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September 2017

Procrastination for September 29, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

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

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IMHO, Bolsheviki Lost-Causism Is Almost as Unattractive as Confederate Lost-Causism

Kindly General Lee, meet kindly Comrade Vladimir:

Preview of IMHO Bolsheviki Lost Causism Is an Unattractive as Confederate Lost Causism

If the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly is not your Kronstadt, there is something profoundly wrong with you

"For a certain kind of leftist hipster or wannabe hipster, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet six o'clock on that October afternoon in 1917...

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Should-Read: On Lost Causes, with a capital "L", a capital "C", and a persistent unwillingness to face the fact that the cause was rotten from the start. As U.S. Grant said: they "fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause... [that] was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse..."

William Faulkner (1948): Intruder in the Dust http://amzn.to/2wZt4Ms: "For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863...

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Comment of the Day: Graydon: Monday DeLong Smackdown: Noah Smith: Free Speech on Campus: "This is one of those moments when I despair of explaining something so basic I don't understand how people can be confused by it... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/09/monday-delong-smackdown-noah-smith-free-speech-on-campus.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b8d2aefef5970c#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b8d2aefef5970c

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The 17 Berkeley Classes in Our Largest Lecture Hall This Fall...

Increased CS course demand leads to overflowing auditorium The Daily Californian

The 17 classes in Berkeley's largest lecture hall: Wheeler Auditorium Classes: Fall 2017:

Computer Science, etc.: 9:

  • COMPSCI-STAT C8: Foundations of Data Science
  • COMPSCI 61A: The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • COMPSCI 61B: Data Structures
  • COMPSCI 61C: Great Ideas of Computer Architecture (Machine Structures)
  • COMPSCI 70: Discrete Mathematics and Probability Theory
  • COMPSCI 170: Efficient Algorithms and Intractable Problems
  • COMPSCI 186/286: Introduction to Database Systems
  • ELENG 16A: Designing Information Devices and Systems I
  • ELENG 16B: Designing Information Devices and Systems II

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HOISTED: FLASHBACK: In 1993, GOP Warned That Clinton’s Tax Plan Would ‘Kill Jobs,’ ‘Kill The Current Recovery’

Pat Garofolo: FLASHBACK: In 1993, GOP Warned That Clinton’s Tax Plan Would ‘Kill Jobs,’ ‘Kill The Current Recovery’: "Republicans... have been apoplectic about Obama’s plan, claiming that it will kill jobs and cripple small businesses... https://thinkprogress.org/flashback-in-1993-gop-warned-that-clintons-tax-plan-would-kill-jobs-kill-the-current-recovery-96adb3663484/

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Should-Read: Christopher Jeffery: Fed’s [John] Williams floats co-ordinated shift from 2% targets: "Williams... believes 2% inflation targets adopted by most of the developed world’s central banks will prove to be suboptimal over the next 10 years... https://www.centralbanking.com/central-banks/monetary-policy/operating-framework/3301501/feds-williams-floats-co-ordinated-shift-from-2-targets

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Should-Read: Republican "Senate Leadership Fund". You never know for whom these things are written, or how much the people writing these things believe them. For what it's worth, my conclusion is that Republicans need to frantically un-gerrymander as many districts as possible as fast as possible:

MEMORANDUM FROM: Steven Law. DATE: .September 26, 2017 SUBJECT: Alabama and the New Republican Primary Battlefield: "Although special elections are notoriously idiosyncratic and difficult to extrapolate from... http://delong.typepad.com/rlc.pdf

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Procrastination for September 26, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

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

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Live from the Old New Republic: Alex Pareene, has, I think, gotten it right here...

Alex Pareene: You Are Jonathan Chait's Enemy: "New York’s Jonathan Chait writes today about the 'dangerous consequences' of the left’s use of the label 'white supremacist' to describe Donald Trump, the alt-right, and American conservatism in general... https://splinternews.com/you-are-jonathan-chaits-enemy-1818814301

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Should-Read: It is, I must say, rather delicious that one of the twelve job categories that robots are supposed to intrude open most rapidly is... "robotics engineer":

Rachel Gillett and Anaele Pelisson: 12 jobs robots are already taking over: "Talk to any futurist, and they'll tell you that robots are coming for our jobs... http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/jobs-replaced-by-robots-2017-9/

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Should-See: Michael Jordan: On Computational Thinking, Inferential Thinking and Data Science: "The rapid growth in the size and scope of datasets in science and technology has created a need for novel foundational perspectives on data analysis that blend the inferential and computational sciences... https://bids.berkeley.edu/resources/videos/computational-thinking-inferential-thinking-and-data-science

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What Is the Trump Administration's U.S. Tax Cut Plan Likely to Look Like?: Not So Fresh at Project Syndicate

Supply Side Amnesia by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Supply-Side Amnesia https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/republican-tax-cuts-budget-deficit-by-j--bradford-delong-2017-09: In the spring of 1980, Martin Feldstein co-taught (with Olivier Blanchard) the second-best macroeconomics class I ever took. (The best was a class I took from Olivier alone three years later.) From 1982-1984 Martin Feldstein served in Ronald Reagan's cabinet as Chair of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. There he waged an effective if lonely bureaucratic war for the proposition that the size of the Reagan tax cut of 1981 had been a big policy mistake, and that America would suffer if that mistake was not repaired. That position was unpopular inside the Reagan White House: chief-of-staff James Baker tried to get everybody on to the page of delay, in the hope that something would turn up, and avoid the administration having to admit that its signature tax-cutting initiative was, at least in part, a mistake.

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Should-Read: Both Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart are very smart and very much worth listening to. But this is simply wrong. They have not looked under the hood of the model of Robert Barro (2005): Rare Events and the Equity Premium http://www.nber.org/papers/w11310 with sufficient care...

Barro's model hinges on the requirement that there be no safe assets in his model at all—they have a price and an interest rate, which is what they would sell for/yield if they were to exist but if net demand for them were zero, but they are not there. In our real world, they exist: the entire point of Barro (and of Reinhart and Reinhart) is to explain why the very large quantities of safe assets that do exist in our world sell for such high prices/offer such low yields.

Moreover, in Barro's model prices of risky assets are not low when disaster is feared, but high: the logic of his model is that stock prices were so high in 2000 because the chances of a future disaster were high, and that stock prices were so low in 2009 because the chances of a future disaster were low. "That's crazy!" you say. Yes. "That can't be right!" you say. But it is—that is what drops out of the math.

Moreover, most true geopolitical or even economic disaster scenarios generate not deflation but inflation—nominal government debts, even those of sovereigns with exorbitant privilege, become much less valuable. Fear of such disasters cannot rationally support high values for nominal government debt. Of course, "rational" is doing a lot of work here...

Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart: The Fear Factor in Today’s Interest Rates: "The theory of “rare disaster risk” has progressed considerably in recent years, owing to the work of the Harvard economist Robert Barro... https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/north-korea-fear-drives-low-interest-rates-by-carmen-reinhart-and-vincent-reinhart-2017-09

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Live from Sproul Plaza: I was never convinced that Nazi salutes belonged on the streets of Skokie, IL—I thought that that was neither the time, the place, nor the manner for 1st Amendment expression of those ideas. And I am pretty strongly convinced that Nazi salutes do not belong on my campus:

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Links for the Week of September 24, 2017

Must-Reads:

  1. Joshua Gans: Danny Kahneman on AI versus Humans: "At our AI conference last week, Nobel Laureate Danny Kahneman was commenting on a paper by Colin Camerer: https://digitopoly.org/2017/09/22/kahneman-on-ai-versus-humans/

  2. Ezra Klein: Graham-Cassidy could’ve been the GOP’s best Obamacare replacement: "Instead, Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy wrote the worst plan yet... https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/20/16333384/graham-cassidy-obamacare-health-care

  3. George Akerlof (1979): The Case against Conservative Macroeconomics: An Inaugural Lecture: "The old classical economics bases its case against the efficacy of fiscal policy on the low interest elasticity of money demand... http://delong.typepad.com/2553741.pdf

  4. Josh Bivens and Dean Baker (2016): The Wrong Tool for the Right Job: "Raising interest rates is a poor strategy for managing asset bubbles... http://cepr.net/images/stories/reports/bubbles-2016-05.pdf

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Should-Read: I'm just glad for the sake of his coworkers and innocent bystanders that Matt Yglesias did not have the workplace accident Bruce Banner had at Los Alamos. Just saying:

Matt Yglesias: The staggering hypocrisy of Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham: "Bill Cassidy... safe seat in Louisiana, could... have spent the past six months... https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/19/16330094/cassidy-graham-hypocrisy

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Monday DeLong Smackdown: Noah Smith: Free Speech on Campus

Noahpinion Speech on campus A reply to Brad DeLong

Noah Smith: Speech on campus: A reply to Brad DeLong: "On Twitter, I wrote that I disagreed with Brad's ideas about speech on college campuses... http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/speech-on-campus-reply-to-brad-delong.html

...Brad then requested that I write my ideas up in the form of a DeLong Smackdown. So here we go.

Brad's post was written in a particular context - the recent battles over right-wing speakers at Berkeley. More generally, the alt-right has been trying to provoke conflict at Berkeley, seeing an opportunity to gain nationwide sympathy. The murder of Heather Heyer by Nazis, and general white supremacist street violence, has turned the national mood against the alt-right. The alt-righters see (correctly) that the only way to recover rough parity is the "both sides" defense - in other words, to get people so worried about left-wing street violence that they equivocate between left and right. To this end, they are trying to stir up the most obvious source of potential leftist street violence: Berkeley.

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For the Weekend: Stephen Vincent Benet: The Devil and Daniel Webster V

Daniel Webster

For the Weekend: Stephen Vincent Benet: The Devil and Daniel Webster V http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602901h.html: "But till you make a bargain like that, you've got no idea of how fast four years can run...

By the last months of those years, Jabez Stone's known all over the state and there's talk of running him for governor—and it's dust and ashes in his mouth. For every day, when he gets up, he thinks, "There's one more night gone," and every night when he lies down, he thinks of the black pocketbook and the soul of Miser Stevens, and it makes him sick at heart. Till, finally, he can't bear it any longer, and, in the last days of the last year, he hitches his horse and drives off to seek Dan'l Webster. For Dan'l was born in New Hampshire, only a few miles from Cross Corners, and it's well known that he has a particular soft spot for old neighbours.

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Procrastination on September 23, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

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

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Must-Attend: United Against Hate: Our Free Speech Week: "Tue 9/26, West Crescent Lawn...

...11 am-12 noon: Alumni from Berkeley Free Speech Movement in the '60s
12-1 pm: Professor Dan Kammen (Goldman School of Public Policy, former Climate Science Envoy to the State Dept.)
1-4 pm: Islam teach-in - tentative (Muslim Student Association, Faces of African Muslims, and other organizations)
4-5 pm: Dean Erwin Chemerinsky (Boalt Law School)
5-6 pm: Professor Robert Reich (Goldman School of Public Policy)
6-7 pm (timing to be confirmed): Samuel Sinyangwe (co-founder of Campaign Zero)


Should-Read: The discovery of Uranus came about because Saturn was not moving like it should move were it to be the outermost planet. Republican senators are not moving like they should move unless they were under the strong influence of some very powerful, very strange, and very destructive force:

John Cole: Damn I Love The Jag and the Jet and the Mansion: "Graham/Cassidy... bad policy... will devastate many GOP states... hurt tens of millions... https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/09/23/damn-i-love-the-jag-and-the-jet-and-the-mansion/

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