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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
**Judy Stephenson**: _[Looking for work? Or looking for workers? Days and hours of work in London construction in the eighteenth century]( "New information and data on how work and pay actually operated for skilled and semi-skilled men on large London construction projects in the early 1700s... >...and for the first time, offers detailed firm level evidence on the number of days per year worked by men. Construction workers’ working days were bounded by structural factors of both supply and demand, men worked a far lower number of days than has been assumed until now. This has implications for our understanding of the ‘industrious revolution’, and industrialisation..... >Until we have better research on search and matching costs within all industries 180 days per year is a more robust and empirical estimate of the number of days construction workers worked per annum. Eighteenth century urban building craftsmen and labourers’ working year was bounded by structural demand factors of seasonality and the building process, frictional costs of finding regular employment, and bounds on their own ability to work at high physical intensity. The evidence from a unique single firm source on a large and well-resourced site indicates that on average men could only... Continue reading
**Benjamin Franklin** (1751): _[Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, 1751]( "The 'immediate occasion' for writing this essay, according to Van Doren,6 was the British Iron Act of 1750, which prohibited the erection of additional slitting and rolling mills, plating forges, and steel furnaces in the American colonies. While English ironmasters rejoiced in the protection the law afforded them, a few farsighted Britons and most Americans appreciated that the act would curb colonial growth at just the moment when Britain and France were engaged in a climactic struggle for possession of North America. >Franklin wrote the essay in 1751. In the following spring he sent a copy to Peter Collinson and Richard Jackson, who were “greatly entertained” by it; and Jackson eventually sent Franklin a full criticism of it.1 Collinson hoped it would be published: “I don’t find anyone has hit it off so well”; and Dr. John Perkins of Boston, who also received a copy, judged it such an “informing Piece” that it “should be read and well considered by every Englishman who wishes well to his Country.” Not until late in 1754, however, did Franklin consent to its publication: it appeared the next year as an appendix to William... Continue reading
**Maria Bustillos**: _[The Anthony Bourdain Interview]( "Anthony Bourdain had started smoking again, was the first thing I noticed as he sat down with me last February. He was a bit hung over from a recent working trip to south Louisiana for Cajun Mardi Gras; 'Harder partying than I’m used to, I gotta say', he said, laughing. Despite his great height his leonine head seemed just huge, and a little fleshier than I’d imagined; there was this slight dissipation to him... >...But no—who could be troubled about the wellbeing of Anthony Bourdain? Just look at him, so debonair, so completely at ease. A veritable prince of savoir vivre. Sixty-one, and still very elegant in his looks; the word sexy came to mind. Almost an old-fashioned word now. The sort of person who seems to think with his hips, his hands. He was in love, he would later admit; he and his new girlfriend, Asia Argento, had started smoking again together. He was a little rueful about the smoking, had the air of someone who meant to quit soon. >As he started to talk, everything about him became familiar at once; he slipped so effortlessly into the sleek carapace of his fame.... Continue reading
**John Clegg, Suresh Naidu, Gavin Wright**: _[Free and Unfree Labor: The Political Economy of Capitalism, Share-Cropping, and Slavery]( "In recent years historians and economists have revived the long-standing debate on the relationship between capitalism and slavery... > well as the character of labor markets in the post-bellum South. The emerging literature has tended to focus on theoretical and definitional disputes. But behind the scenes, historians and social scientists have been accumulating new evidence that is transforming our understanding of both free and unfree labor in the United States in the 19th century. This colloquium will be devoted to exploring that new research and to questioning many long-held assumptions concerning productiveness of free and unfree labor, the origins of Southern backwardness, and the causes of the American Civil War. >Speakers: >* John Clegg is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at NYU. His paper is entitled “The Real Wages of Whiteness.” >* Suresh Naidu is Associate Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Professor Naidu will present on "Labor Markets in the Shadow of American Slavery.” >* Gavin Wright is William Robertson Coe Professor of American Economic History, Stanford University and author of Sharing the Prize: The... Continue reading
The metallurgy to cheaply make the rails and the engines of the railroad had made transport over land wherever the rails ran as cheap as travel up navigable watercourses or across the oceans had every been, and made it faster. The mid-nineteenth century Massachusetts transcendentalist author and activist Henry David Thoreau’s response to the railroad was: “get off my lawn!”: >To make a railroad round the world.... Men have an indistinct notion that if they keep up this activity of joint stocks and spades long enough all will at length ride somewhere in next to no time and for nothing, but though a crowd rushes to the depot and the conductor shouts “All aboard!” when the smoke is blown away and the vapor condensed, it will be perceived that a few are riding, but the rest are run over—-and it will be called, and will be, “a melancholy accident”... My ancestors had a very different view. The old rule-of-thumb before the railroad was that you simply could not transport agricultural goods more than 100 miles by land: by that time what the horses or oxen would have eaten was as much as they could pull. Either you find a navigable... Continue reading
Well, our three bridge view from the Peixotto Graduate Student Lounge is not at its best this morning, is it? That is a pity because the new first-year graduate students are arriving this morning... This is what it is supposed to look like: We here at Berkeley Economics are vastly underresourced relative to those institutions that we claim are our peer institutions. The interesting thing is that not only do **we** think we punch well above our weight, but so does the world as a whole: **Noah Smith** (2015): [Econ 101: Chicago? M.I.T.? Nope, Berkeley's on Top]( "Which is the greatest university economics department of them all?... >...When I think of the economics department that has had the most influence on the profession in the past four decades, another candidate springs to mind: the University of California-Berkeley.... Researchers at Berkeley during the past four decades haven't just been prestigious and incisive, they have been different. Their research has taken economics in new directions, in terms of both methods and subject matter. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the Chicago School has been replaced in prominence and influence by what I like to call the Berkeley Reformation.... >Berkeley boasts... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann**: _[Will Wilkinson Tries to Rescue the Word "Libertarianism"]( "My first reaction is that it is generally unwise to debate the meanings of words. Rather than argue about what true libertarianism is, Wilkinson could discuss policies, their consequences and whether, in this case, consequentialism involves ignoring some human right that really exists... >...But I realise that I am silly. People do, in fact, first chooes a team and second debate what that team's goal is (unless they are playing a sport and the goal is a net or a line and it's clear). >You go to a meeting of the minds with the humans you have, not the rational beings you want. We are tribal and we will argue about the true nature of our tribes. >Given that, there are some tribes which are better left and many well intentioned -ists who should be renegades, and Wilkinson is one of them. He might continue to try to promote "liberaltarianism" (the slogan, hence the quotation marks which, aren't "scare quotes") but "libertarianism" is a distraction which prevents most people from considering his interesting ideas. >I end up thinking that we are naturally tribal, and mortal, but... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day: Graydon**: _[Tyrannies: An In-Take from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long 20th Century"]( "'_a reasonably egalitarian distribution of income_, yeah, no, people do not want that... >...It'd be a good thing if people did want that, but people want a stable hierarchy that they're not at the bottom of. >The events of the 19th century, culminating in the Great War, destroyed the legitimacy of pretty much every previous stable social hierarchy; nothing that could end in the Great War could possibly be legitimate, on the one hand, and the power relations and relative economic standing of societies, already disordered by economic development, got utterly scrambled by trying to continue prosecuting the war. It took... well, really, I can argue that people STILL can't cope with going off the gold standard/money is not a thing in any material sense, and that got done during the war in months. (This is much weaker in the US, the only major industrial power not involved. Japan wasn't a major industrial power for the Great War, wasn't much involved, and then had the roughly equivalent "all past is dust" experience when the US crushed them in the Great... Continue reading
Alternative Party Cards: **Comments of the Day**: _[Don't Like My Neoliberal Party Card? I Have Others!]( Ronald Brakels, Thomas Hutcheson, James Wimberley, Ebenezer Scrooge, derrida derider: Ronald Brakels, Conservative: 1. I'd like to have an official conservative party card 2. I'm horribly conservative. 3. But I have never been able to find a conservative party. 4. Whenever I think I've found one they always turn out to be in favor of radically changing the atmosphere's radiation balance. Thomas Hutcheson, NeoLiberal: 1. The market is always right except about externalities, collective consumption, and when market power and informational asymmetries are important. 2. If you think #1 is wrong, consider regulatory capture. 3. The market is inescapable and so has to be factored into the design of second best polities. 4. If you think #3 is wrong, consider the political economy of widely shared benefits and concentrates costs and vice versa. 5. The market giveth and the market taketh away so a progressive tax/benefit system needeth to take back and give back. 6. Not everyone who crieth "market, market" shall enter into the pareto optimum. James Wimberley, Conservative: 1. My country, especially when wrong. 2. Wealth is merit, especially when inherited. 3.... Continue reading
As Conor Cruise O'Brien remarks, whenever Jefferson swears by some Higher Power, he is apt to be lying: **Thomas Jefferson**: _[To George Washington, 9 September 1792]( "I received on the 2d. inst the letter of Aug. 23. which you did me the honor to write me; but the immediate return of our post, contrary to his custom, prevented my answer by that occasion... >...The proceedings of Spain mentioned in your letter are really of a complexion to excite uneasiness, and a suspicion that their friendly overtures about the Missisipi have been merely to lull us while they should be strengthening their holds on that river. Mr. Carmichael’s silence has been long my astonishment: and however it might have1 justified something very different from a new appointment, yet the public interest certainly called for his junction with Mr. Short as it is impossible but that his knolege of the ground of negotiation of persons and characters, must be useful and even necessary to the success of the mission. >That Spain and Gr. Britain may understand one another on our frontiers is very possible; for however opposite their interests or dispositions may be in the affairs of Europe, yet while these do... Continue reading
No, the Trump administration is not very competent at achieving its stated goals. But that does not mean that the Trump administration is not doing enormous harm under the radar by simply being its chaos-monkey essence. The smart David Leonhart tries to advise people how to deal with this: **David Leonhardt**: _[Trump Tries to Destroy the West]( "[Trump's] behavior requires a response that’s as serious as the threat... >...For America’s longtime allies, the response means shedding the hopeful optimism that characterized the early approach taken by Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron, France’s president. Merkel is the right role model. She has been tougher, without needlessly escalating matters, because she has understood the threat all along. >For Trump’s fellow Republicans, it means putting country over party. A few Republicans, like John McCain, offered appropriately alarmed words in the last two days. Now members of Congress need to do more than send anguished tweets. They should offer legislation that would restrain Trump and hold hearings meant to uncover his motives. >For American voters, it means understanding the real stakes of this year’s midterm elections. They are not merely a referendum on a tax cut, a health care plan or a president’s unorthodox style.... Continue reading
The sharp and well-intentioned Will Wilkinson still thinks that the name "libertarianism" is worth fighting for, or perhaps that "liberaltarianism" is worth fighting for. I, however, for one, think that "libertarianism" is poisoned in the same way that "fascism", "communism", "socialism", and "neoliberalism" are poisoned. Too many bad people have waved their banners in bad faith. In libertarians' case, the bad people waving in bad faith have been those who think that the only rights that matter are the rights to discriminate, to exchange, and to hold what you have no matter how you acquired it. Maybe "positive libertarians" has a chance, maybe not: **Will Wilkinson**: _[Liberaltarianism: Back the Future]( "Misean economics,... filtered through Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard's peculiar views of rights and coercion... >...delivers a powerfully moralized brief for capitalism that calls into question even taxation for the purpose of financing genuine public goods. That Rothbardians and Randians have wasted so much time fighting with each other on the question of the minimal state versus anarcho-capitalism obscures their unity on a rights-based bulwark against the slide from the welfare state to socialism. Sadly, “libertarianism” has become identified rather strongly with this ideology—an ideology some of the thinkers most... Continue reading
**Peter Jensen, Markus Lampe, Paul Sharp, and Christian Skovsgaard**: _[The role of elites for development in Denmark]( "How did Denmark get to Denmark?... Hundreds of butter factories could spring up in a few years in the 1880s... dominance in agricultural exports could be so rapidly consolidated... why this happened in Denmark and not elsewhere... >...Cooperatives were the unintended result of something which happened more than 100 years earlier, when elites moved into Denmark... from the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein.... They brought a relatively sophisticated agricultural system they knew from home, known as the 'Holstein system', which introduced the idea of centralising dairy production. They also emphasised an early enlightened approach to agriculture, including modern standards of bookkeeping and accounting. Finally, they established knowledge institutions and experimented both on their estates and at specialist research institutions. For example, the first centrifuge in Denmark was trialled on one of these estates.... It was a trickle down of ideas from the elites in the 1700s that later allowed the cooperatives to emerge so successfully.... Denmark got to Denmark not simply by having hard-working peasants and a democratic countryside, but on the shoulders of landed elites. Moreover, this process took more than 100... Continue reading
**Paul Krugman**: _[Brexit Meets Gravity]( "These days I’m writing a lot about trade policy. I know there are more crucial topics, like Alan Dershowitz. Maybe a few other things? But getting and spending go on; and to be honest, in a way I’m doing trade issues as a form of therapy and/or escapism, focusing on stuff I know as a break from the grim political news... >...Anyway, as Britain’s self-inflicted Brexit crisis (self-inflicted with some help from Putin, it seems) comes to a head, it seems to me worth trying to explain some aspects of the economics involved that should be obvious–surely are obvious to many British economists–but aren’t, apparently, as obvious either to Brexiteers or to the general public. These aspects explain why Theresa May is trying to do a soft Brexit or even, as some say, BINO–Brexit In Name Only; and why the favored alternative of Brexiteers, trade agreements with the United States and perhaps others to replace the EU, won’t fly. >Now, many of the arguments for Brexit were lies pure and simple. But their claims about trade, both before and after the vote, may arguably be seen as misunderstandings rather than sheer dishonesty. In the world... Continue reading
**Real Climate**: _[30 years after Hansen’s testimony]( "The first transient climate projections using GCMs are 30 years old this year, and they have stood up remarkably well... >**Misrepresentations and lies**: Over the years, many people have misrepresented what was predicted and what could have been expected. Most (in)famously, Pat Michaels testified in Congress about climate changes and claimed that the predictions were wrong by 300% (!)–but his conclusion was drawn from a doctored graph (Cato Institute version) of the predictions where he erased the lower two scenarios. Undoubtedly there will be claims this week that Scenario A was the most accurate projection of the forcings [Narrator: It was not]. Or they will show only the CO2 projection (and ignore the other factors). Similarly, someone will claim that the projections have been “falsified” because the temperature trends in Scenario B are statistically distinguishable from those in the real world... And, yes, from the Cato Institute and the _Wall Street Journal_, we have what can only be called misrepresentations and lies. ---- #shouldread Continue reading
In the internet economy, traditional antitrust doctrines and nostrums are much less helpful than we would wish. We need new thinkin' and new legislatin' here. Not that I know what we need, exactly, but we do need it: **Ben Thompson**: _[AT&T, Time Warner, and a Framework for Neutrality]( "Unfortunate[ly]... a bad case by the government has led to... a merger... never examined for its truly anti-competitive elements... > worst, bad law that will open the door for similar tie-ups. To be sure, it is not at all clear that the government would have won had they focused on zero rating: there is an obvious consumer benefit to the concept—that is why T-Mobile leveraged it to such great effect!—and the burden would have been on the government to show that the harm was greater. The bigger issue, though, is the degree to which laws surrounding such issues are woefully out-of-date. Last fall I argued that Title II was the wrong framework to enforce net neutrality, even though net neutrality is a concept I absolutely support; I came to that position in part because zero rating was not even covered by the FCC’s action. What is clearly needed is new legislation, not... Continue reading
**Marco Cipriani and Gabriele La Spada**: _[The Premium for Money-Like Assets]( "We estimate such premium using a quasi-natural experiment, the recent reform of the money market fund (MMF) industry... >...Prime MMFs were forced to adopt a system of gates and fees; moreover, prime MMFs catering to institutional investors were forced to float their net asset values. In contrast, government MMFs were unaffected by the new regulation.... Before the SEC reform, MMF shares were the typical example of a money‑like asset: they were callable, redeemable at par, and had very little (at least, in investors’ perception) credit risk. This applied equally to government funds, which can only invest in Treasuries, agency debt, and repos collateralized by these securities, and to prime funds, which can also invest in high-quality, privately-issued unsecured debt.... In the months before the reform went into effect, the prime-government net-yield spread widened from 7 basis points in November 2015 to 24 basis points in October 2016.... The widening spread can be interpreted as a measure of the convenience yield investors are willing to pay to keep the money-like feature of their MMF shares... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Atrios**: _[What A Weird Man]( "I know talk of Trump's mental decline has faded a bit... > we've all gotten used to a what a weird man he is, but decline of talk of his decline is premature. As I have long said, he was always a narcissistic blowhard but he wasn't the child that he is now. The filters that make even the extreme narcissist able to pretend a bit occasionally keep fading. Those jenga blocks are being pulled out one by one... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
David Brooks explicitly practicing identity politics. What's odd is that Jews are almost always first on the block to be excluded from "Western Europe" whenever someone embarks on the journey that leads to ultimately saying that the only true civilization bearers are the Anglo-Saxons (or the Saxon-Saxons, depending), with the wogs starting at either Calais or Liege, depending. Does he even know that the only sovereigns who made significant outreach to rescue the Sephardim expelled from Spain was named Bayezid II Osmanli?: **Yastreblyansky**: _[Identity politics with David Brooks: The wolves are in the henhouse]( "David Brooks's hot take on the Trump-Putin summit ('The Murder-Suicide of the West') was that it was like when C.S. Lewis's mother died, not that he was there, it was in 1908, but he's read about it, and it's pretty sad... >...she had cancer and the kid was only ten, and they shipped him off to a boarding school with a psychotic headmaster afterwards, so that it may not sound exactly like the Trump-Putin summit to you, but the thing is Trump has broken up with Europe, and Europe is our mother, as Americans, the source of democracy, universities, good manners, luxury hotels, and public parks!...... Continue reading
The twentieth century’s tyrannies were more brutal and more barbaric than those of any previous age. And—astonishingly—they had much of their origins in economic discontents and economic ideologies. People killed each other in large numbers over, largely, questions of how the economy should be organized. Such questions had not been a major source of massacre in previous centuries. Twentieth-Century governments and their soldiers have killed perhaps forty million people in war: either soldiers (most of them unlucky enough to have been drafted into the mass armies of the twentieth century) or civilians killed in the course of what could be called military operations. But wars have caused only about a fifth of this century’s violent death toll. Governments and their police have killed perhaps one hundred and sixty million people in time of peace: class enemies, race enemies, political enemies, economic enemies, imagined enemies. You name them, governments have killed them on a scale that could not previously have been imagined. If the twentieth century has seen the growth of material wealth on a previously-inconceivable scale, it has also seen human slaughter at a previously-unimaginable rate Call those political leaders whose followers and supporters have slaughtered more than ten million... Continue reading
**Spencer Ackerman**: _[U.S. Officials ‘at a Fucking Loss’ Over Latest Russia Sellout]( "PERSONA NON GRATA: The White House’s refusal to rule out turning over former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to the Russians has current and former State Department officials seeing red...." ---- #shouldread Continue reading
The rise of neo-fascism: **Martin Wolf**: _[How we lost America to greed and envy]( "Mr Trump is the logical outcome of a politics that serves the interests of the plutocracy... >...He gives the rich what they desire, while offering the nationalism and protectionism wanted by the Republican base. It is a brilliant (albeit unplanned) combination, embodied in a charismatic personality that offers validation to his most passionate supporters. Will Trump’s protectionism do many in his base any good? No. But, in their eyes, he is a real leader, at last. Who lost “our” America? The American elite, especially the Republican elite. Mr Trump is the price of tax cuts for billionaires. They sowed the wind; the world is reaping the whirlwind. Should we expect the old America back? Not until someone finds a more politically successful way of meeting the needs and anxieties of ordinary people. ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Steven L. Hall**: "_[From a counterintelligence perspective](, something is going on behind the scenes. Before Helsinki I was less sure; post Helsinki, I feel sick..." ---- #shouldread Continue reading
Yes. It is long past time for 25th Amendment remedies. Why do you ask?: **David Frum**: _[What Hold Does Putin Have on Trump?]( "We still do not know what hold Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump, but the whole world has now witnessed the power of its grip... >...Russia helped Donald Trump into the presidency, as Robert Mueller’s indictment vividly details. Putin, in his own voice, has confirmed that he wanted Trump elected. Standing alongside his benefactor, Trump denounced the special counsel investigating Russian intervention in the U.S. election—and even repudiated his own intelligence appointees. This is an unprecedented situation, but not an uncontemplated one. At the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, the authors of the Constitution worried a great deal about foreign potentates corrupting the American presidency.... Founders imagined corruption taking the form of some princely emolument that would enable an ex-president to emigrate and... “live in greater splendor in another country than his own.” Yet they understood that even the most developed countries were not immune to the suborning of their leaders. As Morris said, "One would think the King of England well secured [against] bribery… Yet Charles II was bribed by Louis XIV.” >The reasons for Trump’s striking... Continue reading