Briefly Noted for 2020-09-23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Plus:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meyer: Is America in Decline?—Comment

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

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-22

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FOLD https://readfold.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Plus

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Islam: England Has Lost Control Again—Noted

England has now lost control of the coronavirus plague again:

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

English acute respiratory infections

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Sahm: GET MORE MONEY OUT—Noted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Steindel: Wage Rigidity—Comment of the Day

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

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Plus

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

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

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Classical economists

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

Interview by Benedict King:

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

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

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Briefly Noted for 2020-09-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Plus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is really strange…

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

Robert e lee on traveler charlottesville

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Malik: How I Stay Sane in 2020—Noted

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

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Is America in Decline? || Pairagraph

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

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

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Eichengreen: Pandemic’s Most Treacherous Phase—Noted

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

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

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

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

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