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A Grand Narrative Catechism: The Global Economic History of the Long 20th Century, 1870-2016


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

.#berkeley #econ115 #economichistory #highlighted #slouchingtowardsutopia #tceh #teaching #teachingeconomics #teachinghistory #2020-07-08
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Economic Growth in Historical Comparative Perspective: Assignment 8: Economic Growth in Historical Perspective

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

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Assignment: Tell Us What Is Happening to You, and What You Wish For

This epidemic is nasty: one case at a Biogen executives meeting on Feb 26-27 spread the virus to 100 of the 200 meeting participants. It kills 15% of people in their 80s who get it, 8% of people in their 70s, 3% of people in their 60s, 1% of people in their 50s, and is like a bad flue to people younger.

One frequently discussed scenario for coronavirus in the United States is that it now infects one in every two thousand people, that its infection rate doubles every week, that attempts at social distancing will fail to impact the spread of the virus, that the virus will not become less virulent as the northern hemisphere warms up, and the virus will infect half the population before herd and natural immunity bring a halt to it spread here in America.

Under this scenario—which is optimistic, in some senses of the word—this virus kills one million people in the United States. Under this scenario, the number of those infected will double for seven more weeks, at which point one in fifteen will be newly infected, and then the spread will slow—but your chances of catching the virus will still be high—for another twelve weeks before the epidemic is over here. That carries us for five months—until the end of July. And in many other scenarios we are dealing with this for longer, even if we manage to flatten the curve or if this virus is seasonal, and so vanishes this summer to come back next winter.

We are moving the university online: to lecture slides with audio, to zoom sessions, to asynchronous email for office hours, and to take home assignments. But there are lots of other things we could provide you and lots of other interactions we could set up, if it would assist you this spring.

Assignment: _Please write at least 250 words—at least one page—telling us what you want us to know about how your life is going right now, and informing us of your views of how we should organize and run this class going forward. Submit it at:

Complete it, please, by 5 pm Fri Mar 20, but late submissions will not be penalized...

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Weekly Economic History Memo Questions Bank

Memo 1: Malthusian Economies

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



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Reading Notes on Dasgupta's "Economics: A Very Short Introduction"

why would one want to think like an economist? What is thinking like an economist—rather than like a sociologist (looking for the webs of human connections and common belief), a political scientist (looking at power and at authority both given and taken), or a historian (looking at origins and development)? One wants to think like an economist because it is an especially useful way of thinking about the economy. What, then, is the economy? And why is “thinking like an economist”—marginal, interdependence, benefit-cost, and opportunity cost calculations—a good way of understanding it?

Partha Dasgupta provides the best short answer to those two linked questions, and in the process of doing so provides the best introduction to economics, that I have seen



Partha Dasgupta: Economics: A Very Short Introduction https://delong.typepad.com/files/dasgupta-economics.pdf

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A Competitive Market: Python Class/Notebook

DRAFT: A Competitive Market: A Python class for a competitive market equilibrium with linear supply and demand curves—equilibrium price, equilibrium quantity, producer surplus, consumer surplus, total surplus. Looks for input parameters giving the slopes of the demand and supply curves, plus the maximum willingness-to-pay of the most eager demander and the minimum opportunity cost of the most efficient supplier. Now ready to hand over to others for editing, tightening, and additions.


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Richard Feynman: Math and Science: "How am I going to explain to you the things I don’t explain to my students until they are third-year graduate students? Let me explain it by analogy: The Maya Indians were interested in the rising and setting of Venus as a morning “star” and as an evening “star”—they were very interested in when it would appear. After some years of observation, they noted that five cycles of Venus were very nearly equal to eight of their “nominal years” of 365 days (they were aware that the true year of seasons was different and they made calculations of that also). To make calculations, the Maya had invented a system of bars and dots to represent numbers (including zero), and had rules by which to calculate and predict not only the risings and settings of Venus, but other celestial phenomena, such as lunar eclipses. In those days, only a few Maya priests could do such elaborate calculations. Now, suppose we were to ask one of them how to do just one step in the process of predicting when Venus will next rise as a morning star—subtracting two numbers. And let’s assume that, unlike today, we had not gone to school and did not know how to subtract. How would the priest explain to us what subtraction is?...

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PREVIEW: Economic Growth in Historical Perspective: U.C. Berkeley: Spring 2020

After hearing Ellora Derenoncourt rave about being a TA for Melissa Dell and her Econ 142: The History of Economic Growth, I have decided to go full parasite and stand up my own version of the course for the spring of 2020 here at U.C. Berkeley. Tell me what you think! Here are my notes so far:

Course to be at: Teaching Economics: https://delong.typepad.com/teaching_economics/econ-135.html

Econ 135: Economic Growth in Historical Perspective

This course examines the idea and reality of economic growth in historical perspective, beginning with the divergence between human ancestors and other primates and continuing through with forecasts for the 21st century and beyond. Topics covered include human speciation, language, and sociability; the discovery of agriculture and the domestication of animals; the origins and maintenance of gross inequality; Malthusian economies; the commercial and industrial revolutions; modern economic growth; international prosperity differentials; OECD convergence and East Asian miracles; the political economy of growth and stagnation; and the stubborn persistence of poverty.

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Framing the Industrial Revolution


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Modern Economic Growth Memo Question

Economics tends to view growth as a continuous and diffuse process: if one firm does not solve the problem of how to efficiently utilize resources, others will and drive the first out of business; if one technological vein plays itself out, energy will focus on others. These readings all argue different. They argue one side of a debate. They argue either that some unique and particular institutions and technologies matter a lot. What kinds of evidence not presented in these readings might lead you to come down on one or the other of the many, many sides in this debate—either on the side of economists' standard prior, or that in fact it is still other and still different institutions or technologies or simply the aggregate state of the economy that matters the most?

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Modern Economic Growth: Eagle's-Eye View Slides


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Harry Brighouse: Navigating the Need for Rigor and Engagement: How to Make Fruitful Class Discussions Happen: "Derek Bok... a passage that, ultimately, transformed my teaching:

Teaching by discussion can also seem forbidding because it makes instructors uncomfortably aware of their shortcomings. Lecturers can delude themselves that their courses are going well, but discussion leaders know when their teaching is failing to rouse the students’ interest by the indifferent quality of responses and the general torpor of the class. Trying to conduct a discussion with apathetic students is much like giving a bad dinner party...

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Why Economic History?

Economic history Google Search

The unfortunate fact is that economists have gotten too good at making theories. In fact, the set of plausible and admissible economic theories is now dense in the space of possible conclusions: For every desired conclusion X, for every ε, and for a norm of "closeness" ||, there is a chain of theories T of increasing complexity indexed by n and a degree of theoretical complexity nδ such that:

(∀X)(∃nδ)(∃T(.))(∀n)(n > nδ -> | T(n) - X | < ε)

Or: with enough time and ingenuity and sweat, a theorist can prove that anything can be an equilibrium.

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