Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes: Gains from Trade: Is Comparative Advantage the Ideology of the Comparatively Advantaged?: Hoisted from the Archives: 2017
Econ 135: 4.3.3., 4.4.3., & 4.5.3. Zoom Session: Globalization, Convergence, & Underdevelopment :: Slides

BRIEFLY NOTED: for 2021-02-13 Sa

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...


James Robinson is scared at the large-scale soft treason of Republican actual and wannabee office holders, but I do not think he is scared enough.

It is not at all clear to me that Trumpian populism has failed. Trump has failed. But neofascism remains a mighty powerful force. If James Robinson would talk to Trumpists, he would recognize that Trump did “deliver the goods”—they imagine that, before the coming of the plague, they were enjoying an unparalleled economic boom; and they are not mistaken to think that Trump delivered the hate he had promised against immigrants, against uppity Blacks who did not know and stay in what Trumpists continue to think is their proper place, and against rootless cosmopolites. The only problem is that the center of the electorate is not—or is not yet—Trumpian. And, for some reason, the knives that actors from James Comey to Dean Baquet used to stab Hillary Rodham Clinton in the back failed to hit Joe Biden’s back this time, for lots of reasons:

James A. RobinsonWhy Trumpian Populism Failed: ‘US democracy remains vulnerable… owing to many Americans’ lack of commitment to democratic institutions. While Trump worked to de-institutionalize America and enrich himself while in office, the Republican Party either sat on its hands or in some cases applauded…. At the end of the day, Trump’s “America First” was mostly posturing, because he couldn’t deliver real improvements in the lives of his base. All successful autocrats—like former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, postwar Argentine President Juan Perón, or current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni—somehow “deliver the goods” for their core constituencies. Trump delivered, but only to the rich, by cutting taxes and regulations. His symbolic gestures won’t endure, and his “Make America Great Again” slogan is destined for burial at the back of millions of American closets.

Republicans would be wise to consider this. Instead, much of the party, both in Congress and at the state and local level, still clings to the false narrative of election fraud and support for the insurrectionists, or advances the notion that the storming of the Capitol was staged to undermine Trump. This is deeply concerning. Perón was able to rule as he did after World War II because increased presidential meddling in Argentina’s Supreme Court and political institutions had eroded these bodies over the previous 15 years. Most Americans do not want to go down this path, even if many of their elected political leaders do… 

LINK: <https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-democratic-institutions-prevailed-over-trump-this-time-by-james-a-robinson-2021-03>


Very Briefly Noted:

One Video:

A very, very nice talk—the intellectual grandchild of Ragnar Nurkse, by way of Nicola Gennaioli and Andrei Shleifer:

Ivan Werning: Taming a Minsky Cycle <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_pJsPXUVMs>:


Five Paragraphs:

Reminds me of the steel industry around 1900: an absolutely key commodity, with very few firms able to compete at world-class levels of efficiency, cost, and value, and with downstream implications for the prosperity of entire economies:

Debby Wu, Sohee Kim, Gao Yuan & Peter ElstromThe Race for Chip Supremacy Could Reshape the World: ‘Carmakers from Tokyo to Detroit are slashing production. PlayStations are getting harder to find in stores. Even aluminum producers warn of a potential downturn ahead. All have one thing in common: an abrupt and cascading global shortage of semiconductors… chips…. World leaders from Washington to Beijing are making chip supplies a top priority… to keep factories running and ensure national security. Hundreds of billions will be spent in a plethora of sectors in coming years on a global “chip race”…. Key Coverage: Jack Ma Crackdown Casts a Chill on China’s Tech Entrepreneurs. China Revs Up Grand Chip Ambitions to Counter U.S. Blacklistings. Chip Shortage Poses a Risk to the Global Economic Recovery. By The Numbers: $28 billion, the amount TSMC plans to spend on new plants and equipment this year; 81%, share of the semiconductor foundry business controlled by Taiwan and South Korea; $61 billion, estimated lost auto-industry revenue in 2021. Why It Matters…. A handful of missing parts can close auto factories…. The U.S. is willing to choke off chip supplies to its national champions, a vulnerability that Xi Jinping and the Communist Party view as intolerable. Beijing will pour more than $100 billion into efforts to build its own domestic chip industry…. Governments and companies will clash for years to come over semiconductor supremacy…

LINK: <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/storythreads/2021-03-09/the-race-for-chip-supremacy-could-reshape-the-world>

The state of my subdiscipline:

Ran AbramitzkyEconomics & the Modern Economic Historian: ‘I reflect on the role of modern economic history in economics. I document a substantial increase in the percentage of papers devoted to economic history in the top–5 economic journals over the last few decades. I discuss how the study of the past has contributed to economics by providing ground to test economic theory, improve economic policy, understand economic mechanisms, and answer big economic questions. Recent graduates in economic history appear to have roughly similar prospects to those of other economists in the economics job market. I speculate how the increase in availability of high quality micro level historical data, the decline in costs of digitizing data, and the use of computationally intensive methods to convert large-scale qualitative information into quantitative data might transform economic history in the future…

LINK: <https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w21636/w21636.pdf>

Anne E. C. McCants: Economic History & the Historians: ‘An economics that refuses to engage with the lessons of history or to engage in a dialog about justice and values, or ethics, can go in any or all of three directions: (1) It can wish itself back to a past that never existed, at least not in the way that intellectual shortsightedness remembers it. (2) It can lose sight of the multiplicity of human interactions across varied, but always interconnected, spheres of life—political, social, aesthetic, spiritual, or communal, among others—that affect our attempts to solve specific economic problems. It can become ever-more clever in its ability to build models, test hypotheses, and manipulate data while still remaining confused or, even worse, small-minded about the ends to which its analytical efforts are geared to pursue…

Nice to see all of this intellectual evolution collected in one place;

Pablo Gabriel BortzKeynes’s Theories of the Business Cycle: Evolution and Contemporary Relevance: ‘The paper identifies six different “theories” of business fluctuations. With different theoretical frameworks in a 30-year span, the driver of fluctuations—namely cyclical changes in expectations about future returns—remained substantially the same. The banking system also played a pivotal role… financing and influencing the behavior of return expectations. There are four major changes… a) the saving–investment framework… b) the capabilities of the banking system to moderate the business cycle; c) the effectiveness of monetary policy to fine-tune the business cycle… and d) the role of a comprehensive fiscal policy and investment policy…

LINK: <http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/keyness-theories-of-the-business-cycle-evolution-and-contemporary-relevance>

Origins of the word “filibuster”: it’s not a nice word, and it never had a nice meaning:

WikipediaWilliam Walker: ‘William Walker (May 8, 1824 – September 12, 1860) was an American physician, lawyer, journalist, and mercenary who organized several private military expeditions into Mexico and Central America with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as “filibustering”. Walker usurped the presidency of Nicaragua in July 1856 and ruled until May 1, 1857, when he was forced out[2] of the presidency and the country by a coalition of Central American armies. He returned in an attempt to re-establish his control of the region and was captured and executed by the government of Honduras in 1860… 

LINK: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Walker_(filibuster)>

Hoisted from the Archives:

2017: Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes: Gains from Trade: Is Comparative Advantage the Ideology of the Comparatively Advantaged?<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCgUkfhB8Uk>:


Slides: <https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/2017-10-22-inet-edinburgh-ricardos-big-idea.pptx> <https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0QMFGpAUFCjqhdfLULfDbLE4g>

Notes: <https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/12/gains-from-trade-is-comparative-advantage-the-ideology-of-the-comparatively-advantaged.html>