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September 2019

Hoisted from the Archives from 2006: Tightwad Hill

Tightwad Hill: Stanford Week: "Many of the great rivalries are fundamentally class rivalries - the "big-city" university v the land grant agriculture college. This is what fuels Alabama/Auburn, or Oregon/OSU. Some are even about religion (BYU/Utah) or fashion (USC/UCLA). Cal/Stanford is the only great rivalry that's fundamentally about ideology.... The ideology at play here is authoritarianism. Cal teaches its own to question authority by imposing a faceless, soul-crushing bureaucracy upon its students.... Four years at Berkeley feels like a Kafka novel-you come out with a perhaps too-healthy skepticism of professors, administrators, Presidents and the like. Stanford is a school next to a mall and some golf courses that is populated by cheerful authority figures who want to like you. They serve as your counselor, and help you choose your classes. They arrange comfy dorm rooms, and social events with your fellow fascinating students drawn from all parts of the country. They want you to succeed, because you're one of them-the few, the proud, the elites. Isn't it grand? You exit Stanford feeling really, really good about yourself. You exit Berkeley happy to have survived the experience. Berkeley is exhilirating; Stanford is pleasant. Both sets of alumni run the world, but only one group of alumni feels entitled to...

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Duncan Black: Just Like Any Other President "I can imagine the conversations in newsrooms when Trump became president. They aren't all that stupid. "How are we supposed to cover this freak show of a man?" And the answer they came to is "we cover it like we cover any other presidency." But that's not what they've done, even if they think it is. They aren't covering Trump as they would've covered Obama or even George W. Bush. Pretending everything is normal is not normal coverage. Normally "tan suits" are enough to cause a freakout....

Dan Froomkin: _ "The AP_ simply ignores Trump’s civil war threat and his call for Schiff to be tried for treason...

15 Dan Froomkin on Twitter The AP simply ignores Trump s civil war threat and his call for Schiff to be tried for treason https t co eTn9AjaYp2 https t co OlW74vufT8 Twitter

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Duncan Black: This Is Excellent News For John McCain "It always is: "Executive Director of the McCain Institute Kurt Volker resigned from his position as the U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine Friday, following reports he collaborated with Ukraine and President Donald Trump. An ASU official confirmed Volker's resignation Friday, and said the University could not speak about his future at ASU because the University does not comment on personnel matters...

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Notice anybody missing from this list of Nazi victims?: UK University and College Union: Holocaust Memorial Day "UCU commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) observed annually on 27 January. It does so in memory of the millions who were murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda in order to challenge hatred and persecution in the UK today. The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 is 'Stand Together'. It explores how genocidal regimes throughout history have deliberately fractured societies by marginalising certain groups, and how these tactics can be challenged by individuals standing together with their neighbours, and speaking out against oppression.... Trade unions, including social democrats and communists, were the first among many groups who were persecuted by the Nazi following Hitler's rise to power in 1933. Other groups persecuted included:

  • Europe's Roma and Sinti people
  • 'asocials' which included beggars, alcoholics, drug addicts,
  • prostitutes and pacifists
  • black people
  • disabled people-those with physical as well as mental illness
  • freemasons
  • gay and lesbian people
  • Jehovah's Witnesses
  • non-Jewish Poles and Slavic POWs.

Please continue to let us know how your branch will be commemorating the day by emailing us at [email protected]. Below we outline a few ideas for planning an event and please do use our resources...

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Kevin Drum: Remember What Ukrainegate Is About "Ukrainegate is about Donald Trump holding military assistance hostage unless a foreign leader agreed to help him win an election. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, this has never happened before.... Nothing that was said—or yelled or tweeted—over the weekend has changed this...

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Very Briefly Noted 2019-09-30:

  1. Natalie Abrams: Xena: Warrior Princess: An Oral Herstory: "How Xena went from sword-wielding heroine to feminist icon...

  2. Supreme Court of Missouri (1998): Janice Ann DeLong v. Fredrick Joseph DeLong, Case No. 80637 (Sup. Ct. Mo. 1998)

  3. Wikipedia: Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius

  4. Wikipedia: Theodoric the Great

  5. Wikipedia: Amal Dynasty

  6. Michelle Robertson: Here's the deal with that giant housing complex that sprung up near MacArthur BART "385 units... 59 studios, 241 one-bedroom apartments and 78 two-bedroom apartments, Hines said... pool and hot tub, indoor/outdoor 'Skydeck', bike repair station and a 'pedestrian plaza'. The building is distinct largely due to its location: just steps from MacArthur BART and situated within the Temescal corridor, where walkable restaurants and hip bars and breweries abound...

  7. PhysicsMatt: Blog

  8. Scholastic: Immigrants by Country and Decade

  9. [The Case for Mexico's Rescue

  10. Tren Giffin and Russell Daggatt: The Global Negotiator

  11. Josiah Ober: The Greeks and the Rational

  12. Wikipedia: Atossa

  13. Fawlty Towers: Don't Mention the War!

  14. Michael Barr

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Abraham Gutman: When Moving to Opportunity Offers No Opportunity at All: A Lesson from the Great Migration: "Ellora Derenoncourt.... Historically, Northern cities offered much more upward mobility to both white and black children.... But at some point something changed. 'That pattern [of upward mobility] persists for white families', Derenoncourt says, '[but] it’s completely not true for black families anymore'. For black children, growing up in Northern cities like Philadelphia doesn’t offer any more opportunity in terms of upward mobility than growing up in the South...


Barry Eichengreen: The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era "In the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe... the reaction of voters against the political establishment, nationalist and racialist sentiment directed against foreigners and minorities, and a yearning for forceful, charismatic leadership, this something, whatever we call it, is not new...

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Podcast: Trump's Impact on the Economy

Cotto/Gottfried: What Happens to America's Economy If Trump Is Reelected? Brad DeLong Explains "Donald Trump... if he manages to secure a second term, what would four more years of his presidency mean for America's economy? Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury Brad DeLong, who now is an economics professor at UC Berkeley, addresses this hugely important question¸—and much more—on 'Cotto/Gottfried.'... See more episodes here: San Francisco Review of Books main page:

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For the Weekend: The New Colossus

Statue of liberty Google Search

Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus: "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"...

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Berkeley Social Science: Authors Meet Critics: The Populist Temptation _ "Please join us on October 3, 2019 at 4pm for a book talk featuring: Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics & Political Science, UC Berkeley; Paul Pierson, Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley; Brad DeLong, Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley. Barry Eichengreen’s book, _The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era, places the global resurgence of populism in a deep historical context. It argues that populists tend to thrive in the wake of economic downturns, when it is easy to convince the masses of elite malfeasance. While bankers, financiers, and ‘bought’ politicians are partly responsible, populists’ own solutions tend to be simplistic and economically counterproductive. By arguing that ordinary people are at the mercy of extra-national forces beyond their control, populists often degenerate into demagoguery and xenophobia. Eichengreen posits that interventions must begin with shoring up and improving the welfare state so that it is better able to act as a buffer for those who suffer most during economic slumps. In discussing his book, Eichengreen will be engaging two eminent colleagues: Paul Pierson, a renowned specialist in populism, social theory, and political economy, and Brad DeLong, a distinguished economist who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy during the Clinton Administration and is currently a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. This talk is presented as part of Social Science Matrix's new "Authors Meet Critics" book series, which features lively discussions about recently published books by social scientists at UC Berkeley...

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Steve M.: We Might Have Impeachment Now Because They Found a Way to Make It Centrist "A couple of days ago I predicted that the Ukraine whistleblower story wouldn't amount to anything, because of Nancy Pelosi's fear of a left-centrist voter backlash against impeachment and because rank-and-file voters aren't likely to understand what the fuss is about. And yet now we're being told that impeachment seems 'almost inevitabl'. What changed? There's no polling evidence I know of.... There's no reason to believe that even a single Republican in Congress will support impeachment or vote to convict in the Senate. (Mitt Romney's words are characteristically mealy-mouthed: "If the President asked or pressured Ukraine's president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme." And I swear I can hear Susan Collins quietly wringing her hands somewhere off in the distance.) Yet impeachment is on the table now. Why? Nancy Pelosi is still the same person she was a week ago, when impeachment was being slow-walked at her insistence. Pelosi still fears Republicans and Reagan Democrat, Obama/Trump voters in Michigan diners. But she's accepting this because now she can sell the pursuit as centrist. It's about global stability and international alliances. If you want to use the term, Trump is being accused of high crimes and misdemeanors in a neoliberal way...

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Weekend Reading: Lin Zexu (1839): To Queen Victoria

A busy stacking room in the opium factory at Patna India L Wellcome V0019154 First Opium War Wikipedia

Weekend Reading: Lin Zexu (1839): To Queen Victoria: "We find that your country is sixty or seventy thousand li from China. The purpose of your ships in coming to China is to realize a large profit. Since this profit is realized in China and is in fact taken away from the Chinese people, how can foreigners return injury for the benefit they have received by sending this poison to harm their benefactors? They may not intend to harm others on purpose, but the fact remains that they are so obsessed with material gain that they have no concern whatever for the harm they can cause to others. Have they no conscience? I have heard that you strictly prohibit opium in your own country, indicating unmistakably that you know how harmful opium is. You do not wish opium to harm your own country, but you choose to bring that harm to other countries such as China. Why?...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (September 28, 2019)


Five Super-Musts:

  1. Remember: the Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut did absolutely nothing to boost investment in America, and thus has no supply-side positive effects on economic growth. And it is another upward jump in inequality: Greg Leiserson: U.S. Inequality and Recent Tax Changes: "Slides from a presentation by Greg Leiserson for a panel 'U.S. Inequality and Recent Tax Changes' hosted by the Society of Government Economists on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. In the presentation, Leiserson argues that the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely increase disparities in economic well-being, after-tax income, and pre-tax income...

  2. Very wise start-of-the-semester advice: Harry Brighouse: Advice for New College Students: "Bear in mind that while there’s such a thing as getting into too much debt, there’s also such a thing as working too many hours. Seek balance (Finding it is easier said than done). Choose classes on the following bases: does the subject interest you?; how big is the class? (seek out small classes even if you are shy; especially if you are shy, because that’s how you’ll learn not to be); how good is the professor? How do you know who’s a good professor?... Do they engage?... Are they open to a full range?... Do they make you write a lot? (if so, that’s a positive, not a negative) Do they seem to enjoy teaching?... Find out from your friends. Or from your enemies if that’s the best you can do!...

  3. I would say that Martin Wolf grossly understates his point here. It is not just that the case for a sane globalism remains strong. Rather, the case for a sane globalism has never been stronger and grows stronger every day. With each passing day, the world needs more and more powerful international public goods in order to remain healthy and sane, and only globalists have a chance of providing them: Martin Wolf: The Case for Sane Globalism Remains Strong: "We are now close to eliminating extreme human destitution.... The decline in the proportion of humanity living in absolute poverty, to less than 10 per cent, is a huge achievement. I make no excuses for continuing to support policies and programmes, including trade-oriented development, that helped accomplish this. The notion that it may be necessary to thwart the economic rise of non-western countries, in order to cement western domination, is, in my view, an abomination.... The range of public goods we now need has vastly increased, with the complexity of our economies and societies. For the same reason, ever more of those public goods are global.... That is why the victors of the second world war decided to create effective international institutions. They had experienced unbridled national sovereignty. The outcome had been catastrophic. Nothing since then has rendered global co-operation less essential.... [On] the interface between the global and the national... we have gone too far in some areas and done too little in others.... The globalisation of finance has arguably gone too far.... [But] liberal trade has not been a dominant source of rising inequality within countries. Meanwhile, areas where global co-operation has not gone far enough include business taxation and the environment. The final and perhaps most important of all challenges is containing the natural human tendency to scapegoat foreigners for failures of domestic policy and cleavages among domestic interests.... Blaming ills on foreigners may be a successful diversionary tactic. It is also highly destructive. We must think and act globally. We have no alternative...

  4. John Scalzi: 21 Years of Whatever: "Whatever exists today for the same reason it began existing 21 years ago, which is, I wanted a place to write about things. The formula hasn’t really wavered in all that time; I write about the things I want to write about, when I want to write about them, for whatever length I feel like writing about them for. Sometimes I’m ambitious and post several times a day; other times I’ll post once a day and sometimes skip a day or two (or more). When I’m writing a book, I tend to post less. When I’m not, I’ll post more. I don’t take requests, unless I do. And so on. Also, you know: I write here because I just plain like this site. This is, in more ways than one, my house and a reflection of me. I like how I’ve built it over the years and I like what it does. I like I have a place to say what I want to say. I like that I have a place where others occasionally come by to visit. I like that those people seem to like it too. So, I’ll keep at it some more. Let’s see what happens from here...

  5. Quantum supremacy! We were all but certain that it would come. I mean, after all, leaves. A leaf is a solar panel attached to quantum computers attached to energy-storage mechanisms that does things no "classical" solar-panel-plus battery could do. But that it is coming so soon is interesting: John Timmer: Paper Leaks Showing a Quantum Computer Doing Something a Supercomputer Can’t "This hardware is not the makings of a general-purpose quantum computer... you can trust. We needed error-corrected qubits before these results; we still need them after. And it's possible to argue that this was less 'performing a computation' than simply 'repeatedly measuring a quantum system to get a probability distribution'. But that seriously understates what's going on here.... There is simply no way to get that probability distribution using a classical computer. With this system, we can get it in under 10 minutes.... There's no obvious barrier to scaling up quantum computations. The hard part is the work needed to set a certain number of qubits in a specific state and then entangle them.... Recognizing the error rate, however, the researchers suggest that we're not seeing the dawn of quantum computing, but rather what they call 'Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum technologies'.... This particular system's only obvious use is to produce a validated random number generator...

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I would note that the "boom" in capital investment we had in 2018 was on the order of 1/5 of what the Trumpets had promised. Rana and Daniel's point is that the "boom" we had was directed in directions that substitute for rather than complement labor—and thus claims it will drive wage gains are implausible:

Rana Foroohar (November 2018): US Capital Expenditure Boom Fails to Live Up to Promises: "One of the key economic tales told by the Trump administration is that corporate tax cuts would spur huge investment and growth in the US economy, raising wages and ushering in a new era of bullishness. Not quite.... Nearly half of the corporate profits that were repatriated went straight into stock price-bolstering share buybacks. Capital expenditures grew too, at least for a couple of quarters. But what business is investing in has changed quite a lot... and that alters everything.... Back in 1998... 48.3 per cent of business investment went to new structures and industrial equipment and about 30 per cent into technology such as information processing equipment and various types of intellectual property, according to data compiled by Daniel Alpert.... This year, only 28.6 per cent went to structures and industrial equipment, while technology and intellectual property made up 52 per cent of all new investment...

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Highest-quality economic theory on how to do the analysis of societal well-being right, and in the process nest utilitarianism in a broader sensible framework:

Emmanuel Saez and Stefanie Stantcheva (2016): Generalized Social Marginal Welfare Weights for Optimal Tax Theory: "Evaluat[ing] tax reforms by aggregating money-metric losses and gains of different individuals using 'generalized social marginal welfare weights.' Optimum tax formulas take the same form as standard welfarist tax formulas.... Weights directly capture society’s concerns for fairness without being necessarily tied to individual utilities. Suitable weights can help reconcile discrepancies between the welfarist approach and actual tax practice, as well as unify in an operational way the most prominent alternatives to utilitarianism.... There is no social-welfare objective primitive.... Instead, our primitives are generalized social marginal-welfare weights which represent the value that society puts on providing an additional dollar of consumption to any given individual. These weights directly reflect society’s concerns for fairness.... We define a tax system as locally optimal if no small reform is desirable... Slides

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Felix Salmon: 1 Big Thing: The Cost of Unstable Norms: "Adam Neumann, Kevin Burns, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump were historically rewarded for breaking the rules. Now, suddenly, the rules seem as though they might matter. Neumann... WeWork, broke more rules even than Travis Kalanick... of Uber... became billionaires by losing billions of dollars, and they both awarded themselves voting control of their boards despite holding only a minority economic position.... Burns... Juul Labs, allowed his company to market its products to children and to claim without FDA permission that they were significantly safer than cigarettes.... Johnson, the U.K. prime minister, made his name and reputation by making up lies about the European Union and getting them printed in a respectable newspaper.... Trump—well, if you don't know how Trump built his career by violating political rules and norms, Axios Edge is not the place for you to find out.... Neumann and Burns were both fired.... Johnson's activity was found to be illegal in a unanimous ruling by the U.K. Supreme Court. Impeachment proceedings are beginning against Trump... Their punishment does not restore trust to the system. Instead, it reveals the degree to which trust is now absent. A world where rule-breaking and 'disruption' continue to be celebrated in both the economic and political spheres is a world where a lot of energy ends up being wasted on trying to discern the status of formerly clear boundaries. Capitalism works best when everybody is playing by the same rules. Right now we seem to be moving away from that ideal...

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Oded Galor, Omer Moav, and Dietrich Vollrath (2009): Inequality in Landownership, the Emergence of Human-Capital Promoting Institutions, and the Great Divergence "Inequality in the distribution of landownership adversely affected the emergence of human-capital promoting institutions (e.g. public schooling), and thus the pace and the nature of the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy, contributing to the emergence of the great divergence in income per capita across countries. The prediction of the theory regarding the adverse effect of the concentration of landownership on education expenditure is established empirically based on evidence from the beginning of the 20th century in the U.S...

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Politico is giving Equitable Growth's fearless leader Heather Boushey a platform to argue for distributional national accounts. This is, I think, a very good sign: Politico had followed the National Journala model of focusing on gossip and personnel, but their willingness to give serious people the mic to talk about actual policy is a sign that they may be moving beyond the idea that their role is to provide celebrity gossip about ugly people: Heather Boushey: How To Fix Inequality: Publish Distributional, Not Just Aggregate, Growth Data "To tell us how Americans—low-, middle- and high-income alike—are faring in the current economy, relative to other groups and to the average, federal agencies need to produce distributional statistics alongside the aggregate ones. That means offering not just one estimate of growth but several: growth for those with different levels of income, of different races and ethnicities, and also for variation by state or other levels of geography. Legislation has been passed that encourages the BEA to add the disaggregated data, but the law provides no new funding and doesn’t go beyond encouragement. If we do not change the way we conceptualize and analyze economic progress, we are unlikely to have very much of it. Better, fairer growth measures are a vital step toward better, fairer growth...

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Weekend Reading: The Deeds of the Divine Augustus, by the Divine Augustus

Augustus Deeds of the Divine Augustus Weekend Reading: Augustus: The Deeds of the Divine Augustus:

  1. In my nineteenth year, on my own initiative and at my own expense, I raised an army with which I set free the state, which was oppressed by the domination of a faction. For that reason, the senate enrolled me in its order by laudatory resolutions, when Gaius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius were consuls (43 B.C.E.), assigning me the place of a consul in the giving of opinions, and gave me the imperium. With me as propraetor, it ordered me, together with the consuls, to take care lest any detriment befall the state. But the people made me consul in the same year, when the consuls each perished in battle, and they made me a triumvir for the settling of the state.

  2. I drove the men who slaughtered my father into exile with a legal order, punishing their crime, and afterwards, when they waged war on the state, I conquered them in two battles.

  3. I often waged war, civil and foreign, on the earth and sea, in the whole wide world, and as victor I spared all the citizens who sought pardon. As for foreign nations, those which I was able to safely forgive, I preferred to preserve than to destroy. About five hundred thousand Roman citizens were sworn to me. I led something more than three hundred thousand of them into colonies and I returned them to their cities, after their stipend had been earned, and I assigned all of them fields or gave them money for their military service. I captured six hundred ships in addition to those smaller than triremes.

  4. Twice I triumphed with an ovation, and three times I enjoyed a curule triumph and twenty-one times I was named imperator. When the senate decreed more triumphs for me, I sat out from all of them. I placed the laurel from the fasces in the Capitol, when the vows which I pronounced in each war had been fulfilled. On account of the things successfully done by me and through my officers, under my auspices, on earth and sea, the senate decreed fifty-five times that there be sacrifices to the immortal gods. Moreover there were 890 days on which the senate decreed there would be sacrifices. In my triumphs kings and nine children of kings were led before my chariot. I had been consul thirteen times, when I wrote this, and I was in the thirty-seventh year of tribunician power (14 A.C.E.).

  5. When the dictatorship was offered to me, both in my presence and my absence, by the people and senate, when Marcus Marcellus and Lucius Arruntius were consuls (22 B.C.E.), I did not accept it. I did not evade the curatorship of grain in the height of the food shortage, which I so arranged that within a few days I freed the entire city from the present fear and danger by my own expense and administration. When the annual and perpetual consulate was then again offered to me, I did not accept it.

  6. When Marcus Vinicius and Quintus Lucretius were consuls (19 B.C.E.), then again when Publius Lentulus and Gnaeus Lentulus were (18 B.C.E.), and third when Paullus Fabius Maximus and Quintus Tubero were (11 B.C.E.), although the senate and Roman people consented that I alone be made curator of the laws and customs with the highest power, I received no magistracy offered contrary to the customs of the ancestors. What the senate then wanted to accomplish through me, I did through tribunician power, and five times on my own accord I both requested and received from the senate a colleague in such power.

  7. I was triumvir for the settling of the state for ten continuous years. I was first of the senate up to that day on which I wrote this, for forty years. I was high priest, augur, one of the Fifteen for the performance of rites, one of the Seven of the sacred feasts, brother of Arvis, fellow of Titus, and Fetial.

  8. When I was consul the fifth time (29 B.C.E.), I increased the number of patricians by order of the people and senate. I read the roll of the senate three times, and in my sixth consulate (28 B.C.E.) I made a census of the people with Marcus Agrippa as my colleague. I conducted a lustrum, after a forty-one year gap, in which lustrum were counted 4,063,000 heads of Roman citizens. Then again, with consular imperium I conducted a lustrum alone when Gaius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius were consuls (8 B.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,233,000 heads of Roman citizens. And the third time, with consular imperium, I conducted a lustrum with my son Tiberius Caesar as colleague, when Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius were consuls (14 A.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,937,000 of the heads of Roman citizens. By new laws passed with my sponsorship, I restored many traditions of the ancestors, which were falling into disuse in our age, and myself I handed on precedents of many things to be imitated in later generations.

  9. The senate decreed that vows be undertaken for my health by the consuls and priests every fifth year. In fulfillment of these vows they often celebrated games for my life; several times the four highest colleges of priests, several times the consuls. Also both privately and as a city all the citizens unanimously and continuously prayed at all the shrines for my health.

  10. By a senate decree my name was included in the Saliar Hymn, and it was sanctified by a law, both that I would be sacrosanct for ever, and that, as long as I would live, the tribunician power would be mine. I was unwilling to be high priest in the place of my living colleague; when the people offered me that priesthood which my father had, I refused it. And I received that priesthood, after several years, with the death of him who had occupied it since the opportunity of the civil disturbance, with a multitude flocking together out of all Italy to my election, so many as had never before been in Rome, when Publius Sulpicius and Gaius Valgius were consuls (12 B.C.E.).

  11. The senate consecrated the altar of Fortune the Bringer-back before the temples of Honor and Virtue at the Campanian gate for my retrn, on which it ordered the priests and Vestal virgins to offer yearly sacrifices on the day when I had returned to the city from Syria (when Quintus Lucretius and Marcus Vinicius were consuls (19 Bc)), and it named that day Augustalia after my cognomen.

  12. By the authority of the senate, a part of the praetors and tribunes of the plebs, with consul Quintus Lucretius and the leading men, was sent to meet me in Campania, which honor had been decreed for no one but me until that time. When I returned to Rome from Spain and Gaul, having successfully accomplished matters in those provinces, when Tiberius Nero and Publius Quintilius were consuls (13 B.C.E.), the senate voted to consecrate the altar of August Peace in the field of Mars for my return, on which it ordered the magistrates and priests and Vestal virgins to offer annual sacrifices.

  13. Our ancestors wanted Janus Quirinus to be closed when throughout the all the rule of the Roman people, by land and sea, peace had been secured through victory. Although before my birth it had been closed twice in all in recorded memory from the founding of the city, the senate voted three times in my principate that it be closed.

  14. When my sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar, whom fortune stole from me as youths, were fourteen, the senate and Roman people made them consuls-designate on behalf of my honor, so that they would enter that magistracy after five years, and the senate decreed that on thatday when they were led into the forum they would be included in public councils. Moreover the Roman knights together named each of them first of the youth and gave them shields and spears.

  15. I paid to the Roman plebs, HS 300 per man from my father's will and in my own name gave HS 400 from the spoils of war when I was consul for the fifth time (29 B.C.E.); furthermore I again paid out a public gift of HS 400 per man, in my tenth consulate (24 B.C.E.), from my own patrimony; and, when consul for the eleventh time (23 B.C.E.), twelve doles of grain personally bought were measured out; and in my twelfth year of tribunician power (12-11 B.C.E.) I gave HS 400 per man for the third time. And these public gifts of mine never reached fewer than 250,000 men. In my eighteenth year of tribunician power, as consul for the twelfth time (5 B.C.E.), I gave to 320,000 plebs of the city HS 240 per man. And, when consul the fifth time (29 B.C.E.), I gave from my war-spoils to colonies of my soldiers each HS 1000 per man; about 120,000 men i the colonies received this triumphal public gift. Consul for the thirteenth time (2 B.C.E.), I gave HS 240 to the plebs who then received the public grain; they were a few more than 200,000.

  16. I paid the towns money for the fields which I had assigned to soldiers in my fourth consulate (30 B.C.E.) and then when Marcus Crassus and Gnaeus Lentulus Augur were consuls (14 B.C.E.); the sum was about HS 600,000,000 which I paid out for Italian estates, and about HS 260,000,000 which I paid for provincial fields. I was first and alone who did this among all who founded military colonies in Italy or the provinces according to the memory of my age. And afterwards, when Tiberius Nero and Gnaeus Piso were consuls (7 B.C.E.), and likewise when Gaius Antistius and Decius Laelius were consuls (6 B.C.E.), and when Gaius Calvisius and Lucius Passienus were consuls (4 B.C.E.), and when Lucius Lentulus and Marcus Messalla were consuls (3 B.C.E.), and when Lucius Caninius and Quintus Fabricius were consuls (2 B.C.E.) , I paid out rewards in cash to the soldiers whom I had led into their towns when their service was completed, and in this venture I spent about HS 400,000,000.

  17. Four times I helped the senatorial treasury with my money, so that I offered HS 150,000,000 to those who were in charge of the treasury. And when Marcus Lepidus and Luciu Arruntius were consuls (6 A.C.E.), I offered HS 170,000,000 from my patrimony to the military treasury, which was founded by my advice and from which rewards were given to soldiers who had served twenty or more times.

  18. From that year when Gnaeus and Publius Lentulus were consuls (18 Bc), when the taxes fell short, I gave out contributions of grain and money from my granary and patrimony, sometimes to 100,000 men, sometimes to many more.

  19. I built the senate-house and the Chalcidicum which adjoins it and the temple of Apollo on the Palatine with porticos, the temple of divine Julius, the Lupercal, the portico at the Flaminian circus, which I allowed to be called by the name Octavian, after he who had earlier built in the same place, the state box at the great circus, the temple on the Capitoline of Jupiter Subduer and Jupiter Thunderer, the temple of Quirinus, the temples of Minerva and Queen Juno and Jupiter Liberator on the Aventine, the temple of the Lares at the top of the holy street, the temple of the gods of the Penates on the Velian, the temple of Youth, and the temple of the Great Mother on the Palatine.

  20. I rebuilt the Capitol and the theater of Pompey, each work at enormous cost, without any inscription of my name. I rebuilt aqueducts in many places that had decayed with age, and I doubled the capacity of the Marcian aqueduct by sending a new spring into its channel. I completed the Forum of Julius and the basilic which he built between the temple of Castor and the temple of Saturn, works begun and almost finished by my father. When the same basilica was burned with fire I expanded its grounds and I began it under an inscription of the name of my sons, and, if I should not complete it alive, I ordered it to be completed by my heirs. Consul for the sixth time (28 B.C.E.), I rebuilt eighty-two temples of the gods in the city by the authority of the senate, omitting nothing which ought to have been rebuilt at that time. Consul for the seventh time (27 B.C.E.), I rebuilt the Flaminian road from the city to Ariminum and all the bridges except the Mulvian and Minucian.

  21. I built the temple of Mars Ultor on private ground and the forum of Augustus from war-spoils. I build the theater at the temple of Apollo on ground largely bought from private owners, under the name of Marcus Marcellus my son-in-law. I consecrated gifts from war-spoils in the Capitol and in the temple of divine Julius, in the temple of Apollo, in the tempe of Vesta, and in the temple of Mars Ultor, which cost me about HS 100,000,000. I sent back gold crowns weighing 35,000 to the towns and colonies of Italy, which had been contributed for my triumphs, and later, however many times I was named emperor, I refused gold crowns from the towns and colonies which they equally kindly decreed, and before they had decreed them.

  22. Three times I gave shows of gladiators under my name and five times under the name of my sons and grandsons; in these shows about 10,000 men fought. Twice I furnished under my name spectacles of athletes gathered from everywhere, and three times under my grandson's name. I celebrated games under my name four times, and furthermore in the place of other magistrates twenty-three times. As master of the college I celebrated the secular games for the college of the Fifteen, with my colleague Marcus Agrippa, when Gaius Furnius and Gaius Silanus were consuls (17 B.C.E.). Consul for the thirteenth time (2 B.C.E.), I celebrated the first games of Mas, which after that time thereafter in following years, by a senate decree and a law, the consuls were to celebrate. Twenty-six times, under my name or that of my sons and grandsons, I gave the people hunts of African beasts in the circus, in the open, or in the amphitheater; in them about 3,500 beasts were killed.

  23. I gave the people a spectacle of a naval battle, in the place across the Tiber where the grove of the Caesars is now, with the ground excavated in length 1,800 feet, in width 1,200, in which thirty beaked ships, biremes or triremes, but many smaller, fought among themselves; in these ships about 3,000 men fought in addition to the rowers.

  24. In the temples of all the cities of the province of Asia, as victor, I replaced the ornaments which he with whom I fought the war had possessed privately after he despoiled the temples. Silver statues of me-on foot, on horseback, and standing in a chariot-were erected in about eighty cities, which I myself removed, and from the money I placed goldn offerings in the temple of Apollo under my name and of those who paid the honor of the statues to me.

  25. I restored peace to the sea from pirates. In that slave war I handed over to their masters for the infliction of punishments about 30,000 captured, who had fled their masters and taken up arms against the state. All Italy swore allegiance to me voluntarily, and demanded me as leader of the war which I won at Actium; the provinces of Gaul, Spain, Africa, Sicily, and Sardinia swore the same allegiance. And those who then fought under my standard were more than 700 senators, among whom 83 were made consuls either before or after, up to the day this was written, and about 170 were made priests.

  26. I extended the borders of all the provinces of the Roman people which neighbored nations not subject to our rule. I restored peace to the provinces of Gaul and Spain, likewise Germany, which includes the ocean from Cadiz to the mouth of the river Elbe. I brought peace to the Alps from the region which i near the Adriatic Sea to the Tuscan, with no unjust war waged against any nation. I sailed my ships on the ocean from the mouth of the Rhine to the east region up to the borders of the Cimbri, where no Roman had gone before that time by land or sea, and the Cimbri and the Charydes and the Semnones and the other Germans of the same territory sought by envoys the friendship of me and of the Roman people. By my order and auspices two armies were led at about the same time into Ethiopia and into that part of Arabia which is called Happy, and the troops of each nation of enemies were slaughtered in battle and many towns captured. They penetrated into Ethiopia all the way to the town Nabata, which is near to Meroe; and into Arabia all the way to the border of the Sabaei, advancing to the town Mariba.

  27. I added Egypt to the rule of the Roman people. When Artaxes, king of Greater Armenia, was killed, though I could have made it a province, I preferred, by the example of our elders, to hand over that kingdomto Tigranes, son of king Artavasdes, and grandson of King Tigranes, through Tiberius Nero, who was then my step-son. And the same nation, after revolting and rebelling, and subdued through my son Gaius, I handed over to be ruled by King Ariobarzanes son of Artabazus, King of the Medes, and after his death, to his son Artavasdes; and when he was killed, I sent Tigranes, who came from the royal clan of the Armenians, into that rule. I recovered all the provinces which lie across the Adriatic to the east and Cyrene, with kings now possessing them in large part, and Sicily and Sardina, which had been occupied earlier in the slave war.

  28. I founded colonies of soldiers in Africa, Sicily, Macedonia, each Spain, Greece, Asia, Syria, Narbonian Gaul, and Pisidia, and furthermore had twenty-eight colonies founded in Italy under my authority, which were very populous and crowded while I lived.

  29. I recovered from Spain, Gaul, and Dalmatia the many military standards lost through other leaders, after defeating te enemies. I compelled the Parthians to return to me the spoils and standards of three Roman armies, and as suppliants to seek the friendship of the Roman people. Furthermore I placed those standards in the sanctuary of the temple of Mars Ultor.

  30. As for the tribes of the Pannonians, before my principate no army of the Roman people had entered their land. When they were conquered through Tiberius Nero, who was then my step-son and emissary, I subjected them to the rule of the Roman people and extended the borders of Illyricum to the shores of the river Danube. On the near side of it the army of the Dacians was conquered and overcome under my auspices, and then my army, led across the Danube, forced the tribes of the Dacians to bear the rule of the Roman people.

  31. Emissaries from the Indian kings were often sent to me, which had not been seen before that time by any Roman leader. The Bastarnae, the Scythians, and the Sarmatians, who are on this side of the river Don and the kings further away, an the kings of the Albanians, of the Iberians, and of the Medes, sought our friendship through emissaries.

  32. To me were sent supplications by kings: of the Parthians, Tiridates and later Phrates son of king Phrates, of the Medes, Artavasdes, of the Adiabeni, Artaxares, of the Britons, Dumnobellaunus and Tincommius, of the Sugambri, Maelo, of the Marcomanian Suebi (...) (-)rus. King Phrates of the Parthians, son of Orodes, sent all his sons and grandsons into Italy to me, though defeated in no war, but seeking our friendship through the pledges of his children. And in my principate many other peoples experienced the faith of the Roman people, of whom nothing had previously existed of embassies or interchange of friendship with the Roman people.

  33. The nations of the Parthians and Medes received from me the first kings of those nations which they sought by emissaries: the Parthians, Vonones son of king Phrates, grandson of king Orodes, the Medes, Ariobarzanes, son of king Artavasdes, grandson of king Aiobarzanes.

  34. In my sixth and seventh consulates (28-27 B.C.E.), after putting out the civil war, having obtained all things by universal consent, I handed over the state from my power to the dominion of the senate and Roman people. And for this merit of mine, by a senate decree, I was called Augustus and the doors of my temple were publicly clothed with laurel and a civic crown was fixed over my door and a gold shield placed in the Julian senate-house, and the inscription of that shield testified to the virtue, mercy, justice, and piety, for which the senate and Roman people gave it to me. After that time, I exceeded all in influence, but I had no greater power than the others who were colleagues with me in each magistracy.

  35. When I administered my thirteenth consulate (2 B.C.E.), the senate and Equestrian order and Roman people all called me father of the country, and voted that the same be inscribed in the vestibule of my temple, in the Julian senate-house, and in the forum of Augustus under the chario which had been placed there for me by a decision of the senate. When I wrote this I was seventy-six years old....

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Douglas Almond, Michael Greenstone, and Kenneth Y. Chay: Civil Rights, the War on Poverty, and Black-White Convergence in Infant Mortality in the Rural South and Mississippi: "For the last sixty years, African-Americans have been 75% more likely to die during infancy as whites. From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, however, this racial gap narrowed substantially. We argue that the elimination of widespread racial segregation in Southern hospitals during this period played a causal role in this improvement. Our analysis indicates that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which mandated desegregation in institutions receiving federal funds, enabled 5,000 to 7,000 additional black infants to survive infancy from 1965-1975 and at least 25,000 infants from 1965-2002. We estimate that by themselves these infant mortality benefits generated a welfare gain of more than $7 billion (2005$) for 1965-1975 and more than $27 billion for 1965-2002. These findings indicate that the benefits of the 1960s Civil Rights legislation extended beyond the labor marker and were substantially larger than recognized previously...

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Fifteen Worthy Reads from September 27, 2018

Worthy Reads at Equitable Growth:

  1. This may well be the most important paper we publish this year: Suresh Naidu, Eric A. Posner, and E. Glen Weyl: Antitrust Remedies for Labor Market Power: "Labor market power has contributed to wage inequality and economic stagnation...

  2. Kate Bahn puts her finger on something that has long, long bothered me about the labor market literature on inequality. "Good jobs" are jobs that are well-paid. "Respected occupations" are occupations that lead to good jobs. And the "intrinsic" characteristics of the work have very little to do with whether a job is well-paid or not, and thus little to do with whether it is a "good job" or not: Kate Bahn: @lipstickecon: "This FRB report concludes that declining prime-age LFP is due to the decline in "traditional blue-collar jobs" without deconstructing what made these 'traditional' jobs good-unions...

  3. Equitable Growth alumnus John Schmitt sends us to Lawrence Mishel: Further Evidence That the Tax Cuts Have Not Led to Widespread Bonuses, Wage or Compensation Growth: "Following the bill’s passage, a number of corporations made conveniently-timed announcements that their workers would be getting raises or bonuses.... Newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employer Costs for Employee Compensation data allow us to examine nonproduction bonuses in the first two quarters of 2018...

  4. Arindrajit Dube and friends have a pick-up discussion on how to characterize the impact of employer monopsony power: Arindrajit Dube: @arindube: "I think growing evidence suggets "laissez faire" equilibrium is monopsonistic. So shocks like de-unionization, outsourcing and eroding wage norms can push down pay in ways hard to understand with competitive lab mkts. But the shock may not be increased concentration itself...

  5. Lisa D. Cook is worried that the quantity of Big Data cannot compensate for its low quality. Statistics gives us lots of power with representative random samples. Nothing can give us power without the tools to do what representativeness does: Lisa D. Cook: @drlisadcook: "'Without taking data quality into account, population inferences with Big Data are subject to a Big Data Paradox...

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Remember: The current Republican administration's foreign policy is even less coherent and more deranged than his economic policy:

Josh Barro: "I don't understand the point of withdrawing from the Iran deal and sanctioning Iran, but then giving Iran financial aid to offset the effects of the sanctions in order to induce them to stay in the deal...

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New and well worth reading from Lisa Cook and Jan Gerson: The Implications of U.S. Gender and Racial Disparities in Income and Wealth Inequality at Each Stage Of The Innovation Process: "Women and underrepresented minorities in the United States have obtained an increasing share of bachelor’s degrees and other advanced degrees in... STEM.... Yet there has been no similar increase in patenting.... Closing this gender and racial gap in the U.S. innovation process could increase U.S. Gross Domestic Product per capita by 2.7 percent.... Mentoring.... Exposing children to invention and innovation.... A recent paper in Nature finds that... patent applications with women as lead inventors are rejected more often.... Workplace climate...

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James Harding: Tortoise: What We Are For: "We believe that the coming age of artificial intelligence requires a moral intelligence–and so, as innovation permeates our lives, we stand for the human interest.... The power gap is widening. The powerful are fewer in number, more remote and less accountable.... People are locked out of the decisions that govern their lives; leadership’s gone AWOL; democracy is weakening. If we can agree on anything, it’s that our times require new thinking. We hope that if we take a little longer and open up the process of journalism, we can better understand these problems and foster new ideas. We’re trying to come to a better informed point of view on our future.... We are, let’s face it, a tiny journalism start-up. We’ve only recently moved out of my kitchen. We don’t have a manifesto. We’re not running for office; we’ve only just rented one.... We’d like to tell some stories.... We aim to tell original ones well, to report them deeply and discuss them openly...

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This is key to why distributional national accounts are becoming increasingly essential for understanding what is going on: Heather Boushey: Testimony before the House Budget Committee "National economic statistics are becoming less representative of the experience of most Americans. The implication for how policymakers and economists alike evaluate the economy is that average economic progress is pulling away from median economic progress. We see these same divergent trends across multiple measures of economic wellbeing: wages, income, and wealth...

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Tremendously disturbing. The question in the marketplace should aways be "is your money good?" not "I don't like your face". The second is tremendously destructive to human liberty:

Kevin Drum: A Third of Republicans Think It’s OK to Refuse Service to Muslims: "I’m never quite sure how seriously to take survey results, and today Paul Waldman points to a new PRRI survey that I really, really don’t want to take seriously.... Thanks to a baker in Colorado, we’re all accustomed to the idea that conservatives think business owners should be free to refuse service to gay people if their refusal is based on religious belief. But apparently large numbers of them also think it’s fine to refuse service to Muslims, Jews, and African Americans.... Among Democrats, there’s apparently a single, smallish contingent—around 14-19 percent of the total—that thinks it’s OK to discriminate against anyone. But among Republicans, it varies. About 18 percent think it’s OK to discriminate against blacks compared to 47 percent who think it’s OK to discriminate against gay people. Jews and Muslims and atheists are in the middle.... There’s a liberal bloc that, on principle, thinks businesses should be allowed to discriminate however they want. Conservatives, by contrast, don’t think that. They endorse discrimination more or less strongly depending on how much they dislike the group in question. So to circle back to the beginning, I wonder how seriously to take this?...

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Diverse scholars at conferences ask different questions, and questions as if not more important than the mainstream. Will McGrew reports Will McGrew: The National Economic Association and the American Society of Hispanic Economists Work to Diversify and Strengthen Economics Research: "Last month, the National Economic Association and the American Society of Hispanic Economists hosted the sixth annual NEA-ASHE Freedom and Justice Conference at University of New Mexico’s Department of Economics. As in previous years, this conference provided an invaluable contribution to the field by elevating new communities, topics, and methodologies within economics research. Indeed, the papers presented at the conference painted a fuller picture of the current state of the U.S. economy and provided empirically grounded recommendations for a stronger and fairer economic future...

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John Scalzi: 21 Years of Whatever: "Whatever exists today for the same reason it began existing 21 years ago, which is, I wanted a place to write about things. The formula hasn’t really wavered in all that time; I write about the things I want to write about, when I want to write about them, for whatever length I feel like writing about them for. Sometimes I’m ambitious and post several times a day; other times I’ll post once a day and sometimes skip a day or two (or more). When I’m writing a book, I tend to post less. When I’m not, I’ll post more. I don’t take requests, unless I do. And so on. Also, you know: I write here because I just plain like this site. This is, in more ways than one, my house and a reflection of me. I like how I’ve built it over the years and I like what it does. I like I have a place to say what I want to say. I like that I have a place where others occasionally come by to visit. I like that those people seem to like it too. So, I’ll keep at it some more. Let’s see what happens from here....

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Note to Self: Polanyi's problem is he writes badly. Hyman Minsky had next-to-no footprint until Charlie Kindleberger took Minsky's view of the world and turned it into a readable history. There's definitely space to do something like that with Polanyi—fictitious commodities, the market wants to treat your community, your occupation, your security of employment as market commodities, but people believe they have rights beyond market rights when the market gives rights only to those who control resources useful for making things for which rich people have serious Joneses...

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Weekend Reading: John Stuart Mill (1829): Of the Influence of Consumption on Production

Living Wage report shows economy is based on Victorian workhouse Goldsmiths University of London

Weekend Reading: The birth of macroeconomics as we know it back in 1829. But Mill gets one big thing wrong: a depression happens whenever there is an uncompensated sharp rise in the demand for money, and such sharp rises can and do have many causes—nominal illusion in a time of inflation leading to "over investment" is only one of them. And, of course, Mill as absolutely hopeless with respect to the cure: John Stuart Mill (1829): Of the Influence of Consumption on Production "Periods of 'brisk demand' are also the periods of greatest production: the national capital is never called into full employment but at those periods. This, however, is no reason for desiring such times; it is not desirable that the whole capital of the country should be in full employment. For, the calculations of producers and traders being of necessity imperfect, there are always some commodities which are more or less in excess, as there are always some which are in deficiency. If, therefore, the whole truth were known, there would always be some classes of producers contracting, not extending, their operations. If all are endeavouring to extend them, it is a certain proof that some general delusion is afloat...

...The commonest cause of such delusion is some general, or very extensive, rise of prices (whether caused by speculation or by the currency) which persuades all dealers that they are growing rich. And hence, an increase of production really takes place during the progress of depreciation, as long as the existence of depreciation is not suspected; and it is this which gives to the fallacies of the currency school.... But when the delusion vanishes and the truth is disclosed, those whose commodities are relatively in excess must diminish their production or be ruined: and if during the high prices they have built mills and erected machinery, they will be likely to repent at leisure. In the present state of the commercial world... unreasonable hopes and unreasonable fears alternately rule with tyrannical sway... general eagerness to buy and general reluctance to buy succeed one another... at brief intervals.

Except during short periods of transition, there is almost always either great briskness of business or great stagnation; either the principal producers of almost all the leading articles of industry have as many orders as they can possibly execute, or the dealers in almost all commodities have their warehouses full of unsold goods....

It may very well occur, that there may be... a very general inclination to sell with as little delay as possible, accompanied with an equally general inclination to defer all purchases as long as possible....It is true that this state can be only temporary, and must even be succeeded by a reaction of corresponding violence, since those who have sold without buying will certainly buy at last, and there will then be more buyers than sellers. But although the general over-supply is of necessity only temporary, this is no more than may be said of every partial over-supply. An overstocked state of the market is always temporary, and is generally followed by a more than common briskness of demand...

#macro #weekendreading

Per-Anders Edin, Tiernan Evans, Georg Graetz, Sofia Hernnäs, and Guy Michaels: The Individual Consequences of Occupational Decline: "Outcomes for similar workers in similar occupations over 28 years... the consequences of large declines in occupational employment.... Mean losses in earnings and employment for those initially working in occupations that later declined are relatively moderate, [but] low-earners lose significantly more...

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The family occupational history of Equitable Growth alumnus Nick Bunker: Nick Bunker: @NickBunker: "'What’s a cool bit of family history you know?' My great-great-great grandfather was killed by a whale. To be fair to the whale, Great-Great-Great Grandpa Bunker and his coworkers were trying to kill it. My dad, looking at a whale skeleton: 'Did I tell you one of those killed my great-great grandfather?'...

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An excellent conversation with Janet Currie on how, in America today, choosing the right parents does a lot to determine your life-chances in America today. But it does not have to be that way: Janet Currie: In Conversation: "It is hard to talk about prenatal influences without sounding deterministic, but outcomes aren’t deterministic at all. One way that you can see that is that the same negative shock, such as a given level of air pollution, will typically have a much greater effect on a poor infant than on a richer infant. What that observation tells you is that there is something that can be done to mitigate the effects of a harmful shock, and the richer parents are doing it, whatever it is. If you could find that and put it in a bottle, or put it in a program, then you would be able to mitigate the effects of these early-childhood insults. And in fact, we have had reasonable success in mitigating the effects of some types of prenatal disadvantage through public programs. There is a great deal of evidence, some to which I have contributed, on the positive effects of the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children during pregnancy on infant health outcomes. These positive effects are striking, given that the dollar value of WIC benefits is fairly small. It may well be that modest amounts of money combined with improved access to medical care and some psychosocial support can go a long way toward improving the health of mothers and their babies...

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Quantum Supremacy

How the quantum search algorithm works

Quantum supremacy! We were all but certain that it would come. I mean, after all, leaves. A leaf is a solar panel attached to quantum computers attached to energy-storage mechanisms that does things no "classical" solar-panel-plus battery could do. But that it is coming so soon is interesting:

John Timmer: Paper Leaks Showing a Quantum Computer Doing Something a Supercomputer Can’t "This hardware is not the makings of a general-purpose quantum computer... you can trust. We needed error-corrected qubits before these results; we still need them after. And it's possible to argue that this was less 'performing a computation' than simply 'repeatedly measuring a quantum system to get a probability distribution'. But that seriously understates what's going on here.... There is simply no way to get that probability distribution using a classical computer. With this system, we can get it in under 10 minutes.... There's no obvious barrier to scaling up quantum computations. The hard part is the work needed to set a certain number of qubits in a specific state and then entangle them.... Recognizing the error rate, however, the researchers suggest that we're not seeing the dawn of quantum computing, but rather what they call 'Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum technologies'.... This particular system's only obvious use is to produce a validated random number generator...

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Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs In anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the bloody Stalinist suppression of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista in the Barcelona May Days, we are--thanks to Jacob Levy--proud to bring you the latest in sectarian Marxist polemics blogging. First, we have Eric Hobsbawm declaring that George Orwell was a Traitor to Humanity by telling the truth about what he saw in Spain:

Eric Hobsbawm: "Writers supported [the Republican cause in] Spain... Hemingway, Malraux, Bernanos and virtually all the notable contemporary young British poets-Auden, Spender, Day Lewis, MacNeice did. Spain was the experience that was central to their lives between 1936 and 1939.... Polemics about the civil war [within the Left]... have never ceased since 1939. This was not so while the war was still continuing, although such incidents as the banning of the dissident Marxist Poum party and the murder of its leader Andrés Nin caused some international protest. Plainly a number of foreign volunteers... were shocked by... the behaviour of the Russians and much else...

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Joseph Stalin (1935): "The Pope! How many divisions has he got?... (Said sarcastically to Pierre Laval in 1935, in response to being asked whether he could do anything with Russian Catholics to help Laval win favour with the Pope, to counter the increasing threat of Nazism; as quoted in The Second World War (1948) by Winston Churchill vol. 1, ch. 8, p. 105.)

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On the 'use of 'scare quotes': Edward P. Thompson (1978): The Poverty of Theory, or, an Orrery of Errors "Althusser... patiently explains it thus: 'The critique of Stalinist "dogmatism" was generally "lived" by Communist intellectuals as a "liberation". This 'liberation' gave birth to a profound ideological reaction, "liberal" and "ethical" in tendency, which spontaneously rediscovered the old philosophical themes of "freedom", "man", the "human person" and "alienation"' (F.Af. 10). (It must be difficult to ‘speak’ a theory like this, when at every second word, one must ‘contort’ one’s features into a knowing ‘leer’, to ‘signify’ to the reader that one ‘knows’ the true meaning of these words behind their apparent ‘meaning’).... In 1972 he had become more blunt; he had only one recourse to inverted commas; ‘after the Twentieth Congress an openly rightist wave carried off... many Marxist and Communist “intellectuals’.... This, then, is the missing protagonist with whom Althusser wrestles in For Marx and Reading Capital: the anti-Stalinist revolt... ‘socialist humanism.’... This, if anywhere, is where all these critiques and actions converged. This is the object of Althusser’s police action, the unnamed ghost at whom his arguments are directed...

Dylan Riley (2011): Tony Judt: A Cooler Look "Marxism and the French Left’s discussion of the post-war intellectual scene... fails the elementary test of chronology: The two greatest products of post-war French Marxism, Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason and Althusser’s Reading Capital, were published in 1960 and 1968.... In the late 1980s, apparently bored by French history (and by his wife), Judt followed the trail blazed by Timothy Garton Ash and numerous others to Eastern Europe. Gorbachev’s diplomacy had removed any obstacles to humanitarian tourism.... A crash course in Czech, and meetings with Michnik, Havel and Kis, equipped Judt to present his credentials to Washington in the form of a paper given at the Wilson Center in 1987, ‘The Politics of Impotence?’... Freed—as the interrogative ironization of the title tried to indicate—from any concrete political engagement by the force of circumstance, intellectuals like Havel answered to a higher ‘moral responsibility’, just as Judt had told French socialists to do.... ‘The Politics of Impotence?’ reported that, since 1968, oppositional Marxism in Eastern Europe had been replaced by a healthy focus on ‘rights’...

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Unstructured Procrastination: Hoisted from the Archives

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives (2005): Unstructured Procrastination I usually am quite good at structured procrastination—working not on the thing that is most immediate and imminent on my calendar, but on the priority #3 or #4 that is actually more important in the long run and that excites me at the moment. But today this system has broken down. I have done something nobody should ever do: I have spent an hour thinking about Louis Althusser.

It's all Michael Berube's fault, but its worth it, for (highlighted below) he has the best paragraph on Louis Althusser ever written. The rest is (or ought to be) silence:

Michael Berube: "The otherwise incomprehensible question of why anyone would think it necessary to devise a 'structuralist Marxism'. Structuralism is so antipathetic to all questions of hermeneutics and historicity that one might imagine the desire for a structuralist Marxism to be something like a hankering for really spicy ice cream. And yet, in the work of Louis Althusser, spicy ice cream is exactly what we have. I don’t like it myself. But because it’s an important byway in the history of ice cream...

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Hoisted from the Archives: John Holbo (2010): If Those Women Were Really Oppressed, Someone Would Have Tended to Have Freed Them by Then

stacks and stacks of books

John Holbo (2010): If Those Women Were Really Oppressed, Someone Would Have Tended to Have Freed Them by Then "Having made one non-libertarian-related post, I can now say, with a good conscience, that Bryan Caplan has responded to his critics. It is a wonder to behold.... A lot of the trouble here obviously rotates around the issue of systematic social oppression. Caplan barrels straight through like so: 'there’s a fundamental human right to non-violently pressure and refuse to associate with others'.... Caplan doesn’t notice that, even if he’s right about this fundamental human right, he’s no longer even defending the proposition that women were more free in the 1880’s, never mind successfully defending it. He’s defending the proposition that there is a fundamental right, which can be exercised, systematically, to make women much less free, that was better protected in the 1880’s. So if women value this libertarian right more than freedom, they might rationally prefer that sort of society. But even so, they should hardly regard themselves as more free, for enjoying this right. Rather, they should regard themselves as (rationally) sacrificing liberty, a lesser value, for love of libertarianism, a higher value and separate jar of pickles altogether...

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Hoisted from the Archives: Department of "Huh!?": Raghu Rajan Is a Member of the Pain Caucus, and I Don't Understand Why...

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Department of "Huh!?": Back in 2010, there were a great many people for whom I had immense respect who were members of the Pain Caucus. And I still cannot follow what they were thinking at all. Construction had already shrunk fully by late 2007. It remains a great mystery—was it just a Chicago echo chamber in which people did not look at data?:

Raghu Rajan Is a Member of the Pain Caucus, and I Don't Understand Why...: Raghu Rajan: "this recession is not a 'usual' recession. It followed a period of ultra-low interest rates when interest sensitive segments of the economy got a tremendous boost. The United States had far too much productive capacity devoted to durable goods and houses, because consumers could obtain financing for them easily. With households recovering slowly from the overhang of debt resulting from the binge, and with lenders extremely risk averse, it is unrealistic to expect households to spend beyond their means again, and unwise to try to tempt them to do so...

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Adam Ozimek: _"Okay FOMC tweet storm... The Fed’s pivot to a more dovish stance over the last year is due to multiple factors. One is that the Fed sees an elevated risk of a recession. Given that rates are already low, they’d rather cut early to prevent a downturn than cut late and risk hitting the zero lower bound. The other factors are slower moving. 1st is the stubborn inability of inflation to sustainably hit the target of 2%. 2nd is the closely related trend that the economy is not yet at full-employment. More than the risk of a recession, these slower moving factors provide a stronger basis for cutting rates and are more consequential for understanding the economy today. One reason this is consequential is that labor market slack , and the Fed’s consistent underestimate of it, goes a long way in explaining the troubling inflation trends...

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Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives: Paul Krugman: March of the Peacocks

I was hissed at a Pete Buttigieg fundraiser in August when I said that the Obama presidency had been disappointing. But I do believe this is right, and I think this taking your eye off the good-policy ball in order to strut about peacocking was a major thing that went wrong:

Paul Krugman (2010): March of the Peacocks: "Last week, the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, published an acerbic essay about the difference between true deficit hawks and showy 'deficit peacocks'. You can identify deficit peacocks, readers were told, by the way they pretend that our budget problems can be solved with gimmicks like a temporary freeze in nondefense discretionary spending. One week later, in the State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a temporary freeze in nondefense discretionary spending. Wait, it gets worse. To justify the freeze, Mr. Obama used language that was almost identical to widely ridiculed remarks early last year by John Boehner, the House minority leader. Boehner then: 'American families are tightening their belt, but they don’t see government tightening its belt.' Obama now: 'Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.' What’s going on here? The answer, presumably, is that Mr. Obama’s advisers believed he could score some political points by doing the deficit-peacock strut. I think they were wrong, that he did himself more harm than good. Either way, however, the fact that anyone thought such a dumb policy idea was politically smart is bad news because it’s an indication of the extent to which we’re failing to come to grips with our economic and fiscal problems...

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Christopher Federico: Trump as "Replacement-Level Fox News Junkie" "One of the best ways of characterizing Trump is that he’s just a replacement-level seventy-something Fox News viewer. He does not have even the level of sophistication you’d find at the high end of the expertise/awareness distribution in the mass public, let alone a bona-fide member of the political elite.... Like any other replacement-level Fox News junkie, he loves the symbolism of toughness.... The problem is that the average old man parked in front of Fox for his daily mainline hit of resentment and identity politics doesn’t have to grapple with the real-world implications of performative toughness. But Trump eventually does, and he fails to grok those implications until he’s beaten over the head with them at the very last minute by one or two of the few non-yes-men he has left (e.g., Dunford, nameless Pentagon lawyers). And in Trump’s somewhat idiosyncratic case, this is compounded by the fact that he combines his penchant for performative toughness with an isolationist streak—and seems to have little consciousness of how the implications of those two things might conflict with one another. The result is strategic incoherence: '"Trump is in a box of his own making", said Philip Gordon.... "He has put in place policies—'maximum pressure' on Iran—guaranteed to provoke an aggressive Iranian response, but he’s not prepared to respond aggressively in turn, and the Iranians know it"'...

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