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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
From the perspective of a child growing up in D.C.'s upper northwest in the 1960s and 1970s, Joe Froomkin seemed to have a very different kind of job then did other dads: There were lobbyists, whose jobs seemed to be some variant on: “What do you want to hear?” There were lawyers, whose jobs seemed to be some variant on: “What is the best argument that could be made for this position?” And there were economists, of which Mr. Froomkin was always the one I saw most closely, whose jobs seemed to be: “This is what is going on, and I know you do not like to hear me say this now, but in the future you will be glad you heard this”—always backed up by arguments that were counterintuitive but seemed powerful when you thought about them. Mr. Froomkin’s existence raised the possibility that an economist was something one might become, and made it an attractive possibility. Anyone knowledgeable in the history of economic thought knows that a great deal of the time economics does not seem to progress in any normal way. Instead, the solution to this decade’s urgent economic problem leads to changes that induce another urgent... Continue reading
**Comment of the Day**: But, alas, I think Robert Waldmann has the completely wrong. Draw the graph, Robert! What areas on what graphs does Greg's calculation correspond to? Please tell me!: **Robert Waldmann**: [DeLong & Krugman vs Mankiw and Mulligan III]( "Just click the links... >...I finally understand that Brad too is asking a very similarly odd question. The only difference is that Brad considers a tax on capital (tau)k not on capital income (t)f'(k)k. This makes the difference... No, I do not think that it does. What does Mankiw think the pretax rate of profit is in the short run after you cut the tax rate from t0 by Δt? The pretax rate of profit was initially: >$ \frac{r}{(1-t_{0})} $ and total pretax income from capital was initally: >$ \frac{k_{0}r}{(1-t_{0})} $ and total government revenue was initially: >$ T_{0} = \frac{t_{0}k_{0}r}{(1-t_{0})} $ As I see it, Mankiw maintains, when calculating the tax revenue loss, that, after the tax cut, the pretax rate of profit is still: >$ \frac{r}{(1-t_{0})} $ So that the amount of revenue collected is: >$ T - ΔT = \frac{(t_{0}-Δt)k_{0}r}{(1-t_{0})} $ and the change in revenue is: >$ ΔT = \frac{Δt(k_{0})r}{(1-t_{0})} $ But, as I see... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Ann Marie Marciarille**: [Hey, Hey, New York Times: Just What Are the "Increasingly Blurred Lines" in Health Care?]( "I don't get it... >...Does anyone who really understands pharmaceutical pricing or compensation systems in commercial health insurance really think that health care hasn't had plenty of "blurred lines" for quite some time—try decades?... Like Austin Frakt, I do not lament the apparent beginning of the end for the stand-alone pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) industry but, unlike Austin Frakt, I am not optimistic that migrating all that stand-alone PBM power into the hyper-concentrated drug store and health insurance industries is necessarily going to benefit consumers. If the data on concentration in complementary industries in health care teaches us anything, concentration in ownership has not produced efficiencies that have trickled down to the health care consuming public. If the problems are little choice, no transparency, and conflicts of interest, how will this re-arrangement of the deck chairs change anything?... Continue reading
Nor Trust in Wodan Walhall's High Drighten... : The raw ingredients out of which J.R.R. Tolkien fashioned The Lord of the Rings are equal parts Norse-Anglo-Saxon-Germanic myth, chivalric romance, and Christian apocalyptics (evil personified and mighty, but also powerful guardian spirits, and over all a God who arranges things so that the highest prizes fall to those who suffer). The mix is extraordinarily powerful. But if you want the Norse-Anglo-Saxon-Germanic myth itself, _akratos_—unmixed, undiluted—you have to go elsewhere: to a place like: **Stefan Grundy** (1994): [ Rhinegold (9780553095456): Stephen Grundy: Books]( >The dwarf scuttled away between the rocks, slithering into them until Loki could no longer see where dwarf ended and stone began. Only the red sparks of his eyes glowed out of the darkness as his voice hissed: >>My curse on the ring I made, on all who wear it! >>Gold fired in blood, ruby blood-red, be you bathed in your holders' blood again and again, the death of athelings and the sorrow of women. >>Death to every man who takes you, make each woman who keeps you the bringer of death to her kind. >>Be strife of kinsmen, be breaker of bonds, let no gift and no oath... Continue reading
**Weekend Reading: Courtney Milan**: [Judge Kozinski]( "Judge Kozinski had a way of summoning his clerks... >...He could make our phones beep by pressing the intercom button. Two beeps meant, “drop everything, grab pen and paper, and run to his office.” Sometimes he’d summon us all, or he’d summon some of us and not the others, or he’d just want one of us. >“Heidi, honey,” the Judge said one day, when he’d beeped me into his office alone, “you’re the computer clerk. I need your opinion on something.”[1] >I was the computer clerk because I’d worked in a computer store, built several computers, run my research group’s computer cluster in graduate school before I went to law school. Once, being the “computer clerk” meant a software consult. Once, he’d shown me his own self-built computer that he’d brought into the office for emergency surgery. >This time, the thing he needed an opinion on was a set of pictures. He pulled them up from where he had saved them—a private server, run by his son, that he used as a massive external hard drive. Those pictures showed a handful of naked college-age people supposedly at a party where other people were clothed... Continue reading
"In general I agree that smart economists can make silly errors & that simple graphs help a lot. I also think helping people by drawing simple graphs is very hard (it is one of Krugman's impressive skills). Finally, I think Mulligan and Cochrane have blog as ideologues or hacks (I can't tell which). But, finally, I think your disagrement with Mankiw is about whether he can define 'static' with a different meaning than the JCT,CBO and OTA. This is not about the graphs. It is about whether 'static' can be used to refer to a short run during which neither stocks nor prices have changed..." What convinces me is my access to a counterfactual world in which Mankiw started with pre-tax profit rate = r* + τ, after-tax rate of profit plus the tax wedge, rather than pre-tax profit rate = r/(1-t), after-tax rate of profit divided by one minus the tax rate. Had he done the first, there is no way he could ever have gotten his answer. And all the "different definitions of 'static'" stuff is after the fact retconning...
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2017-12-08 16:02:15 PST Market Capitalization: 278 billion dollars. **Brad DeLong** (2014): [Watching Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Etc...]( Underpinning the value of gold is that if all else fails you can use it to make pretty things. Underpinning the value of the dollar is a combination of (a) the fact that you can use them to pay your taxes to the U.S. government, and (b) that the Federal Reserve is a potential dollar sink and has promised to buy them back and extinguish them if their real value starts to sink at (much) more than 2%/year (yes, I know). Placing a ceiling on the value of gold is mining technology, and the prospect that if its price gets out of whack for long on the upside a great deal more of it will be created. Placing a ceiling on the value of the dollar is the Federal Reserve's role as actual dollar source, and its commitment not to allow deflation to happen. Placing a ceiling on the value of bitcoins is computer technology and the form of the hash function... until the limit of 21 million bitcoins is reached. Placing a floor on the value of bitcoins is... what, exactly? At the moment,... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Matt Zapotosky**: [Prominent Republican-Libertarian appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski]( "A former clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski said the powerful and well-known jurist... >...called her into his office several times and pulled up pornography on his computer, asking if she thought it was photoshopped or if it aroused her sexually. Heidi Bond, who clerked for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007, said the porn was not related to any case.... Bond is one of six women—all former clerks or externs in the 9th Circuit — who alleged to The Washington Post in recent weeks that Kozinski, now 67 and still serving as a judge on the court, subjected them to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments. She is one of two former clerks who said Kozinski asked them to view porn in his chambers... Continue reading
**From 2012**: Well-wisher **Cosma Shalizi**: [Comment on Brad DeLong: Economists on the Ineffectiveness of Fiscal Policy; Sh@t Is All F@#^ Up and Bullsh@t Weblogging]( "More elaborately: our gracious host would really like to be just a little bit to the left of a technocratic center... >...and to debate those just a little bit to his right about optimal policies within a shared objective function, and pretending that it is a technical and not a political discussion. >But because shit is fucked up and bullshit, and because everyone at all on the right has spent forty years (at least) doing their damndest to make sure shit is is fucked up and bullshit, even the smallest gesture in that direction is not so much reconciliation as collaboration. And so our host has sads. (So, for that matter, did Uncle Paul, before he learned to relish their hatred.) >The realization that this applies to economists—that much of the discipline is not a branch of science or even of dialectic, but merely of rhetoric (and not in an inspirational, D. McCloskey way either)—cannot come too soon. >Whether someone who still assigns _Free to Choose_ to callow freshmen, in 2012, is really in a position... Continue reading
I have a great deal of sympathy for the public choice theory movement. And I have no difficulty in also accepting that James Buchanan, as an upper class white Southerner grandson of a governor of his time, saw the freedom to discriminate against Black people as a principal component of libertarian freedom, and so saw defense of that freedom against Yankee interventionism as a major objective. MacLean does not have a "slender reed" belief that “individual liberty” had a coded meaning for Buchanan and the university president whom he was writing to. And it is not an especially striking and massive claim...
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Well, speaking for myself, I have a great deal of sympathy for the public choice theory movement. And I have no difficulty in also accepting that James Buchanan, as an upper class white Southerner grandson of a governor of his time, saw the freedom to discriminate against Black people as a principal component of libertarian freedom, and so saw defense of that freedom against Yankee interventionism as a major objective. MacLean does not have a "slender reed" belief that “individual liberty” had a coded meaning for Buchanan and the university president whom he was writing to. And it is not an especially striking and massive claim. As I said above: There are at least six Buchanans: 1. The brilliant academic thinker behind the genius insights of CALCULUS OF CONSENT It is worth noting that the framework underlying CoC with its emphasis on unanimity at the constitutional stage for any regime that can be just or justified, has a profoundly egalitarian and even Rawlsian bent—a bent that becomes stronger the thinner you make the veil of ignorance and the more averse to risk you make the people behind it. 
Thus the fact that Buchanan deduces a profoundly anti-egalitarian politics and built from it an intellectual movement that, as Mancur Olson used to say, “has a very strong right but a very weak left wing, and will never be healthy until both are equally strong”, is deserving of much careful and thoughtful inquiry. 2. The academic operator seeking to get money from ex-Governor and U.Va. President Darden for the great public choice research project by overpromising how useful his Thomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy would be in providing intellectual weapons to strengthen the political causes of Darden and his friends. 3. The academic operator going beyond what I, at least, regard as the permissible academic pale by imposing a political-ideological litmus test on who he invited into the public choice circle—i.e., not Mancur Olson, or any Olson students or potential Olson students (like me, in my younger days). That only “‘Manchester’ liberals who emphasize individual freedom as the central feature of the good society” and "Western conservatives who emphasize the importance of Western traditions in preserving the good social order” are invited in is, IMHO at least, in shocking contrast to say, Marty Feldstein's NBER, where the bet is that an honest intellectual process will show that I am right—and if it shows otherwise, I badly need to know that. 4. The grandson of Kentucky Governor John Buchanan, offended that Yankees would dare tell southern gentlemen how to deal with their “peculiar institutions”. (And just what are these “Western traditions”? And how near to the core of these “Western traditions” is white supremacy anyway? That the language here is Aesopian is not to Buchanan's credit.) 5. The friend of plutocrats or would-be plutocrats buying into the Hayekian idea that political democracy was, fundamentally, a mistake because the plebs would vote themselves bread-and-circuses and so ultimately destroy civilization. 6. The right-wing activist seeking, in a von Misian or Rothbardian way, to harness and in fact mobilize racial evil to the service of what he regarded as the good of stomping the New Deal and Keynesian economics into oblivion. I tend to see Buchanan(1) as at least half the picture...
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"MacLean claims that the _primary_ motivation for founding the school of choice was protect the Southern "way of life"; but she cannot know this, since it is not documented and she has no access to Buchanan's interior thoughts" But what MacLean writes about Buchanan's motivation is this: >Where did this gangsterism begin?... Social movements.... The most powerful social movement back then was... organized labor. But other movements, also injurious in his mind, were on the horizon, including the increasingly influential civil rights movement and a resumed push by elderly citizens to organize as they had not since the Great Depression. From his vantage point, it did not matter whether the movement in question consisted of union members, civil rights activists, or aging women and men fearful of ending their lives in poverty... So what you call Farrell and Teles's (2) seems to me to fall of its own weight... As I said, an extraordinary hermeneutics of suspicion applied to MacLean, and an extraordinary hermeneutics of charity applied to Buchanan... I repeat: To pretend that in Virginia in the 1950s the freedom to discriminate against Black people was not one of the core federalist liberties from the central government, and also one of the core individual liberties, is to falsify history big time. If that is "not a provable point... [and so I] have gone on to call them nasty names on that account" I guess we will have to agree to disagree: I think the point is proved.
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### Greg: Ahem! DRAW THE GRAPH! Please... **Greg Mankiw**: [Paul Krugman... Sigh]( "Paul says I have never admitted to making a math error. Well, I would if I thought I made such an error. I make them all the time. But in this case I am not convinced. Neither is University of Chicago professor Casey Mulligan, who thinks Paul made a math error. I spoke with several other economists (some of whom share Paul's politics) and they don't see Paul's point either..." It's probably no use, given my lack of success here with: * [Early (Monday) Circular DeLong Smackdown Squad...]( * [37000 Feet Above the Utah-Nevada Border on EDI-SFO, Fueled by Two Moscow Mules...]( * [Note to Self: Greg Mankiw Providing Backup for Kevin Hassett Department...]( * [Basic Econ 1-Level Tax Incidence Primer: Owen Zidar Requests MOAR Tax Incidence Model Blogging]( But one more time... Greg: You are doing a calculation. You are investigating the consequences of dropping the tax wedge τ0 between the pre-tax rate of profit (r\* + τ0) and the after-tax rate of profit r\* if the supply of savings is infinitely elastic at the constant after-tax rate of profit r\*. You are then calculating how this... Continue reading
**Live from Evans Hall: Underinvestment in Maintenance and Repair Plus Architectural Malpractice, Anybody?**: "As you know, Evans Hall has been experiencing areas of extreme heat since Monday 12/4... >...I understand that FS is responding to the source of the issue (broken air compressor) but an update on progress and expected repair is sincerely appreciated. >​The problem is the air compressor on the roof is likely original to the building, and was most likely lifted into place with a crane during construction. It is not possible to get a compressor, the size needed to serve floors 2 thru 10, up the narrow stairs to the roof. So, the compressor needs to be rebuilt in place. The order for the contractor to do this work has been placed. >The current problem we are having is the current motor (with its issues), causes the compressor to shake violently. This has broken the feeder line twice. This second repair used a stronger connection in hopes that it will hold till the rebuild can take place. FS is monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will make these repairs as needed. >We know the timing is bad, and we are hoping we can get... Continue reading
**Project Syndicate**: [America’s Broken Political System]( Whether or not the tax bill survives the conference process and becomes law, the big news won’t change: the Anglo-Saxon model of representative government is in serious trouble. And there is no solution in sight. For some 400 years, the Anglo-Saxon governance model–exemplified by the republican semi-principality of the Netherlands, the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom, and the constitutional republic of the United States of America–was widely regarded as having hit the sweet spot of liberty, security, and prosperity. The greater the divergence from that model, historical experience seemed to confirm, the higher the likelihood of repression, insecurity, and poverty. So countries were frequently and strongly advised to emulate those institutions. Nobody would dare offer that same advice today... [Read MOAR at Project Syndicate]( Continue reading
**Must-Read: Matt O'Brien**: [For the last time: Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves]( "Republican politicians will pretend their tax cuts will largely pay for themselves, and... Republican economists will largely indulge them... >...Susan Collins (R-Maine). On Sunday, she seemed to suggest that, because of all the growth it would supposedly generate, the Senate's $1.5 trillion tax cut bill wouldn't actually cost a thing and might even “lower the debt.”... Collins said that three top Republican economists... Glenn Hubbard... Douglas Holtz-Eakin and... Larry Lindse... told her that something close to this was possible.... >There are varying degrees of wishful thinking going on here. First, “no serious economist” thinks that tax cuts fully pay for themselves. Anyone who does is “detached from empirical reality.” That, at least, is what Holtz-Eakin—yes, one of the economists Collins talked to—said in April.... Most economists don't think this is anywhere near a close call. “At best, according to the prevailing consensus, the positive feedback effect from tax cuts would recoup in the range of 25 percent to 35 percent of the cost,” wrote, you guessed it, Holtz-Eakin. >Which makes you wonder, then, why he and other Republican economists seem to think that the Senate plan might... Continue reading
I think that is the point of the statue: from the front all happy people posing for a picture. From the back he is trying to grab her butt and she is pushing his hand away... while smiling...
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Losing friends on Twitter: What can I do here? What should I have done differently? It is a matter of basic empirical historical fact that to a typical upper class white Virginian in the 1950s, "individual liberty" included, as principal and basic parts, the liberties: * not to be bullied by unions into paying your workers higher wages. * not to be forced by the federal government into integrating either state or state-funded services, or especially public accommodations. * not to be forced to join and then taxed to pay for a Social Security program. Empirical fact. Historical fact. A seamless web of "individual liberty". These were among its principal components. To deny that these were (a large) part of what "individual liberty" meant to a typical upper class white Virginian in the 1950s—to claim that you need "textual evidence" proving that this was how any particular one thought, for the "belief" that this was the case is a "slender reed"—that is a truly remarkable hill to choose to die on: **@henryfarrell**: @delong-perhaps you might say where exactly it is that we read Buchanan through an enormously generous hermeneutic? When someone is accused of looking to protect the Southern way... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Enghin Atalay, Phai Phongthiengtham, Sebastian Sotelo, and Daniel Tannenbaum**: [The evolving U.S. occupational structure]( "Using the text from help wanted ads, we construct a new data set of occupational task content from 1960 to 2000... >...We document that within-occupation task content shifts are at least as important as employment shifts across occupations in accounting for the aggregate decline of routine tasks. Motivated by these patterns, we first apply our new task measures to a reduced-form statistical decomposition. We then embed our measures in an equilibrium model of occupational choice. These two exercises indicate that shifts in the relative demand for tasks account for a 25 log point increase in 90-10 earnings inequality over our sample period... Continue reading
**Joseph Britt**: [@zathras3 on Twitter]( by @de1ong in response to an observation I made about @SenBobCorker & the Senate #TaxBill-it understates resources available to a senior Senator, but is dead accurate on damage to the Senate done by McConnell trashing Regular Order. **Joseph Britt**: [@zathras3 on Twitter]( "Forgive me for pointing this out, but these descriptions of Corker’s thinking suggest a guy who started thinking about fiscal policy a month ago, rather than someone who’s been in the Senate for years..." **Brad DeLong**: [de1ong on Twitter]( Look: they have 80 hours a week to work: 20 fundraising, 20 coalition maintenance, 20 management, 20 policy. There are, say, 20 important policy issues they have to cover. That means 1 hour a week on average on each policy issue. That means in 3 years a senator spends as much time thinking about a policy issue as does an undergraduate taking a 1-semester course. & knowledge depreciates. If you spend only 1 hour a week on something, you **never** become an expert at all. You pretty much have to start from sophomore level every time you try to gear up. Now this is supposed to be solved by (1) committee chairs/ranking members who... Continue reading
**Alkibiades**: You remember what we used to talk about? “Who has the time?“? **Thrasymakhos**: No. Remind me... **Alkibiades**: OK. Suppose you are a psychopath. **Thrasymakhos**: I strongly urge everyone overhearing this conversation to note this: The position I adopted for the sake of argument in Plato‘s _Republic_ was just a position that Sokrates could dismantle. I wanted to amuse him, and amuse the other onlookers who suffer (like me) from the strange vice of enjoying watching Sokrates dismantle arguments. I do not really think like that, OK? I am not a psychopath. Everybody clear on that, OK? **Alkibiades**: Yes. But suppose that you really _were_ a psychopath. And suppose you did not care that screwing around would make your wife feel really sad. **Thrasymakhos**: Okay. **Alkibiades**: And suppose that you were also an idiot—that you were so shortsighted not to realize that, if you screwed around, your wife would find out, and then you would face the consequences of living _with_ a wife who hated you; or living without a wife, and thus living _without_ children who hated you. **Thrasymakhos**: I would point out that we are no longer plausibly 4th Century BCE Athenians but rather 21st Century CE liberal... Continue reading
**Should-Watch: Josh Blumenstock**: [Fighting Poverty with Data: Research at the Intersection of Machine Learning and Global Development]( "Work that capitalizes on recent advances in machine learning to tackle some of the problems affecting poor and marginalized populations... >...Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Rwanda... how large-scale data from mobile phone and satellite networks can be combined with on-the-ground experiments and surveys to better understand the causes and consequences of global poverty. Throughout, I will highlight open technical research questions where the right computer scientist or statistician has the opportunity to make a lasting real-world impact... Continue reading
**Should-Read: Ann Marie Marciarille**: [Anthem-CVS: What Would Consumers Get Out of It?]( "The claim that all chronic care delivery will be miraculously transformed by the Anthem-CVS merger (and inevitable "me too" mergers between other drugstore chains/PBMs and other health insurers) requires a skeptical view... >...I get the claim, that re-aligning the incentives in chronic care so that PBMs/drug stores are on the same side for chronic disease management and not in a war of treatment modalities will produce better chronic disease management.... >CVS-branded minute clinics for diabetes management counseling, for example... better cheaper access... diet? exercise? the risks of unmonitored polypharmacy? the need for group diabetes education and support, sometimes called diabetes self-management education? Think again. Have the people proposing this ever even been to a CVS minute clinic? Continuity of care is not their watchword. Or, perhaps they are talking about the CVS minute clinic of the future, analogous to the CVS-V.A. alliances being piloted in Arizona or elsewhere, complete with electronic medical record information sharing. In the meantime, minute clinics work on a business model that skims the easier less complex cases from primary care.... >Would the combined Anthem-CVS turn its CVS housed minute clinics into Diabetes diagnosis... Continue reading