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12.2.1-6. Lectures: Neoliberalism's Bankruptcy :: Econ 115 F 2020



12.2.1. East Asia’s Miracles 22.00 min
12.2.2. China Stands Up 9.00 min
12.2.3. How Do We Think About the State’s Role Here? 10.75 min
12.2.4. The Business Cycle Background 10.75 min
12.2.5. The Coming of the Near-Second Great Depression: 2001–2009 21.75 min
12.2.6. Where Did the Regulators & Macroeconomic Managers Go? 9.75 min

1:32.00 of audio…



12.2.7. Zoom Lecture & Q&A https://berkeley.zoom.us/j/94569606763?pwd=VjBPSU5DOVlqUkVQZVJuLzVMTDlMdz09

12.2.0. Neoliberalism’t Bankruptcy 8.00 min https://share.mmhmm.app/e38d4f2886064bd089de73ba73d450e7 https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0cSW4RyldJX6TkrqjBSNs2y3g https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/11/1220-intro-video-neoliberalisms-bankruptcy-econ-115-f-2020.html https://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00e551f08003883400e551f080068834/post/6a00e551f080038834026bdea966df200c/edit

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9.2.0. Intro Video: Glorious Post-WWII Years in the Global North: Equitable Growth & Inclusion: Econ 115

Interactive Video: https://share.mmhmm.app/ed6bb654a1bb406394e149ce53ecbbd4


1268 words
11:00 minutes

.#economicgrowth #economichistory #highlighted #slouchingtowardsutopia #socialdemocracy #thirtygloriousyears #2020-11-03

Introductory Video for Fall 2020 Instantiation of Econ 115 Module 9: Post-WWII Glorious Years of Equitable Growth & Inclusion in the Global North



As of 1945, there was not that many grounds for optimism, as far as the world economy and the world political economy were concerned.

The greater totalitarianism had been squashed. The lesser was flourishing. It used the blood of the Russian people spilled fighting Nazism over 1941 to 1945 as a powerful source of legitimating energy—never mind the active and eager collaboration of Stalin and his acolytes with Hitler whenever it had seemed to be to their even momentary advantage.

Market economies continued to fail to deliver Polanyian rights. Their ability to even deliver economic growth at all had been cast in the grave doubt by the Great Depression. As for democratic parliamentary politics—it could still be easily dismissed as a swamp that needed to be drained.

Yet 1940-1980 saw the victory and secure establishment of the market-heavy mixed economy as an engine for delivering unprecedented economic growth in the global north. It also saw the overwhelming victory of parliamentary democracy as a system that could generate good economic management and also increasing human freedom. And it saw the world system deliver independence and somewhat increasing prosperity, if neither democracy nor economic convergence, to the global south.

  • In the G7 nations, 1870 to 1913 had delivered average measured real-income growth of 1.4% per year, albeit unequally distributed.

  • That fell over 1913 to 1938 to 0.7% per year.

  • But then 1938 to 1973 saw growth at 3.0% per year, catching up to and leaping ahead of what a continuation of pre-1913 trends would have forecast.

Why did things go so right? And why, given that things went so right up through the 1970s, was that system of mixed-economy social democracy rejected for one of neoliberalism after 1980?

  • Some of it was that Keynes was at least half right, and his technical and technocratic adjustments to economic management did a great deal of good.

  • Some of it was that the disasters of 1913 to 1938 and the disaster on the other side of the iron curtain that was really-existing socialism that might move west—and east—concentrated everybody’s mind on making an imperfect system work.

  • Some of it was that the backlog of potential innovations undeployed over 1913 to 1938 made growth easy

  • Much of it was that with strong and equitable growth the market economies’ failure to vindicate Polanyian rights no longer seemed so salient

  • Some of it was that social insurance systems did, to some extent, manage to vindicate Polanyian rights

  • And much of it was that the plutocrats and the rightists had lost their nerve, after the disasters that their attempts to suppress labor organizations and political majorities had generated

But why then did things fall apart in 1980?

Keep that question in the back of your minds.

In addition to strong economic growth that was equitable, in the sense of being divided across economic classes rather than hogged by one, there was the increase in human freedom.

The equitable growth of 1938 to 1980 stopped afterwards in the age of neoliberalism. But the forward march of inclusion has continued.

Inclusion of people as first-class citizens. Who are the first-class citizens of the civilization that we define as the one in which the Anglo-Saxon language is the lingua franca—the tongue spoken by free people? At the start, in the days of Leader Elf-Wisdom of the west branch of the knife-guys—King Alfred of Wessex—it was his own landholding trained-warrior male-Saxon thains. But even in Alfred’s day, he was reaching to include others, and not just other branches of the Saxon tribe. Alfred called his expanded kingdom “England”, after the name of the neighboring tribe of the Angles that he wanted to include as well.

And as history passes it becomes the English, and then the British—but, remember, the WOGS—the worthy oriental gentlemen—begin as soon as you cross the English Channel and set foot on the European continent at the port of Calais.

There are still those who hold to that. England, if not Great Britain, is still in its majority in support of its ruler Boris Johnson. Boris at least claims to believe that the most important thing is to keep England pure from European pollution. (You are not supposed to remember his full name: Alexander Boris de Pfefle Johnson. Alexander is Greek. Boris is Russian. The de is French. The Pfeffel is German. The Johnson is Welsh, half Keltic, not fully Saxon. If you trace his male line of descent, it goes back not to the Saxons or the Vikings but rather a Turkish nomads who came boiling out of Kazakhstan in days gone bye.)

But I digress.

From male, British, and upper-class, the set of “gentlemen” expands. It expands to include the middle-class males who have good manners. And then Anglo-Saxon is expanded to include by courtesy others of Northern European stock who walk the walk. By the time of Teddy Roosevelt it is anyone white, or mostly white, who is willing to behave like a male Anglo-Saxon Puritan—children of the Mayflower by adoption as well as by birth. And Teddy Roosevelt still believed in the Republican parties historical obligation for the freedom and uplift of African-Americans. He was swimming against the tide of the American power structure of his day. But he was swimming.

And working class people are people.

And women became people too.

Next: America is a Protestant nation.

With the coming of World War II and the strong need to rally everyone against Nazism, and then with the coming of the age of social democracy, the progress of full inclusion speeds up.

Then: America is a Christian nation. Then: America is a Judeo-Christian nation. Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower says: “It is very important that an American have a strong faith and I don’t care what”.

Jimmy Carter as president in the 1960s talks about the “Abrahamic” faiths, bringing Muslims into the religious circle of inclusion. But that does not seem to stick.

Women become full people. Freedom is redefined so that your freedom does not include the right to discriminate against African-Americans in public accommodations. Who people love or choose to be in their private lives becomes “not your business” as well.

But Senator Rand Paul still believes in his heart of hearts that it does. Only the fact that it is not electorally wise to say that out loud, even in Kentucky, keeps him quiet now. And every year Fox News and company try to remove the Judeo- from “Judeo-Christian nation” and roll back inclusion by demanding an end to the “war on Christmas”.

We know where we are supposed to be now: equal opportunity as a goal, rather than a joke; tolerance and celebration of our diversity because trapping yourself in one point of view is going to makes you stupid and narrow.

We are not there yet.

The cultural DNA of the global north today is still roughly 50% from the North-Atlantic Anglo-Saxons of the Victorian era.

But this is a civilization in which people are less limited by what their parents happenned to look like and be than any previous one.

A story to inspire. But not a story to make us comfortable about where we are right now.

1268 words 11.00 minutes

The Great Depression in Context: The World Economy in the 20th Century: Module 5 Intro Video

Link to Interactive Recording: https://share.mmhmm.app/674d81473029474195eb45ef0445a2c3 5:37

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3.1. Imperialism & Colonized || Required Readings || Econ 115 || complete by We 2020-09-23

Prefatory note: In addition to chapter 6—Imperialism & Colonized—of the DeLong draft, the assigned reading this week contains two short pieces, selections from books.


The first reading is 19 pages from W. Arthur Lewis's 1977 book The Evolution of the International Economic Order. The 19 pages assigned cover Lewis's story of:

  • the division of the world as a result of 1870 to 1914 globalization into middle class farmers in the global north and poor farmers in the global south,
  • how cumulative processes amplified this difference by concentrating manufacturing with its powerful positive externalities for growth in the global north,
  • how global market fluctuations and depressions further hindered the prospects for growth of countries that were not lucky enough to find themselves in or elbow themselves into the charmed circle,
  • and Lewis’s one-page postscript that provides—from his late 1970s perspective—his list of practical and politically feasible action items to boost global south development.

Focus on Lewis’s major point: that it did not take bad will or large-scale theft and violence (although large-theft and violence there was) for the globalization that brought world trade and colonial rule to serve as a global inequality amplifier: the simple competitive workings of the market did that all on its own, and that outcome of the division of the world into the global north and global south was “efficient”, as economists use that word.


The second reading is 15 pages from Chinua Achebe’s 1958 novel Things Fall Apart, about the coming of colonialism to the Igbo people of what is now Nigeria. You should all, sometime, read this novel entire—indeed, I suspect that about half of you already have. The portion assigned is the end of the book: from protagonist Okonkwo’s return to his patriarchal-line community from exile to his death by suicide, as accident and conquest by the British colonial masters deprive him of the life he wanted to live, and he cannot find a way through. This is so even as others adjust to the New Dispensation:

The white man had indeed brought a lunatic religion, but he had also built a trading store and for the first time palm-oil and kernel became things of great price, and much money flowed into Umuofia…

Achebe firmly keeps the camera in the book on Okonkwo, but if you look at the margins of the scenes you can see how others react very differently to the inversion of authority and the creation of various kinds of opportunity that global trade, communication, ideas diffusion, and colonial rule bring. How would a novel about one of the other characters be different?

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Themes | Lecture

When do I say the Long 20th Century really started? 1870. Why then? The third modern watershed—the third step-up in the global pace of economic growth—globalization, and the start of the American century. When do I say the Long 20th Century really ended? 2016. Why then? Four reasons: (1) end of the American century, (2) slowdown in global-north growth, (3) failures of economic management, (4) revival of what we now call neo-fascism as a challenge to liberal democracy...

Quantities: What was the typical human standard of living back in 1870? Perhaps $4/day—$1300/year. What is the typical human standard of living today? Perhaps $35/day—$12000/year. Is there a "typical" human standard of living today? Maybe not: global inequality is much greater than it was in 1870, and even more so in 1800. A global north of 800 million with a typical standard of living of $50000/year—$150/day; a global south of 6.8 billion with a typical standard of living of $7000/year—$20/day Is the world today a utopia? Definitely not… Is greater San Francisco today a utopia? What do you think?

Grand Narrative


21:00 of audio


Inequality & Humanity


14:00 of audio


What Has Gone Badly Wrong?


15:30 of audio

  Slouching Towards Utopia?


4:30 of audio

.#berkeley #economichistory #highlighted #lectures #tceh #themes #2020-08-30

Lectures: Left- & Right-Wing Alternatives to þe ‘Classical Liberal’ Order

6.3.1. Alternatives to the ‘Classical Liberal’ Order: Really-Existing Socialism



6.3.2. The Rule of Josef Stalin



6.3.3. Fascism



6.3.4. Naziism



6.3.5. How Many Species of Anti-Democratic Totalitarian Movements?


.#berkeley #economichistory #lectures #tceh #2020-08-28

Brief Procrastinatory Thoughts on American Slavery, Power & Economists' Rhetoric—Highlighted

When the very sharp Eric Hilt writes of "Fogel and Engerman’s analysis of slavery as...brutal but efficient", I wince. "Efficiency" is an engineering term, meaning: achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. A steam boiler powering the lifting of ore out of a mine that converts only 55% of the stored chemical energy in the coal burned into the extra gravitational potential energy of the ore is 55% efficient. The other 45% of the energy is waste heat. An efficient process is one that produced little waste. In striking contrast with an efficient engine that produces little in the way of waste products, slavery produced enormous amounts of waste: death, family separation, pain, overwork, imprisonment, unfreedom. You can call slavery "brutal, but effective in producing profits for the slavelords", and I will not quarrel: that is very true. But please don't call slavery "efficient". To do so makes a normal person think that you are an empathyless moron, or neo-Confederate-adjacent.

OK. So why does Eric Hilt, who is neither an empathyless moron nor Neo-Confederate-adjacent approvingly cite Fogel and Engerman for their "analysis of slavery as... brutal but efficient"? Because economists redefined "efficient" in a particular way. Economists called a situation "efficient" in which there were no uncompleted win-win market exchanges of commodities for money. And, indeed in slavery, there were no uncompleted win-win market exchanges of commodities for money. American slaves (in contrast to at least some Roman slaves) had no chance or opportunity to buy their freedom. So it was efficient. American slavery would only have been inefficient if masters could have (a) freed their slaves, (b) charged them a market rent for their farms, and (c) collected more in rent than they had previously extracted at the point of the lash.

Now Adam Smith thought that that was in fact the case:

The pride of man makes him love to domineer, and nothing mortifies him so much as to be obliged to condescend to persuade his inferiors. Wherever the law allows it, and the nature of the work can afford it, therefore, he will generally prefer the service of slaves to that of freemen.... The profits of a sugar plantation... are generally much greater than those of any other... and the profits of a tobacco plantation, though inferior to those of sugar, are superior to those of corn.... Both can afford the expense of slave cultivation but sugar can afford it still better than tobacco...

I always thought that Fogel and Engerman, in arguing that American slavery was "efficient", were in fact arguing against neo-Confederate-adjacents who lamented the "tragedy" of the Civil War. Their adversaries had thought that what the South needed was not Sherman commanding Thomas and his Army of the Cumberland, Schofield and his Army of the Ohio, and McPherson and his Army of the Tennessee, but rather forebearance and persuasion. That would, in the minds of these adversaries, lead to the diffusion of commercial values into the south, and then the slavelords would realize that they could make more money by going full-throttle toward the market economy, freeing their slaves, and becoming normal landlords than by the continuation of their neo-feudal fantasies.

Adam Smith (and those who followed him in seeing slavery as an expensive luxury chosen only by a ruling class in love with its image of itself as made up of dominating masters) were, I think, wrong—and the work done in Time on the Cross is a good part of what, I think, demonstrates that they were wrong.

But there is still this problem with the word "efficiency". It would be innocuous if you were talking only to economists. It would be innocuous if you wrote, instead "efficiency-in-economese". But writing that slavery is "efficient" when your audience includes any people who are in any way not full-fledged economists expecting you to speak in economese conveys the false message that American slavery was not very wasteful. And yet what is the destruction of humans' autonomous lives that is the core of slavery as an institution and practice but immense waste?

Eric Hilt: Slavery, Power and Cliometrics: A Brief Comment on Rosenthal https://economic-historian.com/2020/08/slavery-power-and-cliometrics/: ‘Rather than attempt to comment on all of Rosenthal’s paper, here I would like discuss some insights from the literature on Time on the Cross that relate to some parts of it.... Fogel and Engerman’s analysis of slavery as a brutal but efficient labor system clearly has echoes in some of the new books by historians on slavery...

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Fall 2020: Virtual Economic History Seminar—Noted

Virtual Economic History Seminar https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/crei/virhist: 'Following the Spring 2020 seminars co-organised by Petra Moser, Katherine Eriksson and Melissa Thomasson, we will continue meeting on Mondays 11-noon Vancouver / 2-3pm Washington DC / 7-8pm London.... Co-organised with Bitsy Perlman and Felipe Valencia Caicedo… .#economichistory #noted #remoteinstruction #2020-08-11

Abigail Smith Adams—Lecture Slides

Reading her letter of 31 Mar-05 Apr 1776 https://tinyurl.com/dl20180226a to her 10 years-older husband John Adams, and parsing out what it tells us about the liberties and constraints of an upper-class woman in the pre-industrial pre-demographic transition commercial revolution age:




.#demography #economichistory #feminism #highlighted #teachingeconomics #teachinghistory #2020-07-22
html https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/abigail-smith-adamslecture-slides.html
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A Grand Narrative Catechism: The Global Economic History of the Long 20th Century, 1870-2016


What does DeLong see as the proper temporal boundaries of the “Long 20th Century”?
The Long 20th Century began around 1870, when the triple emergence of globalization, the industrial research lab, and the modern corporation in the context of the market economy set the world on the path that pulled it out of the dire poverty that was humanity’s lot in all centuries before; and when America took the steps that made it the place where much of the action was—“the furnace where the future is forged”, to quote Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky. The Long Twentieth Century ended in 2016, with the sharp shock of the near-return of Great Depression-era macroeconomic conditions, with the failure of the anemic economic recovery from the Great Recession that started in 2008 to bring a restoration of the post-1870 normal pace of productivity growth; and with the election of Donald Trump, an American president hostile to global leadership, to global cooperation, and to the very ideas that America was open to immigrants.

.#berkeley #econ115 #economichistory #highlighted #slouchingtowardsutopia #tceh #teaching #teachingeconomics #teachinghistory #2020-07-08
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Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?

Brad DeLong: Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?: Your parents’—more likely your grandparents’—Great Depression opened with the then-biggest-ever stock market crash, continued with the largest-ever sustained decline in GDP, and ended with a near-decade of subnormal production and employment. Yet 11 years after the 1929 crash, national income per worker was 10 percent above its 1929 level. The next year, 12 years after, it was 28 percent above its 1929 level. The economy had fully recovered. And then came the boom of World War II, followed by the “thirty glorious years” of post-World War II prosperity. The Great Depression was a nightmare. But the economy then woke up—and it was not haunted thereafter. Our “Great Recession” opened in 2007 with what appeared to be a containable financial crisis. The economy subsequently danced on a knife-edge of instability for a year. Then came the crash — in stock market values, employment and GDP. The experience of the Great Depression, however, gave policymakers the knowledge and running room to keep our depression-in-the-making an order of magnitude less severe than the Great Depression. That’s all true. But it’s not the whole story. The Great Recession has cast a very large shadow on America’s future prosperity. We are still haunted by it... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Note to Self: Pre-Kameron Hurley Uses of the Phrase "Women, Cattle, & Slaves"

Hurley wc s

Note to Self: Pre-Kameron Hurley uses of the phrase "women, cattle, & slaves":

Alexina Mackay Harrison: The Story of the Life of Mackay of Uganda: Pioneer Missionary https://books.google.com/books?id=Xe0-AAAAIAAJ...
Dwayne Woods: Bringing Geography Back In: Civilizations, Wealth, and Poverty https://www-jstor-org.libproxy.berkeley.edu/stable/pdf/3186574.pdf...
David Robinson: Sources of the African Past https://books.google.com/books?id=coGJBAAAQBAJ...
Jeffrey Herbst: States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control https://books.google.com/books?id=4Ed-BAAAQBAJ...
Alison Jolly: Lords and Lemurs: Mad Scientists, Kings with Spears, and the Survival of Diversity in Madagascar https://books.google.com/books?id=PtE3C_mUzCUC...

& Kameron Hurley (2013): 'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative http://aidanmoher.com/blog/featured-article/2013/05/we-have-always-fought-challenging-the-women-cattle-and-slaves-narrative-by-kameron-hurley/

.#books #economichistory #inequality #notetoself #2020-06-25

Note to Self: Slavery Course Topics

Emily Eisner asked me: What would you teach if you were to teach an entire course on slavery and the shadows it cast? So I dusted out my "unfreedom" file from the "courses I have never taught" box, & updated the topics:


Ancient & medieval slavery & serfdom

  1. Hierarchy and patriarchy to 1000 BC
    • Inequality, slavery & the poisoned chalice of agriculture
    • Horses, wheels, chariots, & nobles
    • High patriarchy & polygyny
  2. Slavery and serfdom in the early classical world
    • Managing the household
    • “Slaves by nature”
    • Slavery & empires
  3. Inequality, domination, and the market in the classical efflorescences
    • War booty
    • Plantation & mine slavery
    • Slaves “skilled in literature & music”
  4. Did slavery prevent a Hellenistic or Roman industrial revolution?
    • Gaining wealth and power in the classical world
    • Merchants, princes, & oligarchs
    • Culture & work: keeping your hands clean & getting them dirty
  5. From slavery to serfdom: late antiquity & after
    • Manumission & its opposite
    • Honestiores & humiliores
    • Barbarians, thralls, knights, & raids
    • High feudalism
  6. Slave raids & slave trades in the Old World 500-1500
    • Slaves from Ireland, England, & Russia
    • Slaves from France, Italy, Ukraine, & the Caucasus
    • Slaves from Africa
  7. Slaves on horses
    • The creation of Islamic polities
    • Sultans, amirs, clans, & slaves
    • Eunuchs & households
    • Mamelukes & janissaries
  8. The Black Death & the end of the first serfdom, 1300-1600
    • Serfdom on the eve in 1345
    • The class struggle in western Europe
    • Ending feudal tenures & privileges
  9. The Commercial Revolution & the coming of the second serfdom, 1300-1900
    • Cash crops & domination
    • Nobles, czars, & cossacks
    • Ending serfdom in eastern Europe
  10. Conquistadores & enslaving Amerindians
    • Genocide
    • Forced labor
    • Long-term political-economy consequences for Latin America


Modern & capitalist slavery

  1. The Atlantic slave trade, 1500-1780
    • Guns in Africa
    • Sugar islands and the middle passage
    • Calories & luxuries to Britain & elsewhere
  2. Slavery & cotton
    • Who profited from cotton slavery?
    • Westward expansion & the Slavepower
    • The financial calculus of emancipation
  3. Consequences of slavery for Africa
    • The political economy of African slave trades
    • Nathan Nunn’s correlations
    • African growth retardation
  4. Modes of New World slavery
    • “Like a poor third cousin”
    • Industrial & craft slavery
    • Plantation slavery under the slave trade
    • Plantation slavery after the slave trade
    • Selling people south and west
  5. The political & moral economy of a slave society
    • Thomas Jefferson
    • Cassius Clay
    • Roger B. Taney
    • Jefferson Davis
    • Abraham Lincoln


Post-slavery North American “herrenvolk” democracy

  1. Abolitionism, abolition, & “reconstruction” 1820-1880
    • The Selling of Joseph & Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • Wartime “necessity”
    • 40 acres & a mule—not
  2. Jim Crow 1865-2020
    • The corrupt bargain of 1876
    • “Separate but equal”
    • Disenfranchisement & disempowerment
  3. “Race science” & eugenicism 1850-2020
    • “Survival of the fittest”
    • “Improving the race”
    • The need to believe in racial hierarchies
  4. Civil rights 1920-2020
    • The appeal to American ideals
    • The opportunity of 1965
    • The corruption of the Republican Party
  5. The Great Migration & the Great Redlining 1920-2020
    • Other immigrant ghettoes in America
    • How the Black inner city was different
    • Long-term consequences of the great redlining
  6. Mass incarceration & policing
    • White fear & flight
    • Crack & incarceration
    • “Aggressive policing” & Black Lives Matter
  7. The “declining significance of race”? 1970-2020
    • Roads to upward mobility
    • The coming of the second gilded age
    • The mockery of "equal opportunity"


Other dimensions of unfreedom

  1. Master & servant
    • The duties of a servant
    • The duties of an employee
    • Employer monopsony power
  2. The arrival of modern feminism
    • Being female in the agrarian age not for sissies
    • Eating for two & “women’s work”
    • The demographic transition
    • Institutions & opportunities
    • Gender & identity
  3. Wage slavery
    • Marx’s vision
    • Forcing people to enslave themselves
    • The Polanyian view of the market
  4. Gilded ages
    • “I can hire half the working class to shoot the other half”
    • Pinkertons & porters
    • Mass media & the public sphere
    • Monopoly capitalism

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Note to Self: Francois Velde on Economic Effects of Spanish Flu: European Macro History Online Seminar

Note to Self: "European Macro History Online Seminar: session 1" will begin in 1 hour on: Date Time: Apr 21, 2020 04:00 PM Paris: Francois Velde on economic effects of Spanish Flu:


Employment in the Spanish Flu


The Early Amazon Effect: Mail-Order Retail in the Spanish Flu

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Lecture Notes: East Asian Miracles

4149 words: https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/lecture-east-asia-text.pdf

East Asia was on the downside of the Malthusian cycle when western Europe erupted into the eastern Pacific in the 1800s: populous, with many ingenious and efficient non-machine technologies for squeezing output out of very limited resources, but desperately poor. “The West” brought machine technologies and the global market. It also brought a measure of contempt for east Asia. Nearly all western observers thought the idea that the Mysterious East might catch up to the north Atlantic in any reasonable historical timeframe was absolutely ludicrous.

Malthusian poverty meant no domestic middle-class to demand domestic manufactures, and productivity levels in Asia were hopeless as far as manufactured exports were concerned. The military and political power gradient vis-à-vis the north Atlantic meant no ability to impose tariffs, even had a domestic middle class on whose demand one might be able to build a community of engineering practice and progress existed. The lack of a powerful domestic bourgeoisie meant rule by princes for whom broad-based economic growth was simply not a priority. And in general a “Confucian” religious orientation meant that right moral attitude was more important than the rationalization of techniques and methods.

As Melissa Dale says: If we were sitting here in the 1950s, we would not have predicted anything like east Asia’s miracles.

Yet we have had four: first the early industrialization of Japan, then the extraordinary drive of Japan to global north status from 1950 to 1975, then the four east Asian tigers, and now coastal China.

All that surprises...

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The Pattern of Normal Politics, 1870-1914: An Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long 20th Century, 1870-2016"

Il Quarto Stato

Left-wing avowedly socialist—parties in pre-World War I Europe wanted, for the present, only weak tea. The Socialist Party of Germany’s Erfurt and Gotha programs seek things like: universal male and female suffrage; the secret ballot, proportional representation and an end to gerrymandering; annual government budgets; elected local administrators and judges; the right to bear arms; free public schools and colleges; free legal assistance; abolition of the death penalty; free medical care including midwifery; public burial insurance; progressive income and property taxes; a progressive inheritance tax; a 36-hour minimum weekend; an occupational safety and health administration; equal status for domestic and agricultural workers; and a national takeover of unemployment and disability insurance “with decisive participation by the workers in its administration”. Rather white bread, no? Even their declared intention that:

the German Social Democratic Party… fights… every manner of exploitation and oppression, whether directed against a class, party, sex, or race...

would raise few eyebrows today, in western Europe at least.

But there was also:

  • “By every lawful means to bring about a free state and a socialistic society, to effect the destruction of the iron law of wages by doing away with the system of wage labor…”
  • “The transformation of the capitalist private ownership of the means of production—land and soil, pits and mines, raw materials, tools, machines, means of transportation—into social property and the transformation of the production of goods into socialist production carried on by and for society…”
  • “This… emancipation… [is] of the entire human race…. But it can only be the work of the working class, because all other classes… have as their common goal the preservation of the foundations of contemporary society…”

There was a tension here.

Continue reading "The Pattern of Normal Politics, 1870-1914: An Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long 20th Century, 1870-2016"" »

Lecture Notes: The Rise of Socialism, -350 to 1917

Let us talk about the rise of socialism, as background to the rise of really existing socialism—the system that lived behind what Winston Churchill called the Iron Curtain from 1917-1991, that shook the world, and that in the end turned out to be far, far, far from the brightest light on the tree of humanity’s good ideas.

Let us very briefly race through history—moral, intellectual, political, and social—from the year -350 to the year 1917, when Lenin and his Bolshevik Communist Party staged their coup in Russia.

There was a profound shift from the belief in “divine right” and “natural order” as the fundamental grounding for an unequal society to enlightenment values—that human institutions should be rationally designed on the basis of a rational understanding of human psychology in order to attain the greatest good of the greatest number, and thus that inequality is not given by the gods or by the requirements of nature, but rather is a thing to be allowed to the extent that it incentivizes cooperation and industry and thus enriches us all.

Back in the century of the -300s, Aristotle had taken it for granted that a good society was only possible if the society allowed for philosophy. And philosophy was only possible if you had a leisured upper class. And a leisured upper class was possible only with large scale-unfree labor—serfdom, or its harsher cousin slavery. Thus it was and thus it would always, be unless and until humans obtained the fantasy technologies of the mythical Golden Age...



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Lecture Notes: The Development of Underdevelopment and W. Arthur Lewis

3086 words https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/lecture-inequality-text.pdf

The large populations and low levels of material wealth and agricultural productivity in China and India checked the growth of wages. Workers could be cheaply imported and employed at wages not that far above the physical subsistence level. Low wage costs meant that commodities produced in countries open to Asian immigration were relatively cheap. And competition from the Malaysian rubber plantations checked growth and even pushed down wages of the Brazilian rubber tappers as well. The late nineteenth century saw living standards and wage rates become and remain relatively low (although higher than in China and India) throughout the regions that were to come to be called the third world. And as wages in economies that were to become the global periphery were checked, the prospects for having a rich-enough middle class to provide demand for a strong domestic industrial sector ebbed rapidly.

As a result, the chain of causation went thus:

  • The openness of some places where tropical goods could be produced to migration from China and India pushed down their prices in world markets.
  • Low prices in the world markets meant low wages everywhere tropical goods were produced.
  • Low wages meant no prosperous middle-class anywhere tropical goods were produced.
  • No prosperous middle-class meant no mass domestic demand for manufactures.
  • No domestic demand for manufactures meant no chance of starting industrialization.
  • No chance of starting industrialization meant no building a community of engineering practice.
  • No community of engineering practice meant no taking the next step and advancing in industrialization.
  • No advancing in industrialization meant no walking onto the escalator to modernity and prosperity.

That, in a nutshell, is the story of the relative underdevelopment of the global south. It was not that globalization left the global south alone in the years before World War I. It was that globalization put it on a road that made its industrialization more difficult, even though the openness of world markets made it more prosperous in that pre-World war I half century seen rightly as a global El Dorado.

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Economic Growth in Historical Comparative Perspective: Assignment 8: Economic Growth in Historical Perspective

Econ 135: Assignment 8: Character of Modern Economic Growth Paper https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/economic-growth-in-historical-comparative-perspective-assignment-8-economic-growth-in-historical-perspective.html: Explain, in about 500 words, how the character of modern economic growth as it has been seen in the world since 1870 differs from economic growth—or not-growth—in previous eras since the invention of agriculture. Upload your short essay to this webpage. Submitting: a text entry box. Due Apr 8 at 11:59pm...

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Lecture Notes: Inequality

14487 words https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/lecture-inequality-text.pdf

Philosophers, of course, if there are any in the audience here, will have winced by now. Perhaps they will have done more than winced—although I did not see any philosophers rise and run, screaming, from the room.

I have drawn strong conclusions about how high and important a priority reducing inequality should be for making a good society by being a bad philosopher. Philosophers would presumably say that I should first be a good philosopher. They would say that only after having reached good philosophical conclusions should I then use those conclusions as a springboard to derive “oughts” for political economy.

The problem, of course, is that there is no agreement on what the good philosophical conclusions are.

I maintain that my bad philosophy is a very useful middle ground. I draw conclusions for society from it. As you decide on what your view of good philosophy is, you move from my bad philosophy to yours, and that movement will carry with it a move of your political economy conclusions from the baseline I have established to those that you will think best. You will start with my conclusions, and adjust them in light of the difference between my bad and your good moral philosophy. My bad philosophy thus provides you with a convenient basecamp from which you—with your good philosophy—can begin your climb of the mountain of truth...

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1919: Inevitability and Chance: A Teaser for "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century"

stacks and stacks of books

From 1870-1914 we can see global economic history as by-and-large following a logic that was if not inevitable at least probable, or explicable after the fact. Luck and probability gave humanity an opening around 1870 in the form of a quintuple breakthrough: the ideology and policy of an open world, the transportation breakthrough, the communications breakthrough, and—most important the coming of the research laboratory plus the large corporation to to more than double the pace of invention and greatly speed the deployment of new technologies. Thereafter to 1914 the economic logic rolled forward: the idea of invention, the specialization of inventors, the deployment of technology in corporations trade, the international division of labor, and global growth (but also the creation of a low-wage periphery, and the concentration of industrialization of wealth in what is still the global north); the beginnings of the demographic transition that curbed the tendency for technological progress to be nearly entirely eaten up by greater numbers; the shift of work from farm to factory; and the coming of sufficient (if ill-distributed) prosperity. These all raised the possibility that someday, not that far away, humanity, in the rich economies of the global north at least, might attain something that previous eras would have judged to be a genuine utopia.

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Study Questions: Pre-Commercial Revolution Economies

Study Questions for the History of Economic Growth: For Midterm 1: Econ 135

  1. Explain in words what the steady-state balanced-growth path Solow-Malthus equilibrium equation for real living standards https://delong.typepad.com/.a/6a00e551f0800388340240a50c1a9a200b-pi tells us about what the level of income will be in a Malthusian society.
  2. Explain in words what the steady-state balanced-growth path Solow-Malthus equilibrium equation for the level of population https://delong.typepad.com/.a/6a00e551f0800388340240a50c1aa8200b-pi tells us about what the level of population will be in a Malthusian society.
  3. What do you think are the three most reasons not to take the Solow-Malthus model as gospel in understanding pre-Industrial Revolution economic growth—and its absence?
  4. What are three data sources that economic historians rely on to try to get a handle on the pace of economic growth in pre-modern times?
  5. Why did average incomes and prosperity levels remain so low back before the year 1500?
  6. What were the most important changes that made the Industrial Revolution possible?
  7. Where and when did the Industrial Revolution take place?
  8. What theory about why the Industrial Revolution happened when and where it did do you find most attractive?
  9. What are the limitations of and problems with the theory that you find most attractive about why the Industrial Revolution happened when and where it did?
  10. Were income and standards of living under the Roman Empire subject to Malthusian constraints?
  11. How, so far in this course, has the concept of economic class been important in shedding light on understanding processes of economic growth?
  12. Based on what we have covered in this course so far, what do you expect to see in economic growth in the world economy over the next 50, 100, and 1000 years?
  13. In the Solow growth model, what are the important determinants of prosperity in the sense of income per worker, and how do those determinants interact?
  14. Why is Michael Kremer's (and Paul Romer's, and Jared Diamond's) theory of growth—that much of economic growth can be explained by the facts that ideas are non-rival and that two heads are better than one—attractive?
  15. Why is Michael Kremer's (and Paul Romer's, and Jared Diamond's) theory of growth—that much of economic growth can be explained by the facts that ideas are non-rival and that two heads are better than one—inadequate?
  16. Why is it probably wrong to suppose that humanity's effective effort at innovation and technology development at any point in time is proportional to the human population then?
  17. What kinds of innovative effort are positive-sum? What kinds of innovative effort are negative-sum?
  18. Why do extensive empires often appear to have higher standards of living than other, more divided societies that possess the same level of useful ideas about technology and organization?
  19. Why do extensive empires often appear to have greater population densities than other, more divided societies that possess the same level of useful ideas about technology and organization and the same quality of natural resources?
  20. What was the "Columbian Exchange" and why was it important for economic growth?
  21. What was the impact of the Spanish Conquest on the population levels and the living standards of the Amerindian population living in the Americas when the conquistadores arrived?
  22. Explain why you are annoyed by Jared Diamond's claim that the invention of agriculture was a big mistake.
  23. On what evidence does Greg Clark base his conclusion that English working-class standards of living were roughly $2.50 a day in the eight centuries before 1800?
  24. Was the standard of living of the English working class highest in 1310, 1450, or 1800; and why was it highest when it was highest?
  25. Why does Lant Pritchett believe the world today is much more unequal than it was back in 1800? Do you buy his argument?
  26. Why, in Partha Dasgupta's view, is money an extremely useful societal invention?
  27. Why, in Partha Dasgupta's view, does "Becky" have so much more social power and opportunities than does "Desta"?
  28. At what rate does income per worker grow in the Solow growth model when an economy is on its equilibrium balanced-growth path? Why does it grow at that rate?
  29. At what rate does society's total income grow in the Solow growth model when an economy is on its equilibrium balanced-growth path? Why does it grow at that rate?
  30. What changes would tend to make an economy following the Solow growth model and on its equilibrium balanced-growth path richer?
  31. What changes would tend to make an economy following the Solow growth model and on its equilibrium balanced-growth path poorer?
  32. What is meant by saying that an economy is a "Malthusian economy"?
  33. What is meant by the "demographic transition"?
  34. Why doesn't technological progress raise standards of living in a Malthusian economy on its steady-state balanced-growth path?
  35. What do economic theorists think is the reason that the much larger global STEM workforce today than in 1870-1900 has not led to a faster proportional rate of technological progress now than back then?
  36. What does Aristotle claim are the four branches of household resource management, and which of the four does he think is most important?
  37. How much does Aristotle think a philosopher—or any aristocratic Greek male—should know about economic matters: market prices of commodities and production technologies?
  38. Why does Aristotle believe that markets and merchants are useful for a city-state, and for a Greek aristocratic male?
  39. Why does Aristotle believe that markets and merchants and too much knowledge about them are dangerous and destructive for a city-state, and for a Greek aristocratic male?
  40. Why does Gilgamesh deserve to be King of Uruk? And what should his people do when they recognize that he has turned into an overbearing tyrant?
  41. Why does Willem Jongman believe that the classical Mediterranean became so rich and prosperous, so much so that, in the words of the historian Edward Gibbon: "If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of [the Emperor] Domitian [in 96] to the accession of [the Emperor] Commodus [in 180]..."?
  42. Why, in Willem Jongman's view, was the prosperity of the Antonine-Age Roman Empire between the assassination of the Emperor Domitian in 96 and the accession of the Emperor Commodus in 180 not followed by a further expansion of or even the maintenance of equal prosperity?
  43. What happened to the living standards of peasants and craftsmen in western Europe in the two centuries after the 1346-1348 Bubonic Plague, and why do economic historians (led by Robert Brenner) think what happened happened?
  44. What happened to the living standards of peasants and craftsmen in eastern Europe in the two centuries after the 1346-1348 Bubonic Plague, and why do economic historians (led by Robert Brenner) think what happened happened?
  45. Consider the course of history in western Europe after the Bubonic Plague of 1346-8, the course of history in eastern Europe after the Bubonic Plague of 1346-8, and the course of history in the Roman Empire after the Antonine Plague of 165-180. Which two do Willem Jongman and Melissa Dell think are more closely analogous? Why and how?
  46. Why, in Peter Temin's view, was the prosperity of the Antonine-Age Roman Empire between the assassination of the Emperor Domitian in 96 and the accession of the Emperor Commodus in 180 not followed by a further expansion of prosperity and a 1500 years-earlier Industrial Revolution?
  47. Why, in Peter Temin's view, was the prosperity of the Antonine-Age Roman Empire between the assassination of the Emperor Domitian in 96 and the accession of the Emperor Commodus in 180 not followed by a further expansion of prosperity that carried the proportional growth rate of the value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization up from the 0.06%/year of the year -1000 to year 1 Axial Age to something like the 0.15%/year of the year 1500 to year 1700 Commercial Revolution Era?
  48. Why, in Moses Finley's view, was the prosperity of the Antonine-Age Roman Empire between the assassination of the Emperor Domitian in 96 and the accession of the Emperor Commodus in 180 not followed by a further expansion of or even the maintenance of equal prosperity?
  49. What factors made it so that the year 1 was much more likely to have seen the Mediterranean dominated by a Rome-based formal empire of conquest and legions first and trade and cultural influence second than an Athens-based informal empire of trade and cultural influence first and conquest and fleets second?
  50. What, in Josh Ober's view, was the likelihood that classical Mediterranean civilization might have attained something like the pace of commercial activity and productivity growth of the 1500-1700 Commercial Revolution Era?
  51. What is Brad DeLong's guess of the average proportional rate of growth of the real value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization in the long Agrarian Age between the invention of agriculture in the year -8000 and the year 1500? Why was this rate of growth so low?
  52. What is Brad DeLong's guess of the average proportional rate of growth of the real value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization in the Commercial Revolution Era of 1500-1770? Why was this rate of growth so much higher than in the previous Agrarian Age? Why was this rate of growth so much lower than in the subsequent Industrial Revolution Era?
  53. What is Brad DeLong's guess of the average proportional rate of growth of the real value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization in the Industrial Revolution Era of 1770-1870? Why was this rate of growth so much higher than in the previous Commercial Revolution Era? Why was this rate of growth so much lower than in the subsequent Modern Economic Growth Era?
  54. What is Brad DeLong's guess of the average proportional rate of growth of the real value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization in the Modern Economic Growth Era of 1870-today? Why was this rate of growth so much higher than in the previous Industrial Revolution Era?
  55. What is Brad DeLong's guess of what the average proportional rate of growth of the real value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization will be in the next five centuries? Why doesn't he think it will be higher? Why doesn't he think it will be lower?
  56. What is Brad DeLong's guess of what the average proportional rate of growth of human living standards was between the year -6000 and 1500. What factors made it so low?
  57. What is Brad DeLong's guess of what the average proportional rate of growth of human living standards was between the year -6000 and 1500. What factors made it so much lower than the rate of growth of the useful ideas stock?
  58. Suppose that the rate of growth of the real value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization in the world had stuck at its Commercial Revolution Era 1500-1770 pace. What would you guess the world economy would look like today in terms of total human population and average living standards and productivity levels?
  59. Suppose that the rate of growth of the real value of the stock of useful human ideas about technology and organization in the world had stuck at its Industrial Revolution Era 1770-1870 pace. What would you guess the world economy would look like today in terms of total human population and average living standards and productivity levels?
  60. Suppose population growth in the "advanced west"—the European North Atlantic coast countries that were the most technologically advanced and became militarily powerful in the Commercial Revolution Era 1500 to 1770—had been at its historic level of 0.4%/year over 1500 to 1770, that invention and innovation had proceeded as in actual world history, but that the rest of the world had managed to fight off European colonialism and retain control of the Americas and of Indian Ocean trade in non-European hands. Would living standards in the European North Atlantic coast countries have then been likely to increase between 1500 and 1770? (In our history they increased by some 40% over that period.)

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Weekend Reading: Peter Temin: Land Tenure and Exploitation from the Roman Empire to Lord Peter Wimsey


Peter Temin: The Roman Market Economy https://delong.typepad.com/files/temin-roman.pdf: Land Ownership: 'For at least four centuries... the Roman Empire preserved peace around the Mediterranean basin and allowed the system of land ownership and taxation to continue. Starting in the fifth century, the ability of the western Empire to preserve peace began to erode. Rome was sacked early in the fifth century, a traumatic event that led Augustine to write the City of God distinguishing belief in the Catholic Church from the defense of any earthly city. More important if less visible to most people living through it was the capture of Africa by the Vandals in 439. This loss deprived the central government of an important component of its tax base and made it impossible for the government to mount effective counterattacks against the various invaders of the Roman Empire. This clearly set up a cumulative process that led in a few decades to the demise of the western Empire (Heather 2005; Wickham 2009). What was the effect of this cataclysmic change on Roman property own- ers? I suggest that many landowners were unaffected as the decline of central authority began. Most of their activities were local, and local authorities continued to guide local economies. Invasions were sporadic and affected only swaths through the vast empire. Landowners in the path of the invaders must have experienced problems with their land ownership, but landowners in other areas probably carried on as they and their fathers had done before. Imported goods to any area became more rare and expensive as travel became more dangerous. “Across the sixth and seventh centuries African goods are less and less visible in the northern Mediterranean; they vanish first from inland sites, and then from minor coastal centres” (Wickham 2009, 218). The process of Roman decline was not one of uniform decline that affected everyone alike. Instead it was a selective process that involved more and more people over time...

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Note to Self: Polanyi: Aristotle Discovers the Economy: Hoisted from the Archives: A whole bunch of this article is simply wrong: the claims that "in the fourth century... Greeks initiated the gainful business practices that in much later days developed into the dynamo of market comnpetition" are false. This means that Polanyi is wrong when he says that Aristotle is examining a new phenomenon when he looks at the economy. Aristotle is examining an old phenomenon from the point of view of an Athenian aristocrat. But there is much of value in Polanyi's exposition of what Aristotle says...

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Lecture Notes: Malthusian Agricultural Economies

Th Feb 6: 2.1. Malthusian Agricultural Economies

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Lecture Notes: A Brief Cheat-Sheet Note: On the Solow-Malthus Model for Understanding Pre-Industrial Economies

What you need to know:

  1. The Malthusian equilibrium level of productivity and income is (a) the zpg subsistence level of necessities consumption (b) times the taste for luxuries (including urbanization and an upper class, as well as middle-class conveniences) (c) bumped up to make the economy prosperous enough to support population growth at the rate (d) warranted by progress in technology and organization.

  2. The Malthusian equilibrium level of population is (a) the quotient of useful ideas divided by the zpg subsistence level of necessities consumption, (b) times the ratio of the savings rate (boosted by law-and-order and by any imperial peace) to the depreciation rate raised to the elasticity of production with respect to capital intensity, (c) divided by the taste for luxuries, (d) all raised to the salience γ of ideas as opposed to resources in productivity, with (e) two nuisance terms tagging along.

GitHub: https://github.com/braddelong/lecture-support-2020/blob/master/brief-note-solow-malthus.ipynb

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Up a Level: Malthusian Perspectives https://delong.typepad.com/teaching_economics/malthus.htm
#ancienteconomies #economicgrowth #economichistory #highlighted #lecturenotes #teachinggrowth #teachinghistory #2020-01-30

Model Economic History Papers

Note: Gross and Moser have been heavily, heavily revised since submission: you are not expected to write something that gets into the AER as-is.

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Weekly Economic History Memo Questions Bank

Memo 1: Malthusian Economies

Was the invention of agriculture the worst mistake in the history of the human race?



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Lecture Notes: 1.1. Theory: Robert Solow's Growth Model: The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135

Th Jan 23: Robert Solow's Growth Model

Notes & Further Readings:

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0. Introduction: The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135


T Jan 21: Growth in Historical Perspective, Humans and Their Economies

Notes & Further Readings:

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-1. Before Class Begins: The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135


  1. Acquire: An iClicker, and access to the course readings

  2. Read: Course administration documents https://delong.typepad.com/files/135-course-summary.pdf https://delong.typepad.com/files/135-course-procedures.pdf https://delong.typepad.com/files/135-administrative.pdf

  3. Read: Partha Dasgupta (2007): Economics: A Very Short Introduction, Prologue & chapters 1-4 https://delong.typepad.com/files/dasgupta-economics.pdf

  4. Read: Aristotle: Politics, Book I https://delong.typepad.com/files/aristotle-politics-book-i.pdf

  5. Do Assignment 1 (3 pts) https://tinyurl.com/dl-2020-01-18a: Write & answer a syllabus FAQ question, due T Jan 21 9:00 am.

Notes & Further Readings:

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The History of Economic Growth: Econ 135: Assignments

Suggested Question (and Answer) for Course FAQ List: Assignment 1: Read the syllabus documents: https://delong.typepad.com/files/135-course-summary.pdf https://delong.typepad.com/files/135-course-procedures.pdf https://delong.typepad.com/files/135-administrative.pdf

Using the information in the syllabus, think up a question that should be on the FAQ—the Frequently Asked Question—list for the course.

Answer the question you thought up.

Upload your question and answer to your account at the course on canvas.

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Reading Notes on Book I of Aristotle's "Politics"

Let me remind you about Aristoteles son of Nikomakhos of Stagira:

He lived from -384 to -322, in the Greek-speaking communities around the Aegean Sea. He spent most of his time in Athens. For the two millennia following his death, he would be, for a large chunk of the world, THE Philosopher: capital “P” and capital “THE”. 1650 years after his death, poet Dante Alighieri would call him “the Master… of those who know”, “il Maestro di color che sanno”. Aristotle’s was, even at so long a distance in time, the most powerful intellectual name that one could conjure with...



Aristotle: Politics, Book I https://delong.typepad.com/files/aristotle-politics-book-i.pdf

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Feminism: I Need to Include Something Like This in My Twentieth Century History Book. But I Would Like Something from 1870-1950—Not Something from 1776 and 1700 and Before...


Plus I am worried that I am, somewhere in here, striking the wrong tone. Yes, many people will find what is below annoying. But will the people annoyed be the people I want this to annoy, or will they be people whom I desperately do not want to read my work and then be annoyed?

2.5: The Arrival of Feminism: In 1764 in Britain’s Massachusetts colony Abigail Smith was 20, and had had no formal education at all: girls weren’t worth it. In that year married a man she had known for five years: the up-and-coming 30-year-old lawyer John Adams. Their daughter Nabby was born the following year, in 1765. There followed John Quincy (1767), Suky (1768, who died at the age of 2), Charles (1770, who died at the age of 10), Thomas (1772), with high probability a couple of (very early) miscarriages from 1774-6, then the stillborn Elizabeth (1777), and (perhaps) another miscarriage afterwards—but I suspect not. She ran their Boston-Braintree household and property operations while he played his role on the large political-intellectual stage, becoming second president of the United States.

Death and disease were, as was the case in the Agrarian Age, omnipresent. Her most famous letter to her husband was written in 1776. A part of it that is rarely—I would say never—excerpted contains these: “our Neighbour Trot whose affliction I most sensibly feel but cannot discribe, striped of two lovely children in one week…”, “Betsy Cranch has been very bad…”, “Becky Peck they do not expect will live out the day…”, “The Mumps… Isaac is now confined with it…”, and “your Brothers youngest child lies bad with convulsion fitts…”

Her letters tell us that she badly wanted to know what was going on in the world outside her household and the Boston-Braintree circle:

I wish you would ever write me a Letter half as long as I write you; and tell me if you may: Where your Fleet are gone? What sort of Defence Virginia can make against our common Enemy? Whether it is so situated as to make an able Defence? Are not the Gentery Lords and the common people vassals? Are they not like the uncivilized Natives Brittain represents us to be?…” and “I have sometimes been ready to think that the passion for Liberty cannot be Eaquelly Strong in the Breasts of those who have been accustomed to deprive their fellow Creatures of theirs…”

And note how she cannot say "I think...", even to her ten-years-older husband: she has to say "I have sometimes been ready to think..."

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Note to Self: What was the impact on the French medieval economy of the Hundred Years' War? The Black Prince shows up in your neighborhood and begins one of his chevauchees—he sets his soldiers to march, loot, burn, rape, kill, and spoil in a (often fruitless) attempt to get the French knights to come out and charge into the killing ground of his longbowmen. How much damage does he do, really? How many dead out of how large a population in how big an area? How much lost in tax revenue and feudal dues over the subsequent decade or two after the Black Prince has gone?

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"There Speaks the Nineteenth Century!": For the Weekend

stacks and stacks of books

For the weekend: One powerful and very common presumption among the thinkers of the nineteenth century was that if the problems of overpopulation could be solved, and if that coupled with better technology solved the problem of inadequate resources to provide necessities, then the distribution of conveniences and luxuries would take care of itself, and the distribution of necessities would be unproblematic as an immediate consequence of common humanity in an age of abundance. They were wrong:

Edward Bellamy: Looking Backward 2000-1887 https://delong.typepad.com/files/bellamy-backward.pdf: '“Who is capable of self-support?” he demanded. “There is no such thing in a civilized society as self-support. In a state of society so barbarous as not even to know family coöperation, each individual may possibly support himself, though even then for a part of his life only; but from the moment that men begin to live together, and constitute even the rudest sort of society, self-support becomes impossible. As men grow more civilized, and the subdivision of occupations and services is carried out, a complex mutual dependence becomes the universal rule. Every man, however solitary may seem his occupation, is a member of a vast industrial partnership, as large as the nation, as large as humanity. The necessity of mutual dependence should imply the duty and guarantee of mutual support; and that it did not in your day constituted the essential cruelty and unreason of your system”...

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Note to Self: Property rights. Doug North made a career out of talking about how parliamentary government and independent courts established secure property rights in Britain, and arbitrary royal government and dependent intendents created insecure property rights in France, hence the English economy boomed while the French economy stagnated in the century and a half before the coming of the Industrial Revolution.

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John Maynard Keynes's View of the Pre-World War I European Equilibrium

Il Quarto Stato

John Maynard Keynes (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace https://delong.typepad.com/files/keynes-peace.pdf

Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions...

After 1870 there was developed on a large scale an unprecedented situation.... The pressure of population on food, which had already been balanced by the accessibility of supplies from America, became for the first time in recorded history definitely reversed. As numbers increased, food was actually easier to secure.... [Any] tendency of cereals to rise in real cost was balanced by other improvements; and—one of many novelties—the resources of tropical Africa then for the first time came into large employ, and a great traffic in oil-seeds began to bring to the table of Europe in a new and cheaper form one of the essential foodstuffs of mankind. In this economic Eldorado, in this economic Utopia, as the earlier economists would have deemed it, most of us were brought up...

What an extraordinary episode in the economic progress of man that age was which came to an end in August, 1914! The greater part of the population, it is true, worked hard and lived at a low standard of comfort, yet were, to all appearances, reasonably contented with this lot. But escape was possible, for any man of capacity or character at all exceeding the average, into the middle and upper classes, for whom life offered, at a low cost and with the least trouble, conveniences, comforts, and amenities beyond the compass of the richest and most powerful monarchs of other ages. The inhabitant of London... most important of all... regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain, and permanent, except in the direction of further improvement, and any deviation from it as aberrant, scandalous, and avoidable. The projects and politics of militarism and imperialism, of racial and cultural rivalries, of monopolies, restrictions, and exclusion, which were to play the serpent to this paradise, were little more than the amusements of his daily newspaper, and appeared to exercise almost no influence at all on the ordinary course of social and economic life, the internationalization of which was nearly complete in practice...

Europe was so organized socially and economically as to secure the maximum accumulation of capital.... The new rich of the nineteenth century were not brought up to large expenditures, and preferred the power which investment gave them to the pleasures of immediate consumption.... If the rich had spent their new wealth on their own enjoyments, the world would long ago have found such a régime intolerable. But like bees they saved and accumulated, not less to the advantage of the whole community because they themselves held narrower ends in prospect.... The railways of the world, which that age built as a monument to posterity, were, not less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the work of labor which was not free to consume in immediate enjoyment the full equivalent of its efforts.... This remarkable system depended... on a double bluff.... The laboring classes accepted from ignorance or powerlessness, or were compelled, persuaded, or cajoled by custom, convention, authority, and the well-established order of Society into accepting a situation in which they could call their own very little of the cake.... The capitalist classes were allowed to call the best part of the cake theirs... on the tacit underlying condition that they consumed very little of it in practice. The duty of "saving" became nine-tenths of virtue and the growth of the cake the object of true religion..... And so the cake increased; but to what end was not clearly contemplated. Individuals would be exhorted not so much to abstain as to defer, and to cultivate the pleasures of security and anticipation..... The virtue of the cake was that it was never to be consumed, neither by you nor by your children after you.... In the unconscious recesses of its being Society knew what it was about. The cake was really very small in proportion to the appetites of consumption, and no one, if it were shared all round, would be much the better off by the cutting of it. Society was working not for the small pleasures of to-day but for the future security and improvement of the race.... If only the cake were... allowed to grow in the geometrical proportion... of compound interest... a day might come when there would at last be enough to go round, and when posterity could enter into the enjoyment of our labors. In that day overwork, overcrowding, and underfeeding would have come to an end, and men, secure of the comforts and necessities of the body, could proceed to the nobler exercises of their faculties...

The war has disclosed the possibility of consumption to all and the vanity of abstinence to many. Thus the bluff is discovered; the laboring classes may be no longer willing to forego so largely, and the capitalist classes, no longer confident of the future, may seek to enjoy more fully their liberties of consumption so long as they last, and thus precipitate the hour of their confiscation...

I have selected for emphasis... the instability of an excessive population dependent for its livelihood on a complicated and artificial organization, the psychological instability of the laboring and capitalist classes, and the instability of Europe's claim, coupled with the completeness of her dependence, on the food supplies of the New World. The war had so shaken this system as to endanger the life of Europe altogether.... It was the task of the Peace Conference to honor engagements and to satisfy justice; but not less to re-establish life and to heal wounds. These tasks were dictated as much by prudence as by the magnanimity which the wisdom of antiquity approved in victors...

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Note to Self: We hear a lot about the military revolution at the end of the sixteenth century: we hear about Gustaf Adolf, about Maurice van Nassau, even about (the earlier) Gonsalvo de Cordoba. We hear about the effective use of firearms and cannon. Discipline. Logistics—both ammunition supply and keeping guys fed and (relatively) plague free. And we hear of the victories won by Maurice van Nassau and Gustaf Adolf of Sweden over the half-modernized Spanish and Austrian armies, just as we hear of the victories won a century earlier by Gonsalvo de Cordoba and his half-modernized tercios over the unmodernized Italian mercenaries and French cavaliers. But we don't hear much about similarly striking victories won a little bit earlier somewhat further to the east...

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Perhaps. And Sometimes: Hoisted from the Archives from 2010


Hoisted from the Archives: Perhaps. And Sometimes https://www.cato-unbound.org/2010/09/16/j-bradford-delong/perhaps-sometimes: In 542 AD the late Roman (early Byzantine?) Emperor Justinian I wrote to his Praetorian Prefect concerning the army — trained and equipped and paid for by the Roman State to control the barbarians and to “increase the state.” Justinian was, Peter Sarris reports in his Economy and Society in the Age of Justinian, upset that:

certain individuals had been daring to draw away soldiers and foederati from their duties, occupying such troops entirely with their own private business…. The emperor… prohibit[ed] such individuals from drawing to themselves or diverting troops… having them in their household… on their property or estates…. [A]ny individual who, after thirty days, continues to employ soldiers to meet his private needs and does not return them to their units will face confiscation of property… “and those soldiers and foederati who remain in paramonar attendance upon them… will not only be deprived of their rank, but also undergo punishments up to and including capital punishment.

Justinian is worried because what is going on in the country he rules is not legible to him. Soldiers — soldiers whom he has trained, equipped, and paid for — have been hired away from their frontier duties by the great landlords of the Empire and employed on their estates and in the areas they dominate as bully-boys. One such great landlord was Justinian’s own sometime Praefectus Praetorio per Orientem Flavius Apion, to whom one of Flavius’s tenants and debtors, one Anoup, wrote:

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