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The Obelisk of Wokeness & the Dome of Cancellation

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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

Holbo: 'This Maxim Is Patently, Grossly Inadequate for Governing a Blog Comment Box... Let Alone... Public Reason & a Public Sphere'—Noted

There is good-faith speech that is heated and provocative "discussion of the issues" that advances public reason and the public sphere. There is bad-faith speech that aims to undermine and destroy public reason and the public sphere—trolling, sealioning, discursive monkeywrenching, or simple grifting.

There is consensus that such a line exists. There is consensus that the public sphere and public reason require that that line be enforced—that those who violate it be "cancelled", that there be consequences. And in this real world there will be consequences, if only because people whose public face is that of a troll—or a sealion, a monkeywrencher, or a grifter—is unlikely to add to the quality of an employment or a social circle.

There is a problem that good-faith speakers will and do have good-faith disagreements as to where the line is between heated and provocative but productive contributions on the one hand and trolling, sealioning, monkey wrenching, and simple grifting on the other. There is also a problem that bad-faith speakers always and everywhere will and do attempt to fly under false flags to claim that some speech that advances public reason is in fact beyond the line. There is a tendency to wish the problem away by pretending not to see it

Thus the claim that it is always and everywhere the case that "the way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other" is itself bad speech: destructive of and aiming to undermine public reason and the public sphere. And so I reach the Harpers' letter (no, I am not going to give it a link).

But John Holbo gets there fastest with the mostest (yes, I do know who coined the phrase; I am confiscating it):

John Holbo: 'This Maxim Is Patently, Grossly Inadequate for Governing a Blog Comment Box... Let Alone... Public Reason & a Public Sphere' https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/07/holbo-this-maxim-is-patently-grossly-inadequate-for-governing-a-blog-comment-box-let-alone-public-reason-a-public.html: '[The Harpers letter says:] "The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other" https://twitter.com/jholbo1/status/1280678001395372032. Some thoughts on 2nd-best solutions: This maxim is patently, grossly inadequate for governing a blog comment box... let alone a social media platform, let alone Public Reason and a Public Sphere…

[Second Best]: Ideally, the world contains no trolls, bots, bad faith actors—or few enough they can be dealt with retail not wholesale in the Marketplace of Ideas. In a world in which everyone were exchanging more or less in open-faced good faith, this rule would be good. In our actual world, however, it is not good. No, not really, sadly. Hence a dilemma.... There isn't really an obvious, simple 2nd best rule for our 2nd best world....

Partisanship is... a thing that should be damped in debate. The whole point of arguing is to consider changing your mind, via trying to change others' minds. So... partisans should—not disarm, that isn't it—but observe exacting dueling protocols when entering the debate arena. But this is hard to articulate and enforce....

[Vaccination Against Nazis]: Nazis are bad. In a politically liberal world in which there are only a few Nazis, you can argue with them. It's like a vaccine. You are inoculating the discourse by injecting it with small amounts of moribund evil, to build antibodies. Unfortunately, it is a fallacy that, if vaccines are good, virulent diseases must be good, too.

Republicans whine that they get called 'evil', but they support a President who tweets out 'White Power' and they are, no kidding, working to dismantle or hobble democracy.... Unless and until conservatism crawls out of its deplorable basket there isn't much realistic prospect of normalizing its tenets as non-deplorable, in discourse terms. It is not reasonable to ask the left to pretend things stand otherwise than they do....

[Downstream Worries]: A lot of bad faith sewage seep[s] in... all... [of] the same form... 'downstream worries'.... If 'trans rights are human rights', we have pronoun trouble, or need new norms for bathrooms or women's sports or in womens' shelters. Or philosophical ideas about the metaphysics of gender will be problematized. All this is true and some of it may get bumpy. But there's really no point arguing about it without a high baseline of initial acceptance.... But the bad faith arguers are not willing to debate the antecedent honestly. They have a sense they'll lose, and they are right.... So they fuss about bathrooms to pollute discourse with issues that can only be reasonably discussed after we accept something they don't, but aren't willing to argue about honestly. There is no reason to put up with the debate being rendered nonsensical.

[Cancel Culture]: It's fine to 'cancel' those who monkey wrench liberal discourse, rather than engage in honest debate. Unfortunately, that means those who are adjacent to bad faith actors, but in good faith, get cancelled-by-association. That's unfortunate but hard to rule out, with a rule...

.#noted #publicsphere #2020-07-11

Holbo: 'This Maxim Is Patently, Grossly Inadequate for Governing a Blog Comment Box... Let Alone... Public Reason & a Public Sphere'—Noted

John Holbo: '[The Harpers letter says:] "The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other" https://twitter.com/jholbo1/status/1280678001395372032. Some thoughts on 2nd-best solutions: This maxim is patently, grossly inadequate for governing a blog comment box... let alone a social media platform, let alone Public Reason and a Public Sphere. Ideally, we would live in a world in which this would be an ideal rule to follow. Ideally, the world contains no trolls, bots, bad faith actors—or few enough they can be dealt with retail not wholesale in the Marketplace of Ideas. In a world in which everyone were exchanging more or less in open-faced good faith, this rule would be good. In our actual world, however, it is not good. No, not really, sadly. Hence a dilemma. Insisting on the rule might seem to pull us towards that better world. Be the ideal discourse change you want to see! On the other hand—here is 2nd best wisdom—there is no guarantee that things fit for the best of all possible worlds also best suit ours...

...If you set this high bar and then—predictably—fail to clear it (you block people on Twitter rather than debating them ad nauseum, even though they are obviously trolls) you open yourself up to criticism of hypocrisy. Maybe things go backwards as a result. But there isn't really an obvious, simple 2nd best rule for our 2nd best world. It's easy-and therefore very proper!-to point out cases in which people and things and ideas have been 'cancelled' when they clearly should have been tolerated/debated. Not easy to articulate a stable norm about this, even a rule-of-thumb. One of the main obstacles is the discourse ethics of partisanship. Partisanship is not bad faith, but partisanship is, to some degree, a thing that should be damped in debate. The whole point of arguing is to consider changing your mind, via trying to change others' minds. So, ideally, partisans should-not disarm, that isn't it-but observe exacting dueling protocols when entering the debate arena. But this is hard to articulate and enforce.

Here's another problem. Nazis are bad. In a politically liberal world in which there are only a few Nazis, you can argue with them. It's like a vaccine. You are inoculating the discourse by injecting it with small amounts of moribund evil, to build antibodies. Unfortunately, it is a fallacy that, if vaccines are good, virulent diseases must be good, too. R's whine that they get called 'evil', but they support a President who tweets out 'White Power' and they are, no kidding, working to dismantle or hobble democracy. Why are leftists 'cancelling' right-wing ideas? Because the center of gravity of conservative thinking in the Republican party has lurched rightward. The R party really is laying its bets on securing minority white rule by manipulation of anti-democratic levers of power.

This is within the 'rules of the game', because the game was to some degree designed to be anti-democratic. But it is not something they are arguing for openly and honestly. It's not clear it's a good idea arguing with them as-if they were good faith actors about this. Future historians will debate 'cancel culture in the 2020's'. I hope they will be sensible enough rightly to identify as its main, root cause: breaches of norms of commitment to liberalism and democracy by the American right. 'Unless and until conservatism crawls out of its deplorable basket there isn't much realistic prospect of normalizing its tenets as non-deplorable, in discourse terms.' It is not reasonable to ask the left to pretend things stand otherwise than they do.

Another nexus of dispute is things like trans rights. I don't want to get into the whole JK Rowling thing. On the one hand, people ought to be more open to more perspectives on these things. Life is mysterious and strange and needs many perspectives on it. On the other hand, it isn't really reasonable to ask people to open themselves up to—to render themselves incapable of having reasonable discussions in the face of—bad faith attacks. I believe Rowling is arguing in good faith, even if I don't agree with what she is saying. But the pressure to 'cancel' that sort of thing does not seem to me to be due, primarily, to intolerance on the left. Rather, the problem is that MOST arguments and arguers on Rowling's side (but not her) are in bad faith. So it's hard to debate Rowling in good faith without polluting the discourse, absolutely, by letting a lot of bad faith sewage seep in.

If you want a world in which a good faith argument is possible between Rowling and her critics (which I do!) work to bring about a world in which there is less bad-faith arguing from the right on trans rights. Let me be very specific about that. The bad faith arguments all have the same form. They are what I call 'downstream worries' arguments. If 'trans rights are human rights' we have pronoun trouble, or need new norms for bathrooms or women's sports or in womens' shelters. Or philosophical ideas about the metaphysics of gender will be problematized. All this is true and some of it may get bumpy. But there's really no point arguing about it without a high baseline of initial acceptance of trans rights. If trans rights are human rights, how are we going to run sports/use pronouns? But the bad faith arguers are not willing to debate the antecedent honestly. They have a sense they'll lose, and they are right. So they fuss about bathrooms to pollute discourse with issues that can only be reasonably discussed after we accept something they don't, but aren't willing to argue about honestly. There is no reason to put up with the debate being rendered nonsensical.

It's fine to 'cancel' those who monkey wrench liberal discourse, rather than engage in honest debate. Unfortunately, that means those who are adjacent to bad faith actors, but in good faith, get cancelled-by-association. That's unfortunate but hard to rule out, with a rule. So I can't agree with the letter of the letter, although I do wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of the letter. So, in spirit, I sign the letter. In the best of all possible worlds. But not, like, with the letters of my name in a 2nd best world. (Is that right?)...

.#cognition #noted #publicsphere #2020-07-07

Popehat: The Problem of the Preferred First Speaker—Noted

So now Jennifer Finney Boylan self-cancels for signing the Harpers letter, and Emily van Der Werff says that Matt Yglesias's signing it makes her feel "less safe" at vox.com—thus putting Vox Media's Human Resources Department on notice that other employees may be creating an environment unsafe for her.

And she promptly gets cancelled, massively, by a mob at least partly directed by Jesse Singal, in spite of Matt Yglesias's pleas that people leave Emily alone

My first reaction to the letter was "in the world of Trump, of COVID-19, of global warming, of the murder of George Floyd, of the clearing of Lafayette Park of peaceful protesters with tear gas so the President accompanied by the CJCS can walk through—this is the type of action in the public sphere you think you should take? What's wrong with you?" But my second reaction is turning into: "Well played, John R. MacArthur, well played!":

Popehat: ‘I like and respect many of these people https://twitter.com/Popehat/status/1280662627014721536[who signed "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate"]. But I continue to struggle with the concept. The distinction between “silencing” and more/responsive/critical speech eludes me. I see instead the problem of the preferred first speaker. “The problem of the preferred first speaker” is the tendency to impose norms of civility, openness, productiveness, and dialogue-encouraging on a RESPONSE to expression that we do not impose on the expression itself. On the other hand, some of the reactions to this seem absolutely devoted to making its point. Ugh. No seriously, now I wonder if the letter was crafted to make its point not in its text but through the anticipated reactions. Good Lord above people. I mean if that was their intent—to illustrate their proposition through anticipated reactions—I have to compliment them on their craft, even if I don't agree with them entirely.

Jennifer Finney Boylan: I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company.

Also, "public shaming and ostracism" are free speech and association, and I guarantee you that you support them—you just disagree with me about when they should be used. Be suspicious of free speech philosophies that require you to refrain from speaking to promote speech…

.#noted #publicsphere #2020-07-07

Respect Mah Authoritah—Noted

Edge of the American West: Respect Mah Authoritah https://edgeofthewest.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/respect-mah-authoritah/: ‘Serious question: are there good reasons why an individual’s background or cultural positioning should provide that person more authority in a political argument? I ask, because as I read the incredibly predictable debates about the nightmare unfolding in Gaza, I keep seeing people say things like, “Well, I’m a Jew, and I think what Israel is doing is wrong/immoral.” The implicit points apparently are: 1) “My Jewishness should insulate me from charges of anti-Semitism. So don’t go there.” And 2) “My Jewishness provides me with a window, through which the goyim can’t possibly see, into this intractable problem.” I’m slightly sympathetic to the former point. Maybe.... The latter argument, though, leaves me shaking my head. I’m not entirely sure it’s wrong. But I don’t like its implications at all. And if it’s valid, I’d like someone to explain why.... I don’t feel like linking to Marty Peretz, professional asshat, or the incensed commenters weighing in on the Gaza incursion in various corners of the blogosphere. Sorry. I’m both a bit flummoxed by the whole thing and also, as this post notes, more focused here on the broader question of argumentation...

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Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us—Noted

Let me not think about our current problems and dysfunctions for a moment and instead cast our eyes forward to the task of how to build something closer to Utopia over the next decade, after this mess wins its way to its likely very sorry end. The thoughtful Annalee Newitz is worth listening to as we face the task of constructing a better functioning public sphere. We can certainly do it. But it almost surely cannot be built on the backs of advertising supported social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Company will probably have to die and be replaced by subscription and by public services:

Annalee Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/30/opinion/social-media-future.html: 'My quest to imagine a different reality: Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next.... What will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?... Erika Hall’s design firm Mule.... “I absolutely believe that you can design interfaces that create more safe spaces to interact, in the same way we know how to design streets that are safer,” she said. But today, she told me, the issue isn’t technical. It has to do with the way business is being done in Silicon Valley.... [John] Scalzi... imagines a new wave of digital media companies that will serve the generations of people who have grown up online (soon, that will be most people) and already know that digital information can’t be trusted. They will care about who is giving them the news, where it comes from, and why it’s believable. “They will not be internet optimists in the way that the current generation of tech billionaires wants,” he said with a laugh.... There isn’t a decent real-world analogue for social media, and that makes it difficult for users to understand where public information is coming from, and where their personal information is going. It doesn’t have to be that way.... Public life has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else. We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms—and give it back to human beings. We may need to slow down, but we’ve created democracies out of chaos before. We can do it again... #cognition #democracy #noted #politicaleconomy #publicsphere #2020-06-25


Twitter: On Michelle Goldberg: Publishing Cotton's Op-Ed without Context Is a "More Direct" Way of Informing New York Times Readers

https://delong.typepad.com/files/twitter-delong-goldberg-2020-06-08.pdf

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Trump: The Cruelty Is the Point...

IMHO, It is long past time for advertising-supported social media to die. The incentives facing Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, and company are extremely poisonous. And—unlike Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, even Elon Musk—Jack and Mark regard themselves as in the business of piling up as much money as they can, rather than as enabling and guiding human progress. It needs to stop. They are, as somebody-or-other said, our modern tobacco companies—only profiting from human addiction to controversy and polarization and susceptibility to misinformation rather than human addiction to nicotine: Brian Klaas: 'Trump took the tragic death of a young woman, Lori Klausutis https://twitter.com/brianklaas/status/1265239671140909058, and has tried to exploit it for political gain in the most disgusting way imaginable. This letter from her husband to [Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey] asking him to delete Trump’s sick tweets is a heart-wrenching must read.…

#fascism #journamalism #moralresponsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publicsphere #2020-05-27

Remembering Facerbook's Video Semi?-Fraud

Jason #StayHome Kint: The industry and publishers chased Facebook’s news, learning only later they may have been fraudently deceived... https://twitter.com/jason_kint/status/1263762461271998466. Since Facebook was gifted global news headlines yesterday by prognosticating on work from home 5-10yrs from now, a reminder Facebook is supposed to be “mostly video” this year.... It was one of the long list of reasons not to trust Facebook. Did Facebook’s faulty data push news publishers to make terrible decisions on video? Publishers' "pivot to video" was driven largely by a belief that if Facebook was seeing users, in massive numbers, shift to video from text, the trend must be real...

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Noted: Kaufman; Aesthetic Illusion and Sociopolitical Delusion

I have a very strong feeling that the work of the Frankfurt School is very important as we try to understand our current situation. So if only I could understand the Frankfurt School, I might be a happier man!:

Robert Kaufman: Poetry's Ethics? Theodor W. Adorno and Robert Duncan on Aesthetic Illusion and Sociopolitical Delusion https://www-jstor-org.libproxy.berkeley.edu/stable/pdf/27669156.pdf: 'The overarching and thoroughgoing inhumanity of the situation of what Adorno calls "damaged life" structured everything around it, so that, in Adorno's formulation, wrong life could not—cannot—be lived rightly, and the very attempt or reflex of trying to act ethically, or of finding oneself seeming to act ethically, is precisely what leads one to feel barbaric, for it makes all the more clear that nothing but unjustifiable luck has been operative: at the moment of a sheerly arbitrary, chance, statistical survival, the projection of an ethical attempt to assist the other comes to feel like an unspeakable mockery or perverse miming of ethics, since the thought and act meant to differentiate themselves from the barbarism of survival-due-to-statistical-probability turn out to be not the necessary fiction, not the generative, as if illusion, of undetermined, ethical behavior, but instead the cruel delusion that the latter still has any operative existence in these circumstances...

#cognition #noted #publicsphere #20230-05-13

Note to Self: Richard Dawkins's Existence Poses a Real Problem for the Darwinian Theory of Evolution! https://www.bradford-delong.com/2013/09/richard-dawkinss-existence-poses-a-real-problem-for-the-darwinian-theory-of-evolution.html: 'The author… doesn’t care for “Pride and Prejudice”: “I can’t get excited about who is going to marry whom, and how rich they are.”' On a branch of the evolutionary tree as social as we are, genes that predispose you to such a mind state should have been wiped from the pool 50 million years ago… Just saying'...

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Oh Noes!!: Hoisted from Eleven Years Ago: The New York Times Has Been... Unprofessional for a Long, Long, Time Across a Wide Range of Areas

Hoisted from 2008: Oh Noes!!: "Oh Noes!! The New York Times crash-and-burn watch continues. To Ben Stein the Times has added...

CATHERINE RAMPELL: 'I’m pleased to introduce Casey B. Mulligan, an economist at the University of Chicago, as the newest addition to our “Daily Economist” panel...

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Casey Mulligan says—wait for it—that the reason that unemployment is the 7% it is right now rather than the 4.4% it was two years ago because workers today face "financial incentives that encourage them not to work":

Are Employers Unwilling to Hire, or Are Some Workers Unwilling to Work?: 'Employment has been falling over the past year... if total hours worked had continued the upward trend they had been on in the years before the recession, they would be 4.7 percent higher than they are now.... [Today s]ome employees face financial incentives that encourage them not to work.... [T]he decreased employment is explained more by reductions in the supply of labor (the willingness of people to work) and less by the demand for labor (the number of workers that employers need to hire)...

If the New York Times has a future, it is as a trusted intermediary. This does not help...

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Neoliberalism: Are We Sure That's the Right Word?: Talking to Noah Smith

Noah Smith and Bradford DeLong: Neoliberalism: Are We Sure That's the Right Word? http://www.pairagraph.com/dialogue/6420f501123b4520892978e93565cff9/1: Noah Smith: 'So we're supposed to be discussing neoliberalism, are we? Well, I was elected "Chief Neoliberal Shill of 2018" in a rigged joke online poll, so I spent a year looking around for reasons to think that "neoliberalism" might describe a good and useful policy outlook instead of Reagan/Thatcher/Milton Friedman libertarian dogma. I remembered that you had penned a defense of something called "neoliberalism" a while back: You framed "neoliberalism" as basically a program that protected markets as the basic engine of production and then tried to add a welfare state on top of those markets. And you depicted the main benefits of this system as being poor-country growth and global convergence. That strikes me as a useful definition and a solid assessment of its benefits...

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Blogging: What to Expect Here...

Preview of REMIND YOURSELF Blogging What to Expect Here

The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading...

"Bring expertise, bring a willingness to learn, bring good humor, bring a desire to improve the world—and also bring a low tolerance for lies and bullshit..." — Brad DeLong

"I have never subscribed to the notion that someone can unilaterally impose an obligation of confidentiality onto me simply by sending me an unsolicited letter—or an email..." — Patrick Nielsen Hayden

"I can safely say that I have learned more than I ever would have imagined doing this.... I also have a much better sense of how the public views what we do. Every economist should have to sell ideas to the public once in awhile and listen to what they say. There's a lot to learn..." — Mark Thoma

"Tone, engagement, cooperation, taking an interest in what others are saying, how the other commenters are reacting, the overall health of the conversation, and whether you're being a bore..." — Teresa Nielsen Hayden

"With the arrival of Web logging... my invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least. Plus, web logging is an excellent procrastination tool.... Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience.... Web logging is a promising way to do that..." — Brad DeLong

"Blogs are an outlet for unexpurgated, unreviewed, and occasionally unprofessional musings.... At Chicago, I found that some of my colleagues overestimated the time and effort I put into my blog—which led them to overestimate lost opportunities for scholarship. Other colleagues maintained that they never read blogs—and yet, without fail, they come into my office once every two weeks to talk about a post of mine..." — Daniel Drezner

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Brad DeLong Says More...: Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate: [Brad DeLong Says More...](htt*PS*: //us10.campaign-archive.com/?u=9116789a51839e0f88fa29b83&id=646c7b19aa&e=a7192bc790): Project Syndicate: One forgotten lesson of the Great Depression, you wrote last month, is that “persistent ultra-low interest rates mean the economy is still short of safe, liquid stores of value, and thus in need of further monetary expansion”...

...Since then, the US Federal Reserve has cut the federal funds rate – a move that you argued in March could either stave off a recession or drastically undermine the Fed’s capacity to respond to one. What steps should the Fed take to help encourage the former and prevent the latter? At a time of growing political pressure on the Fed, what approach is it likely to take?

Brad DeLong: Back in 1992, Larry Summers and I warned participants at the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that low inflation and high equity-return and bond-risk premiums do not play well together. Dealing with a typical recession had, historically, required that the Fed cut the federal funds rate by five full percentage points. A large recession would require even larger cuts.

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Eternal September: How Trolls Overran the Public Square: Project Syndicate

How_Trolls_Overran_the_Public_Square_by_J__Bradford_DeLong_-_Project_Syndicate

Project Syndicate: How Trolls Overran the Public Square https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trolls-win-control-of-the-public-square-by-j-bradford-delong-2019-12: Since the invention of writing, human innovation has transformed how we formulate new ideas, organize our societies, and communicate with one another. But in an age of rapid-fire social media and nonstop algorithm-generated outrage, technology is no longer helping to expand or enrich the public sphere: Every year since 1900 we have had change in human technology and organization at a blistering pace: human productivity, organization, and technological capabilities now change at a rate that packs into one year what would have been 50 years of change back before 1500. It used to be that culture, war, the rise and fall of individuals' statuses, and politics were the meat of human history, with technology and organization much of an unchanging background, and productivity growing only very slowly on average. But that is not the world we live in today.

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Smith, Marx, Keynes: Cement Your Knowledge

Knowledge system and cognitive science guru Andy Matuschak writes a rant called Why Books Don’t Work https://andymatuschak.org/books/, about big, difficult books that take him six to nine hours each to read.... [His] points have strong relevance for students in U.C. Berkeley’s Econ 105: History of Economic Thought: Do we live in a Smithian, Marxian or Keynesian World?. The core of the course is an assisted reading of three big books that are d—-ably difficult.... To assist you in this process, we have compiled 150 questions-and-answers—50 about Smith, 50 about Marx, and 50 about Keynes—that we think you should review and learn as part of your active-learning incorporation of the thought of these three authors into your own minds.... For those of you reading this who are in the intended audience of Econ 105 students in the fall of 2019, here is an incentive.... Some of these questions will be on the exam...

https://www.icloud.com/pages/0yyHboa030OEohMkflwYE1u5w

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Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted from the Archives: Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/10/ricardos-big-idea-and-its-vicissitudes-inet-edinburgh-comparative-advantage-panel.html:

INET Edinburgh Comparative Advantage Panel


Ricardo's Big Idea, and Its Vicissitudes

https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0QMFGpAUFCjqhdfLULfDbLE4g

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Income and Wealth Distribution, or, Watching Professional Republicans Sell Their Souls Back in 1992: Hoisted from the Archives

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I have long wanted an undergraduate to write a senior thesis about this episode. I have never found one to advise to do so:

Hoisted from the Archives: The income distribution came on to the stage that is America's public sphere between February 14 and December 12, 1992. And the rhetoric of "X% of gains in per capita income over years Y-Z went to the top W%-iles of the income distribution" became a one in American political-economic discourse over that time period as well. Over those ten months then-New York Times economics reporter Sylvia Nasar wrote eight stories about income inequality in America. All of them were pitched at a high substantive and intellectual level—they would have fit into the New York Times's later Upshot (which has recently refocused at a less analytically-substantive level as concerned with "politics, policy, and everyday life"). This was, needless to say, very unusual for the New York Times.

Sylvia's first story addressed the peculiar fact that the "80's Boom", as Reagan Republicans and the New York Times called it, had seen the poverty rate not diminish but rise. Sylvia attributed that rise to union-busting, and a growing disparity between high- and low-wage jobs springing from a decline in relative manufacturing employment and possibly from boosted high-wage white-collar productivity from computerization. Her second story, on March 5, took a turn. Instead of continuing to investigate the causes of rising poverty and wage stagnation in a decade of supposed boom, it focused on "who had reaped the gains" from "the prosperity of the last decade and a half". It highlighted the "Krugman calculation". It began:

Populist politicians, economists and ordinary citizens have long suspected that the rich have been getting richer. What is making people sit up now is recent evidence that the richest 1 percent of American families appears to have reaped most of the gains from the prosperity of the last decade and a half. An outsized 60 percent of the growth in the average after-tax income of all American families between 1977 and 1989—and an even heftier three-fourths of the gain in average pretax income—went to the wealthiest 660,000 families, each of which had an annual income of at least $310,000 a year...

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Weekend Reading: Paul Krugman: The Rich, the Right, and the Facts: Deconstructing the Inequality Debate

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Paul Krugman (Fall 1992): The Rich, the Right, and the Facts: Deconstructing the Inequality Debate https://prospect.org/economy/rich-right-facts-deconstructing-inequality-debate/: "During the mid-1980s, economists became aware that something unexpected was happening to the distribution of income in the United States. After three decades during which the income distribution had remained relatively stable, wages and incomes rapidly became more unequal.... During 1992 this genteel academic discussion gave way to a public debate, carried out in the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and assorted popular magazines. This public debate was remarkable in two ways.... The conservative side displayed great ferocity.... Conservatives chose to take an odd, and ultimately indefensible, position. They could legitimately have challenged,,, on the grounds that nothing can, or at any rate should, be done about it. But with only a few exceptions they chose instead to make their stand on the facts to deny that the massive increase in inequality had happened... [in] an extraordinary series of attempts at statistical distortion. The whole episode... is a sort of textbook demonstration of the uses and abuses of statistics.... The combination of mendacity and sheer incompetence displayed by the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Treasury Department, and a number of supposed economic experts demonstrates something else: the extent of the moral and intellectual decline of American conservatism.... Fortune has long carried out annual surveys of executive compensation; and since the mid-1970s compensation of top executives has risen far faster than average or typical wages.... Surveys carried out by the University of Michigan have also shed useful light on income distribution.... There is also anecdotal evidence: Tom Wolfe... soaring demand for apartments in Manhattan's 'Good Buildings'... his Bonfire of the Vanities arguably tells you all you need to know about the subject...

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How Damaging Is Plutocracy for Economic Policy?

Is Plutocracy Really the Problem by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate: Is Plutocracy Really the Problem?: After the 2008 financial crisis, economic policymakers in the United States did enough to avert another Great Depression, but fell far short of what was needed to ensure a strong recovery. Attributing that failure to the malign influence of the plutocracy is tempting, but it misses the root of the problem.... In fact, big money does not always find a way, nor does its influence necessarily increase as the top 0.01% captures a larger share of total income.... The larger issue...is an absence of alternative voices. If the 2010s had been anything like the 1930s, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Conference Board would have been aggressively calling for more investment in America, and these arguments would have commanded the attention of the press. Labor unions would have had a prominent voice as advocates for a high-pressure economy. Both would have had very powerful voices inside the political process through their support of candidates. Did the top 0.01% put something in the water to make the media freeze out such voices after 2008?... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/03/your_onestop_sh.html: In anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the bloody Stalinist suppression of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista in the Barcelona May Days, we are--thanks to Jacob Levy--proud to bring you the latest in sectarian Marxist polemics blogging. First, we have Eric Hobsbawm declaring that George Orwell was a Traitor to Humanity by telling the truth about what he saw in Spain:

Eric Hobsbawm: "Writers supported [the Republican cause in] Spain... Hemingway, Malraux, Bernanos and virtually all the notable contemporary young British poets-Auden, Spender, Day Lewis, MacNeice did. Spain was the experience that was central to their lives between 1936 and 1939.... Polemics about the civil war [within the Left]... have never ceased since 1939. This was not so while the war was still continuing, although such incidents as the banning of the dissident Marxist Poum party and the murder of its leader Andrés Nin caused some international protest. Plainly a number of foreign volunteers... were shocked by... the behaviour of the Russians and much else...

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Unstructured Procrastination: Hoisted from the Archives

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives (2005): Unstructured Procrastination https://www.bradford-delong.com/2005/08/unstructured_pr.html: I usually am quite good at structured procrastination—working not on the thing that is most immediate and imminent on my calendar, but on the priority #3 or #4 that is actually more important in the long run and that excites me at the moment. But today this system has broken down. I have done something nobody should ever do: I have spent an hour thinking about Louis Althusser.

It's all Michael Berube's fault, but its worth it, for (highlighted below) he has the best paragraph on Louis Althusser ever written. The rest is (or ought to be) silence:

Michael Berube: "The otherwise incomprehensible question of why anyone would think it necessary to devise a 'structuralist Marxism'. Structuralism is so antipathetic to all questions of hermeneutics and historicity that one might imagine the desire for a structuralist Marxism to be something like a hankering for really spicy ice cream. And yet, in the work of Louis Althusser, spicy ice cream is exactly what we have. I don’t like it myself. But because it’s an important byway in the history of ice cream...

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Hoisted from the Archives: Why Everybody Should Be Short Louis Althusser and His Intellectual Children

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: Why Everybody Should Be Short Louis Althusser and His Intellectual Children https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/06/why_everybody_s.html: William Lazonick (1982), "Discussion of Resnick and Wolff, Feiner, Jensen, and Weiss," +Journal of Economic History_, 42:1 (March), pp. 83-85 http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-0507%28198203%2942%3A1%3C83%3ADORAWF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-G: "I find the title of this session—'Marxist Approaches to Economic History'—to be inappropriate.... First, what we have heard here are not "approaches" but one approach repeated four times.... Second... the approach presented here... relates not to economic history... not even an approach to the actual study of social history.... It is philosophical thinking about how one might develop an analytical framework for studying feudalism, capitalism, and so on...

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For the Weekend: Fred Clark: The Duty of Speaking Ill of the Dead

Death of scrooge Google Search

Weekend Reading: Very wise from the very wise Fred Clark: The Duty of Speaking Ill of the Dead: "From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 'The Last of the Spirits': 'The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business men. Observing that the hand was pointed to them, Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk. “No,” said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, “I don’t know much about it, either way. I only know he’s dead.” “When did he die?” inquired another. “Last night, I believe.” “Why, what was the matter with him?” asked a third, taking a vast quantity of snuff out of a very large snuff-box. “I thought he’d never die.” “God knows,” said the first, with a yawn. “What has he done with his money?” asked a red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his nose, that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. “I haven’t heard,” said the man with the large chin, yawning again. “Left it to his company, perhaps. He hasn’t left it to me. That’s all I know.” This pleasantry was received with a general laugh. “It’s likely to be a very cheap funeral,” said the same speaker; “for upon my life I don’t know of anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer?”...

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Is Plutocracy Really the Biggest Problem?: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

Is Plutocracy Really the Problem by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate: Is Plutocracy Really the Biggest Problem?: After the 2008 financial crisis, economic policymakers in the United States did enough to avert another Great Depression, but fell far short of what was needed to ensure a strong recovery. Attributing that failure to the malign influence of the plutocracy is tempting, but it misses the root of the problem:

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A Now-Extended Non-Sokratic Dialogue on Website Design: Hoisted from the Archives

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Hoisted from the Archives: A Now-Extended Non-Sokratic Dialogue on Website Design: What I, at least, regard as an interesting discussion in the comments to my A Very Brief Sokratic Dialogue on Website Redesign: From that post:

Platon: Five requirements?

Sokrates: Yes.... The stream... so... who want to either read what is new or to treat the site as a weblog--that is, have a sustained engagement and conversation with the website considered as a Turing-class hivemind--can do so.... The front-end... to give each piece of content a visually-engaging and subhead-teaser informative welcome mat.... The syndication... to propagate the front-end cards out to Twitter and Facebook.... The stock... a pathway... by which people can pull things written in the past... relevant... to their concerns today.... The grammar: The visually-interesting and subhead-teaser front-end... needs to lead the people who would want to and enjoy engaging with the content to actually do so.... [But,] as William Goldman says, nobody knows anything.

Platon: Is there anybody whose degree of not-knowingness is even slightly less than the degree of not-knowingness of the rest of us?...

Sokrates: My guess... http://www.vox.com--Ezra Klein and Melissa Bell and company--are most likely to be slightly less not-knowing than the rest of us....

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The Blocked Southern and Midwestern Global Warming Conversation

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I find myself thinking about XXXXXX and her points about experiential, personal narrative hooks, and about XXXXXX today and XXXXXX yesterday on effects on the United States.

As I said yesterday, the U.S. climate is, on average, marching north by 4 miles a year. And it is becoming more variable: thermodynamics tells us that a system with more energy will over time occupy more configuration states, and in the U.S. midwest the extra configuration states are predominantly hotter, wetter configuration states: rather than hot dry air moving northeast from the deserts, hot wet air is moving northwest from the Gulf of Mexico. Witness this year's floods in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas watersheds. Yet in the U.S Midwest the factual conversation drawing of the links between climate change—screw it: global warming—global warming and weather disasters that farmers and workers and bosses and power-brokers in Malawi and Mozambique have, farmers and workers and bosses and power-brokers in Davenport, IO, are unwilling even to begin.

I made a pitch to the XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX about five years ago that the highest and best use of their money was to start documenting the links between global warming and four state-area agriculture. No traction at all: collecting facts was viewed as, in some way, dangerous. I keep thinking about how in a lot of America the public sphere of factual discussion and debate is profoundly broken. I can think of nothing to do other than keep trying to roll the boulder up the hill, and keep saying to myself: "we must imagine Sisyphus happy". And I look across the table at XXXXXX XXXXXX and I ask him for help.

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Note to Self: "Consider Alasdair Macintyre... In the beginning: boring naive and jejune Marxisant socialist... Today: boring, naive, and jejune neo-Thomist... But in the middle, along the trajectory, Herbert Marcuse: An Exposition and a Polemic through Against the Self-Images of the Age to Hegel and After Virtue... what a thinker! what a powerful awareness of the attractiveness of different positions! what deep insights generated by position and opposition—even if he never gets to aufhebung—composition!...

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Is Plutocracy Really the Problem?: Fresh at Project Syndicate

Is Plutocracy Really the Problem by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Fresh at Project Syndicate: Is Plutocracy Really the Problem?: After the 2008 financial crisis, economic policymakers in the United States did enough to avert another Great Depression, but fell far short of what was needed to ensure a strong recovery. Attributing that failure to the malign influence of the plutocracy is tempting, but it misses the root of the problem.... In fact, big money does not always find a way, nor does its influence necessarily increase as the top 0.01% captures a larger share of total income.... The larger issue...is an absence of alternative voices. If the 2010s had been anything like the 1930s, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Conference Board would have been aggressively calling for more investment in America, and these arguments would have commanded the attention of the press. Labor unions would have had a prominent voice as advocates for a high-pressure economy. Both would have had very powerful voices inside the political process through their support of candidates. Did the top 0.01% put something in the water to make the media freeze out such voices after 2008?... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Risks of Debt: The Real Flaw in Reinhart-Rogoff: Hoisted from the Archives

There never was a 90% cliff. And most of the downward slope in teh scatter came not from debt accumulation but from growth that had been slow for other reasons. See Owen Zidar (2013): Debt to GDP & Future Economic Growth:

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Hoisted from the Archives: Risks of Debt: The Real Flaw in Reinhart-Rogoff: 2013: A country that spends and spends and spends and spends and does not tax sufficiently will eventually run into debt-generated trouble. Its nominal interest rates will rise as bondholders fear inflation. Its business leaders will hunker down and try to move their wealth out of the corporations they run for fear of high future taxes on business. Real interest rates will rise because of policy uncertainty, and make many investments that are truly socially productive unprofitable. When inflation takes hold, the web of the division of labor will shrink from a global web he'd together by thin monetary ties to a very small web solidified by social bonds of trust and obligation—and a small division of labor means low productivity. All of this is bound to happen. Eventually. If a government spends and spends and spends but does not tax sufficiently.

But can this happen as long as interest rates remain low? As long as stock prices remain buoyant? As long as inflation remains subdued. My faction of economists—including Larry Summers, Laura Tyson, Paul Krugman, and many many others—believe that it will not...

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Smackdown: Failing to Do Robustness Checks Is Not a Virtue

Smackdown

This, from this past April of all times, greatly puzzles me: WHAT IN THE HOLY NAME OF THE ONE WHO IS IS GOING ON HERE?!

Let us remember what really happened back in 2011 when the unemployment rate was 9%:

"Reinhart... explained that countries rarely pass the 90 percent debt-to-GDP tipping point precisely because it is dangerous.... Reinhart and Rogoff... 'current debt trajectories are a risk to long-term growth and stability, with many advanced economies already reaching or exceeding the important marker of 90 percent of GDP'..."

Yet there never was any "90 percent debt-to-GDP tipping point".

Reinhart and Rogoff thought there was because they did not do any robustness checks of their data-analysis binning procedures.

Perhaps an apology to the misled world should be a high priority? Perhaps it should be a higher priority than rants claiming that their critics like me—who were right—engaged in "years of mounting polemics against austerity policies, Keynesian dogma has become something close to a secular religion"?

Marking your beliefs to market makes your thoughts stronger and raises your credibility. Not doing so does the reverse:

Ken Rogoff: The Austerity Chronicles: "After years of mounting polemics against austerity policies, Keynesian dogma has become something close to a secular religion in popular economic-policy debates. But a new study of 16 advanced economies shows that, as with all dogmas, righteousness is no substitute for empirical facts...

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Henry Farrell: The American Right's Torquemada Option: Weekend Reading

Handmaid s tale Google Search

Henry Farrell: The American Right's Torquemada Option: "On the Ahmari/Kimball/Peterson/Deneen thing. When anti-modern conservatives decide that the liberal world is depraved they can either withdraw from it-the Benedict Option, or cleanse it of the corruption of tolerance. Call it the Torquemada Option https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_the_Warlock. And the moderate success that some modern figures-such as Orban-have enjoyed in taking over the university system and forcibly purging it of those who would pollute our youth with gender studies and the like give old time reactionaries like Kimball some hope it can be done...

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Belle Waring: Uses and Abuses of Tarps: Weekend Reading

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Belle Waring: Uses and Abuses of Tarps: "It took me so long to find this quote. I remembered that it was Solovki, yes! And that Maxim Gorky was the visitor! And the tortures with the logs, and being staked out for the mosquitoes, and rolling the prisoners down the stairs, and the brave boy who told all, all! to Gorky and was left behind to be shot the moment Gorky’s ship left the horizon empty and barren! And the tarps. But could I find the quote? I damn sure could not. I was in the position of Edward Gorey’s Mr. Earbrass who starts up in the night having thought of the perfect lines for an epigraph: 'His mind’s eye sees them quoted on the bottom third of a right-hand page in a (possibly) olive-bound book he read at least five years ago. When he does find them, it will be a great nuisance if no clue is given to their authorship'...

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Note to Self: F--- you, @jack. Twitter keeps—somehow—reversing my view from "Latest Tweets" to your algorithmic "Home", showing me first tweets I am likely to engage in. But tweets I am likely to engage in are not the tweets I want to see. You are hacking my brain, @jack—and not in a good way.

Thus you have made yourself my enemy: Things that advertise on Twitter I will not buy. Opportunities for me to cheaply degrade your reputation and reduce your wealth I will gladly take advantage of.

Quite stunning that you have developed such potentially useful tool, @jack, and yet have managed to make yourself so thoroughly my enemy, isn't it? One might say it requires a close-to-unique talent...

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Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes: from The End of Laissez-Faire (1926)

School of Athens

John Maynard Keynes (1926): The End of Laissez-Faire (1926): "Suppose that by the working of natural laws individuals pursuing their own interests with enlightenment in condition of freedom always tend to promote the general interest at the same time! Our philosophical difficulties are resolved-at least for the practical man, who can then concentrate his efforts on securing the necessary conditions of freedom. To the philosophical doctrine that the government has no right to interfere, and the divine that it has no need to interfere, there is added a scientific proof that its interference is inexpedient. This is the third current of thought, just discoverable in Adam Smith, who was ready in the main to allow the public good to rest on 'the natural effort of every individual to better his own condition', but not fully and self-consciously developed until the nineteenth century begins. The principle of laissez-faire had arrived to harmonise individualism and socialism, and to make at one Hume's egoism with the greatest good of the greatest number. The political philosopher could retire in favour of the business man—for the latter could attain the philosopher's summum bonum by just pursuing his own private profit...

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Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Talking Points

Event: Tu 2019-04-09 10-11am CFR: 58 E. 68th St., New York, NY:

Untitled 7 pages

The Data

  • 1970s a bad decade for real incomes—oil shocks, environmental cleanup, baby boom entry into the labor market
  • End of 1970s sees shift to "neoliberalism" to fix the "excesses of social democracy"
  • Since 1980: males and those with low education have seen their expectations of what their lives would be like bitterly disappointed
    • Male high school graduates down by 17%
    • Males with advanced degrees up by 25%
    • Whites have not been disappointed more economically—what William Juilius Wilson called the "declining significance of race"
      • Save, perhaps, for Black women with BAs...
    • Sociological disappointment in addition?
    • Within-household economic disappointment?
    • Other aspects of the economic besides income?
      • Occupation and occupational stability
      • Employment stability

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Modern Dan Drezner Is Much Better...

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers All Items Less Food and Energy FRED St Louis Fed

Dan Drezner: The Worst Piece Of Conventional Wisdom You Will Read This Year: "OK, so, a few things.... Stagflation in the 1970s was caused primarily by an inward shift of the aggregate supply curve due to a surge in commodity prices, particularly energy. Some central banks responded with accommodating monetary policies that accelerated inflation even further. Fiscal policy was an innocent bystander to this whole shebang. So I honestly don’t know what the hell Kinsley is talking about...

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So, Professor Drezner, We Meet Again. And THIS TIME THE ADVANTAGE IS MINE!

Https www typepad com site blogs 6a00e551f08003883400e551f080068834 compose preview post

Dan Drezner appears to mourn for the days when I was his nemesis: Dan Drezner (2005): So How Do Mexicans View African-Americans?: "While Latino critics in the United States have their hands full combating discrimination in the Star Wars movies (link via Glenn Reynolds), Latinos south of the border have a slightly bigger problem.... dealing with their own racial prejudices. Traci Carl explains for the Associated Press: 'President Vicente Fox reversed course Monday and apologized for saying that Mexicans in the United States do the work that blacks won't....' An intriguing angle about this story is the ability of Jackson and Sharpton to go global with... that thing they do (though in this case they have a pretty valid point). Readers are heartily encouraged to predict the next world leader who will be required to mau-mau kowtow to Jackson and Sharpton for something they say. I think it's a toss-up between Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin.... UPDATE: Brad DeLong objects to this post without saying why he objects. From his comments section, I gather it was my use of the phrase 'mau-mau', which some argue is a racially offensive term. Wikipedia backs them up (though they treat it as a noun and I used it as a verb)—so let me take the opportunity to apologize for using the term...

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I Said "Pass the Baton" to Those Further Left than I, Not "Bend the Knee"

Pass the baton olympics Google Search

Last night at dinner at Iyesare, Noah Smith admonished me for not making it clear that I said "pass the baton" to those further left, not "bend the knee". So here I make that clear, and repost:

Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast:

Al Hunt: Brad, your critique is brilliant.... Your solution that worries me. Turn it over to the left, and then try to make their proposals slightly more palatable. I don't see how that becomes in any fashion a winning coalition, legislatively or politically.

Brad DeLong: I said: pass the baton, right? I said: pass the baton.

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Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast

Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast:

Albert Hunt

Edited for Coherence and Clarity

https://www.pscp.tv/w/1OwxWOzBQgkxQ?q=alhuntdc

Al Hunt: Brad Delong, a Rubin Democrat, a mainstream, a Clinton-Obama Democrat, if you will, has said in the [intra-]democratic wars: My side has lost. We can't form any coalitions with [even] a handful of moderate Republicans. Cap-and-trade was a Republican idea. Every single Republican basically turned their back.

Uh, Brad, are you there?...

As soon as you're with us, let us know.

Brad, you hit the smiley face.

We are going to ask Brad what this means for the Democratic Party’s [position] on major economic issues.

I think we have Brad, right?

Brad DeLong: [The Machine] says I am here.

Al Hunt: Terrific. I'm talking about your vox[.com] interview. I also note that you are one of the 750 most influential economists. James and I hope to be one of the 70,000 most influential podcasters at some point. We once again have been elevated by our guests.

James [Carville], let me turn it over to you to ask the first couple of questions to Brad about his new thesis.

Brad DeLong: May I first compliment the two of you?

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The State of America's Political-Public Sphere

Il Quarto Stato

One of my twitter threads from yesterday: I think it is fair to say that the already-broken American political public sphere has become significantly more broken since November 8, 2018.

On the center and to the left, those like me in what used to proudly call itself the Rubin Wing of the Democratic Party—so-called after former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, and consisting of those of us hoping to use market means to social democratic ends in bipartisan coalition with Republicans seeking technocratic win-wins—have passed the baton to our left. Over the past 25 years, we failed to attract Republican coalition partners, we failed to energize our own base, and we failed to produce enough large-scale obvious policy wins to cement the center into a durable governing coalition.

We blame cynical Republican politicians. We blame corrupt and craven media bosses and princelings. We are right to blame them, but shared responsibility is not diminished responsibility. And so the baton rightly passes to our colleagues on our left. We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.

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A Rant on Trump, Trade, and China...

Clowns (ICP)

I'm still trying to come to terms with my Commonwealth Club event with Steve Moore last month. As therapy, I took some of my less-than-coherent ravings and tried to turn then into proper rant:


Steve, what you are saying is simply delusional.

You keep saying that Xi needs to deal. Why? Because, you say, Trump is deadly serious on China an sod will not back down.

Do remember that Trump declared victory on reforming NAFTA, "the worst trade deal in the history of the world", with small adjustments on autoparts rules-of-origin. Small adjustment on auto parts were enough to transform NAFTA, in Trump's mind, from the worst trade deal in the history of the world into something he is now very proud of. Xi has to be thinking that he should deal with Trump the same way that Mexico did—hang tough, provide a few symbolic concessions only, and Trump will cave. then things will go go back to business-as-usual.

What is there in the situation that would keep that from being the obvious strategy for Xi to follow?

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Blogging: What to Expect Here...

Preview of REMIND YOURSELF Blogging What to Expect Here

The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading...

"Bring expertise, bring a willingness to learn, bring good humor, bring a desire to improve the world—and also bring a low tolerance for lies and bullshit..." — Brad DeLong

"I have never subscribed to the notion that someone can unilaterally impose an obligation of confidentiality onto me simply by sending me an unsolicited letter—or an email..." — Patrick Nielsen Hayden

"I can safely say that I have learned more than I ever would have imagined doing this.... I also have a much better sense of how the public views what we do. Every economist should have to sell ideas to the public once in awhile and listen to what they say. There's a lot to learn..." — Mark Thoma

"Tone, engagement, cooperation, taking an interest in what others are saying, how the other commenters are reacting, the overall health of the conversation, and whether you're being a bore..." — Teresa Nielsen Hayden

"With the arrival of Web logging... my invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least. Plus, web logging is an excellent procrastination tool.... Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience.... Web logging is a promising way to do that..." — Brad DeLong

"Blogs are an outlet for unexpurgated, unreviewed, and occasionally unprofessional musings.... At Chicago, I found that some of my colleagues overestimated the time and effort I put into my blog—which led them to overestimate lost opportunities for scholarship. Other colleagues maintained that they never read blogs—and yet, without fail, they come into my office once every two weeks to talk about a post of mine..." — Daniel Drezner

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Commonwealth Club: Annual Economic Forecast Event (January 25, 2019): Relevant Files

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Commonwealth Club: Annual Economic Forecast

Short-Run Economic Forecast: The Economic Forecast: Commonwealth Club Non-Public Event Opening Statement

Talking Points and Snippets from Commonwealth Club January 25, 2019 Forecast Event

General Talking Points: Commonwealth Club Talking Points (January 25, 2019): Forecasting and Steve Moore Edition

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Yes, There Are Individual Economists Worth Paying Respect to. But Is Economics Worth Paying Respect to?

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Blush. To be one of fifteen good economists name-checked by Larry Summers genuinely makes my day—nay, makes my week.

But this gets into a topic I have been worrying at for a long time now. And so let me try once again to say what needs to be said, for I do have to admit that, contrary to what Larry maintains, Fareed Zakaria does have a point when he says that "events have hammered... nails into the coffin of traditional economics" and that, while the question mark at the end is important, it is time to speak of "the end of economics?". Yes, there are very many good economists worth listening to. But does economics as a whole have any claim to authority, or is it better for outsiders' first reaction to be to dismiss its claims as some combination of ideology on the one hand and obsequious toadying to political masters on the other?

Open right now on my virtual desktop, as has been true about 5% of the time over the past fourteen months, is an article forecasting the economic effects of the 2017 Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut by nine academic economists: Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor: How Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy: We believe the Republican bills could boost GDP 3% to 4% long term by reducing the cost of capital. It is, bluntly, unprofessional.

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Larry Summers: Has economics failed us? Hardly: "My friend Fareed Zakaria... writing... “The End of Economics?,” doubting the relevance and utility of economics and economists. Because Fareed is so thoughtful and echoes arguments that are frequently made, he deserves a considered response. Fareed ignores large bodies of economic thought, fails to recognize that economists have been the sources of most critiques of previous economic thinking, tilts at straw men and offers little alternative to economic approaches to public policy...

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Bad actors acting badly. A century ago the authors and distributors of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion has theological and political motives—they saw their lies as buttressing what they saw as the essential institutions of orthodoxy and autocracy—rather than just seeking to make a buck. Which is worse?: Hannes Grassegger: The Plot Against George Soros: "The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros: How [the] two Jewish American political consultants [Arthur Finkelstein and George Eli Birnbaum] helped create the world’s largest anti-Semitic conspiracy theory...

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