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J. Bradford DeLong
Berkeley, CA
J. Bradford DeLong is an economist teaching at the University of California at Berkeley.
Interests: history, economic history, information age, political economy, grand strategy, international relations, material culture., information technology, economics
Recent Activity
And what class is Wellington in?
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Cf. also Halder's attitude toward Rommel, which seemed to be "Rommel is causing chaos and thus problems for me and Paulus as we try to keep this train on the tracks." That seems to miss the fact that as long as Rommel was causing more chaos for Churchill, Wavell, Auchinleck, and company, he was inside their OODA loop, he was keeping them from even _thinking_ about trying anything of their own...
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**Comment of the Day: Ethan**: [Live from Global Warming Gehenna]( "We used to call it 'Global Warming'. Later we called it 'Climate Change'. I have long preferred to call it 'Excess Solar Energy Trapped in the Bio-sphere'. That seems to me to explain it better. More energy = more movement. Storms, wind, melting ice, tides, whatever—the energy is going to go somewhere..." Continue reading
**Live from... Europe's Twentieth Century Gehenna**: Reading Dennis Showalter (2005): _Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century_ . And I find myself wondering: Why didn't Hermann Hoth request Rommel for his team in Russia for Operation Barbarossa? Hoth had nine subordinate division or corps command generals: Schmidt, von Funck, Stumpff, Fürst, Zorn, Kuntzen, Harpe, von Knobelsdorff, and Herrlein. Or did Hoth request Rommel? The usual argument is that Rommel was too little a Prussian, too little an aristocrat, too little a General Staff officer, and that Hitler obviously liked him too much. But Hoth was a real fucking Nazi... Continue reading
I have found that teaching things I do not fully understand rarely goes well...
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Just below the current line are: Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus (2012): The Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press: 0674416772) and Maristella Botticini and Zvi Eckstein: The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70-1492. The problem is that I do not yet have enough control over either of the books or their topics to feel comfortable teaching them.
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What would you add? And what would you drop to make room for it?
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* 2018 on bCourses: * Brad DeLong's Office Hours: Th 10-12 Blum Hall 200G, and by appointment: send email to: Course Meeting: **Tuesday @ 4 PM in Evans Hall 639** ---- **Topics (Preliminary)**: * Jan 16: Organizational * Jan 23: Robert Allen: Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction * Jan 30: Joel Mokyr: A Culture of Growth * Feb 6: Barry Eichengreen: Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses and Misuses of History * Feb 13: Robert Allen: The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective * Feb 20: Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson: Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700 * Feb 27: Lawrence Katz and Claudia Goldin: The Race Between Education and Technology * Mar 6: Robert Gordon: The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War * Mar 13: Peter Temin: The Roman Market Economy * Mar 20: Sven Beckert: Empire of Cotton: A Global History * Apr 3: Ian Morris: Why the West Rules--for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future * Apr 10: Richard Baldwin: The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization *... Continue reading
**Live from Global Warming Gehenna**: An interesting—and unusual—weather pattern. With more energy the climate can occupy more states, and transfer of cold air straight down the prairie from the arctic to the gulf coast is definitely a state of the system: And: **Should-Read**: **NSIDC**: [Arctic Sea Ice News and Analysis]( "Sea ice data updated daily with one-day lag..." ---- Continue reading
**Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage**: David Brooks picked a _bad_ moment to go all anti-anti-Trump contrarian. But there will never be a good one, will there? Why is tenure for _New York Times_ columnists thought to be a good idea? Why does the _Washington Post_ have the op-ed columnists it does? And am I wrong, or wasn't Brooks's "affable, if repetitive" the party line for the late second term Alzheimers-afflicted Reagan?: **Steve M.**: [No More Mister Nice Blog: MARC THIESSEN'S DEFENSE OF TRUMP IS EVEN MORE EMBARRASSING THAN THE ONE BY DAVID BROOKS]( "Jonathan Chait... "David Brooks Picked a Bad Week to Say Trump ‘Runs a Normal, Good Meeting'... >>...Four days ago, David Brooks broke the news in the New York Times that President Trump is actually a sober-minded and competent public servant. “People who go into the White House to have a meeting with President Trump usually leave pleasantly surprised,” he reported. “They find that Trump is not the raving madman they expected from his tweetstorms or the media coverage. They generally say that he is affable, if repetitive. He runs a normal, good meeting and seems well-informed enough to get by.” It is safe to say that... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: Long-time San Diego-Orange-Riverside County Congressman Darrell Issa reads the tea leaves and decides it is time to become a lobbyist. Interesting that the accomplishments he wants to be known for... have very little to do with the core of the agenda that he voted for in his eighteen years in Congress. That so much what he spent his time on goes unmentioned—as something not to be highlighted—is perhaps the best short precis of the 1995-2007 and 2011-present congressional majority I can think of: **Darrell Issa**: [A Statement]( "The first successful recall of a sitting Governor in California history... >...establishing new and stronger standards for government accountability... protecting the Internet from harmful regulation... open data standards... put an end to abusive Congressional earmarks, strengthened the Violence Against Women Act... better oversight of the executive branch... cleared the course for better intellectual property protections... Interesting also in that Issa did _not_ vote for tax "reform" last month, and was one of the few California Republican House of Representatives members who seemed in a relatively strong position. Continue reading
**Must-Reads**: * **Michael J. Boskin**: [Another Look at Tax Reform and Economic Growth]( "Barro and I have clearly come to a different conclusion than Summers and Furman have about the bill... * **Ezra Klein**: [Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” is a damning portrait of an unfit president]( "It would be easy enough for Trump to run a presidency that left him better-liked... * **Paul Krugman** [Notes on Farrell and Quiggin]( "I’m not sure how many readers will realize the extent to which anti-Keynesian economic arguments, as opposed to those that Keynesians made, were invented on the fly... * **Matthew Yglesias**: [Trump’s North Korea tweet was based on a cable news segment]( "Matt Gertz... undertaking the valuable investigative work of figuring out which Fox News segment had set Trump off... * **Jonathan Kirshner** (January 15, 2017): [America, America]( "Consider what it took in Germany to bring about a Hitler... * **Paul Krugman**: [The Gambler’s Ruin of Small Cities]( "Once... towns and small cities... served as central places serving a mainly rural population engaged in agriculture and other natural resource-based activities... ---- **Highlighted**: * [AAAAIIIIYYYYEEEE!!!!: Monday Smackdown—BitCoin Edition]( * [Determining Bargaining Power in the Platform Economy: Reinvent Full Transcript]( * [Why Low... Continue reading
**Must-Read**: A strange piece form Michael Boskin. The JCT's dynamic score assesses the Republican tax "reform" bill as boosting real GDP by 0.2% over the long run. The Tax Foundation—which by excluding any deficit drag greatly highballs the growth effects of tax cuts—sees it as boosting real GDP by 1.3% over the long run. Robert Barro and Michael Boskin, devoting less than 1/20 as much analytical time to the question and with little familiarity with the details and phase-out provisions, say 7%. And they are sticking to it. We are, they say, "not about to cede... professional judgment to others, in or out of government..." That's all they write. I am, I must confess, somewhat flummoxed. I think the real Boskin position comes in the next sentence I quote: "current reform may well have deviated further from the ideal had we not offered our analysis and advice", with the nudge-nudge-wink-wink claim that their analysis and advice was only taken because they were willing to say whatever their political masters wanted and endorse the final product. I see it very differently. I see their willingness to say whatever their political masters required at the end as not gaining them a seat... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: Note that a good many economists who have, or at least had, substantial academic reputations are on board claiming that the revenue costs of last month's tax "reform" bill are likely to be trivial—much smaller than the "static" calculation: Barro, Boskin, Holtz-Eakin, Lindsey, Calomiris, Hubbard, and others. In being willing to make such claims, they throw away their ability to influence policy: since they will endorse whatever the sausage-making process produces, others elbow them out of the way and feed the sausage machine. So, then, they should be asking themselves: What's the point of my being here?: **Jeffrey Frankel**: [Reagan’s Tax Reforms Revisited]( "today’s Republicans do not admit that their plan isn’t revenue-neutral... >...Like their counterparts in 1981, not to mention during the Bush era, they claim that the cuts will stimulate the economy so much that overall tax receipts will stay the same or even rise.... Reagan and Bush... implemented their cuts... and, as economists had warned, budget deficits increased sharply. The tax cuts that the Trump Republicans are attempting to pass today would be even more damaging. There is good reason to fear much more serious long-term consequences of the rise in the budget deficit, owing to... Continue reading
**Must-Read: Ezra Klein**: [Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” is a damning portrait of an unfit president]( "It would be easy enough for Trump to run a presidency that left him better-liked... > with “Chuck and Nancy,” ease up on the culture war, give some gentler speeches.... There has never been a president for whom the bar is lower.... It would be so easy for him to clear it, and there are people around him, like Jared and Ivanka and Cohn and Powell and Mnuchin, who would happily act as guides and cheerleaders. But he doesn’t.... Why? Wolff’s book doesn’t provide a satisfying answer.... >He cannot perform his job well enough to be liked or respected, but he only wanted the job in the first place because it would force the whole world to like and respect him—and he is being driven to rage and paranoia by the resulting dissonance, disappointment, and hurt.... A more capable, competent, and stable person would, by now, have either changed their behavior to receive more of the response they crave or given up on getting the response they crave. But Trump appears to exist in an unhappy middle ground, rage-tweeting through his mornings, retreating to... Continue reading
**Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Gehenna**: IMHO, the most interesting thing about the SALT provisions in tax "reform" is who this one element of base-broadening is aimed at: squarely at those who used to be the core of the Republican base—Reagan's people, those who were not plutocrats but for whom America was working well: **Marc Goldwein**: [@MarcGoldwein on Twitter]( "Nearly ALL of the benefit of restoring State & Local Tax (SALT) Deduction would go to the top fifth of earners & more than half goes to the top 1%, per @TaxPolicyCenter. Those defending/encouraging workarounds to the SALT Deduction cap should keep this in mind..." **Brad DeLong**: @de1ong on Twitter: Indeed: SALT—adding in one's state and local taxes _that one does not have in one's bank account_ to the federal tax base—is a tax squarely aimed at successful Republican voters in Orange County and elsewhere. This is Reagan' base being targeted—because after Citizens United their money is not needed. With money from plutocrats and activists energized by ethno-cultural grievances, the Republican Party has what it needs. Why does it need Reagan's base of successful upper middle class—those for whom America works? It doesn't. Their money can finance bigger tax cuts for... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Nicole Cliffe**: [@nicole_cliffe on Twitter]( "It’s come to my attention that a legacy print magazine is planning to publish a piece 'outing' the woman who started the Shitty Media Men list... >...All I can say is: don’t. The risk of doxxing is high. It’s not the right thing to do. My unconfirmed intel on this is that it’s Harper’s but I would sure welcome a denial by Harper’s or, if it’s true, a decision to reconsider before the women of media never ever ever write for Harper’s again. It is NOT too late to kill such a piece and I personally will never read, write for, or link again to any publication that runs it. If it IS Katie Roiphe for @Harpers, which I have now heard from two different sources, the backlash is well and truly here and it will NOT be pretty. This does not have to happen. Kill it. You do not have to think the list was a good idea to think this would be a tremendously fucked-up thing to do to a whistleblower.... Harper’s should have killed their AIDS-denialism cover story by Celia Farber back in the day, what a great opportunity to make... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: The point of reporters quoting spin doctors is that they will then call the reporters again with a one-hour breaking of an embargo, and the reporters' editors will be pleased. The fact that the reporters are systematically misinforming their readers by, as Nick Confessore says, "cultivating sources", is, for Maggie Haberman and company, neither here nor there: **Steve M.**: [DEAR MEDIA: WHAT'S THE POINT OF QUOTING SPIN DOCTORS?]( "Maggie Haberman posted... on Twitter... >...Many mainstream journalists think they're informing the public when they quote a spin doctor at length in a written story, or let one hold forth for several minutes on radio or TV.... What is the informational value in this? BREAKING NEWS: Unswerving Trump loyalist is unswervingly loyal to Trump. MUST CITE NPR.... If you're not even going to challenge these interviewees when they interrupt the spin long enough to give you an opening, why interview them at all?..." Continue reading
**Must-Read**: Paul Krugman is, of course, right. Keynesian economists are much less sympathetic to monetarist positions—either with respect to the Great Depression or the Great Recession—than they were in 2007, much more confident in their own point of view, and also much more appreciative of Minskyite perspectives. Anti-Keynesian economists do not appear to have changed their minds at all: learning nothing, and forgetting much: **Paul Krugman** [Notes on Farrell and Quiggin]( "I’m not sure how many readers will realize the extent to which anti-Keynesian economic arguments, as opposed to those that Keynesians made, were invented on the fly... >...[Farrell and Quiggin] suggest that there was a broad consensus before the crisis that fiscal policy did not work, so that the Keynesian turn of many macroeconomists in 2008 represented some kind of departure from previous views. In fact... [it] had long argued that conventional monetary policy loses traction when interest rates get close to zero (Krugman 1998, Eggertsson and Woodford 2003), and correspondingly that fiscal policy becomes more effective than in normal conditions... responding to events rather than changing doctrine.... >Something quite different happened on the other side of the debate. A large part of academic macroeconomics was and is implacably... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: LaMalfa, Hunter, McCarthy, and Calvert may well be the only Republican House members from California come 2019. Ed Royce is getting out of the way to become a lobbyist: **Nate Cohn**: [@natecohn on Twitter]( "Ed Royce is a really big retirement for the Democrats... >...Clinton won his district by 9 points; He won by 15 points, was still considered lean R by ratings folks. Not anymore. Unlike a lot of the Sun Belt districts, CA-39 isn't coming out of nowhere. Registration is ~R+1.5, Romney won it by 3. It's not a district where the GOP can just fall back on heavy Republican tradition. Royce was ready for the fight, too. Was raising plenty of money; had $3.5m in the bank at the end of the last quarter (though I guess that's not quite as intimidating as it usually would be, after Andy Thornburn gave his own campaign $2 million)... ---- 40% of tax returns in Ed Royce's District in 2014 would have been penalized had state and local tax payments been added into the federal income tax base. The total increase in the tax base in 2014 would have been 1.89 billion dollars. We do not have sufficient detail... Continue reading
**Note to Self**: Book haul of the day: * **Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt**: [How Democracies Die]( [9781524762933]( * **T. M. Scanlon**: [Why Does Inequality Matter?]( [9780198812692]( * **David Pilling**: [The Growth Delusion: Wealth, Poverty, and the Well-Being of Nations]( [9780525572503]( ---- Continue reading
Some people wish me ill. They keep emailing me things from John Cochrane. I wish they wouldn't. Or I wish I would develop some self-control. This is not making me happy: First, let me set forth an intelligent, rational, measured assessment of BitCoin, made by somebody who was never a tenured finance economist at the University of Chicago: **Glenn Loury 2.0**: @justabloodygame on Twitter: "Seriously, I read stories about people mortgaging their homes to buy Bitcoin and I want to rip my hair out..." We can then compare this with the [irrational word salad of John Cochrane]( To the extent that there is an argument, it goes like this: 1. BitCoin is not a "bubble". It is not a mania of irrational crowds. It is, rather, "a fairly pure instance of a regularly occurring phenomenon in financial markets.... What's going on with Bitcoin... [is] a perfectly 'normal' phenomenon.... Such price surges only happen with restricted supply, and accompany price volatility, large trading volume, and short holding periods... [rather than the] madness of crowds..." 2. At and after some future moment BitCoin will be worthless. 3. But before that moment there will be a peak fundamental demand for BitCoin for money... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: Nicely done: **David Rezza Baqaee and Emmanuel Farhi**: [The Macroeconomic Impact of Microeconomic Shocks: Beyond Hulten’s Theorem]( "We provide a nonlinear characterization of the macroeconomic impact of microeconomic productivity shocks in terms of reduced-form non-parametric elasticities for efficient economies... >...We also show how structural parameters are mapped to these reduced-form elasticities. In this sense, we extend the foundational theorem of Hulten (1978) beyond first-order terms. Key features ignored by first-order approximations that play a crucial role are: structural elasticities of substitution, network linkages, structural returns to scale, and the extent of factor reallocation. Higher-order terms magnify negative shocks and attenuate positive shocks, resulting in an output distribution that is asymmetric, fat-tailed, and has a lower mean even when shocks are symmetric and thin-tailed. In our calibration, output losses due to business-cycle fluctuations are an order of magnitude larger than the cost calculated by Lucas (1987). Second-order terms also show how shocks to critical sectors can have large macroeconomic impacts, tripling the estimated impact of the 1970s oil price shocks... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: Question: has it always smelled like at least one of America's two parties is on the point of collapse and dissolution? I don't think so. But I would like somebody with more knowledge of the history to weigh in on whether this does feel like a party-breaking moment, like 1848-1854: **Kevin Drum**: [The Republican Party Is in Full-On Panic Mode, and We Get to Watch]( "Republicans are in panic mode over the possibility that Robert Mueller is about to start plowing relentlessly through the White House like a bulldozer leveling an old shack... >...By the time he’s through, they’re understandably afraid there might not be much left standing.... That Republicans are acting this way... means they realize their party is in existential trouble.... On a nationwide level... the election of Donald Trump... [was] a fluke.... But at the level of the Republican Party, there was nothing flukish about it.... Trump very plainly tapped into something very real in the Republican rank-and-file psyche.... By 2012... party leaders understood perfectly well that this meant they needed better outreach to people of color, but this was something they could never pull off. Their only other option was to become even more explicitly... Continue reading
**Should-Read**: The big enchilada is, of course, the lack of affordable housing in California. It's a huge transfer to property owners and a huge tax on renters and on those who in a better timeline would move here, but cannot afford to in this one: **Ian Perry**: [California is Working: The Effects of California’s Public Policy on Jobs and the Economy Since 2011]( "Between 2011 and 2016, California enacted a set of 51 policy measures addressing workers’ rights, environmental issues, safety net programs, taxation, and infrastructure and housing... >...Critics predicted that these policies—collectively called “the California Policy Model” (CPM) in this paper—would reduce employment and slow economic growth.... This paper... finds that: >* Employment and GDP growth were not adversely affected by the California Policy Model. >* Wages for low-wage workers as well as overall health insurance rates statewide rose with the implementation of the California Policy Model. >* Wage inequality declined modestly as the California Policy Model was enacted. >* California was successful in putting the state on pace to meet its 2020 carbon emissions reduction goals. >* Though California has begun to address these issues, enforcement of labor standards and a lack of affordable housing remain as challenges...... Continue reading