Economics: Information Feed

Perhaps the biggest hole in growth economics is its inability to properly wrestle with the problem of how to build and entertain the communities of engineering practice that have the externalities that fuel so much of economic growth. The 2% per year rate of growth of labor efficiency seen over the past century comes from somewhere, after all. If it comes from activities like R&D and science that together consume 2% of national income, that is a 60%/year net rate of return on such activities. We badly need to understand more about them: Pierre Azoulay, Erica Fuchs, Anna Goldstein, Michael Kearney: Funding Breakthrough Research: Promises and Challenges of the "ARPA Model": "The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model for research funding has... spread...

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The Rise of the Robots: Some Fairly-Recent Must- and Should-Reads

  • Very wise words from close to where the rubber meets the road about how the Rise of the Robots is likely to work out for the labor market over the next generation or so: Shane Greenstein: Adjusting to Autonomous Trucking: "Let’s come into contact with a grounded sense of the future.... Humans have invented tools for repetitive tasks, and some of those tools are becoming less expensive and more reliable...

  • The answer is: probably in the late 1960s: Joe McMahon: When was the last time all the computing power in the world equaled one iPhone?: "When was the last time all the computing power in the world equaled one iPhone?...

  • IMHO, the "long run" problems Martin discusses need to be postponed: we don't know enough about the future to even begin to think intelligently about them. The "medium run" problems, by contrast, deserve a lot of attention right now: Martin Wolf: Work in the age of intelligent machines: "How do you organise a society in which few people do anything economically productive?...

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Hoisted from the Archives: James Scott and Friedrich Hayek

Il Quarto Stato

James Scott and Friedrich Hayek: My review of James Scott (1998), Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press: 0300070160):

 

I. Introduction

There is a lot that is excellent in James Scott's Seeing Like a State.

On one level, it is an extraordinary well-written and well-argued tour through the various forms of damage that have been done in the twentieth century by centrally-planned social-engineering projects—by what James Scott calls 'high modernism' and the attempt to use high modernist principles and practices to build utopia. As such, every economist who reads it will see it as marking the final stage in the intellectual struggle that the Austrian tradition has long waged against apostles of central planning. Heaven knows that I am no Austrian—I am a liberal Keynesian and a social democrat—but within economics even liberal Keynesian social democrats acknowledge that the Austrians won victory in their intellectual debate with the central planners long ago.

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Cognitive Science, Behavioral Economics, and Finance: Some Fairly-Recent Must- and Should-Reads

stacks and stacks of books

I know, this is one hell of a grab-bag of categories. But I do think it is a category:

  • Judea Pearl provides the first good response I have ever heard to Cosma Shalizi's priceless anti-Bayesian rant: Cosma Shalizi (2016): On the Uncertainty of the Bayesian Estimator: "I hardly know where to begin. I will leave aside the color commentary. I will leave aside the internal issues with Dutch book arguments for conditionalization. I will not pursue the fascinating, even revealing idea that something which is supposedly a universal requirement of rationality needs such very historically-specific institutions and ideas as money and making book and betting odds for its expression..."

  • Jonathan Gottschall (2012): The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 0547391404) https://play.google.com/?id=Bl43cU5rdVwC

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Teasers for "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long 20th Century"

Il Quarto Stato

Current Versions of Chapters 1-3:

  1. DRAFT: My Grand Narrative
  2. DRAFT: Themes
  3. DRAFT: Making a Global Economy and Society, 1870-1914

Outtakes and Deleted Scenes:


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Peter Jensen, Markus Lampe, Paul Sharp, and Christian Skovsgaard: The role of elites for development in Denmark: "How did Denmark get to Denmark?... Hundreds of butter factories could spring up in a few years in the 1880s... dominance in agricultural exports could be so rapidly consolidated... why this happened in Denmark and not elsewhere...

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Daniel Davies: Lying for Money: Weekend Reading

Highly, highly recommended: Dan Davies: How to get away with financial fraud: "Perhaps it’s unfair to judge the Libor conspirators on their chat records; few of the journalists who covered the story would like to see their own Twitter direct-message history paraded in front of an angry public...

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Blurb for Janeway: Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, 2nd Edition

Neither Adam Smith’s nor Henry Ford's picture of the economy is relevant for us today. What thumbnail picture is relevant? We do not know, but Bill Janeway thinks harder and more successfully about this question than anybody else I have seen...

William H. Janeway: Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, 2nd Edition: "Legendary economist Hyman Minsky identified author William H. Janeway as a 'theorist-practitioner' of financial economics; this book is an expression of that double life. Interweaving his unique professional perspective with political and financial history, Janeway narrates the dynamics of the innovation economy from the standpoint of a seasoned practitioner of venture capital, operating on the frontier where innovative technology transforms the market economy. In this fully revised and updated edition, Janeway explains how state investment in national goals enables the innovation process and why financial bubbles accelerate and amplify its impact. Now, the digital revolution, sponsored by the state and funded by speculation, has matured to attack the authority, and even the legitimacy, of governments. The populist response in the west, especially in the United States, opens the door for China to seize leadership of the innovation economy from America..."

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What Do I Know About "The tech boom and the fate of democracy"?

I will be very interested in finding out!

Annalee Newitz: The tech boom and the fate of democracy: Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM | Eli's Mile High Club, 3629 Martin Luther King Junior Way, Oakland, CA 94609: "Right now the U.S. tech economy is booming, but what will be the long-term effects of automation and AI?...

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A Question About the Future of Work...

2018 HRBI Center for Responsible Business Berkeley Haas

Asked at: Berkeley Haas School Center for Responsible Business 2018 Microsoft Conference on Business, Technology, and Human Rights: The Future of Work: I think I understand why previous waves of technology have boosted the employment and wages of unskilled workers. It is because “unskilled” human work is a very hard AI problem. Thus enormous numbers of jobs have been created for humans—jobs that are in a sense drudgery, but necessary drudgery:

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Document: Teddy Roosevelt (1907): The Malefactors of Great Wealth

Cursor and teddy roosevelt provincetown puritans Google Search

Document: Teddy Roosevelt (1907): Address of President Roosevelt on the occasion of the laying of the corner stone of the Pilgrim memorial monument https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0Ygwj9sjmrS-tI0aypbStC40A: "We can not as a nation be too profoundly grateful for the fact that the Puritan has stamped his influence so deeply on our national life. We need have but scant patience with the men who now rail at the Puritan's faults. They were evident, of course, for it is a quality of strong natures that their failings, like their virtues, should stand out in bold relief; but there is nothing easier than to belittle the great men of the past by dwelling only on the points where they come short of the universally recognized standards of the present...

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Reading Notes for Joel Mokyr: A Culture of Growth

School of Athens

Being a long time historical materialist of some flavor or another, I am by orientation hostile to arguments like Mokyr's that it was ideas and culture that ultimately mattered. I find myself very suspicious of arguments that give a unique value to cultures, especially when they are my own. I tend to appeal instead to principles of representativeness—that I should not assume that I or anything of mine is special without very good reason—of non-cherrypicking—do not accentuate the positive while neglecting the negative—and of visibility—that of requiring concrete causal mechanisms, rather than waving one's hands, saying "it was in the air" and "there are lots of other ways it matters besides those that have been mentioned here".

That does not mean that I am right.

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Weekend Reading: Adam Smith on the Necessity of Public Education

Should-Read: Adam Smith (1776): Publicly Funded Education: "In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour...

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Should-Read: Speech and language make us all into an anthology intelligence. Writing makes us into an (unfortunately only one way) time-traveling intelligence. Geniuses add the other way: Walter Jon Williams: Ursula K. LeGuin: 1929-2018: "I occasionally found myself in the same room with her, but she was always surrounded by a swarm of admirers, and I never felt right about barging through her adherents just to introduce myself...

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Free Riding, Unions, and "Right-to-Work"

Mancur Olson

Amici Curiae in Janus v. AFSCME: No. 16-1466 :: In the Supreme Court of the United States :: MARK JANUS, Petitioner, v. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, COUNCIL 31, ET AL., Respondents. On Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit:

Henry J. Aaron, Katharine G. Abraham, Daron Acemoglu, David Autor, Ian Ayres, Alan S. Blinder, David Card, Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Angus Stewart Deaton, Bradford DeLong, John J. Donohue III, Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Henry S. Farber, Robert H. Frank, Richard B. Freeman, Claudia Goldin, Robert J. Gordon, Oliver Hart, David A. Hoffman, Lawrence F. Katz, Thomas A. Kochan, Alan Krueger, David Lewin, Ray Marshall, Alexandre Mas, Eric S. Maskin, Alison D. Morantz, J.J. Prescott, Jesse Rothstein, Cecilia Elena Rouse, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Stewart J. Schwab, J.H. Verkerke, Paula B. Voos, David Weil: BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE ECONOMISTS AND PROFESSORS OF LAW AND ECONOMICS IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENTS:

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Determining Bargaining Power in the Platform Economy: Reinvent Full Transcript

Reinvent

Reinvent: Determining Bargaining Power in the Platform Economy: Our political system has been hacked by time, circumstance, chaos, and disaster...

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How Many of 11 California Republicans in the House Can We Flip to "NO!" on Tax "Reform"?

Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Casey Tolan: Three California Republicans vote against House tax plan: "Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, all voted against the bill...

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The 17 Berkeley Classes in Our Largest Lecture Hall This Fall...

Increased CS course demand leads to overflowing auditorium The Daily Californian

The 17 classes in Berkeley's largest lecture hall: Wheeler Auditorium Classes: Fall 2017:

Computer Science, etc.: 9:

  • COMPSCI-STAT C8: Foundations of Data Science
  • COMPSCI 61A: The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
  • COMPSCI 61B: Data Structures
  • COMPSCI 61C: Great Ideas of Computer Architecture (Machine Structures)
  • COMPSCI 70: Discrete Mathematics and Probability Theory
  • COMPSCI 170: Efficient Algorithms and Intractable Problems
  • COMPSCI 186/286: Introduction to Database Systems
  • ELENG 16A: Designing Information Devices and Systems I
  • ELENG 16B: Designing Information Devices and Systems II

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Data Science, Computer Literacy, and the Skill of Writing with a Fine Chancery Hand...

2017 08 30 More than a Few Words About Computer Literacy in the Twenty First Century

About a month and a half ago I decided that there was really no place in any of my classes for my "what you really ought to know about doing economics" lecture http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/07/how-to-think-like-an-economist-if-that-is-you-wish-to.html: it would be either incomprehensible (because students would not understand it) or unnecessary (because students would already know it).

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Live from Berkeley: Making Textbooks & Course Readers Affordable: Berkeley on the Leading Edge: "Friday, October 27, 2017 :: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. :: Environmental Design Library Atrium http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/environmental-design-library: Can students afford to take your class?...

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Data Management, Analysis, and Presentation Skills Are to the 21st Century What Writing in a Chancery Hand Was to the 13th: Hoisted from Various Archives

Science Is Different in the Movies The Outtake

Cosma Shalizi reminds me of the internet "data scientists are (good and empirically oriented) statisticians" discussion of 2011-12.

Let me say three things:

  1. You should never use Excel to handle your data.

  2. I don't know whether it is depressing or exhilarating to recognize that, for me as for Cosma, how often my reaction these days is: "I already wrote something incisive and very much worth reading about that—now to find it in my weblog archives..."

  3. Increasingly, data management, analysis, and presentation are things that many more people need for their jobs than statistics departments can reasonably expect to funnel through their major programs. It's like in the middle ages: the number of people who needed to have a good, clear, legible-penmanship chancery hand vastly exceeded the number of professional calligraphers and illustrators. Data management, analysis, and presentation skills are, increasingly, the legible-penmanship chancery hand of the twenty-first century.

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Note to Self: Data Science Reading List:

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What Do Econ 1 Students Need to Remember Most from the Course?: Hoisted from 2010

The Souk of Marrakech

Hoisted from 2010: What Do Econ 1 Students Need to Remember Most from the Course? http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/12/what-do-econ-1-students-need-to-remember-most-from-the-course.html: Economics deals with those things that we want but that are "scarce".


Public Spheres for the Trump Age: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

Preview of A Few Notes on Higher Education in the Age of Trump

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/universities-in-the-age-of-trump-by-j--bradford-delong-2017-07: Let me take a break in this column from our usual economics to worry about our institutions: What have we to say—to hope and fear—about the role and the future of the independent—ideologically and intellectually—university?

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Battle Over Globalization

Brad DeLong: (経済教室)グローバル化を巡る攻防(下)偏りない成長で不安払拭 市場経済の経験を生かせ B・デロング カリフォルニア大学バークレー校教授  :日本経済新聞 http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGKKZO19272800W7A720C1KE8000/

(Battle over globalization (down) Uneasy with unbiased growth Leverage the experience of market economy)

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Assignment Desk: What Are the Best Readings for a Week Spent Teaching James C. Scott-Stuff?

The night watchman state that supports the fully-developed market economy is one of the most strange and significant historical development in political economy. Any analysis of it requires that one view hit in perspective—that one examine other the other alternative forms that state power and authority can and do take and have taken.

And the greatest sociologist-political scientist-historian of our age analyzing such things is James C. Scott. I have often wished that I had a reading list on Scott-stuff to hand. And I wish somebody would construct an annotated one:

Here are my thoughts:

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Note to Self: The Next Time I Teach Economics 101b...: Hoisted from 2007

Dos software Google Search

Hoisted from 2007: Note to Self: The Next Time I Teach Economics 101b... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2007/07/note-to-self-th.html: The people who take Economics 101b--the go-faster do-more version of intermediate macroeconomics--are among the best students in the country: smart, eager to work, very well-prepared. So it has always seemed to me that I should do more to help them sink their teeth into some of the big growth-policy issues of intellectual property and antitrust.

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Monday DeLong Smackdown Watch/Hoisted from 2005: Ignorance Corrected!

Ben Weiss, Curator of Rare Books at the Burndy Library of MIT's Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology:

Ben Weiss: Brad DeLong's Website: DeLong's Ignorance Corrected!: "First off, I love your blog, and read it avidly; many thanks for the wide learning and elegant argument... http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2005-3_archives/000643.html

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A Few Notes on Higher Education in the Age of Trump...

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":

(1 & 2) The two points where I think Larry is 100% correct are:

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Hoisted from Ten Years Ago: Back When I Was Much More Optimistic About New Media and the Public Sphere...

Mergenthaler Google Search

Hoisted from June 4, 2007: Neil Henry vs. Jay Rosen Future-of-Journalism Smackdown! http://www.bradford-delong.com/2007/06/neil_henry_vs_j_1.html: "Excuse me, I need to worship my idol a bit more... There... That's better...

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Comment of the Day: Tracy Lightcap: A Note on Coursera CEO Rick Levin's Clark Kerr Lecture...: "I think Thoma's course is indicative of the kinds of courses that succeed on-line... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/05/highlighted-rick-levin-kerr-lecture.html?cid=6a00e551f08003883401b7c8fbb17e970b#comment-6a00e551f08003883401b7c8fbb17e970b

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Inclusive AI: Technology and Policy for a Diverse Urban Future

Inclusive AI: Technology and Policy for a Diverse Urban Future https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inclusive-ai-technology-and-policy-for-a-diverse-urban-future-tickets-31896895473: Wed, May 10, 2017 10:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Panel 3: The Future of Work: Automation and Labor

  • Ken Goldberg
  • Brad DeLong,
  • James Manyika
  • Costas Spanos
  • Laura Tyson
  • John Zysman

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Shaken and Stirred: Weekend Reading: Hoisted from the Archives: Stephen Cohen and Brad DeLong (2005)

San Francisco Bay

Stephen Cohen and Brad DeLong (2005): Shaken and Stirred https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2005/01/shaken-and-stirred/303666/: The United States is about to experience economic upheaval on a scale unseen for generations. Will social harmony be a casualty?

It has become conventional wisdom that class politics has no legs in the United States today—and for good reason. Regardless of actual circumstance, an overwhelming majority of Americans view themselves as middle-class. Very few have any bone to pick with the rich, perhaps because most believe they will become rich—or at least richer—someday. To be sure, the issues of jobs and wages inevitably make their way into our political campaigns—to a greater or lesser extent depending on where we are in the business cycle. But they seldom divide us as much as simply circle in and out of our political life. Lately anxiety about the economy has been palpable, but for the most part it has not evolved into anger or found specific scapegoats.

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Reading: Sukkoo Kim (2006): Division of Labor and the Rise of Cities: Evidence from US Industrialization 1850-1880

Sukkoo Kim (2006): Division of Labor and the Rise of Cities: Evidence from US Industrialization 1850-1880 Journal of Economic Geography 6, pp.469-491. <http://www.nber.org/papers/w12246>

If commodities are fully rival and excludible—i.e., the resources devoted to the production of one unit are thereby used up, and cannot be used to aid in the production of a second unit; and if sellers can easily prevent non-buyers from benefiting from what they produce (and non-buyers can easily prevent sellers from imposing costs on them—then, if the distribution of wealth accords with desert and utility, the competitive market economy in equilibrium does the job.

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Reading: Hoyt Bleakley and Jeffrey Lin (2012): Portage and Path Dependence

Hoyt Bleakley and Jeffrey Lin (2012): Portage and Path Dependence Quarterly Journal of Economics 127 (May): 587–644 <http://qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/127/2/587.full>

If commodities are fully rival and excludible—i.e., the resources devoted to the production of one unit are thereby used up, and cannot be used to aid in the production of a second unit; and if sellers can easily prevent non-buyers from benefiting from what they produce (and non-buyers can easily prevent sellers from imposing costs on them—then, if the distribution of wealth accords with desert and utility, the competitive market economy in equilibrium does the job.

But how often is production really constant returns to scale? And how often are spillovers truly absent? And where and when are markets thick enough to actually be in any form of “competitive equilibrium”?

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Economic Change and “Technological” Change...

What Is to Be Explained?: Three Things

  1. Origin of Modern Economic Growth (MEG)
  2. Pace of Modern Economic Growth (MEG)
  3. Duration of Modern Economic Growth (MEG)

Origins of Modern Economic Growth

  • We have market economies throughout Eurasia, at least—i.e., places where becoming a merchant drawing on sophisticated artisanal producers is a road to wealth
  • We have governments smart enough—or constrained enough—not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, at least not quickly
  • We have what looks like worldwide growth at a faster pace after 1500—one that calls forth a demographic response
  • Post-1800 in the North Atlantic we have growth that outruns any possible demographic response, and triggers the demographic transition.
  • Why? And how?

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Reading: Paul David (2005): Clio and the Economics of QWERTY

Cursor and IMG 0180 PNG

Paul David (1985): Clio and the Economics of QWERTY, American Economic Review 75:2 (May), pp. 332-7 http://jstor.org/stable/1805621

These days a lot of energy and effort goes into user interface and user experience design.

And then we have the typewriter keyboard from 150 years ago.

It shows up in remarkably many places.

Is there any reason to think that it is in any sense the best way to lay out an alphabetical interface entry form?

No.

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