Previous month:
February 2017
Next month:
April 2017

March 2017

What Happaned to Trump Infrastructure Push?: Bunga-Bunga Policy, or No Policy at All

Cursor and Preview of What Happaned to Trump Infrastructure Bunga Bunga Policy or No Policy at All

There seemed, back in November, two ways the Trump infrastructure fiscal expansion could have gone.

The first was driven by the facts that Trump seemed to have ambitions that were "Pharoahnic", and that Trump had been a real estate developer.

Continue reading "What Happaned to Trump Infrastructure Push?: Bunga-Bunga Policy, or No Policy at All" »


NAFTA: A Big Deal, Plus and Minus, for Strongly Affected Individuals; Not a Big Deal for the U.S. as a Whole

San Francisco from Abovee Berkeley

J. Bradford DeLong: San Francisco Review of Books: Interview: J. Bradford DeLong says "NAFTA is just not a big deal for the U.S.", explains why:

Joseph Ford Cotto: Prominent economists and politicians often say that free trade will benefit America in the long run. Many Americans disagree strongly. What is your take on this situation?

Dr. J. Bradford DeLong: Well, typically and roughly, the average import we buy from other countries we get for 30% off--we use foreign currency that costs us $1.40 to purchase goods and services made abroad that would cost us $2.00 worth of time, energy, resources and cash to make at home.

Continue reading "NAFTA: A Big Deal, Plus and Minus, for Strongly Affected Individuals; Not a Big Deal for the U.S. as a Whole" »


Should-Read: Gate (2005): The Law, in Its Majestic Equality...: "Anatole France (the pen-name of Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault, 1844-1924)... The Red Lily (Le Lys Rouge), 1894, chapter 7...

...The majestic quality of the law, which prohibits the wealthy as well as the poor from sleeping under the bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread...

Continue reading "" »


Must-Read: 80,000 people in and around Columbus, IN. 8,000 working at Cummins Inc.--if Cummins Inc. were to vanish tomorrow and if Columbus found no alternative products to export from its region, the whole place would literally dry up and blow away. And Cummins depends on its place in its global value chains: a trade war would destroy that place, and the stronger dollar likely to result from Trump's tax cuts for the rich would destabilize that place:

Saahil Desai: Trump’s Trade Policies Could Crush Mike Pence’s Hometown: "Columbus [IN]... an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent—the lowest in the state—and the country’s highest concentration of mechanical engineers...

Continue reading "" »


Is Obamacare Already Dead? | Mother Jones

Is Obamacare Already Dead

Should-Read: I think that this from the smart Kevin Drum is largely but not completely wrong.

Remember: if the exchanges fail, then the next steps are either (a) single payer--socialized medicine by the government--or (b) guaranteed access--you go to the doctor or the hospital, they treat you, and it is then their problem to figure out how they cover their costs. The exchanges are the last chance for a market-based health-insurance system. But it is not about any beliefs that market-conservative means are pragmatically and technocratically effective. It is about dissing the Kenyan Muslim Socialist and all his works. And there are enough interest groups on the reality-based side of this to pull their chain, in the Senate at least...

Kevin Drum: Is Obamacare Already Dead?: "Ryan and Trump have been insisting for months that Obamacare is collapsing.... This is ridiculous, of course...

Continue reading "Is Obamacare Already Dead? | Mother Jones" »


Talking Points: Dan Alpert provides a "structural" labor supply-side case for aggressive fiscally-expansive spending on infrastructure. He looks at the guts of the labor market in the housing sector and sees a "scissors crisis": It is not that a labor shortage from a limited supply of skilled construction workers is pushing up wages and prices in the housing sector. Instead, slack demand is keeping contractors from being able to profitably offer construction workers the compensating differentials they need to make it sensible for them to supply labor to the sector:

Dan Alpert: The Case for Aggressive Public Infrastructure Spending: "There is substantial slack in the U.S. economy...

Continue reading "" »


Procrastinating on March 13, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:

Continue reading "Procrastinating on March 13, 2017" »


Clearing the Way: How Can Government Promote Shared Prosperity?

Thinking Ahead March14 201 FINAL pdf 1 page

Continue reading "Clearing the Way: How Can Government Promote Shared Prosperity?" »


Live from a university that seems to need some very different IT managers:

Houston We Have a Problem

Make it so that I cannot even view my own course's website without logging in--even though I have no objection to anybody in the world reading my syllabus--and then crash the authentication module so that I cannot log in? Really...

Anybody from Berkeley IT want to leave a comment giving me a reason that I should use bCourses in the future?

I'm waiting...


Must-Read: Why are economists who work for Trump still received in polite society? John Taylor, Mike Boskin, Greg Mankiw, Glenn Hubbard, Ed Lazear, Ben Bernanke, Harvey Rosen, Marty Feldstein, Alan Greenspan, George Shultz: this mess is on your side of the fence--you clean it up. Please.

Kevin Drum: Trump OMB Director Claims Obama "Manipulated" the Unemployment Figures: "Along comes OMB Director Mick Mulvaney...

Continue reading " " »


Should-Read: Two possibilities:

  1. Paul Ryan and company are simply not competent--somebody put a real, highly punitive continuous coverage requirement into the ObamaCare Repeal bill; somebody else said "that's too punitive" and changed it; and nobody did the addition.

  2. Paul Ryan and company want this bill--if passed--to lead to an adverse selection meltdown of their (or, rather, Trump's) health care exchanges.

Is there a third alternative?

Aaron Carroll: The AHCA Doesn’t Make Sense: "I’m having a really hard time with this...

Continue reading "" »


Weekend Reading: Abraham Lincoln (1854): Kansas-Nebraska

Lincoln-Douglas debate

Weekend Reading: Abraham Lincoln (1854): [Kansas-Nebraska][]: "The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the propriety of its restoration, constitute the subject of what I am about to say.

...As I desire to present my own connected view of this subject, my remarks will not be, specifically, an answer to Judge Douglas; yet, as I proceed, the main points he has presented will arise, and will receive such respectful attention as I may be able to give them. I wish further to say, that I do not propose to question the patriotism, or to assail the motives of any man, or class of men; but rather to strictly confine myself to the naked merits of the question.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Abraham Lincoln (1854): Kansas-Nebraska" »


Links for the Week of March 12, 2017

Must-Reads:

Continue reading "Links for the Week of March 12, 2017" »


Reading: Richard Baldwin (2017):The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization

Cursor and bradford delong com Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Reading: Richard Baldwin (2017): The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization (Cambridge: Belknap Press: 067466048X) http://amzn.to/2lR9qBC

I. Overview

The grand theory of history presented by Baldwin here has four beats:

Continue reading "Reading: Richard Baldwin (2017):The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization" »


Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Gehenna: It would be interesting to hear what the real Republican health care experts say about the plan to repeal ObamaCare, if any of them dare say much of anything:

Kevin Drum: Emperor's Clothes Blogging: "I've been trying to figure out how to respond to the Republican health care plan...

Continue reading "" »


Reading: This paper seems to me to bury the lead--which is that it is the interaction of past slave-raiding and present decolonization that seems to be associated with very low present-day economic productivity. What are the mechanisms that could generate such an association?

Margherita Bottero and Björn Wallace: Is There a Long-Term Effect of Africa's Slave Trades?: "Nunn (2008) found a negative relationship between past slave exports and economic performance within Africa...

Continue reading "" »


Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Is there a way to understand this other than as an implicit total admission of defeat and failure by Brownback on his part? Ambassador to FAO is not a job usually taken by U.S. senators and governors...

Kevin Drum: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Appears Desperate to Get Out of Dodge: "'Brownback is in talks with President Donald Trump’s administration about... an ambassadorship...

Continue reading "" »


Talking Points: The Employment Situation: Nearly every indicator except the headline unemployment rate suggests an economy with no labor-side inflationary pressure and substantial headroom for cyclical growth:

Continue reading "" »


Procrastinating on March 10, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:

Continue reading "Procrastinating on March 10, 2017" »


Reading: Sidney Blumenthal (2017): Wrestling with His Angel, 1849-1856: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2

When Yale made the long-overdue decision to dename the Residential College Formerly Named After the Odious John C. Calhoun, a bunch of alumni--who had never before remarked on how odious John C. Calhoun had been--came out of the woodwork to protest that we will be impoverished if we do not memorialize even the bad parts of our history.

It seemed to me it would have been much better—shame on you, Financial Times—to mark the event by reprinting Hofstadter's Calhoun chapter on "The Marx of the Master Class", or the "Young Calhoun" chapter from Sidney Blumenthal's A Self-Made Man—the first volume of his in-progress series: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln. So I wrote to Sidney asking permission to reprint the "Young Calhoun" chapter on my weblog. He passed it along to Simon & Schuster. Silence...

But the galleys of Blumenthal's second volume: Wrestling with His Angel showed up in my mailbox. It is excellent:

Sidney Blumenthal (2017): Wrestling with His Angel, 1849-1856 <http://amzn.to/2mgAPd9>

Five Orienting Questions:

  1. Stephen Douglas. What does Lincoln think of Stephen Douglas?
  2. "property acquired or located in good faith; but..."—what is going on here, both in Lincoln's mind and in how he is attempting to make a persuasive argument to his reader?
  3. What does Lincoln think of how the Democratic Party he confronts operates?
  4. Blumenthal portrays Lincoln from 1849-54 as desperately looking for a role and a place in American politics and governance. What were the places open to him as a moral agent in the 1850s? Did he ever really find one--did he ever become a Republican as Seward and Stephens thought of Republicans?
  5. Is the prominent place of the "house divided" metaphor in Lincoln's speeches and thoughts in the second half of the 1850s at all consistent with his proposed policies—to "do no more than oppose the extension of slavery..." and to preserve the union?

Continue reading "Reading: Sidney Blumenthal (2017): Wrestling with His Angel, 1849-1856: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 2" »


**Talking Points: On globalization and trade, from Martin Sandbu. Back in the 1920s and 1930s you could prevent damage to your working class via protectionism--and you could also shift aggregate demand into your country via protectionism. Today you cannot do the first. There is some chance that you could do the second, but the odds do not look good to me:

Martin Sandbu: Globalisation Will Survive: "The emerging world has both a deep interest in keeping globalisation going and greater power to defend it than ever before...

Continue reading "" »


Procrastinating on March 9, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:

Continue reading "Procrastinating on March 9, 2017" »


Must-Read: Peter Temin: Six Orienting Questions:

  1. What is the W. Arthur Lewis "dual economy model"?
  2. Why is economic growth in the "subsistence" sector absolutely opposed by those who profit from the "industrialized" sector--and who control the levers of political-economic power in the society?
  3. What tools does the power elite use to maintain the dual economy structure?
  4. What policies would break up the dual economy structure?
  5. Why do entrepreneurs seeking profits not take steps to "route around" the blockages that maintain the dual economy structure and generate growth in the "subsistence" sector?
  6. When and why did the U.S. become a dual economy?

March 9, 2017, Thursday, at 2 PM, in the Blum Center Board Room at U.C. Berkeley:

Peter Temin: The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy: "The middle class, defined as households earning from two-thirds to double the median American household income... <http://amzn.to/2mlKfpH>

Continue reading "" »


Should-Read: When Yale made the long overdue decision to dename the Residential College Formerly Named After the Odious John C. Calhoun, a bunch of alumni--who had never before remarked on how odious John C. Calhoun had been--came out of the woodwork to protest that we will be impoverished if we do not memorialize even the bad parts of our history.

It seemed to me it would have been much better--shame on you, Financial Times--to mark the event by reprinting Hofstadter's Calhoun chapter on "The Marx of the Master Class", or the "Young Calhoun" chapter from Sidney Blumenthal's A Self-Made Man--the first volume of his in-progress series: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln. So I wrote to Sidney asking permission to reprint the "Young Calhoun" chapter on my weblog. He passed it along to Simon & Schuster. Silence...

But the galleys of Blumenthal's second volume: Wrestling with His Angel showed up in my mailbox. It is excellent:

Sidney Blumenthal (2017): Wrestling with His Angel, 1849-1856 <http://amzn.to/2mgAPd9>: "Lincoln had no expectation that restoring the Missouri Compromise would ever occur...

Continue reading "" »


Links for the Week of March 5, 2017

Most-Recent Must-Reads:


Most-Recent Should-Reads:


Most-Recent Links:

Continue reading "Links for the Week of March 5, 2017" »


Trade Deals and Alternative Facts: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

Shenzhen skyline 2015 Google Search

Project Syndicate: Trade Deals and Alternative Facts: BERKELEY – In a long recent Vox essay outlining my thinking about US President Donald Trump’s emerging trade policy, I pointed out that a “bad” trade deal such as the North American Free Trade Agreement is responsible for only a vanishingly small fraction of lost US manufacturing jobs over the past 30 years. Just 0.1 percentage points of the 21.4 percentage-point decline in the employment share of manufacturing during this period is attributable to NAFTA, enacted in December 1993.

A half-century ago, the US economy supplied an abundance of manufacturing jobs to a workforce that was well equipped to fill them. Those opportunities have dried up. This is a significant problem: a BIGLY problem. But anyone who claims that the collapse of US manufacturing employment resulted from “bad” trade deals like NAFTA is playing the fool. A BIGLY fool. Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

Continue reading "Trade Deals and Alternative Facts: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate" »


Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes (1938): Private Letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt of February 1, 1938

Public Intellectuals

Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes (1938): John Maynard Keynes’s Private Letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt of February 1, 1938:

To Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1 February 1938

Private and personal

Dear Mr. President,

You received me kindly when I visited you some three years ago that I make bold to send you some bird’s eye impressions which I have formed as to the business position in the United States. You will appreciate that I write from a distance, that I have not revisited the United States since you saw me, and that I have access to few more sources of information than those publicly available. But sometimes in some respects there may be advantages in these limitations! At any rate, those things which I think I see, I see very clearly.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes (1938): Private Letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt of February 1, 1938" »