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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
**Adam Gopnik**: _[Wine, War, Donald Trump, and Emmanuel Macron]( "Macron made a speech... as clearly directed at and against Trump as any he could have made... distinguished between nationalism (bad) and patriotism (good)... in eloquent terms... >...“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” he said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” he added, “In saying, ‘Our interests first, whatever happens to the others,’ you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great, and that which is most important: its moral values.” To use a long-forgotten Howard Cosellism, I was doubly delighted by the invocation, in part because the same terms had seemed so relevant not long ago in discussing Macron’s great predecessor Charles de Gaulle. He, too, had drawn that distinction, at the risk of his own life. De Gaulle knew that the patriot loves his place and its people and its idiosyncrasies; while the nationalist, of whom, for him, Adolf Hitler was the clearest and worst example, has no particular sense of affection for the place he advocates for (he is often an outsider to it, as Hitler, an Austrian, was to Germany) but channels his... Continue reading
**Hoisted from 2012**: _[Brad DeLong: Why Next to No Political Reaction to the Second Gilded Age?]( Oh dear, that's a really tough question. So let me make it tougher by sharpening it and give it historical context. During the Gilded Age of the 1890s and 1900s you had strong political movements saying "something is going remarkably wrong with this, this isn’t the country we thought we were going to live in". The way that the historian—I'm blanking—Ray Ginger? **Harley Shaiken**: Yes, Ray Ginger. **Brad DeLong**: Ray Ginger put it in two absolutely brilliant books—_Altgeld’s America_ and _The Age of Excess_—even the Republicans thought that they wanted to live in Abe Lincoln’s America, where when you are young you split wood into fence rails and go to law school at night and when you are middle-aged you become a lawyer and get rich and when you are old you enter politics and save the Union and free the slaves. They wanted to live in that kind of world, of upward mobility, in which opportunity is wide open even to the son of a penniless and not very successful rural farmer. But by 1890 they discovered that they weren’t living in Abe... Continue reading
The chances for equitable growth in America over the next three years may or may not be crippled by the trade war that Donald Trump is now trying to launch. What should you be reading and watching to try to figure out what is going on? I believe that the Peterson Institute of International Economics is the place to go for up-to-date analysis on the trade war that Donald Trump is trying to launch, over the—not dead bodies, but—active opposition and passive resistance of pretty much everybody in his administration save Peter Navarro and [Robert Lighthizer]( This is not being driven by any interest groups outside the administration. It is being driven by three people inside the administration: Navarro, Lighthizer, and Trump: * Navarro... On the few occasions that I have interacted with Navarro he has seemed to me to be... not quite all there. The kindest thing I have heard said about him comes from [Paul Krugman]( "Peter Navarro predicted that nobody would retaliate.... Trump’s tariffs are badly designed even from the point of view of someone who shares his crude mercantilist view.... Unlike Trump, the Chinese and other targets of his trade wrath seem to have a clear... Continue reading
You should go see this, if you are in DC tomorrow: **Equitable Growth**: _[Building a New Consensus on Antitrust Reform Tickets, Wed, Nov 14, 2018 at 12:00 PM]( "Please join the Washington Center for Equitable Growth on Wednesday, November 14, at noon for a conversation on reforming federal antitrust law.... Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, will deliver keynote remarks.... RSVP is required by Friday, November 9... >...Featured keynote: Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Presentation: Louis Brandeis: A Man for This Season: Jonathan Sallet.... Discussants: Renata Hesse... Michael Kades... John Kwoka... Sandeep Vaheesan... ---- #shouldread #monopoly Continue reading
**Pascal Michaillat and Emmanuel Saez**: _[A New Keynesian Model with Wealth in the Utility Function]( "Wealth... [in] the utility function. The extension modifies the Euler equation: in steady state the real interest rate is negatively related to consumption instead of being constant... Thus, when the marginal utility of wealth is large enough, the dynamical system representing the equilibrium is a source not only in normal times but also at the zero lower bound. This property eliminates the zero-lower-bound anomalies of the New Keynesian model, such as explosive output and inflation, and forward-guidance puzzle... >...There is no explosive slump if the ZLB is long-lasting, no explosive boom if forward guidance is long-lasting, and no reversal from slump to boom when the duration of forward guidance crosses some threshold. Hence in our model, the ZLB is not necessarily short-lived—it might last forever as a steady state—and forward-guidance policies have plausible, limited effects. At the same time, our model retains other ZLB properties: paradox of thrift, paradox of toil, and paradox of flexibility... ---- #shouldread #monetaryeconomics Continue reading
New computer and communications technologies were supposed to democratize information—route around corrupt media and data-centrer oligarchies, and allow a flourishing of the public sphere. Yes... and no...: **Joi Ito**: _[The Next Great (Digital) Extinction | WIRED]( "SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 2 and 3 billion years ago, what scientists call the Great Oxidation Event, or GOE, took place, causing the mass extinction of ... the dominant life form at the time.... Cyanobacteria... had the photosynthetic ability to produce glucose and oxygen out of carbon dioxide and water using the power of the sun. Oxygen was toxic to many anaerobic cousins... >...In addition to being a massive extinction event, the oxygenation of the planet kicked off the evolution of multicellular organisms (620 to 550 million years ago), the Cambrian explosion of new species (540 million years ago).... I’ve been thinking about the GOE, the Cambrian Explosion, and the emergence of the mammals a lot lately, because I’m pretty sure we’re in the midst of a similarly disruptive and pivotal moment in history that I’m calling the Great Digitization Event, or GDE. And right now we’re in that period where the oxygen, or in this case the internet as used today, is rapidly and indifferently... Continue reading
**William Darity** (2005): _[Africa, Europe, and the Origins of Uneven Development: The Role of Slavery]( "The economic foundations of the Atlantic slave trade and [its]... role in generating European and American... growth... >...Conversely the devastating effects... on Africa, and its continuing effects.... The linkage between historical and contemporary patterns of inequality provides support for the reparations movement... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
A very interesting study of what appears to be highly successful job search assistance in Nevada: **Day Manoli, Marios Michaelides, and Ankur Patel**: _[Long-Term Effects of Job-Search Assistance: Experimental Evidence Using Administrative Tax Data]( "Administrative tax data... examine the long-term effects of an experimental job-search assistance program operating in Nevada in 2009... >...The program required randomly-selected unemployed workers who had just started collecting unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to undergo an eligibility review and receive personalized job-counseling services. The program led to substantial short-term reductions in UI receipt, and to persistent, long-term increases in employment and earnings. The program also affected participants’ family outcomes, including total income, tax filing, tax liability, and home ownership. These findings show that job-search assistance programs may produce substantial long-term effects for participants and their families... ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Paul Romer** (1989): _[Endogenous Technological Change]( "Growth in this model is driven by technological change that arises from intentional investment decisions made by profit maximizing agents. The distinguishing feature of the technology as an input is that it is neither a conventional good nor a public good; it is a nonrival, partially excludable good... >...Because of the nonconvexity introduced by a nonrival good, price-taking competition cannot be supported, and instead, the equilibriumis one with monopolistic competition. The main conclusions are that the stock of human capital determines the rate of growth, that too little human capital is devoted to research in equilibrium, that integration into world markets will increase growth rates, and that having a large population is not sufficient to generate growth... ---- #shouldread #economicgrowth #riseoftherobots Continue reading
**William D. Nordhaus** (1996): _[Do Real-Output and Real-Wage Measures Capture Reality? The History of Lighting Suggests Not]( "During periods of major technological change, the construction of accurate price indexes that capture the impact of new technologies on living standards is beyond the practical capability of official statistical agencies. The essential difficulty arises for the obvious but usually overlooked reason that most of the goods we consume today were not produced a century ago... >...We travel in vehicles that were not yet invented that are powered by fuels not yet produced, communicate through devices not yet manufactured, enjoy cool air on the hottest days1are entertained by electronic wizardry that was not dreamed of, and receive medical treatments that were unheard of. If we are to obtain accurate estimates of the growth of real incomes over the last century, we must somehow construct price indexes that account for the vast changes in the quality and range of goods and services that we consume, that somehow compare the services of horse with automobile, of Pony Express with facsimile machine, of carbon paper with photocopier, of dark and lonely nights with nights spent watching television, and of brain surgery with magnetic resonance imaging. Making... Continue reading
One thing making me hopeful for our future is that as our technological powers and capabilities grow, our ideas of what people need to be fully included members of society grow as well to keep pace. Just think of how high-speed computer access is becoming something that it is obvious that all Americans—and especially all American children—very much need to have. The fact that we—or some of us, at least—think that the failure of us to make sure this is provided is a "gap" is something I at least, in historical perspective, find very heartening **Delaney Crampton**: _[Why Accessibility To High-Quality Broadband Matters To U.S. Schoolchildren]( "Nearly 5 million households with school-aged children in the United States lack high-quality broadband access at home... 31.4 percent of households earning an annual income lower than $50,000 with school-aged children... 40 percent of those with annual incomes lower than $25,000... >...Alexsandr Yankelevich... Bianca Reisdorf and William Dutton... Mitchell Shapiro... internet-related skills have become increasingly important.... Increasingly, homework demands the use of the internet, with 94 percent of school districts serving low-income populations reporting that some of their teachers assign internet-based homework, including 73 percent of high schoolers reporting the need to use the... Continue reading
1. _[Economists' Models: Analysis Pumps or Filing Systems? And Do Countries with Reserve Currencies Need to Fear Solvency Crises?]( 2. **Note to Self**: _[Why isn't the first rule]( of Federal Reserve policy "thou shalt not come even close to inverting the yield curve!"? 3. **Weekend Reading**: _[The Riot Act of 1714]( 4. **Weekend Reading**: _[John Maynard Keynes on the Baneful Consequences of Ricardo's Rhetorical Victory Over Malthus]( 5. **Hoisted from the Archives**: _[Robert Skidelsky vs. Niall Ferguson: John Maynard Keynes Is Not Kesha (Also, the U.S. Is Not Greece, and 2013 Is Not 1923)]( 6. **Hoisted from the Archives**: _[Niall Ferguson Is Wrong to Say That He Is Doubly Stupid: Why Did Keynes Write "In the Long Run We Are All Dead"? Weblogging]( 7. _["In the Long Run We Are All Dead" in Context...]( 8. **Note to Self**: _[I had thought that the question]( of where the sun will be in the sky so you know where to erect the sunshades was a solved problem—a problem solved in 3000 BC by the Babylonians. Apparently not... 9. **Hoisted From the Archives**: _[The Grand Strategy of the United States of America: From 2003]( ---- 1. What is the counterfactual here? The demand... Continue reading
What is the counterfactual here? The demand factors they are talking about here are all microeconomic and not macroeconomic factors. Thus it seems to me that—unless they are assuming that the Federal Reserve is a potted plants—they affect the distribution of employment but not its overall magnitude. Remember! The economy is a general equilibrium system!: **Katharine G. Abraham and Melissa Kearney**: _[The Secular Decline in Us Employment over the Past Two Decades]( "This column reviews the evidence on the main causes of the secular decline in employment since the turn of the century. Labour demand factors–notably import competition from China and the rise of industrial robots–emerge as the key drivers. Some labour supply and institutional factors also have contributed to the decline, but to a lesser extent... >...Despite the cyclical recovery, the employment rate among non-elderly adults in the US–60.3% as of August 2018–remains low by historical standards and in comparison to other rich countries. This reflects a secular downward trend in employment that began decades ago for men, and about two decades ago for women. Explanations for this decline abound, including declines in manufacturing employment due to global competition and automation (e.g. Charles et al. 2018), growing reliance on... Continue reading
**Friedrich Engels** (1843): _[Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy]( "According to the economists, the production costs of a commodity consist of... rent... capital with its profit, and the wages for the labour.... 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 calculate such things; the advances of science go beyond his figures. But in a rational order which has gone beyond the division of interests as it is found with the economist, the mental element certainly belongs among the elements of production and will find its... Continue reading
**Note to Self** Why isn't the first rule of Federal Reserve policy "thou shalt not come even close to inverting the yield curve!"? ----- #notetoself #monetarypolicy #finance Continue reading
I believe that there are four issues in this Summers-Krugman-Rogoff-Blanchard et al.-DeLong internet discussion of three years ago: 1. As far as we economists are concerned, are our models analysis pumps, or are they merely filing systems to remind us of experiential wisdom? In other words: Are our models to be taken seriously when they lead us to a conclusion that the great and good believe is unserious? 2. Do economies with exorbitant privilege in which the key leveraged financial institutions have little foreign-currency debt need to fear banking and government solvency crises? 3. Can economies with exorbitant privilege in which the key leveraged financial institutions have little foreign-currency debt rely on their abilty to print their way to liquidity in an emergency and on market participants' recognition of that ability? 3. Can economists build models and conduct analyses assuming that business expectations are reasonable things, and will not push the economy to a position that is not close to a self-consistent near rational expectations equilibrium? As near as I can see: 1. Larry Summers says: filing systems, yes, no, no. 2. Paul Krugman says: analysis pumps, no, yes, yes. 3. I say" both, no, yes, no. I think I... Continue reading
**Wikipedia**: _[Riot Act]( >If any persons to the number of 12 or more unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assemble together to the disturbance of the public peace, and being required by any justice by proclamation in the King's name in the exact form of the Riot Act, I George I, Sess. 2 c. 5 s. 2, to disperse themselves and peacefully depart, shall to the number of 12 or more unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously remain or continue together for an hour after such proclamation, shall be guilty of a felony. >**The Form of Proclamation is as follows:— >>Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the Act made in the first year of King George the First for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. >>**GOD SAVE THE KING.** ---- #shouldread Continue reading
**Nick Rowe**: _[Bicycle Disequilibrium Theory]( "Suppose you need a bicycle to get to work. Suppose bicycles are a common property resource, because bike locks don't work. Every night the workers deposit their bicycles in the bike bank, and in the morning it's first come first served. And suppose that sometimes there aren't enough bicycles to go around. So sometimes the level of employment is determined by the number of bicycles, and not by all the usual stuff. Any individual can always get a bicycle in the morning, simply by getting up early enough. But in aggregate they can't. Fallacy of composition. A theory of when workers wake up might be interesting, and useful for microeconomists wanting to understand the distribution of employment, but it won't help us understand what determines the aggregate level of employment... >... Bicycle disequilibrium theory helps us understand what determines the level of employment and output. It also helps us understand other puzzling phenomena, like why workers sometimes wake up and go to work so ridiculously early. Making the quantity of bicycles endogenous does not invalidate the theory. It just makes it more complicated, because a very simple supply function gets replaced with a more complicated... Continue reading
Joseph Schumpeter on the Ricardian and Keynesian vices. The echo of bdsm practices—_le vice anglais_—that you hear is intentional on Schumpeter's part, as is his feminization of Keynesians, and the misogyny. Schumpeter was a very smart but very interesting man: **Joseph Schumpeter** (1953): _[History of Economic Analysis]( : "Ricardo’s… interest was in the clear-cut result of direct, practical significance. In order to get this he... piled one simplifying assumption upon another until... the desire results emerged almost as tautologies... It is an excellent theory that can never be refuted and lacks nothing save sense. The habit of applying results of this character to the solution of practical problems we shall call the _Ricardian Vice_... >[...] >[Keynes] rendered a decisive service to equalitarianism in an all-important point. Economists with an equalitarian bent had long before learned to discount all other aspects or functions of inequality of income except one: like J.S .Mill they had retained scruples concerning the effects of equalitarian policies upon saving. Keynes freed them from these scruples. His analysis seemed to restore intellectual respectability to anti-saving views; and he spelled out the implications of this in Chapter 24 of the _General Theory_. Thus, though his scientific message appealed... Continue reading
**John Maynard Keynes**: _[The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money: Chapter 3]( "The idea that we can safely neglect the aggregate demand function is fundamental to the Ricardian economics, which underlie what we have been taught for more than a century. Malthus, indeed, had vehemently opposed Ricardo’s doctrine that it was impossible for effective demand to be deficient; but vainly. For, since Malthus was unable to explain clearly (apart from an appeal to the facts of common observation) how and why effective demand could be deficient or excessive, he failed to furnish an alternative construction; and Ricardo conquered England as completely as the Holy Inquisition conquered Spain... >...Not only was his theory accepted by the city, by statesmen and by the academic world. But controversy ceased; the other point of view completely disappeared; it ceased to be discussed. The great puzzle of effective demand with which Malthus had wrestled vanished from economic literature. You will not find it mentioned even once in the whole works of Marshall, Edgeworth and Professor Pigou, from whose hands the classical theory has received its most mature embodiment. It could only live on furtively, below the surface, in the underworlds of Karl Marx, Silvio... Continue reading
The _New York Times_ is a sad, sad thing: **Kevin Drum**: _[Hey David: It Wasn’t “We” Who Screwed the Working Class]( "I get so tired sometimes. Here is David Brooks today... >>...Working-class voters tried to send a message in 2016, and they are still trying to send it. The crucial question is whether America’s leaders will listen and respond.... We in the educated class have screwed up labor markets in ways that devalued work and made it harder for people in the working class to find a satisfying job. Part of the problem is misplaced priorities. For the last several decades, American economic policy has been pinioned on one goal: expanding G.D.P.... But what good is that growth if it means that a thick slice of America is discarded for efficiency reasons? >No. It was not “working-class voters” who sent a message in 2016. It was white working-class voters. It was not the “educated class” that screwed up the labor market for the non-rich. It was the Reagan/Gingrich/GOP establishment. It was not “we” who decided that GDP was the only thing that mattered and low incomes at the bottom didn’t. It was right-wing Republicans. >So, so tired. I get so... Continue reading
**Ian Buruma** (2001): _[Class Acts]( "According to Cannadine, race was not everything in the British Raj. It was not even the main point. Class was the main point. Class, status, and rank were more important than skin color, the shape of one's eyes, or the dimensions of one's skull. A Sultan, a Nizam, or a Pasha was equal to British royalty... >...even if the Queen-Empress or King-Emperor residing in Windsor was perched securely at the top of the imperial tree. In Queen Victoria's eyes, King Kalakaua of Hawaii was one of us, so to speak, while a respectable tradesman from Birmingham, though blessed with the pinkest complexion, most decidedly was not. When King Kalakaua attended a grand "do" at Lady Spencer's in 1881, the Prince of Wales insisted that the Hawaiian monarch should take precedence over the German crown prince, who was later to become Kaiser Wilhelm II. When the touchy German protested, the prince held firm. "Either the brute is a king, or he is a common or garden nigger; and if the latter, what's he doing here?" It was not a particularly charming remark; but, as Cannadine rightly says, it was not primarily a racist one either, for... Continue reading
Thinking how to talk about Schumpeter's "Ricardian Vice" and the extremely peculiar boosting by economists formerly of note and reputation of the Trump corporate tax cut, and so revisiting this ---- ## Hoisted from the Archives: Robert Skidelsky vs. Niall Ferguson: John Maynard Keynes Is Not Ke$ha (Also, the U.S. Is Not Greece, and 2013 Is Not 1923) And Robert Skidelsky explains what John Maynard "We'll Keep Dancing 'Till We Die" Keynes really meant by "*In the long run* we are all dead": >True, Keynes cared little about the long run. But that wasn’t because he was gay: The passage… discusses… the quantity theory of money: the notion that a change in a nation's money supply causes a proportionate change in prices. Keynes, whose… *Economic Consequences of the Peace*… pointed out that "in the long run," this relationship was "probably true." But, he went on, "this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead." Keynes always sought to present his ideas in simple, intuitive language. Here, he was only saying more strikingly what Irving Fisher, the American granddaddy of modern monetary theory, had said in 1911: that the proportional relationship between... Continue reading
Thinking how to talk about Schumpeter's "Ricardian Vice" and the extremely peculiar boosting by economists formerly of note and reputation of the Trump corporate tax cut, and so revisiting this : ---- Niall Ferguson: >An Open Letter to the Harvard Community: Last week I said something stupid about John Maynard Keynes. Asked to comment on Keynes’ famous observation “In the long run we are all dead,” I suggested that Keynes was perhaps indifferent to the long run because he had no children, and that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’ wife Lydia miscarried. Niall is wrong. His suggestion was not doubly stupid. There is more. Niall speaks of Keynes's "*In the long run* we are all dead" as if it is a *carpe diem* argument--a "seize the day" argument, analogous to Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" or Herrick's "To the Virgins"--and Ferguson sees his task as that of explaining why Keynes adopted this be-a-grasshopper-not-an-ant "party like we're gonna die young!" form of economics, or perhaps form of morality. But that is not... Continue reading
Apropos of [the very strange Gertrude Himmelfarb](, cf. the attitudes of Edward VII Saxe-Coburg-Gotha "Bertie": **Lucy Moore** : _[]( "From 1875, when the Prince had been allowed to make a state visit to India, he had begun to grow into his role as King-in-Waiting.... The two main elements... were the magnificent ceremonial... and big game hunting.... Bertie also took his first halting steps in statecraft. He had learned how far his genial charm would carry him; he saw how popular his approachable, easy style could be, and he was thrilled with the response.... >...But he was displeased by the way many British treated the Indians, outraged, for example, by their casual use of the word n----r. Less than three weeks after his arrival in Bombay, the Prince protested formally to Lord Granville, then Foreign Secretary, that just 'because a man has a black face and a different religion than our own, there is no reason why he should be treated as a brute'. This progressive tolerance increasingly marked Bertie's attitudes, albeit always within the conventions of his class and times. His close friends were as often Catholic or Jewish, nouveau riche or foreign, as old-school British aristocrats; the common thread... Continue reading