#berkeley Feed

Matt O'Brien: "The funniest thing is Niall Ferguson now says he's 'going back to what I do best'. What's that, writing conspiracy theories about how inflation is 'really' 10%? Or attacking the Fed for doing its job? Or falsely saying Keynes didn't care about the long run because he was gay?..."

Paul says: "hyperinflation is coming any day now" and "minimum wages at their current levels are killing millions of jobs" are joining "there is no such thing as global warming" and "evolution is false" as destroyers of "conservatives" in academia: *Paul Krugman: "Today's column has nothing directly to do with... the puzzling failure of wages to grow faster despite what look like tight labor markets https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/04/opinion/conservative-free-speech.html...

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The wise and thoughtful Dan Nexon gets this, I think, exactly right. The question is: Why is conservatism intellectually irrelevant in many academic departments and disciplines? The propensity of prominent conservatives to try to ratf--- 20 year olds is certainly part of the problem: Dan Nexon: "This reads like an excuse for publishing an intemperate opinion-editorial in the student newspaper, not an attempt by a world-famous academic to rationalize conspiring to ratf--- an undergrad at an institution with which he is affiliated:"

Niall Ferguson: "I need to grow up and keep out of student politics, no question. But the context is important. Conservatism is on the brink of extinction in much of academia, especially in history. This isn't healthy."

A Few Notes on Higher Education in the Age of Trump: Hoisted from June 10, 2017

Hoisted: A Few Notes on Higher Education in the Age of Trump... (June 10, 2017):

I wrote http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/06/must-read-two-points-diversity-and-finding-truth-in-the-sense-of-rough-consensus-and-running-code-where-i-think-larry.html: Two points (diversity and finding truth in the sense of rough consensus and running code) where I think Larry Summers is 100% correct. One point (Charles Murray) where I think Larry is broadly right but that things are more complicated. And one point (sensitivity training) where I think Larry Summers is more wrong than right. But more on that anon. Definitely worth reading.

This is the "anon":

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Three Conservatives on Why Charles Murray's Ideas Are Bankupt in the Academic Intellectual Marketplace

Inferno Dante and Virgil among the evil counsellors and Flickr

I have never understood why "conservatives" like Niall Ferguson think that cross-burner Charles Murray is a good standard bearer for their ideas in a university setting. Is it their explicit and deliberate aim to generate counterdemonstrations and further reinforce the link between conservative ideas and white ethnicism in America today? Do they really think that yoking appeals to racial animosity, immutable "racial" differences in intelligence, and white ethnicism to their cause is a winner?

Niall Ferguson won't claim that the immutable-racial-differences arguments in Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve get it right. He will only claim that: "the sheer scale of the discussion that Murray’s work has generated would seem to argue for its importance, regardless of whether one ends up agreeing with him..." In academic speech ideas are not merely presented but evaluated. Cross-burner Murray's ideas have been evaluated by, among others, the impeccably conservative Thomas Sowell, James Heckman, and Glenn Loury. Wouldn't a proper Cardinal Conversation aimed at elevating the debate have featured one of these non-cross-burning conservatives? They would have said something like:

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Niall Ferguson and the Avoidance of Personal Responsibility: Every Accusation a Confession Department: (Early) Monday Smackdown

Inferno Dante and Virgil among the evil counsellors and Flickr

As Mitt Romney said of Niall Ferguson and company, they are: "people who... are dependent... who believe that they are victims, who believe that... they are entitled.... I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives...":

Niall Ferguson descends far into self-parody with this self-smackdown. Jonathan Healey comments:

Jonathan Healey: "Worth pointing out that it also 'might have been avoided' if you'd thought to yourself 'Hang on, a professor with a massive profile trying to find kompromat on a student is a bit off, isn't it?':

Niall Ferguson: From all of this I draw two conclusions. First, it might have been avoided if conservatives at universities did not feel so beleaguered. There is a debate about whether free speech has been restricted on American campuses in recent years. I have no doubt it has. Middle-of-the-road students live in fear that a casual remark will be deemed "offensive" or "triggering" and that social media will be unleashed to shame them. Conservative students have to keep quiet or fight a culture war in which they are hopelessly outnumbered.

The other lesson I have learn[ is that Uncle Jan was right: I do need to grow up. Student politics is best left to students. So I am putting my tweed jacket back on and retreating to my beloved study. It is time to write another book.

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David Watkins, I think, nails it: a lot of right-wingers project either what they are doing or what they wish they could do onto the left. They do not understand that we are, in fact, different from them: David Watkins: "Today in: 'every accusation a confession'... Scott Lemieux: "Did Niall 'try to ratfuck students with the temerity to disagree with me' Ferguson churn out a rote 'campus PC is the biggest threat to free speech in America' column? I think you know the answer!... https://t.co/mP1OFXkm1G

Yes, Stanford Has a Serious Intellectual Quality Problem Here: Why Do You Ask?

Yes, Stanford has a very serious quality control problem with its Hoover Institution: Brian Contreras, Ada Statler, and Courtney Douglas: Leaked emails show Hoover academic conspiring with College Republicans to conduct ‘opposition research’ on student: "Emails between the Hoover Institution’s Niall Ferguson and well-known Republican student activists John Rice-Cameron ’20 and Max Minshull ’20 reveal coordination on 'opposition research' against progressive activist Michael Ocon ’20...

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Not all conservatives are Milo. Very few conservatives are Milo, in fact: Rakesh Bhandari: "Some conservative Cal students have falsely complained that they are penalized by GSI's or Profs for their political views. One student falsely said an econ prof forced him to write in favor of open borders; another complained that he was penalized for a realism paper in IR..."

To be overly fair, it is very difficult to make an anti-open borders argument within the framework of rootless cosmopolite neoclassical economics.

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Possible Fall 2018 Schedule...

J. Bradford DeLongScheduleFall 2018   
8 AM Econ 101b Lecture Cory 277 Econ 101b Lecture Cory 277 
9 AM Econ 101b Lecture Cory 277 Econ 101b Lecture Cory 277 
10 AM Econ 101b Staff Meeting Blum 200G Open Office Hours Blum 200GHistory Thesis Writers Evans 506
11 AM   Open Office Hours Blum 200G 
NoonEconomic History 211 Lunch WFC Economics Faculty Lunch Peixotto Room History Lunch Evans 598
1 PMEconomic History 211 Lunch WFC Economics Faculty Lunch Peixotto RoomLunch: Rice and BonesHistory Lunch Evans 598
2 PMEconomic History 211 Seminar Evans 639Macro Evans 589/GPP 115/VLSB 2050Office Hours Evans 691AGPP 115/VLSB 2050 
3 PMEconomic History 211 Seminar Evans 639GPP 115/VLSB 2050 Economics Afternoon TeaGPP 115/VLSB 2050 
4 PMEconomic History 211 Coffee Yali's EastDevEng 215Departmental Seminar or  
5 PM  Departmental Faculty Meeting 

From Miles Kimball's Intermediate Macroeconomics

School of Athens

Miles Kimball: Link to Basic Resources for Intermediate Macro:

Anyone who wants to be a B student, an A student or learn even more than that should read the book Make It Stick. I can summarize the main point this way. If you want to get knowledge into long-term memory, reading and rereading won't do the trick. Your brain only puts something into long-term memory if you prove to your brain that it is worth remembering that thing by trying to remember it. So the activity of trying to remember things is the key to learning something not just for the exam tomorrow but learning it for good.

Besides telling my students what I just said in the last paragraph, the way I use this principle in my class is by treating exams primarily as learning opportunities and only secondarily as evaluation devices. Exams cause students to try to remember things. Before each of the three exams, I ask students to do over the weekend the exam from the previous year as a practice exam—under time pressure. Then I go over that practice exam carefully in the class right before the exam. After the exam, I consider the class where I go over the answers one of the most important class periods for learning.

When I write each exam, I am thinking about what I most want students to remember down the road, since I know they will remember what ended up on the exams much more than any other specific things from the class. The answers to the exam questions represent the bulk of the key ideas and some of the key skills I want the students to take away from the class...

Peter C. Brown et al. (2014): Make It Stick: "Drawing on cognitive psychology and other fields, Make It Stick offers techniques for becoming more productive learners, and cautions against study habits and practice routines that turn out to be counterproductive. The book speaks to students, teachers, trainers, athletes, and all those interested in lifelong learning and self-improvement..."

This File: http://delong.typepad.com/teaching_economics/miles-kimball-intermediate-macro.html
Edit This File: http://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00e551f08003883401b8d2c935d5970c/page/6a00e551f0800388340224df3527d6200b/edit?saved_added=n
Teaching Economics: http://delong.typepad.com/teaching_economics/contents.html

An enormous amount that I think is right here. And I bunch I think is wrong. And now I have laid down a marker that I have to write down what I think is wrong here, which I will... someday... in my copious spare time But what is right: Miles Kimball: On Teaching and Learning Macroeconomics: "Many... important ideas are missing from most macroeconomic textbooks.... Here are some... I consider so important that I teach them in class:

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Note to Self: Working on Today...:

Alma Mater Blogging...: Hoisted from the Archives from Ten Years Ago...


"How is Harvard like socialist Yugoslavia, comrade?" "I do not know: how is Harvard like socialist Yugoslavia, comrade?" "Like socialist Yugoslavia, the value of the outputs is less than the value of the input, comrade."

: Alma Mater Blogging...: Greg Mankiw's desire to move Harvard to someplace better adapted to human life than Massachusetts was triggered by:

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My real problem is that my normal daily cycle is about 23 hours. So the last hour or two before going to sleep is a zero for any purpose. So I’m always tempted to just go to bed, and hope I will have extra energy to recoup the following morning. And so I wake up too early and find myself suffering from bio rhythm upset.

I do not know what to do to get out of this—except for drinking lots of coffee in the evening. But I want to preserve the effect of coffee on my attention span for serious emergencies.

I am stuck...

Remembering Suzanne Scotchmer: Delong Morning Coffee Podcast

Photo Booth

Those of us who do digital economics owe Suzanne Scotchman a lot as we stand on her gigantic shoulders. Those of us who seek a free and equal society are deeply indebted to Suzanne along other dimensions as well...

Remembering Suzanne Scotchmer

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Notes on a Framework for Understanding Walter Benjamin: Theses on the Philosophy of History

Three approaches to history:

  1. As an image of what we should become—The study of history as a way of motivating us to recover what has been lost and return to a golden age

  2. As a linear story of human progress, leading up to us, who are either perfect as we are or are going to continue to progress into the future because the arrow of time is also the arrow of history and the arrow of progress

  3. Benjamin’s: we are the hunchback dwarf concealed out of sight inside the Mechanical Turk: we seek messianic redemption and we pull the strings of science and historical knowledge to strive for utopia. History provides us with flashes of illumination insight as we seek to carry out our messianic task.

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Intermediate Macroeconomics Review

J. Bradford DeLong
Economics and Blum Center of U.C. Berkeley, WCEG, and NBER
Revised 2018-05-01




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American Economic History: Slides for Wrap-Up Lecture...

Each time I do this I think there must be a way to do it better. But each time I fail to think of one...

Good ideas very welcome...

Here we are https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0AuVq4veo1M_lK-EXXK3kQUwg:


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Intermediate Macroeconomics: Econ 101b: Spring 2018: U.C. Berkeley: Sample Final (DRAFT)

In a sense, closed book exams have been obsolete since 1500. You could argue before 1500 that people would often find themselves in situations in which they had to produce documents and write answer is calling on nothing but what they had currently running on their own wetware. Books, after all, were very expensive. At five pages an hour, figure it would take a month to produce one copy of a book, and that is only the direct, skilled labor required.

After 1500, however closed book exams made no sense—at least not without a theory of why acting like a medieval monk would in fact teach habits of mind and thought that would help us think and write in a world where people were surrounded almost always by their notes and their libraries.

And now, of course, the young ones are never without their smartphones.

So it is time for us professors to start writing exams that test and teach habits of thought relevant for a world in which you have rapid broadband access to the entire online library of humanity at nearly every instant.

Therefore this exam is open note, open book, and open smartphone—or whatever other device you wish to bring...

Only one form of information access is prohibited: direct two-way interaction with other Turing class entities). In case you are uncertain, here are examples of five examples of Turing class entities:

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Sample In-Class Exam: American Economic History: Spring 2018


Two-sentence IDs: what is it, and why does it feature in American economic history? (exam will offer you a choice to do 10 out of 15):

  1. Caravel
  2. Cuzco
  3. DARPA
  4. Free Silver
  5. Woodrow Wilson
  6. Lowell, MA
  7. Potosi
  8. Sherman Act
  9. Smallpox
  10. Triangle trade

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Weekend Reading: Some Underrepresented Minority Perspectives on U.C. Berkeley Graduate Econ

Cursor and bradford delong com Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Weekend Reading: Trevon D Logan: On Twitter: "Great advice here. (I admit I’m biased though...)"

@DaniaFrancis: Another example of the excellence coming out of Berkeley Econ. I kick myself again.

@TrevonDLogan: I remember your visit. Andrea and I were so hoping you’d come. In the end, there are not good or bad choices but just paths. I knew you’d reach your destination no matter what!

@DaniaFrancis: Thank you! I wasn’t so sure myself, but I’m glad I did!

@KimberlyNFoster: Does anyone love their PhD program? Why is it that we only hear struggle stories from PhD students?

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Misapplied History...


I confess that I am a great fan of Applied History. Theoretical arguments and conceptual frameworks are, ultimately, nothing but distilled, crystalized, and chemically cooked history. After all, what else could they possibly be? And it is very important to know whether the distillation, crystallization, and chemical cooking processes that underpin the theory and made the conceptual frameworks were honest ones. And that can be done only by getting good historians into the mix—in a prominent and substantial way.

But if this is what "Applied History" is to be, AY-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI-YI!!!!

Niall Ferguson: Fetch the purple toga: Emperor Trump is here: "Think of Harvey Weinstein, the predator whose behaviour was for years an 'open secret' among precisely the Hollywood types who were so shrill last year in their condemnation of Donald Trump for his boasts about 'grabbing' women by the genitals...

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Econ 113: Spring 2018: Problem Set 2: Who Benefitted from Slavery? DRAFT

  1. Read this webpage: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/03/econ-113-spring-2018-problem-set-2-who-benefitted-from-slavery-draft.html
  2. Chase the link to the handout and read it: http://delong.typepad.com/slavery_cui_bono.pdf
  3. Print out and to the problem set at: http://delong.typepad.com/2018-03-05-econ-113-s-2018-ps-2-aeh.pdf

Who profited from North American slavery before the Civil War?

Ask a historian, or a political scientist, or a politician the question, “Who benefited from North American slavery?” and the answer you will probably get is, “The slaveholders, of course. The slaveholders got to work their slaves hard, pay them little, sell what they made for healthy prices, and get rich."

We economists have a different view...

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Should-Read: An oldy now, but a very goody: The treatment of human capital in this paper is inadequate: the benefits of human capital are private to the learner, which I think is wrong, and teachers in rich countries are 50 times as good at getting human capital into the brains of learners as are teachers in poor countries, which I think is wrong. Human capital largely acts as a force multiplier for physical capital. But the underlying lesson is very good: the Solow model can fit quite well if you assume capital production function parameters of a half or more: N. Gregory Mankiw, David Romer, and David Weil (1992): A CONTRIBUTION TO THE EMPIRICS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH: "This paper examines whether the Solow growth model is consistent with the international variation in the standard of living...

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(Early) Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives: Thinking Math Can Substitute for Economics Turns Economists Into Real Morons Department


The highly estimable Tim Taylor wrote:

Tim Taylor: Some Thoughts About Economic Exposition in Math and Words: "[Paul Romer's] notion that math is 'both more precise and more opaque' than words is an insight worth keeping..."

And he recommends Alfred Marshall's workflow checklist:

  1. Use mathematics as a shorthand language; rather than as an engine of inquiry.
  2. Keep to them till you have done.
  3. Translate into English.
  4. Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life.
  5. Burn the mathematics.
  6. If you can't succeed in 4, burn 3.

This is sage advice.

And to underscore the importance of this advice, I think it is time to hoist the best example I have seen in a while of people with no knowledge of the economics and no control over their models using—simple—math to be idiots: Per Krusell and Tony Smith trying and failing to criticize Thomas Piketty:

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Reading: Robert Allen (2009): The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective

Robert Allen (2009): The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective | <http://amzn.to/2mR3bKX>

Start with the mysterious "Pseudoerasmus": Random thoughts on critiques of Allen’s theory of the Industrial Revolution:

I love the work of Robert Allen... steel... the Soviet Union... English agriculture. And his little book on global economic history—is there a greater marvel of illuminating concision than that?... His point of departure is always the very concrete reasons that a firm or an industry or a country is more productive than another. I’m not rubbishing institutions or culture as explanations—I’m just saying, Allen’s virtue is to start with problems of production first. Yet I always find myself in the peculiar position of loving his work like a fan-girl and disagreeing with so much of it. In particular, I’m sceptical of his theory of the Industrial Revolution.

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Analyzing Growth: Lecture Support for Econ 113 S2018

I am going to want my American Economic History students this semester to be able to handle three sets of economic tools:

  1. Supply and demand, with the calculation of equilibrium prices and quantities, consumer and producer surplus, tax (and other) wedges, and deadweight losses

  2. Keynesian national income accounting/monetarist quantity theory, for depressions and inflationary gaps

  3. Compound growth, with doubling and thousand-fold times for constant compounding rates

So I will park the calculations file for the lecture of (3) here for convenience...


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Economics 210b: Topics in Economic History: "Great Books" Course

Cursor and bradford delong com Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Course Meeting: Tuesday @ 4 PM in Evans Hall 639

Topics (Preliminary):

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Three Books for 2017: Economics for the Common Good, Janesville, Economism

3 books

Ken Murphy asked me for three books for 2017. Mine are: Amy Goldstein: Janesville: An American Story, Jean Tirole: Economics for the Common Good, and James Kwak: Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality:

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Economics as a Professional Vocation

Real GDP Growth Rate

Should-Read: The very sharp Binyamin Applebaum had an interesting rant yesterday: Binyamin Applebaum: @BCAppelbaum on Twitter: "I am not sure there is a defensible case for the discipline of macroeconomics if they can’t at least agree on the ground rules for evaluating tax policy...

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Technocracy at Bay: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

Alice Rivlin

Project Syndicate: Keeping US Policymaking Honest: Last month here at Berkeley I heard great optimism from the illustrious Alice Rivlin. What “technocracy” in the good sense the United States has—what respect is paid to sound analysis and empirical evidence in the making of policy—is due more to Alice Rivlin than to any other living human.

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Madmen in the Attic: Hoisted from the Archives from 2006


No, this is not about Martin Peretz...

2006: Madmen in the Attic...: Here Mark Thoma watches Tony Giddens in the Guardian discourse on conditions for a 'revival of sociology.' I listen for a while, and then I want to sidle quietly away before I am noticed:

Economist's View: Did Economics Crowd Out Sociology?: A call to arms, by Anthony Giddens, Commentary, The Guardian:

All you sociologists out there! All you ex-students of sociology! All of you (if there are such people) who are simply interested in sociology and its future! I'd like to hear from you. We live in a world of extraordinary change, in everyday life, family relationships, politics, communications and in global society. We are witnessing, among other things, a return of the gods, as religion re-emerges as a major force in our societies, locally and on a worldwide level.... [W]hy isn't sociology again right at the forefront of intellectual life and public debate?...

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Six Faces of Right-Wing Chain-Forging Economist James Buchanan...

Six Faces of Right-Wing Chain-Forging Economist James Buchanan...

Massive Resistance

Steven Teles inquired why I liked Will Wilkinson's essay How Libertarian Democracy Skepticism Infected the American Right much more than I liked Henry Farrell and Steven Teles's essays When Politics Drives Scholarship and Even the intellectual left is drawn to conspiracy theories about the right. Resist them as takes on Nancy McLean's Democracy in Chains http://amzn.to/2zKJygv...

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A Question I Will Not Have Time to Ask Alice Rivlin This Afternoon...


Alice Rivlin is speaking this afternoon at Berkeley's GSPP in honor of John Ellwood's retirement on EVIDENCE AND POLICY ANALYSIS IN THE AGE OF FAKE NEWS. A question I will not have time to ask:

Alice, I listen to you, and I think of Irving Kristol, who explained his “rather cavalier attitude” to technocratic questions of what economic policies would actually do thus:

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