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February 2014

January 2014

Announcement: First Week Assignments for Econ 2: Introduction to Economics: Spring 2014: UC Berkeley



Doctors Learning How To Keep Obamacare Out of Their Office: The View from The Roasterie LXXIX: January 21, 2014

Karoli: Doctors Learning How To Keep Obamacare Out of Their Office:

Are you a doctor? A specialist, perhaps? A surgeon? If you are, there's a seminar for you, taking place on January 31st in Kentucky. The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons is sponsoring a seminar in how you and your colleagues can 'Keep Obamacare out of your office'....

You can learn all about how the AAPS is fighting to stop maintenance requirements on specialty certifications, delivered by none other than Andrew Schlafly. The DC Update will be delivered by Charlie Sauer, a self-proclaimed economist and former staffer for Jeb Bush and Chuck Grassley... Tea Party challenger in KY-3, Dr. Michael MacFarlane, and Dr. Alieta Eck from NJ-12. More conference highlights will be delivered by Ayn Rand acolytes Josh Umbehr, MD, who runs Atlas MD Family Practice, and Mark Schiller, MD, who runs the Mind Therapy Clinic in the San Francisco area...


Morning Must-Read: Josh Barro: We Need A New Supply Side Economics

Josh Barro: We Need A New Supply Side Economics:

Demand stimulation remains the right goal today, but it's not going to be the right goal forever.... We're going to need a new supply side economics that encourages people to work, invest and innovate.... [This] doesn't mean an agenda of small-bore and meddlesome initiatives designed to promote specific industries, particularly manufacturing, as often described by President Barack Obama.... Invest in smart infrastructure.... Reform means-tested entitlements.... Move the deregulatory agenda down to the state and local level.... Deregulate America's most overrated industry: real estate.... Reform intellectual property--by weakening it.... Improve education, somehow.... Admit more high-skill immigrants.... Make taxes more progressive. This isn't a supply-side reform; in fact, it is likely to discourage investment and economic growth at the margin. But it's the most effective way to offset rising pre-tax income inequality, and a revenue source will be needed to pay for some of the above reform ideas...


Must-Read: Wolfgang Munchau on the Real Francois Hollande Scandal

Wolfgang Munchau: The real scandal is France’s stagnant economic thinking:

If you want to understand the financial crisis and the subsequent recession, Say’s Law is of no help whatsoever.... When you try to solve a shortage of aggregate demand through supply-side policies, the results are not going to be any different in France than they were elsewhere.... Do not romanticise his U-turn two years into his term and compare it with François Mitterrand’s similarly-timed adoption of the “franc fort” policy in 1983. The purpose of the Mitterrand’s decision was to allow France to coexist in a semi-fixed exchange rate regime with West Germany. It was a political choice of macroeconomic adjustment, not one of supply-side voodoo and ideological convergence....

Continue reading "Must-Read: Wolfgang Munchau on the Real Francois Hollande Scandal" »


Morning Must-Read: Martin Luther King Jr. (April 16, 1963): Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Martin Luther King: Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]:

My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

Continue reading "Morning Must-Read: Martin Luther King Jr. (April 16, 1963): Letter from a Birmingham Jail" »


The Moral Indignity of Social Democracy: Monday Focus (January 20, 2014)

Steve Benen: The Craig T. Nelson problem:

A couple of years ago, actor Craig T. Nelson appeared on Glenn Beck.... The actor... was thinking about no longer paying taxes because he disapproved of public funds rescuing those struggling. “They’re not going to bail me out,” Nelson said. “I’ve been on food stamps and welfare. Anybody help me out? No. No.”

It was an epic rant, in large part because the actor didn’t seem to recognize... [that] taxpayers helped him out by paying for his food stamps and welfare, but in Nelson’s mind, no one helped him out...

John E.: A View of Obamacare:

Way back in the '80´s, during a downturn in the Oil Patch, a Wall Street Journal reporter visited several highly-skilled Texans who suddenly found themselves without work. One, after describing the hardships of raising a family without income, confessed to finally having to accept unemployment insurance. Whereupon he burst into tears, protesting that he was no socialist, and, in so many words, vowing to make the liberals who had so humiliated him with such an indignity, pay, once he was on his feet again, and able to defend himself. That was what made me finally realize some of what we're up against...

Continue reading "The Moral Indignity of Social Democracy: Monday Focus (January 20, 2014)" »


Things to Read on the Morning of January 21, 2014

Must-Reads:

  1. Martin Luther King: Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]: "My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities 'unwise and untimely'. Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms..."

  2. Alan Fernihough and Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke: Coal and the European Industrial Revolution: "We examine the importance of geographical proximity to coal as a factor underpinning comparative European economic development during the Industrial Revolution. Our analysis exploits geographical variation in city and coalfield locations, alongside temporal variation in the availability of coal-powered technologies, to quantify the effect of coal availability on historic city population sizes. Since we suspect that our coal measure could be endogenous, we use a geologically derived measure as an instrumental variable: proximity to rock strata from the Carboniferous era. Consistent with traditional historical accounts of the Industrial Revolution, we find that coal had a strong influence on city population size from 1800 onward. Counterfactual estimates of city population sizes indicate that our estimated coal effect explains at least 60% of the growth in European city populations from 1750 to 1900. This result is robust to a number of alternative modelling assumptions regarding missing historical population data, spatially lagged effects, and the exclusion of the United Kingdom from the estimation sample."

  3. Wolfgang Munchau: The real scandal is France’s stagnant economic thinking: "If you want to understand the financial crisis and the subsequent recession, Say’s Law is of no help whatsoever.... When you try to solve a shortage of aggregate demand through supply-side policies, the results are not going to be any different in France than they were elsewhere.... Do not romanticise his U-turn two years into his term and compare it with François Mitterrand’s similarly-timed adoption of the “franc fort” policy in 1983. The purpose of the Mitterrand’s decision was to allow France to coexist in a semi-fixed exchange rate regime with West Germany. It was a political choice of macroeconomic adjustment, not one of supply-side voodoo and ideological convergence...."

  4. Jonathan Chait: Deficit Scolds Holding the Unemployed Hostage: "The main reason for the stalemate is the combination of strategic obstruction and ideological radicalism that dominates Congressional Republican thinking. But a second and nontrivial reason is that the deficit scolds have given the Republicans cover at every turn. The deficit scolds are a loose amalgamation of business executives, activists, and pundits, often centered around Pete Peterson and his network of activist groups, allied around the goal of bringing both parties together to agree on a plan to reduce the long-term budget deficit.... I don’t find their policy goals terrible.... The long-term deficit, while hard to predict... is probably too high. A bipartisan agreement along the lines suggested by the deficit scolds might be a positive thing.... The deficit scolds have proven to be completely impotent to bring about the changes they say they want, but surprisingly powerful allies in support of gridlock."

Continue reading "Things to Read on the Morning of January 21, 2014" »


Morning Must-Read: Ways Out of Secular Stagnation

Ryan Avent: Secular stagnation: The second best solution:

Larry Summers has revived discussion in the 'secular stagnation' hypothesis. Income has become concentrated in... groups... with low propensities to [spend]... generat[ing] excess saving.... [One solution] is to raise inflation expectations in order to reduce real... interest rates.... Mr Summers' preferred course of action.... It is a rare rich country that doesn't have a list of infrastructure needs that could justifiably be addressed in the best of times. Pulling those off the shelf and taking them on amid rock-bottom interest rates and weak demand is a no-brainer.... Mr Summers reckons that while fiscal policy is the first best means to address stagnation, using higher inflation to reduce real interest rates and boost private demand is a clear second best.... My sense is that Mr Summers reckons the inflation strategy is not... easy to deploy successfully.... I often return to higher inflation as a strategy because something like Mr Summers' five-year programme of deficit-financed public investment looks politically unachievable to me. Higher inflation, by contrast, is something the technocratic Fed could deliver.... But... central banks don't generally propel economies out of slumps like these without significant political pressure being applied...


Econ 2: Spring 2014: Week 1: Introduction

What We Do This Week:

Read Essentials of Economics, chapter 1 "First Principles". Read "Discussion Questions for Partha Dasgupta". Start Partha Dasgupta, Economics: A Very Short Introduction. Write your Letter of Introduction to your GSI.


Further Reading: * A Note from Adam Smith on Wealth, Productivity, Human Psychology, and Inequality * Why We Read Partha Dasgupta * Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers

Documents:


Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for January 21, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for January 21, 2014" »


Econ 2: Letter of Introduction to Your GSI

For your first assignment in Econ 2:

Letter of Introduction: By the start of your section meeting during the week of January 20-26, please write a 500-word essay--a “letter of introduction”--to your GSI. Include your name, and discuss:

  • the reasons why you are choosing to spend 3% of your scarce college curriculum time taking this course this year,
  • what you hope to learn from this course,
  • what you hope to do in the future as a result of this course, and
  • whatever else about yourself that you would like to share with your GSI;
  • please also include or embed a photo of yourself, as this will help us learn your name.

Econ 210a: Weekly Memo Question: Mar 5

Weekly Memo Question: Mar 5: Manhattan Island today has a population density of 70,000 people per square mile. The United States today has an average population density of 100 people per square mile--about the same as the global average in a world in which Asia has 200, Europe 130, Australia/Oceania 10, and Antarctica 0. Pick one paper. What do you think of the reasons it gives, implicitly or explicitly, for our tendency to agglomerate?


Econ 210a: Weekly Memo Question: Feb 26

Weekly Memo Question: Feb 26: If we were at Chicago, by now you would have been taught to excess that externalities are rare and that government attempts to correct for them via Pigovian or regulatory means are destined to do more harm than good. But we are here at Berkeley--where serious interdependence and externality are everywhere, and where there is not a market that does not need either a large Pigovian tax or bounty somewhere or that does not need very skillful and well-designed regulation to come as close as possible to assigning property rights in order to cut the animal at the joints. What in the two papers this week leaves you suspicious of the Berkeley point of view?


Econ 210a: Weekly Memo Question: Feb 19

Weekly Memo Question: Feb 19: Adam Smith confidently asserted that slavery was uneconomic--that in commercial society, manumission was the road to higher productivity because the carrot of working for yourself is much more efficient than the stick of being whipped by others. Was Smith right? If you conclude that he was right, does that mean that slavery is in general on the road to its natural extinction? And why is unfree labor such a common institution?


Econ 210a: Weekly Memo Question: Feb 12

Weekly Memo Question: Feb 12: Economics tends to view growth as a continuous and diffuse process: if one firm does not solve the problem of how to efficiently utilize resources, others will and drive the first out of business; if one technological vein plays itself out, energy will focus on others. The papers this week argue either that unique institutions and technologies matter a lot or that they do not. What kinds of evidence not presented in this week's reading might lead you to come down on one side or the other?


Econ 210a: Weekly Memo Question: Feb 5

Weekly Memo Question: Feb 5: Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson write that the "historiography of the industrial revolution in England has moved away from viewing the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a unique turning point in economic and social development." Whether or not it has, do the papers this week make you think that economic historians should move away from viewing the British Industrial Revolution as the axis upon which global economic history turns, or not?


Monday Hoisted from Comments: This Is Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality...: A View of Obamacare from Raleigh, NC

John E.: A View of Obamacare:

Way back in the '80´s, during a downturn in the Oil Patch, a Wall Street Journal reporter visited several highly-skilled Texans who suddenly found themselves without work. One, after describing the hardships of raising a family without income, confessed to finally having to accept unemployment insurance. Whereupon he burst into tears, protesting that he was no socialist, and, in so many words, vowing to make the liberals who had so humiliated him with such an indignity, pay, once he was on his feet again, and able to defend himself. That was what made me finally realize some of what we're up against.


Econ 210a: Weekly Memo Question: Jan 29

Weekly Memo Question: Jan 29: The January 22 class painted a picture of an economic world in which (a) total factor productivity growth was very slow, and (b) as a result the overwhelming effect of technological progress was to increase human numbers rather than raise standards of living above bare subsistence. This week we read three pieces--Marx, Acemoglu et al., and Allen--all arguing that very important things were happening in northwestern Europe in 1500-1800 to raise the rate of total factor productivity growth. Pick one paper. Do you think it makes a convincing case? Taking as background January 22's class, how much of a difference in the global economic trend do you think that paper's factors by themselves could have made?


Yale Senior Sean Haufler vs. the Administration of Yale College: The View from The Roasterie XXVIII: January 20, 2014

Sean Haufler: Yale censored a student’s course selection website. So I made an unblockable replacement:

I hope I don’t get kicked out of Yale for this.

In January 2012, two Yale students named Harry Yu and Peter Xu built a replacement to Yale’s official course selection website. They it called YBB+ (Yale Bluebook Plus), a “plus” version of the Yale-owned site, called Yale Bluebook. YBB+ offered different functionality from the official site, allowing students to sort courses by average rating and workload. The official Yale Bluebook, rather, showed a visual graph of the distribution of student ratings as well as a list of written student reviews. YBB+ offered a more lightweight user interface and facilitated easier comparison of course statistics. Students loved it. A significant portion of the student body started using it.

Continue reading "Yale Senior Sean Haufler vs. the Administration of Yale College: The View from The Roasterie XXVIII: January 20, 2014" »


Morning Must-Read: Jonathan Chait on How the Deficit Scolds Holding Short-Term Prosperity Hostage to Long-Term Agreement Are Harming America

Jonathan Chait: Deficit Scolds Holding the Unemployed Hostage: "The main reason for the stalemate is the combination of strategic obstruction and ideological radicalism that dominates Congressional Republican thinking. But a second and nontrivial reason is that the deficit scolds have given the Republicans cover at every turn.

The deficit scolds are a loose amalgamation of business executives, activists, and pundits, often centered around Pete Peterson and his network of activist groups, allied around the goal of bringing both parties together to agree on a plan to reduce the long-term budget deficit.... I don’t find their policy goals terrible.... The long-term deficit, while hard to predict... is probably too high. A bipartisan agreement along the lines suggested by the deficit scolds might be a positive thing....

But their influence has been an unremitting disaster for America....

Continue reading "Morning Must-Read: Jonathan Chait on How the Deficit Scolds Holding Short-Term Prosperity Hostage to Long-Term Agreement Are Harming America" »


Must-Read: Wolfgang Munchau on the Real Francois Hollande ScandalThe real scandal is France’s stagnant economic thinking - FT.com

Wolfgang Munchau: The real scandal is France’s stagnant economic thinking:

If you want to understand the financial crisis and the subsequent recession, Say’s Law is of no help whatsoever.... When you try to solve a shortage of aggregate demand through supply-side policies, the results are not going to be any different in France than they were elsewhere.... Do not romanticise his U-turn two years into his term and compare it with François Mitterrand’s similarly-timed adoption of the “franc fort” policy in 1983. The purpose of the Mitterrand’s decision was to allow France to coexist in a semi-fixed exchange rate regime with West Germany. It was a political choice of macroeconomic adjustment, not one of supply-side voodoo and ideological convergence....

Continue reading "Must-Read: Wolfgang Munchau on the Real Francois Hollande ScandalThe real scandal is France’s stagnant economic thinking - FT.com" »


Morning Must-Read: Martin Luther King Jr. (April 16, 1963): Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Martin Luther King: Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]:

My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

Continue reading "Morning Must-Read: Martin Luther King Jr. (April 16, 1963): Letter from a Birmingham Jail" »


Josef Stalin Liveblogs World War II: January 20, 1944

Issued by Marshal Stalin and addressed to Army General Meretskov: Order of the Day January 20, 1944:

Having launched an offensive in the Novgorod direction, our troops of the Volkhov front forced the river Volkhov and the upper part of Lake Ilman, and having broken through the heavily fortified permanent German defences, to-day, January 20, as a result of a skilful outflanking manoeuvre, took by storm the important economic and political centre of the country, the town of Novgorod an important nodal point of communications and a powerful strongpoint in the German defences.

Continue reading "Josef Stalin Liveblogs World War II: January 20, 1944" »


Pre-Class Memo to Berkeley Econ 210a Students About January 22, 2014 Class: Pedagogy; Administrivia; Utility of Economic History; Bones, Heights, and Deaths; Malthus and Malthusianism; Pre-Industrial Technological Progress

To: Students enrolled in Econ 210a: Introduction to Economic History
From: Brad DeLong jbdelong@berkeley.edu
Subject: First Class on January 22, 2014
Date: January 19, 2014

Before you show up in Evans 597 at 1 PM on Wednesday, January 22, do the reading:

January 22. The Malthusian Economy (Feudalism and Manorialism; Gilds and Trade) (DeLong)

Continue reading "Pre-Class Memo to Berkeley Econ 210a Students About January 22, 2014 Class: Pedagogy; Administrivia; Utility of Economic History; Bones, Heights, and Deaths; Malthus and Malthusianism; Pre-Industrial Technological Progress" »


Econ 2: Spring 2014: Week 0: Winter Break Assignments

Winter Break Reading: Before you show up here in the spring for Econ 2, please:

Yes, there will be a quiz…

And then, before your first section meeting:

Continue reading "Econ 2: Spring 2014: Week 0: Winter Break Assignments" »


Notes for "Aristotle and Finley": Making Sense of Slow Pre-Industrial Technological Advance

Readings


Aristotle and Finley

  • Sir M.I. Finley
  • Moses Israel Finkelstein
  • Why did TFP growth used to be so terribly, pitifully slow?
  • Aristotle of Stagira was not an idiot. For two thousand years people called him "the philosopher”—as if there was only one…

Continue reading "Notes for "Aristotle and Finley": Making Sense of Slow Pre-Industrial Technological Advance" »


Course Policies: Econ 2: Spring 2014: UC Berkeley

Economics 2: Principles of Economics: University of California at Berkeley: Spring 2014

Course Website: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/econ-2-spring-2014/
This Document: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/01/econ-2-spring-2014-course-policies.html
Lecturer: J. Bradford DeLong jbdelong@berkeley.edu 925-708-0467 Evans 691A 
GSIs: Maria Constanza Ballesteros mc.ballesteros@berkeley.edu; Connie Min conniemin@berkeley.edu

Course Meetings: Lecture: MW 4-5:30, 101 Barker. Sections:

  • Th 8-9, B51 Hildebrand
  • Th 10-11, 7 Evans
  • M 9-10A, 3 Evans
  • M 1-2P, 101 Wheeler

Continue reading "Course Policies: Econ 2: Spring 2014: UC Berkeley" »


Notes for "In the Shadow of Malthus": Making Big-Picture Sense of History from 10,000 BC to 1500

Readings:

Continue reading "Notes for "In the Shadow of Malthus": Making Big-Picture Sense of History from 10,000 BC to 1500" »


Things to Read at Lunchtime on January 19, 2014

Must-Reads:

  1. Buce: Underbelly: Slow Boring of Hard Boards: Gates, Shultz, Acheson And the Art of the Political Memoir: "I'm barreling through Robert Gates' much-hyped memoir... it is a delight--one of the very best memoirs of actual governing that I've ever read... not remotely that farrago of political gamesmanship that the prince of courtiers, Bob Woodward, described... why anybody still takes that guy seriously is beyond me. It is... a remarkably unbuttoned affair.... The thrust, the heft of the book lie not so much in the sharp judgments but in the rich and densely textured account of what it is to be a cabinet secretary, juggling a trunk full of hot knives every day for something like four years... the kind of book you would want every one to read before they took up a position of such trust and responsibility--except that if you did, the chances are that all the people you really want on the job would run yelping for the door."

  2. Steven Fazzari: Rising Income Inequality Set the Stage for the  Great Recession: "During the 'Consumer Age' period from the early 1980s through 2007, much of U.S. demand growth was generated by the rapid growth of consumer spending financed by unprecedented increases in household debt.... The debt-income ratio for households... was stable from 1960 through 1983 and then began to increase.... This correspondence was not a coincidence: rising income inequality was a central factor that led to increased household debt and therefore to the forces that created the housing bubble and, finally, the Great Recession..."

Continue reading "Things to Read at Lunchtime on January 19, 2014" »


Morning Must-Read: Buce on the Robert Gates Memoir

Buce: Underbelly: Slow Boring of Hard Boards: Gates, Shultz, Acheson And the Art of the Political Memoir:

I'm barreling through Robert Gates' much-hyped memoir... it is a delight--one of the very best memoirs of actual governing that I've ever read... not remotely that farrago of political gamesmanship that the prince of courtiers, Bob Woodward, described... why anybody still takes that guy seriously is beyond me. It is... a remarkably unbuttoned affair.... The thrust, the heft of the book lie not so much in the sharp judgments but in the rich and densely textured account of what it is to be a cabinet secretary, juggling a trunk full of hot knives every day for something like four years... the kind of book you would want every one to read before they took up a position of such trust and responsibility--except that if you did, the chances are that all the people you really want on the job would run yelping for the door....

Continue reading "Morning Must-Read: Buce on the Robert Gates Memoir" »


Liveblogging World War II: January 19, 1944

Today in WW2 History:

Australia: The three-day ANZAC Conference began in Canberra, Australia.

USS San Juan arrived off Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii, and rejoined USS Saratoga's task group.

The Irish government announced the arrest of two Irish traitors, parachuted in from German aircraft.

British 46th Infantry Division attacked German positions near the junction of the Garigliano River and the Liri River in Italy.

An Italian motor torpedo boat raid on Allied-held Naples, Italy was aborted.

Japanese hospital ship Hikawa Maru departed Yokosuka, Japan for her 17th voyage with the Japanese Navy.

German troops managed to avoid being encircled at Novgorod, Russia.


Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for January 19, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for January 19, 2014" »


Notes for "Introduction to 210a": Why Are We Here?

Why Assign Readings? Why Ask You to Write?

  • Why not just dump a bunch of data on you, and ask you to make sense of it?
  • Why assign these readings? How should readings be chosen?
  • Why ask you to write about the readings—briefly, briefly—before class?
  • Why a big paper rather than a midterm and a final exam?

Why Gather Us All Here W 1-3?

  • Self study/distance learning/MOOCs—why aren’t we doing that?
  • The 10-40-80 Rule…
  • That means you gotta talk—or this course is going to be much less useful than it could and should be…
  • The instant-correction-of-misapprehensions principle…

Continue reading "Notes for "Introduction to 210a": Why Are We Here?" »


Sunday Reading: Assessing Robert Gates's Memoir

Buce and Juan Cole:

Buce: Underbelly: Slow Boring of Hard Boards: Gates, Shultz, Acheson And the Art of the Political Memoir: "I'm barreling through Robert Gates' much-hyped memoir of his tour as secretary of defense under two Presidents and they are right, it is a delight--one of the very best memoirs of actual governing that I've ever read (although maybe I need to read more such).

It is also, be it said, not remotely that farrago of political gamesmanship that the prince of courtiers, Bob Woodward, described in his first-out-of-the-box Washington Post review a couple of weeks back--why anybody still takes that guy seriously is beyond me.

Continue reading "Sunday Reading: Assessing Robert Gates's Memoir" »


Econ 210a Paper Assignment (Spring 2014; UC Berkeley)

Research Paper

Your research paper is due on Friday May 9th. In addition to sending an electronic copy to both instructors, be sure to put a copy in Professor Eichengreen’s mail box in Economics Department reception on the 5th floor of Evans Hall. The office is open 9:00-4:00. The paper should not exceed 25 pages. This deadline will not be changed; plan in advance.

The writing and submission process requires that you meet two benchmarks. You should discuss your paper topic during office hours with one of your instructors during the first half of the semester and then submit a brief paper prospectus before spring break (by 4:00 PM Friday March 14th – electronic copies to both instructors, also to Professor Eichengreen’s mailbox). That prospectus should explain why the topic is important, state your hypothesis, and describe the materials and approach that you will use to analyze it. Your paper grade will depend in part on the quality of your prospectus.

Continue reading "Econ 210a Paper Assignment (Spring 2014; UC Berkeley)" »


Econ 210a Introduction (Spring 2014; UC Berkeley)

Introduction to Economic History: Economics 210A

Brad DeLong (jbdelong@berkeley.edu OH M 1-2 W 11-12) and Barry Eichengreen (eichengr@econ.berkeley.edu OH Tu 1-3)

Spring 2014; University of California, Berkeley; Wednesday 1:00-3:00 p.m.; 597 Evans Hall
Introduction

Economics 210a is required of Ph.D. students in the first year of the graduate program. The course is designed to introduce a selection of themes from the contemporary economic history literature ( not to present a narrative account of world economic history). Emphasis is on the insights that history can provide to the practicing economist.

Class meetings consist of a mixture of lecture and discussion. Because discussion will focus on issues raised by the assigned readings, readings should be completed before class.

Your grade will be based 50 percent on one-page memos due at the beginning of each class meeting in the instructors' mailboxes at 5 PM Tuesday, and 50 percent on the research paper (where the latter 50 percent will be based both on the synopsis you submit prior to spring break and the paper you submit at the end of instruction). Extra credit will be given for informed, constructive classroom discussion.


Econ 210a Weekly Memos (Spring 2014; UC Berkeley)

Weekly Memos

A memo on each week’s readings is due at the beginning of each class meeting in the instructors' mailboxes at 5 PM Tuesday before those readings are discussed. You will find the memo questions on Professor DeLong’s and Professor Eichengreen’s 210a subpages:

Typically the week’s question will be posted on the Thursday six days before the class meeting when your memo is due. The memo is due at the start of the class meeting.

Your memos should be one-page, and certainly no more than two pages (12-point type). They cannot be exhaustive or provide definitive answers. But they can explain why a question is important, and they can draw on assigned readings in an effort to answer it.

Continue reading "Econ 210a Weekly Memos (Spring 2014; UC Berkeley)" »


Saturday Worth Reading: Belle Waring on David Brooks, the Political, and the Personal

Belle Waring: David Brooks Says:

Anderson, I’m sorry to hear you’re getting divorced. That’s shitty all around even if the eventual outcome is happier people 2 years down the road. Best luck.

Bloix, I do think you’re allowing your (perfectly natural) feeling that you wouldn’t want people talking smack about you behind your back if you happened to get divorced for reasons they could never understand color your views. See, none of that means we shouldn’t be talking smack about David Brooks. David Brooks has repeatedly, with po-faced seriousness, and to the actual detriment of America’s well-being (if he lulled anybody to sleep when they had their hand on the regulatory tiller somewhere, and I do think he did) talked smack about every other damn person getting divorced in America who made less than $200,000 a year. And quite without hedging.

Continue reading "Saturday Worth Reading: Belle Waring on David Brooks, the Political, and the Personal" »


Saturday Worth-Reading: When Henry Clay Was Sued by His Slave

Gilbert King: The Day Henry Clay Refused to Compromise: "The Great Pacificator was adept at getting congressmen to reach agreements over slavery. But he was less accommodating when one of his own slaves sued him...

To this day, he is considered one of the most influential politicians in U.S. history. His role in putting together the Compromise of 1850, a series of resolutions limiting the expansion of slavery, delayed secession for a decade and earned him the nickname “the Great Pacificator.” Indeed, Mississippi Senator Henry S. Foote later said:

Had there been one such man in the Congress of the United States as Henry Clay in 1860-’61 there would, I feel sure, have been no civil war.”

Continue reading "Saturday Worth-Reading: When Henry Clay Was Sued by His Slave" »