds in which those things were true.
There is no possible world in which a VAT rebated at the border is an export subsidy:
Martin Wolf: Donald Trump and Xi Jinping’s Battle Over Globalisation: "[The Trumpists] believe, for example, that a value added tax not levied on exports is a subsidy to exports...
Should-Read: Remember--I was a soft TPP skeptic: I thought the IP protections and dispute resolution provisions were more likely than not to be unwise for the world (although probably profitable for the United States, and very profitable for the U.S. overclass.
Kevin Drum has a "shorter Brad DeLong":
Kevin Drum: Who's Afraid of the Trans-Pacific Partnership?: "The responsibility of trade deals for the decline of manufacturing in the US has become practically holy writ over the past year...
Should-Read: Charles Stross (2010): Insufficient Data: "So. I ask: how many people does it take, as a minimum, to maintain our current level of technological civilization?...
Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:
Want the elevator pitch version of: NAFTA and other trade deals have not gutted American manufacturing—period?
Here it is: Technology has driven our manufacturing share of non-farm employment down from 30% to 12%. Lousy macroeconomic policies--Reagan and Bush 43's generation of large wrong-time government deficits, an inappropriate overly strong dollar policy kept long past its sell-by date, etc--further pushed it down from 12% to 9%. Our assisting in the extraordinarily rapid industrialization of China from 9% to 8.7%. NAFTA from 8.7% to 8.6%. And given all the benefits we have gotten from NAFTA--and the much bigger ones Mexico has gotten--NAFTA was a good (albeit small) deal for the U.S.
Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Paul Krugman: Things Can Only Get Worse: "If America had a parliamentary system, Donald Trump...
Live at Vox.com: NAFTA and Other Trade Deals Have Not Gutted American Manufacturing—Period: Politically speaking, there was no debate on United States international trade agreements in 2016: All politicians seeking to win a national election, or even to create a party-spanning political coalition, agree that our trade agreements are bad things.... From the left... Bernie Sanders.... From the right—I do not think it’s wrong but it’s not quite correct to call it “right,” at least not as Americans have hitherto understood what “right” is—but from somewhere... now-President Donald Trump....
From the center establishment... popular vote–winning (but Electoral College–losing)... Hillary Rodham Clinton.... “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.…” The rhetoric of all three candidates resonates with the criticism of trade agreements that we heard way back when NAFTA was on the table as a proposal—not, as today, something to blame all our current economic woes on... Read MOAR at http://vox.com
January 24, 2017 at 06:35 AM in Economics: Growth, Economics: History, Economics: Inequality, History, Long Form, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: (BiWeekly) Honest Broker, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted | Permalink | Comments (68)
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Must-Read: Simon Wren-Lewis: Attacking Economics is a Diversionary Tactic: "The financial crisis in the UK was the result of losses by banks on overseas assets, originating from the collapse in the US subprime market...
Should-Read: Lars Svensson: Leaning against the wind: Re-evaluating the evidence: "‘Leaning against the wind’ refers to conducting, for financial-stability purposes...
Will competition in health insurance survive?
The answer now is “perhaps”.
The federal courts, at their lowest district court level, have just weighed in on the side of more competition and fewer behemoth health insurance companies; on the side of more competition and fewer monopolies and near monopolies. This matters for consumers: monopolies are bad news, and monopolies where what is being sold is a very expensive necessity—which health insurance coverage is—very bad news for consumers, and so for societal well-being. If we are to retain a market-based health insurance system, people need effective options. A market in which there is only one insurance company, or two companies that collude to match each other’s prices, has all the bureaucratic drawbacks of a single-payer system plus all the drawbacks of a monopoly.
Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Duncan Black: America's Worst Boss: "You sign up with the devil because you figure it'll be a great career move...
Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:
Scheduled: Evans Hall 691A: M 3:30-4:30 pm; W 11-12 noon
By appointment: email firstname.lastname@example.org
By internet (depending on your course):
Must-Read: Talking Points!
Michael Klein, Edward Schumacher-Matos, and Miriam Wasserman: Econofact: About: "EconoFact is... to bring key facts and incisive analysis to the national debate on economic and social policies...
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapter 4 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
As you read, focus on:
The "standard package" of economic policies that, if successfully implemented, allows a 19th century economy to catch up to the world's then industrial leaders.
The absence of large gaps in technological competence across the North Atlantic--how by 1870 or so the more advanced parts of western Europe and North America were very close to being one single engineering technical community. Note also that nobody outside was able to join.
Up until 1870 or so technological progress was focused on the "old industries"--steam, iron, and textiles--of the Industrial Revolution. Starting in 1870 we get "new industries": automobiles, petroleum, electricity, chemicals. Does Allen provide us with a way to understand why there was this sudden spreading-out of the front of invention and innovation from narrow to broad?
Allen's has a tidy explanation of why Zimbabwe, Malawi, and India are poor today--that it is unprofitable to invest in machines because labor is cheap and labor is cheap because nobody has invested in machines. Thus even though the technological knowledge is in the air, and even though finance for profitable projects is easily raised throughout the world, the poor stay poor. Is this an adequate theory? Isn't it close to being a tautology--or, alternatively, to being a simple declaration that anything can happen? How could we make more intellectual progress on this issue?
Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapters 2 and 3 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Bob Allen has his own theory of what laid the foundations of the Industrial Revolution of 1750-1870. It is a smart theory. It is a good theory. It is a well-argued theory. It is an evidence-based theory. But it is a contested theory. Others, as smart as Allen, think it is wrong.
In this chapter Allen presents his theory.
He takes occasional swipes at other theories. Treat them more seriously than he does.
Allen's theory is, basically, that technological developments in ocean sailing and cannon produce maritime empires that encourage and dominate trade; that trade produces high wages in the imperial center; and thus it becomes, for probably the only time in history, profitable to develop the steam engine--if you also have a culture of mechanical engineers, really cheap coal, and excellent water transport. Thereafter what your engineers have learned from building the first generation of steam engines allows them to improve it and build other machines. And the Industrial Revolution is off and running. Try to grasp the whole theory as you read.
As you read, note:
The coming of agriculture would seem to have only pluses:
What's the downside? Jared Diamond says that there are very powerful downsides to the invention of agriculture and the adoption of an agricultural lifestyle? What are they? Is he right?
The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading...
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Looking Forward to Four Years During Which Most if Not All of America's Potential for Human Progress Is Likely to Be Wasted
With each passing day Donald Trump looks more and more like Silvio Berlusconi: bunga-bunga governance, with a number of unlikely and unforeseen disasters and a major drag on the country--except in states where his policies are neutralized.
Nevertheless, remember: WE ARE WITH HER!
"I now know it is a rising, not a setting, sun" --Benjamin Franklin, 1787
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