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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
**Note to Self**: J. Bradford DeLong Fall 2018 Schedule: For an appointment outside or to reserve a slot during office hours, send email to: Continue reading
**Note to Self: Working on Today...**: * Computer Literacy: An Educational Experiment * Last semester's grading * Oxford Proposal: _Macroeconomics: A Very Short Introduction_ * Equitable Growth * Books- Martha Wells- The Murderbot Diaries Continue reading
Very strongly recommended: **Martha Wells**: [Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries]( This is one scene: perhaps the best "tell, not show" scene I have read in a long time: **Martha Wells**: [The Last Stand of the Four ComfortUnits of Ganaka Mining Pit]( "In the corridor near the living quarters, I found the other ready room, the one for the ComfortUnits... >...Inside were four shapes that were clearly cubicles, but smaller. Their doors stood open, the plastic beds inside empty. In the corner there was space for a recycler, but no weapons lockers, and the storage cabinets were all different. I stood in the center of the room. The cubicles for the murderbots had been closed, not in use. Which meant none of the SecUnits had been damaged and all had been either out on patrol, on guard, or in the ready room, probably standing around pretending not to stare at each other. >But the cubicles for the sexbots were open, which meant they had been inside when the emergency occurred and the power shut off. If the power is off, you can manually open a cubicle from the inside, but it won’t shut again. It meant they had deployed during the... Continue reading
* [A Question I Asked About "Separation of Powers" at the 2008 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference, Omni Hotel, New Haven, CT]( A question for Professors Balkin and Haq.... I would put the institutional breakdown's causes in the election of 1994 taught the Republican legislators of Capitol Hill that their jobs are at risk if they fail to support the president of their own party. Hence we now have all the defects of a parliamentary system--lock-step partisan support for the deeds of the executive--and none of its principal advantage which is the vetting of the executive by the experienced legislators of the ruling party... * [CFP Panel on the Transparent Society: David Brin's Book Ten Years Later]( There are all the—call them Little Brothers—the people who want to sell you things that you may need to be persuaded against your better judgment to buy. And then there are the people who want to figure out whether you will be a more expensive customer to serve... so that they can decide not to let you be a customer.... David Brin wrote, I think, a wonderful book. And complaining that his solution—turn the cameras around—doesn't solve all problems is like complaining that... Continue reading
It is now 20 years since David Brin wrote _The Transparent Society_. Book holds up very well, all things considering: [CFP Panel on the Transparent Society: David Brin's Book Ten Years Later]( Michael Froomkin: >**_The Transparent Society_ Ten Years Later** : This year marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of David Brin's controversial book, "The Transparent Society". The book argues that in the face of the explosion of sensors, cheap storage, and cheap data processing we should adopt strategies of vision over concealment. A world in which not just transactional information, but essentially all information about us will be collected, stored, and sorted is, Brin says, inevitable. The only issue left to be decided is who will have access to this information; he argues that freedom, and even some privacy, are more likely to flourish if everybody - not just elites - has access to this flood of data. The book remains controversial and much-talked-about. The panel will explore how Brin's claims hold up ten years later and whether (or how far) we're on the road to a Transparent Society. Here is my presentation: I am a sidelight. I am here as a tame economist. The political and sociological... Continue reading
**Alexandra Petri**: [Rules for babies on the Senate floor]( "With babies present, senators may be held to a higher standard than previously... >...If babies throw tantrums on the floor, they will be removed, instead of returned by the people of the state of Texas to serve another term. When asked whether President Trump is likely to fire the special counsel, babies at least have an excuse for giving a non-response. If, when presented with an exciting object, the baby becomes gravely concerned with it, and then the second that object is removed, the baby acts as though it has passed out of the world for good, the baby again has an excuse: It does not have object permanence yet. And if, in the face of some horrible idea floated by Trump, a baby rolls over, collapses and begins to cry, the baby still has an excuse: It is a baby. What is the Senate’s excuse?..." #shouldread Continue reading
"How is Harvard like socialist Yugoslavia, comrade?" "I do not know: how is Harvard like socialist Yugoslavia, comrade?" "Like socialist Yugoslavia, the value of the outputs is less than the value of the input, comrade." ****: [Alma Mater Blogging...]( Greg Mankiw's desire to move Harvard to someplace better adapted to human life than Massachusetts was triggered by: >Greg Mankiw's Blog: Time for Harvard to Move?: The Wall Street Journal reports one of the most pernicious ideas I have heard of late: 'Massachusetts legislators, demonstrating a growing resentment against the wealth of elite universities in tight economic times, are studying a plan to levy a 2.5% annual tax on the portion of college endowments that exceed $1 billion. The effort takes aim at one of the primary economic engines of the state, which is home to nine universities with endowments that surpass the $1 billion level, led by Harvard University's $35 billion cache, the nation's largest.... Supporters said the proposal would raise $1.4 billion a year. Based on the most recent size of Harvard's endowment, the university would have to shell out more than $840 million annually...' There is an important underlying issue here with respect to America's private universities... Let... Continue reading
John Holbo used to talk about [“Dark Satanic Millian Liberalism“]( But what he never said was that it has its origins in John Stuart Mill himself. Here are three passages from [_Principles of Political Economy_]( I find interesting: >[(1)]( Mechanical inventions... have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish. Only when, in addition to just institutions, the increase of mankind shall be under the deliberate guidance of judicious foresight, can the conquests made from the powers of nature by the intellect and energy of scientific discoverers become the common property of the species, and the means of improving and elevating the universal lot... >[(2)]( Every one has a right to live.... But no one has a right to bring creatures into life, to be supported by other people. Whoever means to stand upon the first of these rights must renounce all pretension to the last. If a man cannot support even himself unless others help him, those others are entitled to say that they do not also undertake the support of any offspring which it is physically possible for him to summon into the... Continue reading
* [Jared Diamond on Easter Island's Collapse]( Needless to say, most societies—or at least most societies that we are aware of because they hang around for long enough to leave stone, pottery, or papyrus trails—do not behave this way. They evolve a social institution called private property to give individuals both control over scarce and exhaustible resources and an incentive to ensure wise and balanced extraction and careful and efficient use. It appears that the Easter Island people somehow failed to do so... * [Warranted Stock Market Valuations and the Price-Earnings Equation Once Again]( It can be shown that the "right" way to value the stock market is with the price-earnings equation: P = E/[r - (1/θ - 1)ρ]. Here: (1) E are the earnings—the sustainable permanent cyclically-adjusted and correctly accounted for Haig-Simons earnings—paid on the index, (2) r is the appropriate real rate at which to discount cash flows of the riskiness of the stock market, (3) θ is the payout ratio of dividends to earnings, and (4) ρ is the wedge (which may be positive or negative) between the appropriate external real interest rate r and the internal rate of return the firm can earn on its reinvested... Continue reading
**Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives (August 2015)**: ["We Always Thanked Robert Lucas for Giving Us a... Monopoly" Over Valuable Macroeconomics]( The extremely sharp Paul Romer gets something, I think, very very wrong... Paul is, I think, the captive of a folk story about the economy and economics that only survives—that could only survive—only within the epistemically-closed empirically-irrelevant calibration-scholastic hothouse.... >**Solow’s Choice**: "Robert Solow had a choice about how to respond [to Robert Lucas]. He chose sarcastic denial over serious engagement. His optimistic assessment of the prospects for the simulation models, a grade of B or B- but nothing ‘in that record that suggests suicide,’ is hard to reconcile with the decision by virtually all macroeconomists to abandon work on them. Ummm... That seem to me to be pretty completely wrong. Consider Macro Advisers. [Larry Meyer's] Macro Advisors makes a very good living today selling its simulation models.... John Cassidy (1996): The Decline of Economics: >Meyer... "In our firm, we always thanked Robert Lucas for giving us a virtual monopoly. Because of Lucas and others, for two decades no graduate students are trained who were capable of competing with us by building econometric models that had a hope of explaining short-run... Continue reading
Paul Krugman says that the public sphere—even the good part of the public sphere—has gone wrong because of the threat and the menace that is twitter: **Paul Krugman**: [Monopsony, Rigidity, and the Wage Puzzle]( "This discussion is taking place marks a kind of new frontier in the mechanics of scientific communication–and, I think, an unfortunate one... >...Once upon a time economic debate took place in the pages of refereed journals, but that stopped being true at least 30 years ago, with working papers becoming the principal means of communication. Even that turned out to be too slow in the face of rapid change; so during the crisis years, say from 2008-2013, a lot of discussion and debate moved to blogs, which I’d say worked very well. In retrospect, the debates we all had over leverage, monetary policy, fiscal policy and more were really classic–the 21st-century equivalent of, say, Keynes vs. Ohlin on trade balances and relative prices. >But this latest debate has taken place largely through dueling Twitter threads–which is, I’d say, awful. The economists involved are very smart, and the threads very informative; but for people trying to keep track, including students, this is really a mess. If you... Continue reading
* [Bloomberg San Francisco Bureau at Pier 3]( It is amazing what you can do with an old cargo terminal/wearhouse built out over San Francisco Bay... with a few coats of paint... and some hardwood flooring... and more miles of gigabit ethernet cabling than I have ever seen in my life... and teh scuba divers to lay the foundations for the elevators... Continue reading
Best shadow graduation speech I have seen in quite a while: **Simon Kuper**: [My life tips for graduates: embrace your ignorance]( "You are graduating almost entirely ignorant. This isn’t your fault... >...Your most fecund educational years were aged nought to three, when your brain was fairly porous, but the opportunity was probably wasted. You then spent each school day surrounded by up to 30 other people, each with their own problems and ability levels. Since high school, you’ve been additionally handicapped by hormones, smartphones and early-morning starts. If you are graduating in a vocational or technical subject, then whatever you learnt is going out of date as I speak.... In short, you’re going to have to keep learning all your life. Here are a few tips: >* Just shut up and listen.... >* Also avoid all house-price talk, route talk, diet talk, name-dropping and current-affairs clichés. Over a lifetime, this can save you years. >* Listen hardest to people younger than you. They are ignorant and generally have lowly jobs, but their fragments of knowledge will be more cutting-edge than yours. If you’re ever tempted to kid yourself that your knowledge will hold good over time, listen to aged relatives... Continue reading
* [A Spontaneous Order: Women and the Invisible Fist]( RadGeek produces what I can only call the intellectual love child of Susan Brownmiller and Friedrich Hayek. Extremely well done: "When a large enough minority of men choose to commit widespread, intense, random acts of violence against a large enough number of women. And it can happen quite naturally without the raping men, or the protecting men, or the women in the society ever intending for any particular large-scale social outcome to come about. But what will come about, quite naturally, is that women’s social being—how women appear and act, as women, in public—will be systematically and profoundly circumscribed by a diffuse, decentralized threat of violence. And, as a natural but unintended consequence of many small, self-interested actions, some vicious and violent (as in the case of men who rape women), some worthwhile in their origins but easily and quickly corrupted (as in the case of men who try to protect women from rape), and some entirely rational responses to an irrational and dangerous situation (as in the case of women who limit their action and seek protection from men), the existence and activities of the police-blotter rapist serve to constrain... Continue reading
[1870: The Real Industrial Revolution?:]( The most important fact to grasp about the world economy of 1870 is that the economy then belonged much more to its past of the Middle Ages than to its future of—well, of us, and what our successors eventually decide they want to use as an overarching term with which to label our age of fuel, machine, and digit. If, back in the 1870s, you had bought the latest edition of the world’s most eminent economics textbook you would have read: >Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being... The book’s author, John Stuart Mill, went on to explain himself. All the mechanical inventions of his and previous ages, he said: >have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish. Only when, in addition to just institutions, the increase of mankind shall... Continue reading
* 8 of 35 Monarchs of England from 1066 to 1850 dead in war or murder: 23%... * 7 of 44 Queens of England from 1066 to 1850 dead and childbirth: 16%... I am somewhat surprised: I had thought childbed would be a higher risk than war/murder. (But then there are Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard who get murdered... Are there any more?) Continue reading
Listening at the Amherst College graduation to: **Morris Dees**: [One Nation with Liberty and Justice for All]( It struck me that Morris Dees of the SPLC speaks not as a lawyer but as a prophet. But when he spoke of "forgiveness" and of Martin Luther King, Jr., I found myself thinking that he wasn't expressing what he wanted to say very well—certainly not nearly as well as Martin Luther King, Jr., had... Forgiveness, you see, is not supposed to be something that you get for free. It is not something you get by claiming to accept some messiah or other as your personal savior. It's not something that you demand from those you have harmed. For them, their forgiveness not a forgetting. Their forgiveness is, rather, a process one of the purposes of which is to engage you in the community. And, so engaged, you then owe the community something very valuable as reciprocity: the free gift of forgiveness leaves you with obligations, that you can choose to meet or not to meet. What do you then owe the community as reciprocity for being forgiven by those of its members you have injured for your own past misdeeds? What you... Continue reading
* **Petra Moser**: [Further extending long-lived US copyrights will do no good. ]( No benefits from extensions. And if extensions ever get applied to science, there'd be huge welfare loss, especially for people at less affluent institutions... * **Paul Krugman**: [We've basically crossed the line into treason now -- and a whole party is acquiescing]( Benjamin Wittes: "I have a whole lot to say about how the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the President of the United States teamed up to out an intelligence source who aided our country in a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation against a hostile foreign power..." * **Jen Kirby**: [Laurel/Yanny: the science behind the audio trick, explained]( "It comes down to how our brains pick up on, and interpret, different frequencies..." * Yes, there are first-class New York-style bagels in Greater San Francisco: [Bagel Baron]( "2701 Eighth St Berkeley, CA 94710..." * **Lois McMaster Bujold**: [The Flowers of Vashnoi goes live]( * [Sangria]( * [Captain Mardens]( * British governance appears at least as bad today as American governance even though they are not helmed by an unstable and corrupt kleptocrat: **Simon Wren-Lewis**: [Delusions of National Power]( "Inevitable that the UK would stay in the... Continue reading
**Martin Feldstein** (1979): Introduction to The American Economy in Transition: "The post-[World] War [II] period began in an atmosphere of doubt and fear... >Many economists believed that the nation would slip back into the deep recession from which it had escaped only as the war began. In the decade between 1929 and 1939, real gross national product (GNP) had not grown at all, and the official unemployment rate had reached one-fourth of the labor force. During the war, the economy had returned to full or overfull use of its capacity: real GNP rose 75 percent between 1939 and 1944, while the unemployment rate fell to less than 2 percent. Even many optimists worried that demobilization and the transition to a civilian economy would lead to a new period of long-term stagnation caused by inadequate demand. >Real output did decline as the war ended, and the unemployment rate did begin to rise. Real GNP fell by nearly 20 percent between 1944 and 1947. As ten million men and women left the armed forces, total employment (civilian and armed forces combined) declined by nearly 10 percent and the unemployment rate rose to nearly 4 percent. But the fears and doubts of the... Continue reading
True: 4% is a lot: Zoltan Acs, Ph.D., George Mason University... Gerald A. Hanweck, Ph.D., George Mason University... Anthony B. Sanders, Ph.D., George Mason University... J.W. Verret, Associate Professor, George Mason Antonin Scalia Law School & former Chief Economist at House Financial Services Committee... Seems to me GM has a serious intellectual quality control problem here: grifters _and_ delusional...
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**Note to Self**: I am pretty good at making sure Twitter does not seize my attention and hack my brain. But many other people are not. Platforms so that you can control aggregators. How was it that Tim Berners-Lee's Open Web crushed the Walled Gardeners in the 1990s? And how have the Walled Gardeners made their comeback? And what can be done?: **Manton Reece** (2014): [Microblog Links]( "Brent Simmons points to my post on microblogs and asks... >>...Is the web we lost gone forever? Was it a brief golden age before the rise of Facebook and Twitter and The Algorithms of Engagement? >But he quickly follows with an alternate view: that it’s a blip and we’ll get back on track. >And that’s what I believe. >Instead of accepting a common opinion that Twitter is slowly replacing RSS readers, we should flip that around. What kind of changes could be made to RSS readers to embrace microblogging and make Twitter itself less important? Because once we do that, we get back control of our own short-form content and at the same time encourage open tools that will survive independent of whatever happens with Twitter and Facebook in the future... #shouldread #microblog... Continue reading
[Wild Heart]( Continue reading
**Watching the Orange-Haired Baboons: Some Fairly-Recent Must- and Should-Reads**: * The states have been serving as laboratories of democracy over the past decade, with Wisconsin and Kansas seeing the greatest policy swerves and serving as the most striking ominous warnings: **David Cooper**: [As Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s lawmakers took divergent paths, so did their economies: Since 2010, Minnesota’s economy has performed far better for working families than Wisconsin’s]( "Seven years removed from when each governor took office, there is ample data to assess which state’s economy—and by extension, which set of policies—delivered more for the welfare of its residents. The results could not be more clear: by virtually every available measure, Minnesota’s recovery has outperformed Wisconsin’s..." * The awesomely smart and industrious Chye-Ching Huang of the [CBPP]( [praises]( Greg Leiserson's [must-read guide]( to understanding last December's tax bill. There was space for a growth-promoting corporate tax cut that did not widen income inequality that much. That space was occupied, instead, by something that manages to increase inequality sharply while reducing projected national income—three steps backward for equitable growth. * The Sisyphean work of getting to people to recognize that the Reagan "morning in America" boom was a standard Keynesian reaction to... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day: Graydon**: [Mobilization for Total War and Democratic Order]( "Great War mobilization levels are fundamentally voluntary... >...(Note that the US did not meaningfully participate in the Great War and if want a reason the US is different about almost everything compared to the rest of the North Atlantic, there you go.) You can't possibly impose them, there aren't enough people to do the imposing. Hitler's War more complicated but not politically different. >If you look at personnel counts you're going to get the wrong answers; look at percentage of the population. Look at whether or not there was (an intent for) a decisive result. (Colonial wars are not (directly) about how industrial states relate to their own populace and political legitimacy.) >Yes, revolutionary France invented mass armies; they were not decisive. (Scaring your neighbours is not decisive.) Yes, there are existential wars all through history. The difference is that you get a situation where you expect that your survival requires mass armies and will involve an existential conflict. (In part because it's possible due to logistical improvements that go along with the industry that can make drawn brass cartridges.) >The change with metal cartridges is threefold: you... Continue reading
**No longer fresh at Project Syndicate**: [The Destruction of the Republican Party]( There can no longer be any doubt that America has an unhinged, unqualified kleptocrat presiding in the White House. Nor can there be any question that the Republicans who put him there may be sealing their party's fate as the manifestation of Trumpism, rather than traditional conservatism. It has been one and a half years since Donald Trump was elected to the US presidency, so now is as good a time as any for Americans to take a deep breath and contemplate their broken political system. To be sure, the United States has not experienced any major catastrophes, even though massive policy mistakes always seem to be looming on the horizon. But the country has been suffering a death by a thousand cuts, leaving it weaker and poorer the longer Trump is in office. Much of the blame for this belongs to the Republicans, who have fallen into line behind Trump for reasons that are still difficult to understand. Trump was elected with over 60 million votes–some three million fewer than his opponent, Hillary Clinton. But he gained public backing from a wide array of Republican mandarins, policy... Continue reading