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September 2018

Shame on the Editors of Vanity Fair!: Highlighted/Hoisted from Two Years Ago

Clowns (ICP)

Comment/Hoisted/Monday Vanity Fair Smackdown: RW: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/08/comment-of-the-day-_shame-on-the-editors-of-vanity-fair_-rw-its-been-a-long-time-many-years-in-fact-s.html: : Shame on the editors of Vanity Fair: RW: "It's been a long time, many years in fact...

...but I do seem to recall a version of Michael Kinsley capable of writing cogent and, yes, even generous pieces; his long descent into incoherent, petty sniping has not been pretty.

And: Low-Tech Cyclist: "Kinsley is right that "all is not data" and "data will only take you so far", but...

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Long-run changes in the nature of work and jobs happen, but they happen in the long run. In the short run in which we live, low-pressure and high-pressure economies dominate. Why does anybody find this surprising?: Larry Mishel: "One reporter told me there’s quite a ‘furor’ over the new BLS Contingent worker data. Not sure why that should be, except if you bought the hype about a rapidly changing nature of work and an explosion of freelancing and gig work. @EconomicPolicy...


Note to Self: Talking Points on Trump:

  • We have no idea how bad Trump‘s trade and immigration policies will turn out to be.

  • The policy as Trump says he want wants to pursue would be very bad indeed. But it is not clear if they are competent enough to implement any policies.

  • Nevertheless, an army of chaos monkeys has a destructive power all its own.

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Globalization: Some Fairly-Recent Must- and Should-Reads

stacks and stacks of books

  • In my view, successful economic communication of facts in a useful way starts with an anecdote—about, say, Cosette—which is then followed by "Cosette's experiences are typical", and then the numbers. But that is not how we economists talk. So even the best of us do not... get the mindshare that our ideas and our expertise deserve: Stefanie Stantcheva: The Fog of Immigration: "Surveyed 22,500 native-born respondents from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK, and the US. We concluded that much of the political debate about immigration takes place in a world of misinformation...

  • Doug Irwin: Trump’s Trade Policy Is An Exercise In Futility: "Yet for all the Sturm und Drang of his trade policy, the president is likely to end up being terribly disappointed by the results of his efforts...

  • It is also possible that harmonization, labor standards, investment measures, investor-state dispute settlement procedures, etc. will not empower but rather disempower "a different set of rent-seeking interests and politically well-connected firms". Certainly putting the US in the same basket as the EU as far as food health and safety is concerned would strengthen the left's hand inside the United States—and the Naderites frothing denunciations of the Codex Alimentarius were in bad faith. Rodrik's presumption that regulatory barriers are produced by good social democracy rather than bad rent-seeking has always seemed to me highly questionable: Dani Rodrik: What Do Trade Agreements Really Do?: "New (and often problematic) beyond-the-border features of current trade agreements... regulatory rules and harmonization...

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In my view, successful economic communication of facts in a useful way starts with an anecdote—about, say, Cosette—which is then followed by "Cosette's experiences are typical", and then the numbers. But that is not how we economists talk. So even the best of us do not... get the mindshare that our ideas and our expertise deserve: Stefanie Stantcheva: The Fog of Immigration: "Surveyed 22,500 native-born respondents from France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK, and the US. We concluded that much of the political debate about immigration takes place in a world of misinformation...

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I am genuinely confused here: Do we have an "eastern heartland" problem? Or do we have a "prime age male joblessness" problem? Those two problems would seem to me to call for different kinds of responses. yet Summers, Glaeser, and Austin are smooshing them into one: Edward L. Glaeser, Lawrence H. Summers and Ben Austin: A Rescue Plan for a Jobs Crisis in the Heartland: "In Flint, Mich., over 35 percent of prime-aged men—between 25 and 54—are not employed...

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Cass R. Sunstein: It Can Happen Here: "In They Thought They Were Free, Mayer decided to focus on ten people, different in many respects but with one characteristic in common: they had all been members of the Nazi Party. Eventually they agreed to talk, accepting his explanation that he hoped to enable the people of his nation to have a better understanding of Germany. Mayer was truthful about that and about nearly everything else. But he did not tell them that he was a Jew...

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(Early) Monday Joint Mark Helprin/Ross Douthat/Geoffrey Kabaservice Smackdown!

Clowns (ICP)

I find, on Twitter, the smart Geoff Kabaservice being just weird: Geoff Kabaservice: @RuleandRuin: "POLITICO asked me to expand my tweet previous thread about what liberal historians tend to get wrong about conservatism..." So I go read it, and find a list of 1990s "new voices on the neoconservative/neoliberal front like David Frum, Michael Lind, Andrew Sullivan, Francis Fukuyama, John McWhorter, Richard Brookhiser, Mickey Kaus, Michael Kelly, William Kristol and John Podhoretz..."

And I think: Huh! Wait a minute! Neoliberals aren't conservative! And I think: Mickey Kaus and Michael Kelly were mean and deranged. John Podhoretz and Richard Brookhiser were not smart. Andrew Sullivan and John McWhorter always struck me as more... performance art than anything else. William Kristol was a hack back when he smelled power, but now that he does not is a genuinely quirky, interesting thinker. So are David Frum and Michael Lind. And Francis Fukuyama is a genius—but not a conservative. In general, here—as elsewhere—those who are wise and conservative are not honest, those who are honest and conservative are not wise, and those who are wise and honest and thus worth reading rapidly cease to be conservative. It's like Lasalle's Iron Law of Wages. So I think: Geoff, that's two strikes.

And I read Kabaservice to the end, and find "liberal historians should consider subscribing to the Claremont Review of Books or National Affairs". So I surf on over, and start reading—first Mark Helprin on Charlottesville. And then I stop reading: Mark Helprin: Charlottesville One Year Later: "Enter Antifa, the Communist fascisti as invisible to the mainstream media as were Stalin’s and Mao’s genocides, Castro’s executions, and, with special mention to the New York Times, the Holocaust. They came in ranks: shields, helmets, clubs, etc. But unlike the idiots they came to fight, some of whom had firearms, Antifa had the best weapon of all—well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..."

I stop readin: when what really gets you mad about Charlottesville is not Nazis and the Klan and "very fine people on both sides", but is rather "Antifa... Communist fascisti... invisible to the mainstream media... well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..." there is something very wrong with you, mentally and morally—and with the editors who publish you. Denunciations of "virtue signaling" are what people who know they are villains start doing when they think they can no longer pretend to be the good guys.

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Adam Tooze: Keynes and the Calculations of Liberalism: "We were once again living through a profound crisis of the liberal order.... I had Keynes on my mind and the thinker of liberal reconstruction... seemed in many ways more relevant than ever. This led me to put together a slide pack of notes on Keynes’s collection Essays in Persuasion (1931)...

...The slide pack is long, but the Keynes material is worth the effort!... The key to understanding Keynes’s politics is... the boundary between politics and the economy fluid.... In Keynesianism their manipulation becomes the key variable in liberalism’s updated repertoire of politics and government.... [In] the crisis of 2008... not only monetary and fiscal policy, but also a dramatic extension of the macroprudential regime in the name of financial stability.... Wherever there were activist central banks and an ability to withstand a currency devaluation the bond vigilantes were held at bay.... As Keynes said the key is to keep “minds flexible” and to push the argument in “detail”...

https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0C7hB7cRkP6cell7FwNnu8MHw

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Theodore Nash: Creta Capta: Late Minoan II Knossos in Mycenaean History: Weekend Reading

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Following up on: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/07/ancient-technologies-of-organization-and-mental-domination-clerks-linear-b-and-the-potnia-of-athens.html: Theodore Nash: Creta Capta: Late Minoan II Knossos in Mycenaean History: "The revolutionary changes on mainland Greece in LH IIB-IIIA which saw the leap from Prepalatial to Palatial society were the result of the Mycenaean presence at LM II Knossos...

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Self-Locating Belief and the Sleeping Beauty Problem Once Again...

Probability

Note to Self: Apropos of the Sleeping Beauty Problem: Adam Elga: Self-Locating Belief and the Sleeping Beauty Problem...

There are three π here:

  1. π1: a parameter of nature that describes the probability that the coin, when tossed, will come up heads: π1 = 1/2
  2. π2: a number that Sleeping Beauty should keep in mind when deciding at what odds to bet that the coin came up heads if she wants to make money: π1 = 1/3
  3. π3: a number that Sleeping Beauty should tell a third party who asks her: "I'm going to make one and only one bet this week as to how this coin came out. What number should I have in mind in deciding at what odds to take heads if I want to make money?": π3 = 1/2

Which of these π1, π2, π3 is the "right" answer Sleeping Beauty should give?

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Resources on the Kinds of Uses of Math I Am Trying to Use in Econ 101b This Fall...

School of Athens

Street-Fighting Mathematics and Other Tools

Sanjoy Mahajan: Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving
George Pólya: How to Solve It: A New Aspect of Mathematical Method https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1400828678
George Pólya: Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning: Induction and Analogy in Mathematics https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0691025096
George Pólya: Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning: Patterns of Plausible Inference https://books.google.com/books?isbn=069102510X Paul Zeitz: _The Art and Craft of Problem Solving https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1118916662

Tools: Uses of Mathematics in Economics
Macro Textbook Chapter 3: Thinking Like an Economist
How to Think Like an Economist (If, That Is, You Wish to...)
Optional Teaching Topic: How to Think Like an Economist... (Provided, That Is, You Wish to...) (Pre-Class? Mid-Class?)


This File: http://delong.typepad.com/teaching_economics/street-fighting-math.html


Friedrich Engels (1843): Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy: Weekend Reading

Friedrich Engels 1820 1895 German socialist directing the Stock Photo 57348937 Alamy

Friedrich Engels (1843): Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy: "The eighteenth century, the century of revolution, also revolutionised economics. But... all the revolutions of this century were one-sided and bogged down in antitheses...

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Weekend Reading: Sanjoy Mahajan: Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving

Highly Recommended: Sanjoy Mahajan: Street-Fighting Mathematics: The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving: "Too much mathematical rigor teaches rigor mortis:the fear of making an unjustified leap even when it lands on a correct result...

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Peter Christensen and Christopher Timmins: Sorting or Steering: Experimental Evidence on the Economic Effects of Housing Discrimination: "Paired-tester audit experiments have revealed evidence of discrimination in the interactions between potential buyers and realtors, raising concern about whether certain groups are systematically excluded from the beneficial effects of healthy neighborhoods...

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Mattheew Fay: The U.S. Military is a Tool, but the President Thinks it’s a Trophy: "The president routinely complains that the United States can’t afford to maintain its alliance commitments... suggests military exercises on the Korean Peninsula are so costly that they can be traded for vague promises of North Korean denuclearization.... The president will preside over a military parade in Washington, D.C., later this year that will cost nearly as much as the exercises. What explains this apparent contradiction?...

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Andrew Gelman: China Air Pollution Regression Discontinuity Update: "Avery writes: 'There is a follow up paper for the paper “Evidence on the impact of sustained exposure to air pollution on life expectancy from China’s Huai River policy” [by Yuyu Chen, Avraham Ebenstein, Michael Greenstone, and Hongbin Li].... “New evidence on the impact of sustained exposure to air pollution on life expectancy from China’s Huai River Policy”'.... The cleanest summary of my problems with that earlier paper is this article, 'Evidence on the deleterious impact of sustained use of polynomial regression on causal inference', written with Adam Zelizer...

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Successful place-based policies require what we used to call "local boosters". One problem with so much of the so-called "Red States" is that the local rich are no longer boosters for their communities—indeed, no longer feel a part of the community in any meaningful way: Noah Smith: How to Save the Troubled American Heartland: "James Fallows and Deborah Fallows... notice a number of common approaches among towns that are on the mend. Two of these... universities and immigration...

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Ask Not For Whom the Global Warming Bell Tolls...: Live at Project Syndicate

Hurricane olivia pictures Google Search

Project Syndicate: Ask Not For Whom the Global Warming Bell Tolls...: Scarcely had I begun my first lecture of the fall semester here at the University of California, Berkeley, when I realized that I was too hot. I desperately wanted to take off my professorial tweed jacket. A tweed jacket is a wonderful but peculiar costume. If all you have for raw material is a sheep, it is the closest thing you can get to Gore-Tex.... Over the past 20 years, professorial garb has become increasingly uncomfortable, even here on the east side of the Bay. The climate now feels more like that of Santa Barbara.... The problems associated with global warming will be neither mere inconveniences, nor as far off as we would like to think. There are currently two billion near-subsistence farmers living in the six great river valleys of Asia, from the Yellow all the way around to the Indus. These farmers have limited means and few non-agricultural skills. It would not be easy for them to pick up and relocate.... The snow melt from the region’s high plateaus has always arrived at precisely the right moment, and in precisely the right volume.... Another billion people depend on the monsoon arriving at the right time, and in the right place.... Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal.... 250 million people living at or near sea level in the greater Ganges Delta, the world will face a long train of catastrophe. The international community is in no way prepared....

“No man”—nor nation, region, or country–“is an island entire of itself.… And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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I disagree with Simon here. He claims that "Alesina or Rogoff featured so much in... austerity... not because they were influential, but because they were useful to provide some intellectual credibility to the policy that politicians of the right wanted to pursue". It's not one or the other. They gave credibility. And because they gave credibility the media-political machine made them influential. And there influence was such that they neutralized the rest of us, who understood what was going on and were desperately trying to stop it: Simon Wren-Lewis: The biggest economic policy mistake of the last decade, and it had nothing to do with academic economists: "Reading the article brought back memories of my first year or two writing this blog, where I became part of a mainly US blog scene of mainstream academics opposed to austerity...

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It is also possible that harmonization, labor standards, investment measures, investor-state dispute settlement procedures, etc. will not empower but rather disempower " a different set of rent-seeking interests and politically well-connected firms". Certainly putting the US in the same basket as the EU as far as food health and safety is concerned would strengthen the left's hand inside the United States—and the Naderites frothing denunciations of the Codex Alimentarius were in bad faith. Rodrik's presumption that regulatory barriers are produced by good social democracy rather than bad rent-seeking has always seemed to me highly questionable: Dani Rodrik: What Do Trade Agreements Really Do?: "New (and often problematic) beyond-the-border features of current trade agreements... regulatory rules and harmonization...

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Bottom line: Nancy MacLean is right, broadly, about James Buchanan. She doesn't use the evidence terribly well, but her central conclusion about Buchanan is rock-solid: Buchanan was not at all uneasy about his harnessing of segregationist energy to try to power his anti-New Deal dynamo. Buchanan thought that keeping Blacks down (and, at the option of the whites in the area) segregated was as key a piece of white "freedom" as low taxes and union busting: Daniel Kuehn: James Buchanan, Segregation, Interposition, and Little Rock: "Today in 1957, Gov Faubus used the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School. James Buchanan was in St. Moritz, Switzerland for the Mont Pelerin Society when it happened (Friedman presented his voucher work) http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/central-high-school-integration...

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Dan Drezner: Robert Gilpin, R.I.P.: "I never met Gilpin in person—in contrast to many colleagues, once he retired, he left the field for good. It’s my loss. I became enamored with his ideas while in graduate school... an excellent intellectual history of how realists thought about the politics of the world economy...

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