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What is the state of America's political economy now in the fall of 2020?
Link to Interactive Recording: https://share.mmhmm.app/674d81473029474195eb45ef0445a2c3 5:37
- Link to pptx with rough transcript: https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/econ-115-module-5-2.0-intro-video.pptx
- Watch: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933): Inaugural Address https://www.c-span.org/video/?5792-1/president-roosevelt-1933-inaugural-address https://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/froos1.asp
Five Books Expert Recommendations: Books on the Classical Economists https://fivebooks.com/best-books/classical-economists-brad-delong/: Recommended by Brad DeLong. They were an eclectic bunch, including, among others, a stock market speculator, a moral philosopher, a cleric, a lawyer and a journalist. From the late-18th to the mid-19th century, they provided the first systematic explanations of how economies work, where they fail and how they might be made to work better. Here, Brad DeLong, a professor of economics at UC Berkeley, introduces the classical economists, and suggests books to read to learn more about them and what they were trying to achieve.
Interview by Benedict King:
- The Passions and the Interests, by Albert Hirschman https://www.amazon.com/dp/0691160252
- The Worldly Philosophers, by Robert L Heilbroner https://www.amazon.com/dp/068486214X
- The Classical Economists Revisited, by D. P. O'Brien https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZRG5LV
- Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet & the Enlightenment, by Emma Rothschild https://www.amazon.com/dp/0674008375
- Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life, by Jonathan Sperber https://www.amazon.com/dp/087140737X
Q: Before we get into the books, could you just set the scene by telling us who the classical economists were, individually speaking. There was Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and Jean-Baptiste Say in France. Are there other obvious ones that you would include in that list?
I would say that Smith, Malthus and Ricardo are the big three, although you can argue about whether Smith was a classical economist or rather a pre-economist. Smith viewed himself very much as a moral philosopher. He always had a much broader range and scope than Malthus or Ricardo in terms of the business that he thought he was in.
This has surfaced again in my feed. Please, people stop ending it to me! It leads me down rabbit-holes—what a loon Samuel P. Huntington was, and how favorably citing him is a powerful sign that you are a loon unmoored from reality yourself—that I don't have time for today!
Anyone who thinks—as Gregory Mitrovich apparently does—that Great Britain in 1920 had intrinsic strengths then that enabled it to thereafter retain its global dominance is truly a total idiot. When did Britain dominate anything after 1920? Gregory Mitrovich: Beware Declinism: America Remains Poised for Greatness https://nationalinterest.org/feature/beware-declinism-america-remains-poised-greatness-163810: ‘There can be no doubting that America’s international standing has been undermined by ill-considered wars and the deadly failures of Trump’s pandemic response. However, the intrinsic strength of the United States will, like that of Britain a century ago, enable America to retain its dominance...
Pairograph: Is America in Decline? https://www.pairagraph.com/dialogue/fc2f8d46f10040d080d551c945e7a363: Life expectancy at birth in the United States today is 78.6 years. Life expectancy at birth in Japan today is 84.5; in Singapore, 85.1; in Switzerland, 84.3; France, 83.1; in Germany, 80.9. U.S. life expectancy is on a par with Poland, Tunisia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Albania; below Peru, Columbia, Chile, Jordan, and Sri Lanka; and only a year greater than China.
The United States currently has ~300 deaths per hundred million people per day from the coronavirus plague. The United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Germany, and Canada each have less than 10...
What can we say about the economy? That depends on the course of the coronavirus plague. So what can we say about the coronavirus plague? We can say, it turns out, little that is good. (22 minutes).
.#acceleration #democratization #economicgrowth #economichistgory #globalization #highlighted #growth #watershed #1870-1914
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?
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
Why would one want to “think like an economist”?: What is “thinking like an economist”? Cost-benefit, opportunity cost, system equilibrium, marginality. This turns out to be useful for thinking about the economy. (Other things too: but mostly the economy.) But Dasgupta has a different take, a game theorist's take...
.#berkeley #cognition #economics #highlighted #lecture #rhetoric #2020-08-29
Machiavelli: "I… step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where, solicitously received by them... I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of their human kindness, answer me..."
Sokrates: "The creations... if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence…. [Words] once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not..."
.#berkeley #books #cognition #educationalprocess #highlighted #lecture #2020-08-29
The “general glut”: What people used to talk about, instead of recession and depressions. It focuses on what is going on: excess supply in pretty much all of the markets. Back Up to 1803: Jean-Baptiste Say argued back then that a “general glut” was a metaphysical impossibility: “If certain goods remain unsold, it is because other goods are not produced; and that it is production alone which opens markets to produce.... Whenever there is a glut, a superabundance, [an excess supply] of several sorts of merchandize, it is because other articles [in excess demand] are not produced in sufficient quantities...” By 1830 Say had changed his mind...
.#berkeley #economics #highlighted #lecture #macro #monetaryeconomics #monetarypolicy #optional #2020-08-29
"Data Science" & "Thinking Like an Economist":
- The Modern Chancery Hand?: Educational Technologies at Berkeley (2017) https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/chancery-hand-educational-technologies-at-berkeley.pptx
- (More than) A Few Words About Computer Literacy in the 21st Century https://github.com/braddelong/weblog-support/blob/master/2017-08-30%20(More%20than%20a)%20Few%20Words%20About%20%22Computer%20Literacy%22%20in%20the%20Twenty-First%20Century....ipynb
- Lecture: How to Think Like an Economist (If You Really Wish to) https://www.bradford-delong.com/how-to-think-like-an-economistlecture.html https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/07/how-to-think-like-an-economist-if-that-is-you-wish-to.html
- Outline: How to Think Like an Economist (If You Really Wish to) https://www.bradford-delong.com/how-to-think-like-an-economist.html
Andy Matuschak would approve of how Niccolo Machiavelli reads:
Niccolo Machiavelli (1513): Letter to Francesco Vettori https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/letter-machiavelli-vettori.pdf
.#berkeley #cognition #economics #education #highlighted #notetoself 2020-08-24
I do confess that I am flummoxed by self-identified positively-valenced “white supremacy” as a thing.
My WASPy view was always that America was an America of ethnicities underpinned by the dominant myth-message: “people coming from elsewhere to build a utopia in which we all could live better lives”. This mosaic worked, with cultural influences flowing every which way, with the ideas and cultural orientations of WASPy Massachusetts Puritans, Virginia libertarians, and Kentucky pioneers serving as the first layer of the cultural matrix. The exchange in the 2006 movie The Good Shepherd between Joe Pesci and Matt Damon grossly overstates the case, but is in the right direction:
Joe Pesci: “Let me ask you something…. We Italians, we got our families, and we got the church; the Irish, they have the homeland, Jews their tradition; even the n------, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?”
Matt Damon: “The United States of America…”
Yes, African-Americans were always at the bottom, but there was no monolithic “whiteness” in the mosaic anywhere. Remember: when I was at Harvard in the 1980s, when an Italian-American Catholic married an Irish-American Catholic in Boston, it was a “mixed marriage”, and people would shrug their shoulders and say it was unlikely to last.
I look at how somebody by the name of Mark Krikorian can raise the alarm on behalf of "whiteness" against the idea of “Hispanics now hav[ing] their own pizza chain…. [It] may well reflect a kind of cultural secession…” Mark Krikorian finds it alarming that an Italian-Lebanese-American born in Columbus, OH sees a market for Hispanic-inflected pizza in Dallas and moves to satisfy it. And then I think: this was always a grift, this is the fascist playbook—create the bigotry against a despised other, and then use that bigotry to create a volk:
Sean Illing: Why Rev. William Barber Thinks We Need a Moral Revolution in America https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/8/18/21327358/william-barber-poor-peoples-campaign-moral-mondays: '“Racism may target Black people, but it damns a democracy and it damns humanity”'…
This is why retail businesses need large permanent financial transfers now. We do not want retail businesses that are not coronavirus transmission hotspots from receiving erroneous “shut down“ signals from the market. And yet that is what is happening when we do not make them whole from the effects of the crisis of March and April:
Jason Del Rey: Amazon, Walmart, & Target Reap þe Rewards of Covid Restrictions https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/8/20/21375942/amazon-walmart-target-pandemic-earnings-q2-2020-essential-retailers: ‘Some feared the pandemic would widen the gap between the haves and have-nots of retail. That fear is now reality…
Not that Isaac Asimov’s 1950s novel The Naked Sun Is either a great mystery novel or a great science fiction novel. But it is a place to start in thinking about how this next upward leap in interacting with each other via symbols and screens is going to work. What personality types are going to do well? What personality types are going to do badly? In in-person interactions, a great deal of the information channels our bids and offers about authority because rapidly reaching consensus about what the group was going to do trumped reaching the best decision at the price of maybe reaching no decision at all. But those channels do not operate through screens, as anyone who has ever participated in a flamewar Or watched trolls destroy an online discussion knows very well:
Sean Gallagher: Respawn Point: þe Inevitable Reincarnation of þe Corporate Office https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/08/work-from-home-03-the-office/: ‘Stanford Institute for Economic Research figures in June showed only 42 percent of the US workforce working from home full-time—the fact remains that people's relationship with their workplace has been dramatically restructured, perhaps permanently…
Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus (155): The Roman Oration https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/11/aelius-aristides-the-roman-oration-it-is-a-time-honored-custom-of-travelers-setting-forth-by-land-or-sea-to-m.html…
Wikipedia: Wrought Iron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrought_iron | Cast Iron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cast_iron | Bessemer Process https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessemer_process | Steel https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel
Boichik Bagels https://boichikbagels.myshopify.com/…
Constance Hunter (2020-08-19): Riding the Covid-Coaster https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/presentation-hunter-covid-coaster.pdf…
Casey Johnston: How to Fit in a Real Workout When You Have Only 20 Minutes https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/889bxx/how-to-get-a-real-workout-only-20-minutes: ‘[Randi Zuckerberg takes] a slightly more aggressive line here with her “pick three” rule: “Work. Sleep. Family. Friends. Fitness. Pick Three.” But I often see this rule separated from Zuckerberg’s follow-up clarification: “I can pick a different three tomorrow, and a different three the following day. But today, I can only pick three. As long as I wind up picking everything over the long run, then I’m balancing my imbalance”…
Jim Wendler: How to Fit in a Real Workout When You Have Only 20 Minutes https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/889bxx/how-to-get-a-real-workout-only-20-minutes: ‘This is my favorite. I don’t recommend it, but it’s useful for non-beginners who have limited time to train. The I’m Not Doing Jack Shit program entails walking into the weight room, doing the big lift for the day (bench, squat, military or deadlift), and then walking out… I’ve made this deal with myself many times before I’ve trained: If I do X weight for X amount of reps, I’m leaving…
2020 Democratic Party Platform https://www.demconvention.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2020-07-21-DRAFT-Democratic-Party-Platform.pdf…
Wikipedia: Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus Pius https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoninus_Pius#Marriage_and_children…
Wikipedia: Faustina the Elder—Annia Galeria Faustina https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faustina_the_Elder…
FRED: COVID Dashboard https://research.stlouisfed.org/useraccount/dashboard/56322#: Initial Claims, Continued Claims, Real Personal Income, Real Personal Consumption Expenditures...
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...
I agree with Erik here. The Trump administration isn't "creeping fascism" any more. This is the real thing. Their plan is to have Breitbart, Fox, Sinclair, & QAnon come out hard Wednesday after the election saying "nobody can really tell who won", and then see what happens on the streets: Erik Loomis: American Fascism https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/08/american-fascism-3: ‘Anyone who sees this as bluster and doesn’t take it seriously are equivalent to those who didn’t really take Hitler or Mussolini seriously early on: Reporter: "Is the President saying if he doesn't win this election that he will not accept the results unless he wins?" Kayleigh McEnany: "The President has always said he'll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath"… .#fascism #highlighted #moral responsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #moralresponsibility #2020-08-19
Still mulling this over...
The insightful and usually highly reliable Michelle Goldberg makes, I think, a big mistake here.
& something bad does seem to happen often to many people when they start hanging around the New York Times newsroom. They lose their moral compass, and some (not Goldberg) forget that they are supposed to work for their readers and not for their insider sources and their bosses...
Ok, that ends the throad-clearing:
Here Goldberg half-defends Bennet and Sulzburger's decision to publish Senator Cotton's call for massive violence against demonstrating American citizens by the security services—even William F. Buckley would not go quite so far half a century ago, when all he was willing to say was that white supremacists in the south had the right to defend white supremacy against protesters "by any means necessary"—on the grounds that New York Times readers are ignorant of what people like Cotton think, "readers should grasp what people like Cotton are arguing... because it is being taken seriously" and "the very qualities that make Cotton's Op-Ed revolting...make him an important figure in Trump's Republican Party".
But to publish the thing without surrounding context—that's just to give Cotton a megaphone.
Yes, you can argue that the cure for speech is more speech. But you are wrong. The "more speech" has to appear in the appropriate time, place, and manner.
At some level, I think, Michelle Goldberg knows this. Near the end of her piece is one sentence: "The paper could convey his views by reporting on them, but for the Opinion section, letting him express them himself is more direct." Not "more effective" or "more informative" or "more useful". Why did she choose "direct"?
I think because she knew she could not use any of those other words:
Michelle Goldberg: Tom Cotton's Fascist Op-Ed https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/06/michelle-goldberg-gives-her-employers.html: 'I figured he'd helpfully revealed himself as a dangerous authoritarian.... I can sort of appreciate my bosses' decision.... The Times Opinion section wants to include the views of people who support Trump... the very qualities that make Cotton's Op-Ed revolting—his strongman pretensions, his sneering apocalypticism—make him... important...
...Trump's Republican Party. (He might someday come to lead it.) Readers should grasp what people like Cotton are arguing, not because it's worth taking seriously but because it is being taken seriously, particularly by our mad and decomposing president.... The paper could convey his views by reporting on them, but for the Opinion section, letting him express them himself is more direct...
And Goldberg's conclusion? "Opinions of shape of earth differ". She won't say that Bennet's decision to publish was wrong. But she won't say that is right either. It is just as "crisis for our understandings of... marketplace[s] of ideas..."
It’s important to understand what the people around the president are thinking. But if they’re honest about what they’re thinking, it’s usually too disgusting to engage with. This creates a crisis for traditional understandings of how the so-called marketplace of ideas functions. It’s a subsidiary of the crisis that has the country on fire.
#highighted #journamalism #orangehairedbaboons #pubicsphere #moralresponsibility #2020-08-16
Minnesota as the most likely tipping-point state. Democratic edge (in order): Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, Michigan. Republican edge (in order): Florida, Arizona, Nebraska (2), North Carolina, Ohio: 538: 2020 Election Forecast https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-election-forecast/… .#highlighted #noted #politics #2020-08-13
Want to insult a man in America today, call him a woman—as, for example, the New York Times allows and encourages Maureen Dowd to do, albeit only for Democratic and not for Republican male politicians, who somehow seem to always be Manly Men. Want to insult a woman in America today, and you can follow Dowd and call her a man, but it is more effective to call her a whore.
It's time for all hands on deck: "hell among the yearlings and the Charge of the Light Brigade and Saturday night in the back room of Casey's saloon rolled into one". It is time for Sadie Burke and Hugh Miller.
And we haven't even gotten to the mass vote suppression and miscount part or the potential Rubicon moment part of this election:
Steve M.: 'Here's what right-wingers call Harris when they think we're not listening https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-trumpers-other-insulting-nickname.html: "Mattress Kamala" is what your right-wing relatives will be calling her soon, if they aren't already. We'll see whether Trump or any of his surrogates try to take the nickname mainstream…
Deplorably, a large number of easily-grifted morons thought Trump was their friend—or at least that the people lower down in the Trump base were their prey to be scammed...
Back in 2015, I concluded that the Donald Trump campaign was a deplorable multi-level marketing scam. At the top, a few grifters running lots of cons. In the middle-levels, a bunch of people who thought that they could take advantage of the situation to get rich—or richer—but who were actually easily-grifted morons themselves. And at the bottom, people who thought that Trump was their friend, rather than viewing them as suckers he could take.
Nothing I have seen since has changed that opinion of mine.
Deplorably, one of the easily-grifted morons in the middle was former Godfather's Pizza executive and Republican politician Herman Cain:
On June 20, 2020, Herman Cain was boasting that he was having a "fantastic time" at Donald Trump's massless, non-social distancing Tulsa rally:
Trump had required attendees to: "acknowledg[e]... that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury..."
On June 24, 2020, Herman Cain wrote, with respect to the public-health emergency measures of March and April: 'Never again. We now have the evidence it didn't help at all...'
On July 1, 2020, Herman Cain wrote very approvingly of Trump's next rally: 'Masks will not be mandatory for the [Mt. Rushmore] event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP!: South Dakota Governor: "We will not be social distancing. We’re asking them to come, be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this country, and to talk about our history...'
Also on July 1, 2020 Herman Cain was hospitalized for coronavirus. On July 30, 2020, life support measures were discontinued, and Herman Cain died.
At some point the 'Masks will not be mandatory... PEOPLE ARE FED UP!' Post on twitter was deleted from Herman Cain's account.
After his hospitalization, Herman Cain's twitter account was run by a rather cynical gang of ghouls.
Smart young whippersnapper and Equitable Growth alumnus Marshall Steinbaum attempts to solve the problem of corrupt interests and corrupt ideology with... MOAR IDEOLOGY! Ideology that he hopes, somehow, will be reality-based.
I do not think this will work:
Marshall Steinbaum: 'In order to know what to do https://twitter.com/Noahpinion/status/1016333284320526337, we have to know how things work. To me, the sentiment @Noahpinion expresses here is the moment I get off the 'empirical revolution' train, because this is where it turns toward 'maybe we can avoid ideology after all'. Nope..."
The epidemiologists, the public health specialists, and the data collectors produce lots of tables and graphs about coronavirus prevalent in the United States, but somehow nobody produces the graphs and tables that I really want to see: estimates not of confirmed cases but of true cases. The United States’s massive failure of testing and surveillance makes all such estimates nearly impossible to produce and subject to enormous uncertainty. Here, for what it is worth, is my personal guess:
My guess is that we are now running at 1.5 million new case a week up from a mid-June low of 650000 cases a week, which is itself down from our late-March infection peak of 2.7 million cases per week. We seem to be stuck: when cases fall, social distancing is relaxed; when cases rise, people get scared and hunker down. The prospect appears to be for depression—national income 10 to 15 percent below potential—and for 6 million infections and 40000 deaths a month until something changes, with any form of herd immunity years away at this pace of infections. But I may well be very wrong, and have missed something very important here: Coronavirus in the U.S.: My Guesses as to Where We Are:
https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/coronavirus-in-the-us-my-guesses-as-to-where-we-are.html: As of 2020-07-30: New weekly deaths: 7800…. New weekly inferred cases: 1478400…. Weekly R: 0.97…. Past three weeks’ R: 1.08…
A strongly unconventional high politician faces the expiration of his term of office. He knows that, because of his actions in office, he has enemies. He knows that his adversaries will try and convict him of crimes after he lays down his power.
And so he acts.
And in three months Cæsar is master of the central core of the empire, with an army without a leader—Pompey's legions—to his west in Spain, and a leader without an army—Pompey and the Optimate faction of the Senate—to his east in Greece.
I guess the key question for the first three months of the year -49 is: what did the factions anticipate would happen in that year?
We cannot know where we are going until we know where we have been and where we now are. IMHO, the public health community has not done a good job on setting out even a semi-consensus guess as to where we have been and currently are. The "deaths" graphs lag the current situation by a month. The "cases" graphs are hopelessly distorted by testing inadequacy.
Here, for what it is worth, are my guesses as to where we are right now and where we have been, nationwide. Of course, nationwide estimates are also of limited use...:
.#coronavirus #highighted #notetoself #publichealth #2020-07-23
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
On Twitter: Shelton's Confirmation to the Fed Would Be Very Ill-Advised II https://twitter.com/delong/status/1285609064706248706: The only person out there saying "confirm Judy Shelton" this morning is John Tamny... who says: confirm her because she's a goldbug and the gold standard is a good thing:
John Tamny: Let's Bring Rationality to the Monetary Discussion: Confirm Judy Shelton https://realclearmarkets.com/articles/2020/07/21/lets_bring_rationality_to_the_monetary_discussion_confirm_judy_shelton_499540.html: As always with money, it should be stressed up front how much better the monetary discussion would be if those who insert themselves into it actually understood money. Most don’t. Strange about this is that money is simple. It’s simple when it’s properly understood...
Filippos Petroulakis: 'This is remarkable stuff. I’m fine with him being a goldbug, but he’s original in that he doesn’t even believe the Fed can lower rates. Or that lowering rates is ineffective, it’s not exactly clear, but my impression of goldbugs was they were afraid of runaway inflation; he’s not.
Brad DeLong: A good way to view it is that both Judy Shelton and John Tamny are GPT-3: they are not economists, but rather expert systems trained on a text corpus. Thus you should not try to use their words to build a model of the Turing-class mind behind them, for there is no such mind. In fact, there is not even a sub-Turing class mind behind their words: just predictive text generation at the level of current AI technology, just like GPT-3 http://lacker.io/ai/2020/07/06/giving-gpt-3-a-turing-test.html.
No Senator Doing His or Her Job Would Vote for Judy Shelton For Fed Governor—Hoisted from the Archives
That any Republican senators at all are thinking of voting for Judy Shelton—a woman views whom Milton Friedman dismissed by saying "it would be hard to pack more error into so few words"—for a Fed Governor position reveals an astonishing lack of spine. Yet the Senate Banking Committee chair appears to be attempting to advance her nomination on Tuesday:
Hoisted from the Archives: Shelton the Charlatan https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/shelton-the-charlatan-project-syndicate.html: In 1994 Milton Friedman wrote about Judy Shelton: "In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece (July 15)... Judy Shelton started her concluding paragraph: “Until the U.S. begins standing up once more for stable exchange rates as the starting point for free trade...” It would be hard to pack more error into so few words.... A system of pegged exchange rates, such as the original IMF system or the European Monetary System, is an enemy to free trade. It is no accident that the 1992 collapse of the EMS coincided with the agreement to remove controls on the movement of capital..." https://miltonfriedman.hoover.org/friedman_images/Collections/2016c21/NR_09_12_1994.pdf. To turn monetary policy away from internal balance toward preventing exchange rate movements that market fundamentals wanted to see occur was, in Friedman's view, the road toward disaster. It was simply wrong. And it could be held together only if economies moved from free trade back toward managed trade—and so beggared not just their neighbors but themselves.
Two and a half decades later, today's Judy Shelton seems no freer from error, but to it has added an enormous amount of incoherence. There is no consistent thread of argument in what she says. She is, rather, a weathervane pointing in the direction of whatever political wind she thinks likely to get her her next job. Last year she said that the Federal Reserve should be careful not to do anything to curb stock prices: "More than half of American households are invested through mutual funds or pension funds in this market. I don’t want the Fed to pull the rug out from under them..." https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-05/trump-fed-pick-shelton-says-central-bank-should-support-markets. But in 2016—when unemployment was higher and the case for easy money stronger—it was the Fed's "appeasing financial markets" that was the thing to be avoided https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/yes-trumps-latest-fed-pick-is-that-bad-heres-why/2020/02/10/a13fa1ec-4c44-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html. Back then under the Obama administration when there were lots of unemployed workers who could be put to work producing exports, policies to produce a weaker dollar to boost exports were to be shunned: "The obvious quick route to export success for any nation is to depreciate its currency. Dollar depreciation is already being pushed by the Obama administration.... Let's not compromise our currency in a misguided attempt to boost U.S. job growth. America's best future is forged through sound finances and sound money..." https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704698004576104260981772424. These days "compromising the currency" is a plus from the interest-rate cuts she wants to see https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trumps-fed-choice-judy-shelton-says-interest-rate-cut-needed-because-europe-is-set-to-devalue-euro-2019-07-05. Today monetary policy should be made looser "as expeditiously as possible" https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/06/19/fed-meets-trumps-potential-next-pick-wants-see-lower-rates-fast-possible. Back then "loose monetary policy... leads to internal bankruptcy... whole nations have foundered on this path..." https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123742149749078635.
We have a Washington Monument in large part because there was a guy who forced his army to obey the law and the civil authorities, and not to grab what it had the power to take through force or the threat of force: "Let me conjure you, in the name of our common Country—as you value your own sacred honor—as you respect the rights of humanity, & as you regard the Military & national character of America... [do not] under any specious pretences overturn the liberties of our Country... open the flood Gates of Civil discord, and deluge our rising Empire in Blood..."
We have a Jefferson Memorial in large part because there was a guy who cancelled not an individual but a king, an empire, and an entire system of government: "To secure these rights, Governments are instituted... deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.... Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive... it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government... in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness..."
That we need these monuments to Wokeness and Cancellation, and that it is fitting and proper that they be associated with the names of Washington and Jefferson—oligarchs and slaveholders, but revolutionaries—is a hill I will die on.
We do not need to memorialize our slaveholders and our oligarchs. We do need to memorialize our revolutions. And it is fitting and proper that we memorialize our revolutionaries.
Come and get me Erik Loomis https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/07/what-to-do-about-jefferson
.#highlighted #justice #memory #pubicsphere #racism #slavery #2020-07-13
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
html file: https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/a-grand-narrative-catechism-the-global-economic-history-of-the-long-20th-century-1870-2016.html
The need for large redirections of financial flows to avoid large increase in poverty during this coronavirus plague is large. The need for substantial top-ups to spending flows in view of the large jump in savings rates triggered by the arrival of coronavirus is large. The U.S. government continues to be able to borrow at unbelievable terms—terms so unbelievable that, when the accounting is done correctly, a larger national debt is not a drag on the funds the government has available for its other missions but rather a source of current cash flow.
(Why? Because in real population-adjusted terms, people are not charging the government interest on its debt but are instead paying the government to keep their money safe, but that is a discussion for another time.)
Moreover, a plan to have the government top off spending flows by whatever large amount is necessary to immediately return to full employment is moderately conservative, and the only effective way to give American businesses their proper chance to adjust and survive the coronavirus plague. It is, as John Maynard Keynes wrote back in 1936:
moderately conservative... [to] enlarge... the functions of government... [to include] the task of adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest.... [It is] the condition of the successful functioning of individual [entrepreneurial] initiative. For if effective demand is deficient, not only is the public scandal of wasted resources intolerable, but the individual enterpriser who seeks to bring these resources into action is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros, so that the players as a whole will lose if they have the energy and hope to deal all the cards.... [Success then requires] courage and initiative... supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough... [thus] preserving [both] efficiency and freedom...
Our financial flows and property orders are a societal accounting system to guide and manage our collective societal division of labor. If dotting the i's and crossing the t's in this societal accounting system produces mass unemployment, the right response is to adjust it to produce full employment and then reconcile the accounting entries, not to watch employment fall and then sit around with our thumbs up our butts wondering what to do.
After all, the market was made for man, not man for the market—wasn't it?:
Olugbenga Ajilore, Mark Blyth, J. Bradford DeLong, Susan Dynarski, Jason Furman, Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Teresa Ghilarducci, Robert Gordon, Samuel Hammond, Darrick Hamilton, Damon Jones, Elaine Maag, Ioana Marinescu, Manuel Pastor, Robert Pollin, Claudia Sahm, & al.: Open Letter from economists on Automatic Triggers for Cash Stimulus Payments https://www.economicsecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/emp_economists_letter.pdf: We urge policymakers to use all the tools at their disposal to avoid further preventable harm to people and the economy, including recurring direct stimulus payments, lasting until the economy recovers. The widespread uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession calls for a multifaceted response that includes automatic, ongoing programs and policies including more direct cash payments to families; extended and enhanced unemployment benefits; substantial aid to state and local governments; stronger SNAP benefits; robust child care funding and more. These programs and policies will hasten the economic recovery far more effectively if they stay in place until economic conditions warrant their phaseout. Direct cash payments are an essential tool that will boost economic security, drive consumer spending, hasten the recovery, and promote certainty at all levels of government and the economy–for as long as necessary…
Twitter: Two great economics papers on COVID-19 https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1271125083029819392.html! However, the series is being conducted under the auspices of the University of Chicago's Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, which puts itself forward as:
The Stigler Center aims to promote and disseminate research on regulatory capture, crony capitalism, and the various distortions that special interest groups impose on capitalism…
A naive alien coming to this world from outer space, a “stranger to human nature” as Adam Smith put it, might suppose that chief among those “various distortions” imposed by “special interest groups” is the long and sorry tale of American slavery-Jim Crow-disenfranchisement-massive resistance to integration-scared police shooting and not-scared police beating up people. Yet such a naive alien would be wrong.
Twitter: _I remember back in the... spring of 1981, I think it was https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1271237461272715267.html. I asked my professor, William Thomson, visiting from Rochester, roughly this: "The utilitarian social welfare function is Ω = U(1) + U(2) + U(3)... The competitive market economy maximizes a market social welfare function Ωm = ω(1)U(1) + ω(2)U(2) + ω(3)U(3)..., where the ω(i)s are Negishi weights that are increasing functions of your lifetime wealth W(i)—indeed, if lifetime utility is log wealth, then ω(i)=W(i).
I look at the Trump professional
economists Republicans—Kevin Hassett, Tomas Philipson, Casey Mulligan, & co.—and I really do wonder: Why were they so incompetent? Why did they get so strongly behind the "epidemiologists have it wrong", the "reopen the economy"—originally by Easter—and the "this will burn itself out quickly"—deaths down near zero by mid-May—pushes? At least now Philipson and Hassett appear to be silent—although Mulligan is still out there, claiming that the depression is the result of government lockdowns alone, which he values at "15,000 dollars per household per quarter" not counting "intrinsic costs of forgone civil liberties".
By the end of January we knew that this coronavirus was (a) highly infectious, (b) transmitted by the presymptomatic, (c) something against which no human had immunity, (d) a disease with a normal-behavior herd-immunity point likely to be more than 50% of the population, and (e) a disease that killed—with treatment—about 1% of the infected. Those facts made it obvious that keeping it from killing 30 million people worldwide would bet a very difficult task, and that adding up mortality and morbidity costs valued at three million or so per death meant that the stakes we were playing for to avoid a worst-case three million dead epidemic amounted to ten trillion dollars, compared to which the 350 billion cost of a one-month complete non-essential business lockdown that reduced national income by 20% was relatively small change.
And, indeed, the rest of the global north—even Britain—with the exception of Sweden has bit the bullet, taken the lockdown hit, now has the virus (temporarily) on the run, and can move to test-and-trace and social distancing to stomp the virus. We and Sweden have not. We have thus become pariah nations, as far as coronavirus is concerned.
Hoisted from the Archives: Are Deniers of the Tulipmania Rational?: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds Weblogging https://www.bradford-delong.com/2013/10/are-commenters-on-the-tulipmania-rational-extraordinary-popular-delusions-and-the-madness-of-crowds-weblogging.html: To claim that the tulip market between September 1636 and March 1637 was not a bubble-and-crash—that the market was "impressively price-efficient [and] fundamentally-driven"—is itself yet another striking example of extraordinary popular delusions, and the madness of crowds.
Efficient markets are those in which prices move far and fast only when fundamentals change a lot. And fundamentals change a lot only when a lot of information—information that changes rational assessments of fundamentals—arrives in a very short time. With respect to the seventeenth-century rare tulip market, the fundamentals are the patterns made by the tobacco mosaic virus on infected tulips, human aesthetic preferences, and the biology of tulip reproduction. Those are not fundamentals about which much information can arrive quickly.
Without any such information arrival, attempts to claim that the tulipmania bubble and its collapse was a rational event are not, themselves, examples of human rationality…
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
- Hierarchy and patriarchy to 1000 BC
- Inequality, slavery & the poisoned chalice of agriculture
- Horses, wheels, chariots, & nobles
- High patriarchy & polygyny
- Slavery and serfdom in the early classical world
- Managing the household
- “Slaves by nature”
- Slavery & empires
- Inequality, domination, and the market in the classical efflorescences
- War booty
- Plantation & mine slavery
- Slaves “skilled in literature & music”
- 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
- From slavery to serfdom: late antiquity & after
- Manumission & its opposite
- Honestiores & humiliores
- Barbarians, thralls, knights, & raids
- High feudalism
- 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
- Slaves on horses
- The creation of Islamic polities
- Sultans, amirs, clans, & slaves
- Eunuchs & households
- Mamelukes & janissaries
- 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
- The Commercial Revolution & the coming of the second serfdom, 1300-1900
- Cash crops & domination
- Nobles, czars, & cossacks
- Ending serfdom in eastern Europe
- Conquistadores & enslaving Amerindians
- Forced labor
- Long-term political-economy consequences for Latin America
Modern & capitalist slavery
- The Atlantic slave trade, 1500-1780
- Guns in Africa
- Sugar islands and the middle passage
- Calories & luxuries to Britain & elsewhere
- Slavery & cotton
- Who profited from cotton slavery?
- Westward expansion & the Slavepower
- The financial calculus of emancipation
- Consequences of slavery for Africa
- The political economy of African slave trades
- Nathan Nunn’s correlations
- African growth retardation
- 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
- 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
- Abolitionism, abolition, & “reconstruction” 1820-1880
- The Selling of Joseph & Uncle Tom’s Cabin
- Wartime “necessity”
- 40 acres & a mule—not
- Jim Crow 1865-2020
- The corrupt bargain of 1876
- “Separate but equal”
- Disenfranchisement & disempowerment
- “Race science” & eugenicism 1850-2020
- “Survival of the fittest”
- “Improving the race”
- The need to believe in racial hierarchies
- Civil rights 1920-2020
- The appeal to American ideals
- The opportunity of 1965
- The corruption of the Republican Party
- 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
- Mass incarceration & policing
- White fear & flight
- Crack & incarceration
- “Aggressive policing” & Black Lives Matter
- 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
- Master & servant
- The duties of a servant
- The duties of an employee
- Employer monopsony power
- 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
- Wage slavery
- Marx’s vision
- Forcing people to enslave themselves
- The Polanyian view of the market
- Gilded ages
- “I can hire half the working class to shoot the other half”
- Pinkertons & porters
- Mass media & the public sphere
- Monopoly capitalism
Yes, it is John Cochrane blogging once again. Once again, some of the plain people of the internet who wish me ill tell me I need to go and read John Cochrane—presumably to make me ill. And I do. And it does: John Cochrane: "This account of events does not hold water. Ba, now a professor at U.C. Irvine, was sitting in—not taking for credit—a class in 2014, six years ago. At the University of Chicago, there was always the issue for classes that meet on Mondays, how do you reschedule the class that would normally take place on Martin Luther King day? It was always a mess. In that discussion, Harald said something that Ba found offensive—that much is undeniable. What "fun" did Harald make of Dr. King? Precise words would help. Clearly in this interaction the tone fo voice—whether Harald's inquiry as to offense was "sarcastic" or well-intended—mattered as much as what was actually said. Yes, this merits investigation, to the extent that one can investigate comments made in classes six years ago reported via tweet..."
.#economicsgonewrong #highlighted #moralresponsibility #racism #2020-06-16
What the Democrats Must Do https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/democrats-must-embrace-full-employment-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-06: Although the United States has entered a period of deepening social strife and economic depression, the Republicans who are in charge have neither the ideas nor the competence to do anything about it. The Democrats must start planning to lead, starting with a commitment to full employment…. A federal commitment to full employment is not a new idea. The US Employment Act of 1946 embraced the principle.... The best response to... objections has always been John Maynard Keynes.... “Anything we can do, we can afford.”...
Far from acting as an independent binding constraint on economic activities, the financial system exists precisely to support such activities. Finding useful jobs for willing jobseekers is surely something we are capable of doing.
Adjusting the prevailing payments and financial structure to support full employment would of course have consequences.... Supporting full employment... may... require higher and more progressive taxes... sky-high debt... that we divert demand from elite consumption to labor-intensive sectors like public health. It also may require a large-scale labor-intensive public-works program. So be it. It’s time to make full employment our highest priority. Once we have done that, everything else will fall into place...
Mar 26, 2020: The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-covid19-testing-failure-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-03: Whereas many other countries afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic have pursued mass testing, quarantines, and other measures to reduce community transmission, the Trump administration has simply dithered. Although America could still shut down for a month to overcome the crisis, the sad truth is that it won't.
BERKELEY – Even to US President Donald Trump’s most ardent critics, his administration’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic has come as a surprise. Who would have guessed that Trump and his cronies would be so incompetent that merely testing for the disease would become a major bottleneck?
Intro: How Do We Learn (Online Especially)?
Universities will make a hash of moving online unless we answer the question: How do we learn? This video is the leadoff to a module that suggests some possible answers. We also need to know what economics is—and how it is good for. And the module that follows this video intro suggests some possible answers to those questions also.
(No: the module is not yet written up...)
The Project Syndicate people titled this "American Carnage": a good title. They also had to cut it massively. Here is the draft I am most satisfied with: J. Bradford DeLong: American Carnage https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-coronavirus-lethal-incompetence-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-04: ‘Throughout Donald Trump's presidency, it has been obvious that the American political system and public sphere are broken. But only with the federal government's embarrassingly incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic has that breakdown translated into a significant loss of life…
The United States is certainly doing the worst in the global north:
And here are my guesses of the overall situation:
One thing is clear: we now do fewer tests than and yet have thirty times the proportional caseload of the rest of the global north. And their economies are now recovering. Ours is not.
Max Roser & al.: Coronavirus Explorer https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data-explorer...
UCSF: Grand Rounds (Covid) https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ucsf+grand+rounds+covid…
Worldometer: Coronavirus Update (Live) https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/...
Financial Times: Coronavirus Tracked https://www.ft.com/coronavirus-latest...
CDPH: nCoV2019 Updates https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/ncov2019.aspx...
CDPH: News Releases 2020 https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/New-Release-2020.aspx...
Josh Marshall: Epidemic Science & Health Twitter List https://twitter.com/i/lists/1233998285779632128...
NEJM Group: Updates on the Covid-19 Pandemic http://m.n.nejm.org/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%40kxNtXckRDOq8oG0jJvAXsIzN4mPECIPhltxoTSdTU9k%3D&cid=DM89089_NEJM_COVID-19_Newsletter&bid=173498255: 'From the New England Journal of Medicine, NEJM Journal Watch, NEJM Catalyst, and other trusted sources...
I. Where We Are & What I Am Doing
As of now, the guess is that one person in 80 in California has or had the coronavirus. We rank 30th among the United States with 40 confirmed (and probably 60 true) coronavirus deaths per million. I am trying not to catch the disease, so that I do not then become one of those who spread it. I am going for long (isolated) walks in the hills of Berkeley and Oakland. I am watching lots of old movies. I am trying to let the orange-haired baboon who is President Trump live rent-free in my brain only between 8:00-8:15 PM, and spend only 8:15-9:00 PM thinking about coronavirus. And otherwise I am trying to play my position.
II. I Am, Right Now, for Relaxation...
I Am Aware of Coronavirus in Early February
The first time I can find myself speaking publicly about the coronavirus outbreak came on February 3, 2020, in the introductory lead-in to my twentieth century economic history lecture. I then said, roughly:
The next six to nine months are likely to be quite unpleasant for the world
Globally, the public health authorities are still hoping to keep deaths at much, much less than 30 million dead worldwide. This will be accomplished largely by slowing down international travel, and interregional travel in China, for a great deal of time. The National Institutes of Health and other research organizations need to figure out what this sucker is and how to train all of our immune systems up to deal with it. Border control authorities will have to pull people with symptoms aside and quarantine them until they conclude that they do not have it.
This is a new age.
In some ways, however, this new age is like a very old age.
A good liar needs to have a good memory. Richard Epstein has a bad memory. Richard Epstein is a bad liar https://mobile.twitter.com/JohnPMacke/status/1251716101819584513.
On Mar 16 he forecast https://www.hoover.org/research/coronavirus-pandemic that the U.S. would see about 500 deaths from coronavirus.
He then on Mar 23 wrote https://www.hoover.org/research/coronavirus-overreaction that that 500 estimate was low, and that he now had a revised forecast of 2,500.
Today the March 16 article—still datestamped March 16—has been silently changed. Why? To make it appear that on Mar 16 he forecast not 500, and not 2500, but 5000 U.S. deaths.
Today the Mar 16 article contains a "Correction & Addendum as of March 24"—the datestamp Mar 24 of which is false—that states that he had intended on Mar 16 to forecast 50,000 U.S. deaths: "my original erroneous estimate of 5,000 dead in the US is a number ten times smaller than I intended to state..."
The Mar 24 datestamp is false because the "Correction & Addendum as of March 24" has itself been silently revised: the "Correction & Addendum as of March 24" originally read: "That estimate is ten times greater than the 500 number I erroneously put in the initial draft of the essay...
Could this be funnier?
Confused? Epstein is now claiming that he originally intended on Mar 16 to forecast 50,000 U.S. dead but "erroneously" put 5,000 in his "initial draft".
In actual fact, his original Mar 16 forecast was 500.
In actual fact, on Mar 23 Epstein stated that his initial calculations had been in error, and that a better forecast was "2000-2500".
In actual fact, on Mar 24, Epstein added his "Correction & Addendum" raising his better forecast to 5,000, and acknowledging that that 5,000 forecast was a tenfold increase over his initial 500 forecast.
In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 16 article—keeping the Mar 16 datestamp—so that it falsely appears that its forecast was not 500 but 5000.
In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 24 "Correction & Addendum" to his Mar 16 article so that it now falsely claims that his original estimate was not 500 but 5000.
In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 24 "Correction & Addendum" to his Mar 16 article to add the—previously never made, and so I conclude entirely false—claim that he on Mar 16 had "intended" to forecast 50,000 U.S. deaths from coronavirus.
I am with Paul Campos here: This is intellectual fraud, pure and simple.
Other countries have managed to get R well below 1—have begun substantially shrinking the daily number of new cases.
The United States has not:
Our current level of social distancing and lockdown appears to be producing about 30,000 new confirmed cases a day. We are no longer—and have not for two weeks been—ramping up and utilitizing our testing capabilities. On our current trajectory we look to be incurring about 2000 reported coronavirus deaths a day.
Our medical system is handling the current run of cases. But it would be nice to get the number of cases down and the number of tests up so that we could begin implementing test-and-trace. But that requires a lot more tests—which are not there. And that required more effective social distancing to get R substantially below one—which is not there, certainly not at a nationwide level.
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...
The Pattern of Normal Politics, 1870-1914: An Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long 20th Century, 1870-2016"
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.