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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
**Hoisted from the Archives**: 1921—six years after the Ku Klux Klan revival sparked by "Birth of a Nation"—the early 20th Century's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in reverse: 39 officially dead, 800 wounded, more than 35 blocks destroyed, [more than 10000 people left homeless]( **Erik Loomis** (2016): [Tulsa]( "The Tulsa Race Riot is one of the most shameful events in all of American history and as we know, that’s a high bar to meet... >...That event took place 95 years ago today. Amazingly, an account of this event written by the father of the legendary African-American historian John Hope Franklin, who was a leading black lawyer in Tulsa at the time, was recently discovered. >‘I could see planes circling in mid-air. They grew in number and hummed, darted and dipped low. I could hear something like hail falling upon the top of my office building. Down East Archer, I saw the old Mid-Way hotel on fire, burning from its top, and then another and another and another building began to burn from their top,’ wrote Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960). >The Oklahoma lawyer, father of famed African-American historian John Hope Franklin (1915-2009), was describing the attack by hundreds of whites on the thriving... Continue reading
Very good to see—Dan Froomkin's original WHW was _Politico_ before there was _Politico_, and was, actually, unlike _Politico_, informative—because Dan worked for his readers, rather than for his sources. One suggestion, Dan—don't say "renewal": there is no "renewal", at least not yet: **Dan Froomkin**: _[Dan Froomkin's White House Watch]( "Trump welcomes another authoritarian to the White House... >...Struggling to cement a far-right majority on the Supreme Court, Donald Trump on Tuesday welcomes to the White House the president of Poland, whose far-right party has effectively put its formerly independent judiciary under strict political control. Trump is evidently a fan... ---- **Dan Froomkin**: _[White House Watch]( "Welcome! The new White House Watch is on a several-weeks-long shakedown cruise. Now is the perfect time to tell me what you like and what you don’t like, and to show your support. Please read About the Site to learn more about what I’m trying to do — then help me make it a reality. Please email me your thoughts at and/or make a donation... ---- **Dan Froomkin**: _[White House Watch]( "Welcome and welcome back. Nine years after the abrupt end of its run at the Washington Post, White House Watch is back as... Continue reading
**Hoisted from the Archives: Friedrich Engels** (1843): _[Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy]( "According to the economists, the production costs of a commodity consist of three elements: the rent for the piece of land required to produce the raw material; the capital with its profit, and the wages for the labour required for production and manufacture... >...But [of the]... two sides–the natural, objective side, land; and the human, subjective side, labour, which includes capital and, besides capital, a third factor which the economist does not think about–I mean the mental element of invention, of thought, alongside the physical element of sheer labour. What has the economist to do with inventiveness? Have not all inventions fallen into his lap without any effort on his part? Has one of them cost him anything? Why then should he bother about them in the calculation of production costs? Land, capital and labour are for him the conditions of wealth, and he requires nothing else. Science is no concern of his. >What does it matter to him that he has received its gifts through Berthollet, Davy, Liebig, Watt, Cartwright, etc.–gifts which have benefited him and his production immeasurably? He does not know how to... Continue reading
**Sandra Newman**: _[One More Thing on Kavanaugh]( "One more thing on Kavanaugh before I go and do my laundry. I've written about false rape accusations before, and I know they do occur. I spent months researching this article, and I'm very familiar with the territory... >...Ford's accusation has none of the characteristics of a false accusation. False accusations tend to paint the attacker as extraordinarily evil and deliberately cruel, not as a kid who is doing something really awful and stupid while black-out drunk. There is also a _grand guignol_ quality to a lot of false accusations. If you read the UVA accuser's story, or the Duke accuser's story, you can see this. They're involve bizarre forms of violence that aren't even strictly physically possible. A thing you will not get in a false accusation is an element of slapstick, as in Ford's account of the second boy in the room jumping on top & tumbling Kavanaugh loose so she could get free. A person seeking to harm someone doesn't add comic relief. >False accusers do NOT, contrary to popular belief, have a pattern of reporting a rape thirty years after the fact. This *could* happen, but it's not a... Continue reading
**Larry Summers**: _[The Five Best Books on Globalization]( "_The Economic Consequences of the Peace_ , by John Maynard Keynes; _Manias, Panics, and Crashes_ , by Charles Kindleberger; _Globalization and Its Discontents_ , by Joseph E Stiglitz; _Why Globalization Works_ , by Martin Wolf; and _The Great Convergence , by Richard Baldwin... >..._The Economic Consequences of the Peace_ (1919) is among the dozen—perhaps half-dozen—most influential economics books that have ever been written. For a hundred years, it has set the terms of the debate over the Versailles Treaty. It galvanized the political dialogue around what was going to take place post-World War I. This book, combined with subsequent events, shaped the much more generous approach that was taken to the defeated countries in creating an international system after World War II.... _Manias, Panics, and Crashes_... is the definitive informal history of financial bubbles and euphorias, which have done so much to shape history.... Kindleberger’s book carries the message that, while policies may change and economic circumstances may vary, human psychology and oscillation between fear and greed are likely to always be with us.... _Globalization and its Discontents_ ... is a book that anyone looking for a rounded set of perspectives on... Continue reading
**Hoisted from the Archives from 2016**: **David Card, Alan Krueger, and Ben Zipperer**: _[Equitable Growth in Conversation: An Interview](**Card**-and-alan-**Krueger**/)_: **Zipperer**: "At the beginning of this discussion, a lot of arrows seemed to point back to Orley Ashenfelter. Could you talk about his influence on your work and maybe the field generally?" **Card**: Well, for me it’s very strong because he was my thesis adviser and really the reason why I went to Princeton as a grad student. And even as an undergraduate, the two professors who I took courses from that had the most influence on me were students of Orley’s... >...So my connection to him goes back a long time. And we wrote a bunch of papers together over the years and advised many students. But also many of the people of my generation of labor economists, like Joe Altonji, John Abowd, or other people like that, were strongly influenced by Orley. >Right from the get-go, he was a very, very strong proponent of “experiments if you can do them” and “collect your own data if you can do it” and “spend the money if you can.” One time, he and Alan went to Twinsburg Twins Festival and collected... Continue reading
**Claudia Sahm**: _[Alice in Wonderland]( "One year ago today, Alice Wu’s research about sexism at an online economics forum made the news... >...What did I learn this year? One person cannot do much, but a collection of ‘one persons’ can do a hell of a lot. I have been repeatedly inspired by the generosity, ingenuity, and unflagging energy of others in getting us organized in the past year. The next steps won’t be easy, as I said in my last post. Economics can be a more diverse, more inclusive profession, but that work can’t be outsourced to committees or a few ‘obsessed’ souls. If it matters, it must matter to all of us, and we all have to carve out time for conversations and action. Thanks to Alice Wu for kicking us down this rabbit hole... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
This line of work has become popular, and is very interesting. But I always find myself having a hard time evaluating it, and am puzzled as to how to think about it: **Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Debora Revoltella, Jan Svejnar, Christoph Weiss**: _[Dispersion in productivity among European firms]( "This column uses firm-level data from all EU countries to explore how the dispersion of resources affects macroeconomic performance... >...Harmonising the business environment–and thus easing the flow of resources–across countries and industries could increase aggregate EU growth by 18%. The findings also demonstrate how firm-level characteristics can help us understand distortions in the allocation of resources across firms... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
Back in my day—which was a decade and a half **a decade** before Brett Kavanaugh's—the view from the co-ed prep schools of Sidwell Friends and Georgetown Day was that, while the boys from all the single-sex prep schools needed watching, those from Georgetown Prep who showed up to parties and drank were out-of-control in an... unusual way: **Amanda Terkel and Arthur Delaney**: _[Alumnae Of Christine Blasey Ford's High School Circulate Letter Of Support | HuffPost]( "Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh are 'all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton', they wrote... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Nicola Bianchi and Michela Giorcelli**: _[Reconstruction Aid, Public Infrastructure, and Economic Development]( "Plausibly exogenous differences between Italian provinces in the amount of grants disbursed through the Marshall Plan... >...Provinces that received more reconstruction grants experienced a larger increase in the number of industrial firms and workers. Individuals and firms in these areas also started developing more patents. The same provinces experienced a faster mechanization of the agricultural sector. Motorized machines, such as tractors, replaced workers and significantly boosted agricultural production. Finally, we show how reconstruction grants induced economic growth by allowing Italian provinces to modernize their transportation and communication networks damaged during WWII. ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Gary R. Saxonhouse, Robert M. Stern, Gavin Wright, and Hugh Patrick**: _[The Japanese Economy in Retrospect]( "..." ---- #shouldread Continue reading
Mark Thoma sends us to: _[Summer 2018 Journal of Economic Perspectives]( "Symposium: Macroeconomics a Decade after the Great Recession... >..."What Happened: Financial Factors in the Great Recession," by Mark Gertler and Simon Gilchrist At the onset of the recent global financial crisis, the workhorse macroeconomic models assumed frictionless financial markets. These frameworks were thus not able to anticipate the crisis, nor to analyze how the disruption of credit markets changed what initially appeared like a mild downturn into the Great Recession. Since that time, an explosion of both theoretical and empirical research has investigated how the financial crisis emerged and how it was transmitted to the real sector. The goal of this paper is to describe what we have learned from this new research and how it can be used to understand what happened during the Great Recession. In the process, we also present some new empirical work. We argue that a complete description of the Great Recession must take account of the financial distress facing both households and banks and, as the crisis unfolded, nonfinancial firms as well. Exploiting both panel data and time series methods, we analyze the contribution of the house price decline, versus the banking distress... Continue reading
Perhaps the biggest hole in growth economics is its inability to properly wrestle with the problem of how to build and entertain the communities of engineering practice that have the externalities that fuel so much of economic growth. The 2% per year rate of growth of labor efficiency seen over the past century comes from somewhere, after all. If it comes from activities like R&D and science that together consume 2% of national income, that is a 60%/year net rate of return on such activities. We badly need to understand more about them: **Pierre Azoulay, Erica Fuchs, Anna Goldstein, Michael Kearney**: _[Funding Breakthrough Research: Promises and Challenges of the "ARPA Model"]( "The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) model for research funding has... spread... >...We propose that the key elements of the ARPA model for research funding are: organizational flexibility on an administrative level, and significant authority given to program directors to design programs, select projects and actively manage projects. We identify the ARPA model’s domain as mission-oriented research on nascent S-curves within an inefficient innovation system. Finally, we describe some of the challenges to implementing the ARPA model, and we comment on the role of ARPA in the landscape of... Continue reading
**William H. Janeway**: _[American Political Economy, Disrupted]( "Digitalization has also opened up a new front in the age-old confrontation with the state... >...At issue is the integrity of the underlying political process itself and the authority that the state derives from that process. To be sure, there is a long history of media giants abusing their power for political ends. In 1800, the second contested US presidential election was distinguished by the dissemination of falsehoods and calumny by a partisan press. A century later, the newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer more or less precipitated theSpanish-American War. And a century after that, the arrival of Fox News deepened the polarization of the American body politic. >For its part, digital media is uniquely powerful as both a polarizer and an amplifier, owing to its narrowcasting capacity and frictionless means of distribution. The sheer volume of digital communications renders the task of filtering and validating what is posted online technically impossible. After the 2016 US presidential election, those economically responsible for the new distribution channels could expect to be held politically responsible for the content they disseminate. But, if anything, that further validates the de facto power they already wield.... Continue reading
**Ezra Klein**: _[Ben Shapiro’s revealing explanation for Trump: it’s all Obama’s fault]( "Obama and Shapiro differ sharply.... Obama blames Trump—and others in the Republican Party and conservative media—for demagogically preying on Americans’ fears and anxieties. Shapiro blames Obama for adopting a lecturing tone that alienated a critical mass of Americans... >...I asked Shapiro to unpack this point for me. “Obama suggested that his political opponents were badly-motivated ignoramuses, routinely ignored the rule of law, and utilized identity politics to divide the country,” he replied. “He savaged McCain and Romney in scurrilous ways. Many in the Republican base felt angered and slighted, and raged at the supposed nice guys in the party who were allegedly too weak to fight back. They supported the most aggressive candidate on the stage.” Some of this strikes me as, well, strange. John McCain just had Obama speak at his funeral. The idea that the 2008 campaign was uniquely scurrilous is provably wrong. The rest of it is the usual Rorschach test of American politics; I think Obama treated issues of identity with unusual care and caution and... was unusually willing to believe the best of his political opponents, but I doubt I’ll change any minds....... Continue reading
**Justin Fox**: _[Why German Corporate Boards Include Workers for Co-Determination]( "One of the world’s most successful capitalist nations, Germany, currently requires 50 percent employee representation on the supervisory boards of large corporations, and that most countries in the European Union now also encourage or require some such form of employee 'co-determination'... >...Which got me wondering. How did German corporations end up giving all those board seats to employees?... The short answer is that in the aftermath of World War II the managers and owners of Germany’s large industrial concerns were discredited, with some headed for trial in Nuremberg as war criminals, while the country’s trade unions, which had been banned by Adolf Hitler in 1933, were considered by the Allied occupying forces to be free of Nazi taint. The most heavily industrialized part of the country was in the hands of the British, who were in the process of nationalizing several major industries back home and were inclined to do the same in Germany. Having experienced de-facto nationalization under the Nazis, though, the leader of the union movement in the British zone—seventysomething former metalworker and Social Democratic politician Hans Böckler—pushed instead for negotiated deals with company owners to give workers... Continue reading
This, somehow, does not seem like it lies within the scope of economists' comparative advantage. But do psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists do better?: **Roland Bénabou, Armin Falk, Jean Tirole**: _[Narratives, Imperatives, and Moral Reasoning]( "By downplaying externalities, magnifying the cost of moral behavior, or suggesting not being pivotal, exculpatory narratives... >...can allow individuals to maintain a positive image when in fact acting in a morally questionable way. Conversely, responsibilizing narratives can help sustain better social norms. We investigate when narratives emerge from a principal or the actor himself, how they are interpreted and transmitted by others, and when they spread virally. We then turn to how narratives compete with imperatives (general moral rules or precepts) as alternative modes of communication to persuade agents to behave in desirable ways...." ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Justin Wolfers**: _[Money Really Does Lead to a More Satisfying Life]( "Lottery winners said they were substantially more satisfied with their lives than lottery losers.... These effects are remarkably durable... still evident up to two decades after a big win... >...“Long-Run Effects of Lottery Wealth on Psychological Well-Being”... by Erik Lindqvist... Robert Ostling... and David Cesarini.... This research is able to reliably disentangle causation and correlation because a lottery effectively provides a randomized control trial.... The authors persuaded the Swedish statistical authorities to try to survey every winner of three of the country’s major lotteries over more than a decade, and then used government records to track other aspects of the winners’ lives.... A further set of questions probed the mental health of respondents, finding that greater income had no effect, although in related work, the same authors find that lottery winners are prescribed fewer mental health drugs. I interpret this as suggestive but not conclusive evidence that wealth improves one’s mental health.... These results provide strong evidence in support of the standard economic view that money increases well-being... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Economist**: _[Why is macroeconomics so hard to teach?]( "Mr Rowe remained... 'fairly low down the totem pole' as a researcher. But he became a thunderbird at conveying macroeconomic intuition... >...Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, an economics blog. Many a controversy has benefited from one of his ingenious analogies or numerical parables.... Professors may find themselves ill-prepared for the macro classroom. To become academics they had to answer erudite questions posed by more senior members of the discipline. To become good teachers of introductory macro, they have to give clear answers to muddled students. That requires an intuitive feel for the subject. It is not enough to crank through the equations. Indeed, Mr Rowe attributes part of his success as a teacher to his shortcomings as a mathematician.... >Macroeconomics is difficult to teach partly because its theorists (classical, Keynesian, monetarist, New Classical and New Keynesian, among others) disagree about so much. It is difficult also because the textbooks disagree about so little. To reach the widest possible audience, most cover similar material: a miscellany of models that are not always consistent with each other or even with themselves. The result is that many professors must teach things they do not believe. Professors can... Continue reading
**Roland Nikles**: _[Sovereign of My Opinions]( "The unholy intimacy between readers and writers on the Internet, say the N+1 editors, has made op-ed writers of us all... >...Op-eds... in the _New York Times_, the _Washington Post_, the _Wall Street Journal_, can slide by without actually defending their ideas, opinions and statements as they strive for clicks and shares... marked by editorial bad faith. “From an op-ed writer’s perspective,” say the N+1 editors, “good readers who see through editorial bad faith and express their outrage, have become indistinguishable from bad readers who don’t (but click and share) because outrage is a sign of consequence, and both guarantee traffic.” >As a member of the diligent (and largely unread) Internet Proletariat my commitment is to editorial good faith. I strive to have the sovereignty of my opinion rest on a constituency of the most solid ideas I can find. And for those solid ideas I look to experts, people who appear to me trustworthy; others who know more and appear to have editorial integrity. It’s the only path I know to becoming the sovereign of my ideas. Will the N+1 piece disappear “like all the others, carried along the swift-moving current of the... Continue reading
**Narayana Kocherlakota**: _[The Fed Should Prepare for the Unexpected]( "The staff paper downplayed and Powell ignored what I see as the most important risk... >...that the U.S. economy could face a recession in the next couple years. As then-chair Janet Yellen’s speech at Jackson Hole two years ago revealed, the Fed lacks tools to deal with such a contingency. The best way to prepare is to ensure that the economy is as strong as possible when the downturn hits. And that requires keeping interest rates lower than the Fed is currently planning to do... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Caitlin Rosenthal**: _[How Slavery Inspired Modern Business Management]( "To move beyond denial requires not only an acknowledgment that slaveholders practiced a kind of scientific management but also a broader rethinking of deep-seated assumptions about the relationship between capitalism and control... >...Though there are many exceptions, histories of business practices—at least those that reach a general audience—tend to be both individual and social success stories. They tell stories that are win-win, with businesspeople earning profits and customers, laborers, and communities benefiting along the way. This can, of course, be true. The shift from seeing trade as zero-sum to positive-sum was one of the most important transitions underpinning the rise of capitalism. But capitalism does not make this win-win inevitable. >Growing the pie brings no guarantee about how it will be divided. The sharing of rewards depends on how the rules are written or, differently put, on how markets are regulated. Slavery shows how one particular set of rules enabled precise management but paired its efficiencies with horrifying costs. Slavery also illustrates how certain kinds of market expansion—allowing lives to be bonded in labor and sold—can produce radical inequality. Economic growth can accompany the expansion of freedom and opportunity. But, as in... Continue reading
_[Uncharted 2018: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas]( October 5-6, 2018: ---- #shouldread Continue reading