Amy Finkelstein

Amy Finkelstein: Welfare Analysis Meets Causal Inference: A Suggested Interpretation of Hendren: “In a pair of interconnected, important and impenetrable papers, Nathan Hendren has provided a framework for translating estimates of the causal effects of policies into welfare analyses of these policies. In this brief note, I describe the framework-which Hendren has named ‘The Marginal Value of Public Funds’ (MVPF)-and how it can be used for empirical public finance welfare analysis. I also discuss how the MVPF relates to ‘traditional’ public finance welfare analysis tools such as the marginal excess burden (MEB) and marginal cost of public funds (MCPF). Finally, I describe several recent empirical applications as a way of further illustrating and clarifying the approach…


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 12, 2019)


  1. Peter Diamond (1965): National Debt in a Neoclassical Growth Model

  2. Barack Obama: 2010 State of the Union

  3. [2 Thessalonians 3:10( “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat…

  4. 1 Corinthians 11:5: “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels…

  5. Acts 4:34: “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need…

  6. 1 Enoch 7: “It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, (3) the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children…. Then their leader Samyaza said to them; I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the performance of this enterprise; And that I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime. But they answered him and said; We all swear; And bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we will not change our intention, but execute our projected undertaking…. Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited; teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees. And the women conceiving brought forth giants, Whose stature was each three hundred cubits. These devoured all which the labor of men produced; until it became impossible to feed them; When they turned themselves against men, in order to devour them; And began to injure birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, to eat their flesh one after another, and to drink their blood…

  7. Kevin Hartnett: Mathematicians Discover the Perfect Way to Multiply: “By chopping up large numbers into smaller ones, researchers have rewritten a fundamental mathematical speed limit…

  8. Joe Light: The Tax Law’s Big Winner Is the Millionaire CEO: “Cutting the top marginal rate was always going to help the wealthy the most…

  9. Gene Birz: Stale Economic News, Media and the Stock Market: “I find statistically and economically significant relationship between stale news stories on unemployment and next week’s S&P 500 returns. This effect is then completely reversed during the following week. These findings show that investors are affected by salient information and support the hypothesis that investors overreact to stale macroeconomic news reported in newspapers…

  10. Angela Lashbrook: The Next Wellness Trend Should Be Google Spreadsheets: “How focused planning—and color-coded rows and columns—can make stress melt away…

  11. David Murphy: Lock Down Your Social Media Data With the PlusPrivacy Chrome Extension

  12. Talia Lavin: I wrote up a guide to what to do if you’re targeted by the right-wing smear machine. (Remember that your relative importance doesn’t matter AT ALL; they love crushing the defenseless even more.)…

  13. John Lovett: “See but ending the Skywalker saga gives us the movie we all want: PORGS vs. EWOKS: DAWN OF JUSTICE…

  1. Clark Kerr is supposed to have said that the life of a Berkeley Chancellor is easy as long as: (1) the students are having enough sex, (2) the alumni are watching enough football, and (3) the faculty have enough parking. Now Carol Christ is discovering the consequences of what happens when (3) is not satisfied. And it is dire: rthe prospective tear-down of the Upper Hearst Parking Structure is a crisis!: Carol Christ: An Update on the Upper Hearst Project: “The campus’ plan to develop faculty housing and academic space on the site of the Upper Hearst parking lot is generating legitimate concerns and questions…. We continue to engage with our colleagues at the College of Engineering and the Goldman School of Public Policy…. We need to do a better job disseminating information about the project and its impacts…. We are sharing with all members of the Academic Senate the note below that was recently sent to the College of Engineering faculty by the Provost…. We will publish and distribute a comprehensive FAQ… provide ample opportunity for comment and feedback…

  2. Marcella Alsan (2015): The Effect of the TseTse Fly on African Development: “The TseTse fly is unique to Africa and transmits a parasite harmful to humans and lethal to livestock. This paper tests the hypothesis that the TseTse reduced the ability of Africans to generate an agricultural surplus historically. Ethnic groups inhabiting TseTse-suitable areas were less likely to use domesticated animals and the plow, less likely to be politically centralized, and had a lower population density. These correlations are not found in the tropics outside of Africa, where the fly does not exist. The evidence suggests current economic performance is affected by the TseTse through the channel of precolonial political centralization…

  3. I would put this more strongly. Trump and the Trumpists have absolutely no idea what they should be doing or are doing with respect to U.S.-China economic relations. And it shows: Tom Mitchell: Trump Had a Chance to Gain Greater Leverage Over China But Blew It: “Last spring a senior US executive complained to a government official about President Donald Trump’s… tariffs on imports from China…. The official had a pointed response: what leverage would the executive use to change Chinese approaches that have frustrated US businesses for decades, from forced technology transfers to state-directed industrial policies?… The executive had a three-letter answer: TPP, referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact from which the US withdrew on Mr Trump’s first day in office…

  4. Barry Eichengreen, Arnaud Mehl, and Livia Chițu: Mars or Mercury Redux: The Geopolitics of Bilateral Trade: “The pre-World War I period… whether trade agreements are governed by pecuniary factors… or by geopolitical factors…. We find that defense pacts boost the probability of trade agreements by as much as 20 percentage points. Our estimates imply that were the U.S. to alienate its geopolitical allies, the likelihood and benefits of successful bilateral agreements would fall significantly. Trade creation from an agreement between the U.S. and E.U. countries would decline by about 0.6 percent of total U.S. exports…

  5. There is an argument that somebody who has built a food-processing and consumer-service business and met its payroll—like Herman Cain—should be on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, in order to keep the staff and the other Governors reality-based in the sense that it would force them to explain themselves to somebody whose experience is in the real and not the financial economy. There is no argument that Herman Cain is the best businessman for the slot. There is no argument at all that Stephen Moore—whose qualification is having played an economist on TV, and being willing to dump whatever of his previous policy positions (free trade? TPP? gold standard? anything else?) over the side whenever his political masters demand—belongs on the Fed. And the pro-Moore pro-Cain pieces that are currently being planted are reduced to closing with “Moore and Cain would only be two of 12 FOMC votes”. But Republicans—save Greg Mankiw and Ross Douthat—are in lockstep behind them. Well—almost in lockstep. Herman Cain is the stronger (not strong) candidate. Republican Senators Kevin Cramer (ND), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), and Mitt Romney (UT) are for Moore and against Cain. This identity politics stuff is killing America Jim Bianco: The Fed Would Benefit from Stephen Moore, Herman Cain: “Policymaking positions should help determine policy, not act as a rubber stamp for the staff or Chairman. They should hold divergent views, come from different backgrounds and be ready to explain themselves. Policy makers should be given the resources to flesh out their ideas. If confirmed, Moore and Cain would only be two of 12 FOMC votes. Their unique perspectives could make the Fed a stronger institution…

  6. Ellora Derenoncourt: Atlantic Slavery’s Impact on European and British Economic Development: “The economics literature on Atlantic slavery attests to its negative long-run impact on development outcomes in Africa and the Americas. What was slavery’s impact on Europe? In this paper, I test the hypothesis that slavery contributed to modern economic growth in Europe using data on European participation in the Atlantic slave trade. I estimate a panel fixed effects model and show that the number of slaving voyages is positively associated with European city growth from 1600-1850. A 10% increase in slaving voyages is associated with a 1.2% increase in port city population. Using a newly created dataset on British port-level trade, I show that for the UK, this effect is distinct from that of general overseas trade, which also increased during this period…

  7. BREXIT!!: Ian Dunt: Week in Review: The Frazzlfication Ends Now. For a Little Bit.: “On January 15th, Theresa May’s Brexit deal was defeated by a historic margin. Immediately afterwards, Jeremy Corbyn called a no-confidence vote, which he lost. Then the Malthouse Compromise was born, as a kind of release valve for MPs’ desperate stupidity. The government responded by whipping in support of its evil twin, the Brady amendment, and won, thereby sabotaging its own negotiating strategy. Labour published a new Brexit strategy, which looked suspiciously like Norway Plus but was different to it in ways they were unable or unwilling to describe. The government then proceeded to lose a vote on the policy which MPs had forced on it the week before, driving British politics into a kind of post-modern chasm in which David Lynch became the creative director of parliament. Then a group of Labour and Tory MPs split from the party to form the Independent Group. May announced she would request a dual extension of Article 50-short in the case of a deal and long if not. She later went back on this and requested only the short extension. She also secured an update to her deal with the Europeans which didn’t really change anything. MPs promptly and unsurprisingly rejected it again. In response, the government put forward a convoluted motion on no-deal, whipped MPs to oppose an amendment which simplified it, lost, and had to therefore whip against its own motion even though it amounted to the exact policy it said it was pursuing anyway. Then anyone who still believed in parliamentary democracy decided maybe it wasn’t such a great idea after all. Soon enough John Bercow popped up and refused to allow May to bring her deal back to the Commons a third time unless it was changed. May secured her first extension of Article 50, but then MPs passed an amendment taking control of the Brexit process, triggering a new bout of constitutional chaos. The Brexit process became a kind of executive dual carriageway, with the government pursing one strategy and parliament another. In a bid to get MPs to back her deal, May offered her own resignation as an incentive, seemingly oblivious to how logically and morally broken that was as a strategy. MPs, for their part, held a series of indicative votes and found no majority. May stripped her deal in two to get it past Bercow, put it before the Commons again, and lost again. MPs held more indicative votes and still could not find a majority. Pitiful broken toys scattered everywhere. May announced she would seek another Article 50 extension. Parliament passed a bill, independently of government, forcing her to do the thing she said she would do, given that her reputation for reliability at this stage was frankly not what it was. And then, finally, the EU offered an extension to October 31st. And now here we are. Three months later and about twelve hundred years older…

  8. Mark Thoma: Economist’s View: Links (4/12/19): “Purity vs. Pragmatism, Environment vs. Health… Krugman. Bad News for IV Estimation….Keep the Federal Reserve I Love Alive-Greg Mankiw. Peaceful Coexistence 2.0-Dani Rodrik…

  9. Marshall Burke, Lauren Falcao Bergquist, and Edward Miguel: Sell Low and Buy High: Arbitrage and Local Price Effects in Kenyan Markets: “Small-scale farmers are commonly observed to “sell low and buy high,” rather than the reverse. In a field experiment in Kenya… credit market imperfections…. Timely access to credit… increasing farm revenues and generating a return on investment of 29%…. In contrast to existing experimental work, the results indicate a setting in which microcredit can improve firm profitability, and suggest that GE effects can substantially shape microcredit’s effectiveness. In particular, failure to consider these GE effects could lead to underestimates of the social welfare benefits of microcredit interventions…

#noted #weblogs 

What Are Our Plans?

Signing of the Constitution by Louis S Glanzman Teaching American History

The Council on Foreign Relations asked me to come be on a panel on a small conference they were running on the “democratic recession”. They were even willing to spring for a JetBlue mint-class lie-flat bed-seat on a nonstop. So I went Video here. Transcript here.

But is there—or, rather, in what sense is there—a “democratic recession”?

I think you need to separate out three different meanings of democracy:

  1. Alexis de Tocqueville’s democracy: social democracy—where everybody can stand on their own two feet and look everyone else in the eye, rather than lowering their gaze and tugging their forelock.

  2. John Judis’s thing: public-square democracy—where everybody can stand up, pick up a megaphone, speak, and actually be heard.

  3. Real, political democracy—where the material and ideal interests of the people are properly represented and aggregated in the formation of the decisions that we collectively make as we govern our own destinies.

The first two—social inclusion, and the ability to speak and feel that you have been heard—are important and are valid. But they are not the Big Enchilada.

The Big Enchilada is a working, functional political democracy in which we are free because we all obey the good laws that we have chosen and prescribed to ourselves.

In November 1787, eighty blocks south of the Council on Foreign Relations’s Harold Pratt House, Alexander Hamilton wrote to the middle classes of New York that “the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy produces feelings of horror and disgust…. Small intervals of felicity are overwhelmed by the tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage…” Alexander Hamilton promised the middle-class voters of New York that American democracy would not turn into a s—show if they ratified his Constitution: “advances in the science of politics”, he said, had enabled “republican remedies for the diseases of republican government”.

But now it looks as though the warranty period on Alexander’s “republican remedies” has run out. Certainly as the rest of the world looks at us—certainly as we look at ourselves—now, in this age of Brexit and Trump, nobody thinks that the Anglo-Saxon democracies have it right with respect to this Big Enchilada of political democracy. “What plans do you in America have to fix your broken political system?” China’s Min Zhu asked he—and that was back in 2015.

Madison and Hamilton’s plans are running out. We need new plans. What are our new plans going to be?

From: Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession

#politicaleconomy #history #politics #highighted 

CFR Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Transcript and Link to Video

Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession


BUSSEY: Well, welcome back, everybody. We’re going to—we’re going to get started. Welcome back from your coffee.

So our next panel is entitled “Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession.” That’s what we’re here to discuss: Brad DeLong from Berkeley; John Judis has written on populism and nationalism; Catherine Rampell from the Washington Post, my hometown newspaper—what we refer to at the Wall Street Journal as Brand X—is also somebody who has written on this topic extensively.

So, Catherine, let me—let me start with you. So the U.S. has had, in its history, populist and nationalist moments. This is—appears to be one of them. What got us here? What were the forces that led to this particular episode?

RAMPELL: Well, obviously, there has been a lot of discussion of economic anxiety, so much so that it’s almost become a punch line. You know, whenever a journalist gets a racist email it’s, like, oh, there’s that economic anxiety at work again. But I will say that my views on the extent to which the economy and, particularly, the financial crisis have played into the rise of populism on both the left and the right is shaped by two things. One is more anecdotal.

So I’m currently an op-ed columnist at the Washington Post but in my previous job I was an economics reporter at the New York Times and I was writing about the Great Recession as it was ongoing and its aftermath, and I interviewed during the course of my duties there many unemployed workers.

And I was frequently struck by comments that they would make that were unsolicited about the real reason why they couldn’t find a job is that—if they were young it was that employers only wanted older people. If they were old, employers only wanted younger people. If they were white, employers only wanted minorities. If they were a member of a racial or ethnic minority, they only wanted white people, et cetera.

I mean, the real problem, of course, was that there were just no jobs to be had. But that was not how people who are in this position necessarily saw the situation—that there was this great—and this, obviously, wasn’t true of everyone I spoke with but it was common enough that I felt that there was this—there was this—if not desire there was a perception, at the very least, that somebody else was winning out at their expense, and I think that that helped radicalize some people and made them feel like their group was being unfairly punished, some other group was being unfairly favored, and that helped drive some of the political polarization.

The other thing that has shaped my views, at least on this question, is more data driven—you know, a larger sample, I would say. There was a really interesting paper written by three German economists that came out a few years ago that looked at the aftermath of systemic financial crises over, I think, the last 140 years, like, 800 elections, and something like—I don’t remember how many countries—several dozen developed countries, and they found that after systemic financial crises, although not after normal recessions, there was a rise in political polarization and the fracturing of political parties.

There was a rise in both left- and right-wing populism after these kinds of crises but right-wing parties—right-wing populist parties tended to benefit much more. I think something like, on average, the vote share for right-wing parties went up by 30 percent after systemic financial crises, and there were other things that they documented including greater social unrest and greater government turnover and things like that.

BUSSEY: Similar to what’s—I mean, we’ve just heard kind of a description of what’s happening in Europe and other parts of the world—similar to what’s going on in Europe what’s happening in the United States?

RAMPELL: I certainly think that there is overlap. I mean, every country, obviously, has its own forces, as people in this audience know, that shape what happens in its domestic politics. But we have seen in lots of European countries the rise of far-right parties. We have seen the rise in populism, a desire to scapegoat ethnic minorities, elites, immigrants, amongst others, and we have seen this, I think, especially in countries that were touched by the financial crisis.

BUSSEY: Yeah. Brad, walk us through some of the economics of this. Would you—you’ve got some numbers for us. We’re going to put them up on the screen but we also have a handout.

DELONG: I do. It’s my job as the economist. OK, the numbers. Say, over the past forty, fifty years we’ve seen some alleviation of call them gender hierarchies. You know, if you look at women, even women who are high school dropouts—the red line—they’re making more money in real terms adjusted for inflation now than women were back, say, in 1981, and spreading up so that the group that’s done at least as well as anyone else are women with advanced degrees in America. For them, America is fulfilling the promise that people thought or expect to have of it.

By contrast, men who do not have advanced degrees have been getting it in the neck over the past forty or fifty years—that their incomes now are barely above or are substantially below the incomes of their counterparts back in 1980. What they expected their lives would be like their lives aren’t like, and this strikes them as a substantial disappointment of rising expectations. And so it might not be economic anxiety but it’s that somehow some promise was taken away.

And it’s not in any sense that, you know, racial and ethnic hierarchies have been overturned. If you kind of look across the racial ethnicity groups, you don’t really see any one group that’s doing significantly better than one would have expected, given patterns of and differences of forty or fifty years ago, say, for black women with B.A.s. Black women with B.A.s are doing significantly better, it looks like, than pretty much any slice you have.

It’s not that things are being overturned in terms of the gap between black and white unemployment becoming less with the exception of the gender kind of thing. We, basically, are where we were forty or fifty years ago at least in terms of the economics, not in terms of a sociology. The economics may be less important.

But the fact that people—look, I mean, people believe that they have rights to a good life. People believe they have rights to stable communities that support them and that don’t disrupt and overturn their lives. You know, look at my neighbors south of Berkeley who are horrified at the idea that they might want to tear down a single-family house and build an apartment building for students.

People think that they have the right to the income that corresponds to the profession or the occupation that they have worked hard to become part of and people believe that they have a right to continuity of employment—that their job shouldn’t suddenly vanish because some financier three thousand miles away decided it doesn’t make a cost-benefit test. And, look, the only rights the market respects are property rights and the only property rights that are worth anything are those that help you make things for which rich people have a serious and unsatiated jones.

The fact that the American economy over the past forty years has not been delivering substantially rising living standards for everybody that means that the market’s failure to deliver these other forms of nonproperty rights becomes the source of call it economic anxiety, becomes a potential problem.

BUSSEY: So let me ask you, John. That’s the economic argument. Identity is in the title of our program. Walk us through some of the other driving forces. Identity suggests race. It suggest tribe. It suggests tones of immigration. Walk us through some of the other driving forces, in your mind, and also tell us how much you buy the economic argument behind this.

JUDIS: Well, I buy the economic argument in this sense, that the process of globalization—you know, automation, trade, all these things—has produced very uneven development in the United States and in Western Europe and some extent also in Eastern and Central Europe where you have very prosperous metro areas—finance, technology, electronics, big health, all this stuff—and at the same time these very large pockets of deindustrialized America where you have, you know, Wal-Mart. You have an office economy, but things aren’t the way they used to.

Now, if you go to a—I was just in Sherrod Brown’s hometown—Mansfield, Ohio. You know, it used to be an extraordinarily prosperous town. Tappan Westinghouse, GM, Empire Steel—they’re all gone—big empty lots. The people there aren’t necessarily suffering. They’re not—you know, we’re not talking about Appalachia.

But what we’re talking about is a way of life that has disintegrated over the last thirty or forty years where people expected their children to have the same jobs that they did, where they took pride that they worked for GM or Empire, where they were members of unions, where they were particular churches, neighborhoods, knew the people there, often the same ethnic group, and what’s happened is that for people in those kinds of areas—Erie, Pennsylvania, Muncie, Indiana—I can go through all of—Greensboro, North Carolina—their identities have been stripped. And for them, what becomes most important and, again, this is not something that’s different from us but it’s more important—family, home, religion, nation.

If you go now to New York or Washington, D.C. or San Francisco or any of these places, much more prosperity but also a much more fluid identity. People who think of themselves—again, the term is they could live anywhere—they could live in London or Brussels or whatever—they have—I used to make a joke with myself when I first moved to Washington, D.C., in 1982 and went downtown to meet people how long it would take these big shots to tell me what college they went to.

You know, if they went to Salisbury State I would not hear about it. But if they went to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, within the first five or ten minutes—and maybe even after that, a prep school—what law firm they were members of, who they knew. They had a much greater—it wasn’t like they didn’t care about the nation. You know, my heartstrings plunk when 9/11—I wanted to go fight in Afghanistan. So did—you know, so does almost everybody in America. But it’s much less important to us. It’s not way at the top the way it is for somebody in this other part of America whose way of life has really been decimated.

So, again, I wouldn’t think of it narrowly in terms of economics but it has an economic foundation on top of which you have culture and on top of which you have a real culture war between these two parts of America because I think, very accurately, that people in small-town America see themselves as objects of contempt from the people in the metropolitan area—

BUSSEY: So you’re describing—

JUDIS: —and vice, you know—

DELONG: Well, Harvard Ph.D. Harvard B.A. Harvard B.A ancestors back to 1686. Sidwell Friends School and before that, you know, Cal Tech nursery school. But my wife grew up—first generation in her family to go to college—in a Portuguese neighborhood of Fall River, where everyone’s parents and grandparents worked in the textile mills. The textile mills of Fall River were stripped by Greensboro. It was Greensboro, North Carolina, that took the textile mills of Fall River away and stole from the Portuguese millworker immigrants of Fall River their identity, and their grandchildren are absolutely fine with that.

They are part of this greater Boston cosmo elite and yet they are grandchildren of millworkers and they do not think that they want those jobs, that particular identity, back. They think they have a better one. They think they have a new one. Why didn’t Massachusetts politics turn this strange weird Trumpist flavor back in the 1950s and ’60s?

JUDIS: Look, did you ever hear of Louise Day Hicks?


JUDIS: Busing?


JUDIS: That’s a lot of—Ed King, 1980—you’re talking about grandchildren. In Greensboro now—I used to put this graph up when I would—you know, I actually sometimes do use a graph—of where the most manufacturing was lost from 2001 and 2016, and I’d say, well, what do you think was—you know, Michigan was number one but what do you think was number two, and it was North Carolina—furniture. But those are the—those aren’t the grandchildren now. The grandchildren and the children are all going to Raleigh-Durham but the people who were left there now are pissed off and those are the Trump voters.

DELONG: And 2001—the 2008—the furniture workers who lost their jobs were getting new jobs in construction building up Raleigh and Durham and no one was unhappy at all about the economic transformation of the Carolinas in the 2000s—

JUDIS: Yes, but that’s not where the Trump votes came.

DELONG: —until late 2008 when all of a sudden it turned out that a great many securities rated AAA by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in fact had no business being sold to anyone at any price at all.

BUSSEY: So John—Catherine, John’s talking about identity in terms of the deindustrialized sections of the United States—and Angus Deaton has written on this as well quite a bit, the Nobel Laureate—and what that did to destabilize social life.

RAMPELL: Absolutely.

BUSSEY: You know, all of the institutions that people had come to depend upon just weren’t there, you know, any longer. And, yet, we’re in a(n) economic growth period. That’s not inconsequential. We have historically low unemployment and the discussion is very often race related. Why are these kind of racial tensions coming to the surface in the United States now when there’s fairly strong economic growth across the sphere?

RAMPELL: So I would say that the economic growth has not been equally shared, as Brad has pointed out in this chart, amongst other data points. Wage growth has been relatively weak—it’s ticked up a little bit recently—but that your typical worker for whatever reason, even though there are more jobs to be had across the country, across the country you are not seeing upward pressure on wages, and then even where you are seeing upward pressure on wages it’s, again, not equally visited upon all of the parts of the country that we’re talking about including areas that have been hollowed out because they’ve been deindustrialized or what have you.

So I think there’s, in some sense, potentially lingering resentment about the fact that, hey, why do the—why does it seem like everybody else is getting rich or at least moving up in the world except for me. When you have people who feel like they—not only did they lose a lot in the Great Recession and the financial crisis—maybe they lost their homes, they lost their jobs, you saw an acceleration of the kinds of structural changes including the decline in manufacturing, amongst other industries.

But even in the recovery, I’m still not—I haven’t recovered the ground that I have lost, and I think, to some extent, that is motivating this perception that other people are getting ahead and I’m not. Maybe those other people are Washington elites. Maybe those other people are immigrants who are either if not stealing my job stealing my wage gains because they’re flooding the market or what—you know, that’s the perception, in any case. So I think that’s part of it, certainly.

I will say that I take exception to the idea that people in, you know, Rust Belt towns have a monopoly on patriotism. I think that patriotism is more evenly distributed than perhaps John—

JUDIS: It’s not patriotism. It’s they get much more upset when Colin Kaepernick doesn’t kneel for the National Anthem. That’s not necessarily patriotism but it is—

DELONG: They get upset when he does kneel.

JUDIS: —emphasis on nation and what’s important.

DELONG: When he does kneel.

RAMPELL: I mean, maybe that’s the motivation. I think you could attribute other motivations to what’s been going on, particularly since the fact that the figurehead for Trump voters—Trump himself—likes to pick on outspoken black people, whether they’re talking about patriotism or otherwise. But that’s a whole other can of worms.

But in any case, I think that what’s interesting is that, like I said, I have been ascribing the rise in this populism, authoritarianism impulse within the country to the fact that we had this very traumatizing event—a systemic financial crisis—but even ten years out we’re still feeling the lingering effects of that and the question is why. And is it because people don’t feel like they’ve recovered? Is it because politicians have played up whatever scapegoating inclinations voters may have already been leaning towards and have sort of enhanced—you know, the temptation to try to otherize people who they think are getting ahead at their expense so even when the economy is doing better they still, you know, feel drawn to those political arguments? I don’t know. I do wonder if, as the economy continues to recover, if we see stronger wage gains will some of that effect fade, and I think we don’t know.

BUSSEY: Yeah. Brad, let me ask you a different question. Let me ask, so should we take solace in the fact that there’s been other periods in U.S. history that we’ve had this kind of sort of reflex?

DELONG: And French history, and the German—

BUSSEY: The—in the 1930s—yeah, the 1930s is a good example of that. We had Father Coughlin on radio. We had a nationalist kind of, you know, surge and yet we got through it. Should we take solace in the fact that, you know, we’ve muddled through in the past?

DELONG: No. No. No. No. I mean, Louis Napoleon used these kinds of feelings to overthrow the French Second Republic and establish himself as emperor. You know, Francis Fukuyama wrote an excellent article about how the communist kind of belief that socialism, public ownership of the means of production, and the free society of associated producers was a big idea that had crashed and that the only big idea left was that of liberal market democracy.

But he made the key mistake that there was a third challenge—that there had been a third challenge. That is the idea—you know, it’s basically a Roman idea—it’s that, like, we are—each of us is individually a stick, very weak, but if we can unite ourselves in a big bundle of sticks and if we can tie ourselves together in leather thongs, we then become a powerful force that, in the hands of our strong leaders, could bruise our enemies.

And Francis Fukuyama thought that this political movement was dead and buried, had been dead and buried by 1945, and it looks like he is wrong. You know, if you look at Hungary, as we saw before, if you look at India today, where the government seems to be trying national Hinduism, although casting the Muslims of India in the role traditionally ascribed to the Jews, if you look at an awful lot of place, the idea that we’re going to distract people’s attention from the fact that they rightly believe they aren’t getting their fair sharing of the system by pointing to internal or external enemies that you can despise or blame, this seems to be a remarkably powerful movement that shows up whenever.

You can’t guarantee rapid economic growth so that pretty much everything thinks, well, I’m living significantly better than my parents, and the fact that we’ve seen this before and come out of this before doesn’t mean we should say this is no big deal. It’s always been a big deal. So far, at least, the United States and Britain, at least, have been very lucky whenever these political movements arise.

BUSSEY: John, we are—our title of our session presumes the democratic recession—economics identity and the democratic recession. Are we in a democratic recession or is it a moment when one side is really mad at the other side for winning?

JUDIS: Well, I—you know, I’m not a public speaker but I do a lot of book talks lately and so I never look closely at titles, and I thought it was about democracies in the recession, not the democratic recession. (Laughter.)

BUSSEY: All right. Take it either way and give it your best.

JUDIS: My view is entirely the opposite. I think we’re in a period where a flowering of democracy, an efflorescence of democracy, driven largely by the internet—the development of the internet. You know, go back to the printing press, what, fifteenth century. You couldn’t have had the Bourgeois revolutions of, you know, 1688. You couldn’t have had the French Revolution without the printing press.

DELONG: You couldn’t have had two centuries of near genocidal religious war.

JUDIS: But you couldn’t have also—yes. No, just don’t interrupt because I’m about to say exactly what’s coming out of your mouth.


JUDIS: But you also had two centuries of religious wars, which were also. So what it means—again, what the printing press means, what the internet means, is a much greater participation by a much larger group in politics. The Tea Party isn’t a—wasn’t a sign of democratic decline. It was a sign, again, that people who might not have otherwise been involved in politics were suddenly getting involved. I used to do—

RAMPELL: A lot of that was astroturfed, though.

JUDIS: I used to do—no. No. No. I did—I did that work. I interviewed people. To take even the campaigns—Dean, Sanders, and, on the other hand, Trump—all, again, driven by this—by the possibility of this much larger diffusion of information. And just one final thing. I used to do trade policy. I used to write about trade in the 1980s—Gephardt, you know, all this stuff, what is—Section 301. I can’t even remember all these names.

But there were, like, five hundred people in America who even knew about this stuff. Now, you know, again, that kind of information is diffused throughout the society. You know, some of it’s fake news. Some of it’s false. But we have the possibility of a much greater level of participation in our society and in our democracy than we had before. So, again, I don’t see—I don’t see a recession of democracy. I see a boom.

BUSSEY: Catherine, Donald Trump, maybe even the Tea Party before Donald Trump, a decline of democracy or an exuberant deployment of democracy?

RAMPELL: I think there could, theoretically, be elements of both. What worries me is the claim that Trump is representing the people to oppress specific groups. Is that democracy? I would say no. He would say that he is—he is capturing the will of his voters, that he represents, you know, the essence of their democratic wishes.

But he is using that rhetoric to try to take rights away from people to vote or at least his—many of his people working on—you know, what was his—what was Kris Kobach’s election fraud commission thing? But, you know, using—I would say that that would represent the lessening of democracy. He is claiming the mantle of, you know, of democratic flourishing in service of reducing democracy, right, I mean, and taking away the right of people to vote, in trying to take away the First Amendment from people.

You know, he talks frequently about the media as being the enemy of the people, about wanting to take away broadcast licenses of news organizations, including ones that I work for, that he does not like. Does that represent a flourishing of democracy? I mean, I’m sure Trump would claim that it is. I’m sure his voters would claim that it is.

But I do not buy that argument that this actually represents a greater participation of the many people within our nation and the many voices within our nation if, in fact, the actual policies that will result mean silencing people both at the polls and in their ability to speak their mind.

BUSSEY: Yeah. We’re going to go to questions in just a minute. But I want to ask Brad one last question. So looking at your numbers, what are the longer-term consequences of that type of trend line—inequality, stagnation? Does it lead to kind of a mindset of, you know, what the hell, I’ve got—I’ve got nothing to lose if I pull this lever or if I don’t pull this lever or if the next president doesn’t let me pull a lever because there’s not a next election? Does it lead to that or does it lead to, in your mind, more engagement democratically—people feeling more need to be part of the process?

DELONG: I would say we really don’t know because it wasn’t this bad before—that it’s never been this bad and the distribution of income continues to get worse. We did have, in the thirty years before the New Deal, a very much whipsaw—the rise of the progressive movement as lot of people, even people for whom America is doing very well, begin to say, wait a minute, this can’t go on. There’s something fundamentally wrong. And so you have Teddy Roosevelt attacking malefactors of great wealth. You have Andrew Carnegie saying he who dies, dies disgraced and that in fact if you leave anything at all to your children you should be ashamed.

But then we have the whipsaw in Harding and Coolidge and the business of America is business and our real problem is we have many—too many of these Italian and Polish and Jewish and other immigrants who really are not white at all and shouldn’t be counted as such. And then the whipsaw back in 1933 with inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt and the decisive decision that wasn’t the way that we’re going to do.

It makes politics unpleasant. It doesn’t guarantee a good outcome, especially—I mean, look, we’ve been tiptoeing around President Trump so far this morning and it’s a really strange situation with a lot of if he were nots. If he were not president, Trump’s family would already have moved for a guardianship ad litem, given the quality of decisions he’s making. If he were not so authoritarian, we would be profoundly sad that someone—hate him, love him, simply be amused by him—has been such an entertaining celebrity who has left such a mark on the city of New York.

And if he were not so deranged we would be in the streets demanding the constitutional order be observed and wondering just what we should do when someone begins taking him seriously and literally when he says that the Washington Post and Catherine here are the enemies of the people, when he says what we really need to do is get rid of the judges and just have the bureaucrats kind of and law and security agencies do their thing.

RAMPELL: Not the deep state, though.

DELONG: It’s not a world—yeah, it’s not a world I ever thought that I would live in in America, I must say.

BUSSEY: Let’s go to questions. Can we start right here—right in the front row?

Q: Yes. One of the basic definitions of democracy is the consent of the governed and the knowledge of civic authority and civic tools and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights known to all, and we haven’t taught a comprehensive civic curriculum since 1980. That’s forty—almost forty years of disconnect between ourselves and what we value. We have no idea what we value anymore.

We have no idea what we stand for anymore. We have no idea if there are any gestures whatsoever that connect us to the nation as opposed to a local community or an identity politics. We ignore this completely, for some strange reason that I have not a clue about, prior to any economic decisions has to be that the people of the United States are educated to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

BUSSEY: So your question is about should we have more civics lessons?

Q: My question is why do you think this has been ignored. This has been the most important subject in America and it has been ignored for forty years.

BUSSEY: John? We’re not teaching enough civics. Is that our problem?

JUDIS: Teaching civics? No. I don’t—you know, again, the Tea Party, which actually did exist—they used to give out Constitutions at rallies—I mean, copies of the Constitution—I don’t know quite—I guess there’s some—where I would sort of reorient your question is towards immigration in the sense of one nation and how important, from my standpoint, it is in order to have a kind of advanced welfare state and the kinds of things that we are talking about now, let’s say—Medicare for anyone or Medicare for all—to recapture this view that we all are one country so that we don’t have this kind of thing that happened with Obamacare where some people think, well, I don’t like it because it’s for somebody else and not us. And what we are suffering from and why immigration, again, I think is such a big issue in 2016 and continues to be is the sense that we aren’t—we aren’t one, and that’s something that we had more of when I was growing up than we have now. So that’s—I’m sort of readjusting your questions.


BUSSEY: Let me—let me—let’s go on. We have other questions.

RAMPELL: So one comment I would have about the Tea Party passing out Constitutions, I think I got mailed at least one of these, by the way, when I was—I think when—probably when I was at the Times—you know, there’s a lot of stated reverence for the Constitution but it’s kind of like a—like almost an abusive relationship. It’s, like, I love you. You’re perfect. Now change, right.

I mean, the Tea Party was talking about the Constitution above all, and yet was calling for constitutional conventions because they thought that some of the core components of the Constitution including birthright citizenship, for example, or the lack of a balanced budget requirement—that those were major deficiencies with the Constitution. So that’s the first point that I would add that, you know, the Constitution does allow, obviously, for mechanisms for changing it. But there’s this sort of love-hate relationship with—like, it is sacred and yet we should change major portions of it.

The other thing I would mention is that there was a really interesting article a couple of days ago in the New York Times about a fight over the civics curriculum in I want to say Minnesota but I don’t—I don’t—was it Minnesota?

DELONG: I don’t remember.

Q: Michigan.

RAMPELL: Michigan. Thank you. Over whether it was proper to call the United States a democracy versus a republic and that this became a very politicized fight for whatever reason. But there were also disagreements over whether the curriculum could mention major portions of American history including the gay rights movement, references to climate change, which is not squarely within the domain of civics, I realize.

But there is, I think, a very lively debate that recurs over how to teach children about how their—about their country’s history and the political underpinnings of how the country should work. Whether we have more or less attention to that I’m not sure is going to solve all the problems that we’re talking about today.

BUSSEY: I saw a question over here. One right over here. Sorry.

Q: Thank you. Niso Abuaf, Pace University.

Professor DeLong actually mentioned the notion of property rights. But property rights are not given by God. They are assigned through the political system. If we go back to the biblical story of Solomon where two mothers present themselves with one child and to whom does the child belong, to the biological mother or to the mother that has taken care of the child, Bertolt Brecht’s response to that is the mother that has taken care of the child.

So it seems to me that the Right will give the property right to the biological mother, the Left to the mother who has taken care of the child, and that’s where the system is going towards. How will this political system assign the property right—the owner or the taker care of—the caretaker?

BUSSEY: Who wants to play Solomon here?

JUDIS: No, not me. I didn’t understand a word of it. (Laughter.)

RAMPELL: I didn’t quite understand the question.

JUDIS: Yeah, let Brad do this. He’ll—(laughs).

RAMPELL: Do you want to take it? (Laughter.)

DELONG: The idea that, you know, that property rights are a convention that we assign each other for some—for social utility in some sense rather than something that is given to us by God, that was indeed the point of what Solomon was doing back there, right—that we always should take a look at how our property is divided and say, is this in fact serving our interests or not.

You go back to the Torah and you find there as one of its institutions is the Year of Jubilee, right—basically, abolish the debts and redistribute the land. And, in fact, when Jesus Christ preaches his first public sermon, he’s reading in the synagogue and he’s given a scroll from the Torah which has this verse about how God has sent me to bring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, health to the sick, and to bring the acceptable year of the Lord or the year of the Lord’s favor.

And, actually, what that means in the original Greek—and we think of the Aramaic behind it—is foreclosure relief, and yet, somehow, that Jesus’ first public sermon involves Jesus saying, God has sent me to bring, among other things, foreclosure relief this day—is this verse fulfilled in your hearing—not something that usually makes it into the American Evangelical view of the world.

BUSSEY: Other questions? Yes, over here, please.

Q: Is this working? OK. Charlie Landow.

Thanks for the discussion. We’ve heard a little about economic discontents from some of you so far. I would imagine, although I could be wrong, that one of the economic discontents among some folks in the country in the last several years has been not only do I not have as much as other people in the country but because of that or related to that I also don’t have as much political influence. So the system is working in favor of the people who have more resources.

To what extent do you think that is true and, if so, what does that say about campaign finance or other types of things that might be helpful to look at in the context of democracy in this era? Thanks.

DELONG: It’s not—it’s not clear to me that pretty much anyone who thought they had a lot of political influence twenty years ago now thinks they have more save, possibly, for Sheldon Adelson and save possibly for our strange modern analog of the Earl of Warwick, kind of Rupert the king maker. But even Rupert—that is, look, the basic—the basic business model of Fox News is there were a lot of people in America whose view of the world was not being validated by any of the major networks and there was a market opportunity here and so Rupert Murdoch pursued this market opportunity. The form in which Roger Ailes and company pursued it basically took the form of scaring the piss out of old people so their eyeballs would stay glued to the screen so they could be sold fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds. (Laughter.)

But, you know, it’s not clear to me that even Rupert the king maker thinks he’s in control now if only because of the fact that there are other people willing to play the game more so with other alternative channels.


JUDIS: Well—

DELONG: That Fox News tried to go in against Trump and found itself very quickly reversing course in the last election.

BUSSEY: John, does it—if you have more money does—you have more political influence and that’s the destabilizing force here?

JUDIS: It’s an important influence and it’s one of the reasons, oddly, again, that we have so much political activism in the country. You know, the breakdown—after Watergate we had campaign finance reform and that effort, beginning in 1976 with the judicial decision, has just completely broken down. But in response to that, you have things like, you know, what, three of the Democrats now are not accepting donations from political action committees and, again, kind of the Sanders revolution in terms of financing campaigns.

So it is an enormous problem in our society. I mean, we do have something resembling an oligarchy in terms of our campaign finance system and we need a, you know, political revolution if we are going to accomplish certain kinds of things, especially having to do with providing more economic security for our people. So yes, a huge problem but, again, the source of a lot of activism right now in response to it.

RAMPELL: Well, so I would say this—that there is plenty of political science research to suggest that people who are well off their views are much better represented by policymakers or in the actions of policymakers than people who are not. I think Marty Gilens at Princeton has a whole book on this, if I remember correctly.

And to some extent, Trump ran on harnessing their frustration and resentment about that, and there’s a bit of an irony in that he ran saying he was going to represent the forgotten man against this rigged system, and yet with the exception of certain areas including trade, for the most part he has continued to perpetuate the same kinds of policies that that supposedly rigged system that helped the very wealthy was oriented toward.

Like, I can’t imagine that the forgotten man was really agitated for big tax cuts for corporate jets, right, or was really agitated about we really need tax cuts for pass-through corporations or, you know, we really need to repatriate all of this money from abroad so we can have big share buybacks. Like, I don’t think those were the populist issues that Americans cared so much about, and yet, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was—is to date the biggest and, basically, only major legislative achievement that Trump has under his belt.

So he’s a guy who ran against this rigged system, who said, I’m not going to be controlled by these big donors. Remember, at one point, he said he was going to self-finance his campaign and then, of course, he changed his mind quite abruptly. But that was the narrative he ran on. Of course, if you look at his actual record, again, with some exceptions, pretty much he’s still doing the bidding of Sheldon Adelson and Rupert Murdoch and others who were, you know, controlling the purse strings before.

BUSSEY: Other questions? Yes, right back here in the middle.

Q: Hi. Dan Slater, University of Michigan.

So I think as with a lot of these conversations there’s maybe a conflation of the marginal Trump voter from the average Trump voter and we’re focusing a lot on the marginal Trump voter. I’m sort of wondering, given that the average Trump voter was wealthier than the average Clinton voter, how does that fit into our story of economic anxiety decline and the rise of Trump.

JUDIS: I can talk to that a little. Again, if you’re talking about 2016, my back-of-the-envelope breakdown based on, you know, polling—there’s a woman at Cato, Emily Ekins, who’s terrific on this stuff—the core activist Trump voter who cared a lot about his immigration, trade, and stuff, maybe 25 percent of—20 percent of the electorate.

A lot of his vote came from Democrats—I mean, from Republicans who did not want to vote for Hillary Clinton. Again, very traditional Republican base. Or, again, the Evangelicals who were worried about the Supreme Court and issues like that and the promises that Trump had made to him—made to them.

So, again, this core is not that—I don’t think is that large. It’s 20, 25 percent, and in the 2018 election you could see Trump’s problems in terms of the—and the Republicans’ problems because they’re losing some of those voters that voted for him just because they couldn’t stand Hillary. Now they are worried—you know, now they can’t stand him so they’re shifting away to the Democrats.

BUSSEY: Yes, right here.

Q: Thanks very much. Matthias Matthijs—I was on the previous panel—Johns Hopkins.

If we can believe demographers, by 2040 they predict about 70 percent of Americans are going to live in fifteen states and the other 30 (percent) are going to live in thirty-five states. So that’s—is that a problem for American democracy, going forward?

BUSSEY: Catherine?

DELONG: It doesn’t have to be a huge problem.

RAMPELL: I don’t have a strong opinion on this. So I’m happy to turn it over to Brad.

DELONG: You might well say that the thirty-five states that will elect seventy senators and yet have a decreasing share of the population, that these are overwhelming communities in states that are being left behind by the economic engine of American world globalizing value chain whatsit and that for a political logic to over represent those people to offset the fact that the economic logic is grossly under representing them might be something that is not totally unfair.

BUSSEY: A bit of a stretch. A bit of a stretch.

DELONG: But this requires—this requires that the senator from Nebraska, say, actually be interested in policies that tend to bring money and wealth into the state of Nebraska rather than the senator from Nebraska cheering the nominations of Herman Caen and Steve Moore to the Federal Reserve Board on the grounds that it owns the establishment.

BUSSEY: So it sounds like—it sounds like, Brad, you’re saying in answer to Matthias’ question, yes, it is a problem?

DELONG: It could well be a problem. If we had normal politics, if we had normal interest group Theodore Lowi polyarchy politics, it could be fine. But if it, indeed, becomes some kind of identity politics in which Ben Sasse wins reelection by owning the libs, in which whoever the current governor of Kentucky is—I forget—wins reelection by taking Medicaid away from his own voters, then it will be a serious problem.

RAMPELL: I think—so I don’t have fully articulated views on this question. But I would say that my inclination is to agree in the—

DELONG: Thank you.

RAMPELL: You’re welcome—(laughter)—in the sense that I think it’s already problematic for a democracy that, as a New Yorker, my vote does not count as much as it did when I lived in Florida, right. Like, why is that the case? We’re currently having a big debate about the future of the Electoral College. I’m not sure I really genuinely believe it’s going to change anytime soon. But this is a major issue in the Democratic Party, partly, maybe, because Democrats have now lost multiple—won multiple popular votes at the presidential level and still lost the Electoral College.

So some of it, you know, may be some bitterness about that. But I do think it’s a fundamental question about democracy. Why is it—why is it that because I don’t live in a swing state my vote doesn’t count? I don’t think that enhances democracy to, basically, tell people in, you know, deep red or deep blue states that their votes don’t matter, which is, effectively, what happens now.

BUSSEY: Yes. Right in the back there.

Q: Thank you. Mark Hannah, the Eurasia Group Foundation.

The political sociologist Michael Mann wrote about the dark side of democracy when one part—one essential element of democracy, namely, majority rule, overtakes the other—respect for sort of minority rights, tolerance, pluralism, and that’s a big fear right now in the Trump era.

I wonder whether there is any concern that you might have for the inverse of that occurring where the respect for—sort of appreciation of tolerance, inclusion, pluralism, all those things, overrides majority rule, to some extent, and I’m thinking about the kind of identity politics happening in my Democratic Party and some of the ways in which the Tea Party seems like a response to the, you know, their voices not being heard or their ideas not being represented by political elites. Thank you.

JUDIS: I didn’t understand the question.

BUSSEY: So are we too focused on identity politics—race, gender, other aspects of identity notably in the Democratic Party—to the exclusion of majority interests?

JUDIS: Well, you know, there’s a political question. I mean, I think that the problem with the Clinton campaign, if we’re going to get into this, in 2016 was that they really did count up—I’m partly responsible for this. Ruy Teixeira and I wrote this book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, and I think people have drawn certain conclusions—you know, you wait for minorities to become the majority and then automatically you’ll have—you’ll win the election.

And the Clinton people really did calculate that there were going to be these X group here and Y group here and if you appeal to all of them you would win, and they did win a popular majority. But they didn’t go to Wisconsin. They didn’t go to—they ignored, again, parts of Michigan that were crucial and they lost the election.

So, you know, our—the test of our elections and successful elections in this country have been who can—who can speak for the, quote, “common man”—the average person—and Trump won that battle in 2016. Again, we can go into this whole election debate at length but I’m not sure if that’s what you want to do.

BUSSEY: Other questions? Yes, right over here. Yes, sir?

Q: Me?

BUSSEY: Yes, please.

Q: Bo Cutter is my name.

I’d like to go back to the democratic recession and as the title implied, not the way John thought it might mean. There was a clear tendency in the last panel to talk about democracy and the democratic recession somewhat more in institutional terms and in this panel, particularly Mr. Judis has talked about it a little bit more as a—the capacity for self-expression to flourish, and I’ll grant that that is an aspect of it.

But I’m interested in the panel’s view about what the economic issues, as Brad underlined, the identity issues that may emerge in part from that, as the panels discussed, and then the sort of hyperization of it by our president has implied for the actual institutions of our democracy. What do you think is actually happening?

DELONG: Again, I think you have to separate out—need three different meanings of democracy. And the first one would be Alexis de Tocqueville’s democracy is where everybody can kind of stand on their own two feet and look everyone else in the face—that so and so was not a peasant who’s supposed to put his eyes down because he’s face to face with de Tocqueville—the lord of Tocqueville—about how during the French election of 1849 the villagers of Tocqueville said, you have to be at our head because you’re the lord, and he said, no, no, no, this is a democracy.

And then there’s kind of John’s thing, who has the ability to speak with a megaphone in the public sphere; who can stand up and actually be heard in the public sphere, and then there’s the third—to what degree are the material and ideal interests of the people properly represented and aggregated in the kind of decisions that we collectively make as we govern our own destinies.

And I think that overwhelmingly the first two, right—social inclusion, on the one hand, and the ability to speak on the other—you know, are important and are valid but that the first panel and I think this panel and the next panel, too, really should be devoted to the third, right.

I mean, it was eighty blocks south of here in November 1787 that Alexander Hamilton wrote to the middle class of New York saying the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy produces feelings of horror and disgust. Small intervals of felicity are overwhelmed by the tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage. And that is how the rest of the world looks at us now in the age of Brexit and Trump.

Few among middle classes abroad, certainly, and maybe not that many among middle classes at home think that Anglo-American democracies have it right with respect to this third properly bringing the arguments and interests into the governments. Now, Hamilton and Madison, they had plans. They had plans for republican remedies to the diseases of republican government. It’s pretty clear to me that their plans are running out. We need new plans. What are our new plans going to be?

BUSSEY: Bo, does that answer your question? Does that get to it?

RAMPELL: I have some thoughts on what’s happening to our U.S. institutions. I missed the first panel so I apologize if—

BUSSEY: Please do.

RAMPELL: —if some of this territory was already covered. But I think that we are seeing a systematic hollowing out of our institutions in the name of representing the people and I think, again, in the same sense that I was talking about before—you know, claiming the mantle of democratic flourishing to attack various kinds of out groups—I think you’re seeing the same kind of thing happening with our institutions including the—you know, the judiciary, the Fed right now, which I have a lot to say about.

Not that the Fed is, you know, a high example of democracy. It’s, literally, delegating very important policy decisions to a bunch of technocrats, right. These are not democratically elected officials. But Trump is trying to hollow out the Fed in the name of, you know, of his—of helping the forgotten man or what have you, when in fact what he wants to do is just impose his will upon the Fed in the same way that he wants to impose his will upon the judiciary, upon, you know, various apolitical civil servants.

You know, he’s trying to hollow out the deep state, which has come to mean people who are trying to both undermine the president and, you know, hurt America somehow—that they’re all conspiring against real Americans because these are, like, career civil servants who want to protect the environment or they speak foreign languages or what have you. I mean, there’s been a huge hollowing out of lots of very apolitical jobs.

BUSSEY: But, Catherine, the last panel said—Dan, Matthias, I’m not sure whether it was either of you two—that said that the hallmark of a great democracy is that you don’t let leaders do too much and by that they seem to be suggesting that the rule of law is the ultimate parental supervision. You don’t think that that’s happening here in the United States?

RAMPELL: Say it again.

BUSSEY: You don’t—you don’t think that there are hedges against the president going too far? That our system doesn’t allow our leaders to do too much—it protects the system?

RAMPELL: I think to the extent that Trump has not been able to do a lot of the things that he has said he wanted to do including, you know, bar asylum seekers altogether from seeking asylum, I think that reflects upon the fact that we do have—we still have rule of law. We still have some checks and balances.

That said, it is a constant battle. I mean, Trump is purging his entire DHS right now and a lot of the reporting—which I have not done, to be transparent—but a lot of the reporting that’s come out from my paper and from others has suggested that part of the reason why he’s trying to get rid of all these people is because they have told him, you can’t do X, Y, and Z because it would be against the law, and he’s saying, off with your heads, essentially.

So to what extent—you know, so who’s going to replace this group of people who have now been purged? Are they going to be people who are no longer willing to hold the line and maintain rule of law and say, we’re not going to violate a judge’s order, for example? I don’t know. I think it speaks well of our institutions that they have managed to last throughout Trump’s authoritarian impulses and maintain a check against them. But I am not so confident that if we had four more years of Trump that they would persist.

BUSSEY: I have to be mindful of the time. We’re going to have to make that the last word. Brad, Catherine, John, thank you so much. Join us for coffee. (Applause.)


#politicaleconomy #history #politics #highighted 

This Identity Politics Stuff is Killing America…

Herman cain and steve moore Google Search

There is an argument that somebody who has built a food-processing and consumer-service business and met its payroll—like Herman Cain—should be on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, in order to keep the staff and the other Governors reality-based in the sense that it would force them to explain themselves to somebody whose experience is in the real and not the financial economy. There is no argument that Herman Cain is the best businessman for the slot.

There is no argument at all that Stephen Moore—whose qualification is having played an economist on TV, and being willing to dump whatever of his previous policy positions (free trade? TPP? gold standard? anything else?) over the side whenever his political masters demand—belongs on the Fed.

The pro-Moore pro-Cain pieces that are currently being planted are reduced to closing with “Moore and Cain would only be two of 12 FOMC votes”. But Republicans—save Greg Mankiw and Ross Douthat—are in lockstep behind them. Well—almost in lockstep. Herman Cain is the stronger (not strong) candidate. Republican Senators Kevin Cramer (ND), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), and Mitt Romney (UT) are for Moore and against Cain.

This identity politics stuff is killing America:

Jim Bianco: The Fed Would Benefit from Stephen Moore, Herman Cain: “Policymaking positions should help determine policy, not act as a rubber stamp for the staff or Chairman. They should hold divergent views, come from different backgrounds and be ready to explain themselves. Policy makers should be given the resources to flesh out their ideas. If confirmed, Moore and Cain would only be two of 12 FOMC votes. Their unique perspectives could make the Fed a stronger institution…


Phil Koop

**Comment of the Day**: “It is not only crows and chimpanzees that have a ‘theory of mind’-people do too!”: _[Phil Koop]( “Well thank goodness I am not the only one who feels this way! Far too much is made, in my opinion, of the [Scott Sumner’s] banal observation that we can never know what someone else is thinking. This is speciously true – we can never be certain of the entirety of another’s thoughts. But it is substantively false, once you allow as you ought for probable inference; we can often make a pretty good guess on salient points of interest. It is not only crows and chimpanzees that have a ‘theory of mind’-people do too! And some of us are pretty good at it; we can be quite sure of this because they tend to do things like consistently win a lot of money at poker. Certainly we do not need to be telepaths to judge Moore’s or Cain’s motives… —- #commentoftheday

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 10, 2019)


  1. Does Inbox Zero count if one has snozzed 245 emails? Asking for a friend…

  2. No, I do not understand Netflix’s valuation. And I do not understand what it was doing in “FAANG” in the first place. I suspect it was just Jim Cramer looking for a cute acronym, which is a hell of a way to run an porftfolio-assessment business: Tara Lachapelle: Netflix Valuation Tested by Disney, AT&T, Apple Apps: “Disney, AT&T and Apple are coming, and this time they are really bringing the heat…

  3. Sarah Halzack: Amazon Risks Missing Out on $35 Billion Click-and-Collect Market: “Big-box retailers are leading in click-and-collect services such as grocery pickup, and the gap may only widen…

  4. Command-Tab Plus: Application and Window Switching Done Right: “Hold Command and press Tab to display the active applications and then use the Tab key to cycle through your open apps…

  5. Olivier Blanchard: Public Debt and Low Interest Rates: “Seminar 237/281: 291 Departmental Seminar…. April 10 | 4-6 p.m. | 648 Evans Hall…

  6. Jeff Weintraub: Afterthoughts on the Communist Manifesto

  7. Max Nisen: Walgreens Earnings: Retail Apocalypse Now Threatens Drug Stores: “Prescription medications aren’t as profitable as they used to be, leaving chains like Walgreens more exposed to industry headwinds…

  8. Ceteris Numquam Paribus: “This blog is for young economists, who want advice on how to proceed on their chosen path. Every week or so I’ll bring you a short interview with an economist, giving suggestions on what to read, what to learn, and how to become an economist…

  9. Scott Lemieux: Our Green Lantern: “It’s getting hard to avoid the conclusion that Bernie is actually high on his own “our revolution will force Republican senators to vote for my agenda” supply…

  10. Joshua M. Brown: Is Economic Inequality a “National Emergency”?

  11. Robert Waldmann (2016): Dynamic Inefficiency

  12. CPPC: Senate Finance Committee Examines How PBMs Cause Higher Drug Prices: “Senator Wyden told the CEOs that ‘you see there are not a lot of Democrats or Republicans holding rallies for spread pricing. Spread pricing is a rip off, plain and simple.’ He asked them: if Congress proposes to ban spread pricing, will they support it? Three of the CEOs said yes they would, and the other two said they would remain neutral. For the first time, the Senate Finance Committee investigated PBMs and how they promote higher drug costs…

  13. Gramercy Park Hotel

  14. L’Express

  15. Sheisha Kulkarni

  16. John Le Carre: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Novel) | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Miniseries) | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Film)

  17. Wikipedia: Ian Richardson

  18. Wikipedia: Colin Firth

  1. John Hatcher: Unreal Wages: Long-Run Living Standards and the ‘Golden Age’ of the Fifteenth Century: “The renowned ‘Golden Age’ of the fifteenth century has been exaggerated. The surge in the prosperity of the lower orders resulting from high wages, low food prices and easier access to cheap land was undoubtedly extraordinary. But not as prodigious as has customarily been assumed. Furthermore, contrary to the common belief that the economic fortunes of the labouring classes can be taken as a proxy for the living standards of the population as a whole, the scale of improvement in their good fortune was not widely shared by the rest of society who did not derive their incomes solely from wages or their subsistence solely from the market. Argument and evidence are also provided that the criticisms made in this chapter of the compilation, interpretation and application of real wage indices have implications that stretch far beyond the fifteenth century…

  2. Gavin Wright: Slavery and Anglo-American Capitalism Revisited: “Eric Williams… links the slave trade and slave-based commerce with early British industrial development. Long-distance markets were crucial supports for technological progress and for the infrastructure of financial markets and the shipping sector…. The eighteenth century Atlantic economy was dominated by sugar, and sugar was dominated by slavery. The role of the slave trade was central…. Adherents of an insurgency known as the New History of Capitalism have extended this line of analysis to nineteenth century America…. Such analyses overlook the second part of the Williams thesis, which held that industrial capitalism abandoned slavery because it was no longer needed for continued economic expansion…

  3. Dylan Matthews: Child Poverty Report: Food, Housing, and Money, Not Work Requirements, Work Best – Vox: “The most important report on child poverty in years is finally out…. The result of pressure from California Democratic Representatives Barbara Lee and Lucille Roybal-Allard, the provision called for the National Academy of Sciences to convene a group of experts to produce ‘a nonpartisan, evidence-based report that would provide its assessment of the most effective means for reducing child poverty by half in the next 10 years’…. A ‘work-based package’…. A ‘work-based and universal support package’…. A ‘means-tested supports and work package’…

  4. Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt: How Democracies Die “Since the end of the Cold War, most democratic breakdowns have been caused not by generals and soldiers but by elected governments themselves…. Chávez in Venezuela… Georgia, Hungary, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Ukraine. Democratic backsliding today begins at the ballot box…

  5. Alexander Hamilton (1787): The Federalist #9: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection: “It is impossible to read the history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy without feeling sensations of horror and disgust at the distractions with which they were continually agitated, and at the rapid succession of revolutions by which they were kept in a state of perpetual vibration between the extremes of tyranny and anarchy. If they exhibit occasional calms, these only serve as short-lived contrast to the furious storms that are to succeed. If now and then intervals of felicity open to view, we behold them with a mixture of regret, arising from the reflection that the pleasing scenes before us are soon to be overwhelmed by the tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage…

  6. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! We in the Clinton administration established the norm that Governors of the Federal Reserve should be people capable of going toe-to-toe in argument with the Fed Chair, on the grounds that the Fed Chair needed competent intellectual sparring partners if he or she, and the staff that did his or her bidding, was not to fall victim to groupthink. One of those who personally benefitted most from this norm was Larry Lindsey, who was chosen as and was quite an effective Fed Governor under George W. Bush. But now, for some short-term advantage or other, Larry is trying to blow up this norm and outdo others in obsequious toadying to Trump. Neither Steve Moore nor Herman Cain can make a coherent forecast. Both are for lower interest rates when Republicans and higher interest rates when Democrats are President. Neither will have the slightest impact on the thinking of the Chair or of the staff—instead, the staff will start playing the pre-Clinton administration game of, as one friend of mine who worked for the Fed called it, “Look! Here’s a Governor! Let’s see if we can make him say something really stupid!” I wonder what Larry Lindsey says to himself in the morning when he looks in the mirror, and the mirror looks back and says: “You benefitted from this norm of professionalism required for Fed Governors. Now you are trying to break it. What kind of a person are you?” Larry Lindsey: Defending Trump’s Likely Fed Nominees: “Steve Moore has a master’s in economics from George Mason….. Herman Cain was chairman of the board of the Kansas City Federal Reserve. He is obviously aware of how the Federal Reserve operates and how monetary policy is made…. I am a firm believer in having a variety of views, including those I do not necessarily agree with…

  7. Martin Wolf: Xi Jinping’s China Seeks to be Rich and Communist: “President’s ambitions rely on avoiding ‘middle-income trap’ and placating a more demanding populace…. If… China… succeed[ed] in becoming rich, while its political system stayed much the same….Sustained growth of real GDP per head at 4 per cent a year over another generation…. Its economy would then be far bigger than those of the US and EU combined. This would be a new world. Yet is it a plausible one?…

  8. This annoys me. Moore and Cain have given no explanation of their switch because there is no explanation fo their switch other than that they are kowtowing to their political masters. I find David Beckworth’s Scott Sumner’s claim that he is “in no position to judge motives” is itself disingenuous: he is in a position to judge their motives. And that he claims not to be… erodes his credibility on all issues: Scott Sumner: Who Should Serve on the Federal Reserve Board?: “Moore and Cain were both quite hawkish when a more dovish policy was needed, and have recently become more dovish when there is far less need for monetary stimulus. Why?… President Trump is the only other person I can recall whose views on monetary policy switched from hawkish when President Obama was presiding over a weak economy, to dovish when Trump is presiding over a stronger economy…. I’m in no position to judge motives…. If their change of heart was motivated by political considerations, that would be inconsistent with the Fed’s traditional independence from the rest of the government. When politics influences Fed decisions, it can destabilize the economy…

#noted #weblogs 

Do We Have Any Republican Remedies for the Diseases of Republican Government?

Signing of the Constitution by Louis S Glanzman Teaching American History

Note to Self: It was 80 blocks south of here that Alexander Hamilton wrote to the middle class of New York that:

The history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy… feeling sensations of horror and disgust… intervals of felicity… overwhelmed by the tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage…

That is how the rest of the world views Britain and the United States in this age, the age of Brexit and Trump. And I haven’t even raised the strange spectacle of our modern-day Earl of Warwick, Rupert the Kingmaker. Few among middle classes abroad today think that the Anglo-Saxon democracies have it right, deliver the goods.

Hamilton and Madison had plans for republican remedies to the diseases of republican government. What would your remedies be?

#politics #history #notetoself 

Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Talking Points

Event: Tu 2019-04-09 10-11am CFR: 58 E. 68th St., New York, NY:

Untitled 7 pages

The Data

  • 1970s a bad decade for real incomes—oil shocks, environmental cleanup, baby boom entry into the labor market
  • End of 1970s sees shift to “neoliberalism” to fix the “excesses of social democracy”
  • Since 1980: males and those with low education have seen their expectations of what their lives would be like bitterly disappointed
    • Male high school graduates down by 17%
    • Males with advanced degrees up by 25%
    • Whites have not been disappointed more economically—what William Juilius Wilson called the “declining significance of race”
      • Save, perhaps, for Black women with BAs…
    • Sociological disappointment in addition?
    • Within-household economic disappointment?
    • Other aspects of the economic besides income?
      • Occupation and occupational stability
      • Employment stability


The Polanyiist Party Line:

  1. That people believe they ought to have rights to stable communities that support them (land), to the income they expected (labor), and to continuity of employment (finance); but the only rights the market respects are property rights; and the only property rights that are worth anything are those that help you make things for which rich people have a serious and unsatiated jones.
  2. That walking the high wire created by the disjunction between what people expect from a proper societal order and what a neoliberal market society delivers can be done in only three ways:
    • Rapid and equitable economic growth…
    • A strong safety net that people regard not as a handout but as theirs by right of their contribution to and place in society…
    • Busying giddy minds with quarrels—that you aren’t getting your fair share because some despisable internal minority or external party is rigging the system…
  3. Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” was correct as far as communism was concerned; his error was supposing that the we-are-a-united-bundle-of-sticks-to-bruise-our-enemies movement had died for all time in the rubble of Berlin in May 1945. He was wrong. It’s back.
  4. And Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” was wrong insofar as it saw Anglo-Saxon-style representative democracy as obviously and indisputably the system that could best deliver a functioning political order in times of stress. There is nobody in China today who thinks we have anything to teach them as far as issues of political economy are concerned…


I would like to draw a sharp distinction between:

  • On the one hand, populists: who have a coherent theory about how the market economy is rigged against ordinary people by an upper class and have practical plans for policies to fix it;
  • On the other hand, a different group: a group who believe that a true people, among whom some are rich and some are poor, are being deceived culturally, sociologically, and economically by internal and external enemies, and need to follow a leader or leaders who have no patience with established constitutional powers and procedures to point out to them who their internal and external enemies are.
    • It is this second set of movements—true people-based, leader-based, enemy-based, that has been by far the most powerful since the breaking of the real populist movement before 1900 by the hammer of racism: the discovery that a large enough chunk of the populists potential base were easily grifted by a white identity-politics assignment of the “enemy“ role to African-Americans.
      • Powerful both in America and—except for when under the shadow of Soviet threat—in Western Europe since the day Benito Mussolini recognized that rich Italians who liked order would not fund Benito’s socialist movement, but would gladly fund Benito’s “we are stronger together, for a bundle of sticks tied together with leather thongs is strong even though each individual stick is weak“ movement.


Today looks to me like nothing that special: Recall:

  • Harding and Coolidge, Taft and Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon and Buchanan:
    • Harding and Coolidge’s mobilization of the revived clan end of nativism against blacks and immigrants to geld progressivism in the 1920s.
    • Taft and Nixon’s mobilizing McCarthy against the communistic New Deal at the end of the 1940s.
    • Goldwater’s transformation of the Republican Party from the party of upward mobility and those who believe they have something to gain from economic growth and creative distraction to the party of those who believe they have something to lose if uppity Negroes and the overly educated overly clever are not kept in their place.
    • Richard Nixon’s idea to drag out the Vietnam war for four more years at the cost of 40,000 American and 3 million Vietnamese lives so that he and Pat Buchanan can break the country in half, but with him getting the bigger half—until enough Republicans plus Mark Felt of the FBI were sick of him and willing to help bring him down.


How is today different?: Possibilities:

  • Concentration of the easily-grifted, somehow the internet, Rupert the Kingmaker, the Gingrich model:
    • Tyler Cowen’s observation: 20% of the population have always been crazy— easily grifted by some variant of white identity politics—but they used to be evenly divided between the two parties and now they are concentrated in one.
    • Somehow the internet.
    • Blowback from Rupert Murdoch’s insight that if you could scare the piss out of all the people you could glue their eyes to your product and then make money by selling them fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds.
      • Rupert the Kingmaker: In the fifteenth century the marcher Earldom of Warwick was uniquely able to mobilize those in the affinity of Earl Richard for the battlefield—and so became known as “Warwick the Kingmaker”. There are analogies here…
    • The Gingrich model: We now have two generations of Republican politicians who believe that technocratic policy development is for suckers, and then what do you need are:
      1. tax cuts for the rich,
      2. regulatory rollback,
      3. perhaps a short victorious war or two, plus
      4. whatever culture war currently resonates with the base—notice that “women need to stay in the kitchen and the bedroom“ and “we need to shun homosexuals“ have passed their sell-by date, but transsexuals and anyone who fails to shout “merry Christmas” every five minutes between Halloween and New Years are still fair game.
  • Or perhaps we have simply been unlucky—and we had gotten used to luck running in our favor:
    • Otto von Bismarck, perhaps: “a special providence watches over drunkards, fools, and the United States of America”…


Stephen Moore

  • I haven’t seen anybody argue that he is qualified—only that appointing him will “own the libs” and “own the establishment”…
  • Only three professional Republicans opposed to him, however:
    1. Greg Mankiw
    2. Ross Douthat
    3. Stephen Moore himself
  • Yet another technocratic breakdown…


More important things to talk about: Amendment XXV:

  • Last Tuesday President Trump:
    1. Tried three times to say the word “origins” but instead said “oranges”—the n-phoneme kept moving forwards in time, he noticed and was distressed, and switched to “beginnings” as an alternate.
    2. Said that his father had been born in Germany—not New York City.
    3. Said, live on CSPAN, that he was choosing his words carefully, because otherwise someone would leak the speech to the media.
    4. Claimed that wind farms caused cancer because whey were noisy.
    5. Urged Republicans to be “more paranoid” because he “doesn’t like the way the votes are being tallied.”
  • Yes, I know that President George W. Bush did not like to hit the books and was easily gulled.
  • Yes, I know that the President Ronald Reagan we got was badly debilitated by Hinckley’s assassination attempt, and was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimers.
  • Yes, I know that Republicans are used to, since Eisenhower’s second term and Nixon’s drunken rants, covering for a president who is not mentally what he should be.
  • But this is more like post-stroke Woodrow Wilson.
  • This is Amendment XXV Territory.


It is a strange situation…

  • A lot of “if he were nots…” here:
    • If he were not president, his family would already have moved for a guardianship ad litem
  • If he were not so authoritarian—so dangerous to liberty—we would be profoundly sad that someone, hate him, love him, or amused by him, was such an entertaining celebrity who left his mark on New York…
  • If he were not so deranged, we would be in the streets demanding that the constitutional order be observed, and preparing to resist when somebody begins taking him seriously and literally…


More important things to talk about: Washington Post

  • Read Irin Carmon at New York Magazine on how Baron, Wallsten, and Barr handled the pieces of her story about CBS honcho Jeff Fager’s internal defense of Charlie Rose After reading it, if you read it as I read it, you will conclude that newspaper managers as easily bullied as Baron, Wallsten, and Barr are not useful in their current. I wrote so to Jeff Bezos. If you wind up agreeing with me, I urge you to write Bezos as well.
  • Consider Ken Dilanian of NBC News:
    • March 24: “Folks, this is a total legal exoneration…. Topline: no conspiracy, no obstruction…”
    • April 3: “Mueller team frustrated Barr cleared Trump on obstruction… . Evidence against Trump stronger…”
    • Schroedinger’s journalist!
      • A decade ago there was a boom in “explainer journalism”
      • But now an increasing number are doubling down on pleasing “insider” sources—or affinity fraud…

#talkingpoints #politicalscience #fascism #publicsphere #highlighted #politicaleconomy #equitablegrowth #economicgrowth
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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (April 6, 2019)


  • Comment of the Day: John Howard Brown: “Property rights are always conditional on the allocation of social power! When the power of the Laird of a Scots clan depended on the number of clansmen who could wield pike and claymore…

  1. Wikipedia: Late Antique Little Ice Age

  2. Mark Bergen: YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant

  3. R. Leeson et al.: [, Hayek: A Collaborative Biography]: Influences from Mises to Bartley | The Hayekian Religion | The Chicago School of Economics

  4. C. E. Cubitt: A Life of Friedrich August von Hayek

  5. Wikipedia: Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick

  6. Wikipedia: Tywin Lannister

  7. Wikipedia: John Mair

  8. Steve Knott: Battle of Gettysburg: Why J.E.B. Stuart Ends Up in Carlisle

  9. Wikipedia: Wilhelm Voigt: “The Captain of Köpenick, which shifts the focus from the event at Köpenick itself to the prelude…. The pitiful catch-22 situation of Voigt trying to earn his living honourably in Berlin: ‘No residence address-no job. No job-no residence (rented room). No residence-no passport. No passport-getting ousted…

  10. Wikipedia: Walter Nicolai

  11. Adam Gopnik: How the South Won the Civil War | The New Yorker: “Now we think that the aftermath—the confrontation not of blue and gray but of white and black, and the reimposition of apartheid through terror—is what has left the deepest mark on American history. Instead of arguing about whether the war could have turned out any other way, we argue about whether the postwar could have turned out any other way…

  12. John Van Reenen: “Why @michaelgove is unfit to hold any public office:: When Justice minister he accused me and fellow academics (including some whose relations were in the Holocaust) of being “Nazi Scientists” for saying #Brexit would be costly…

  13. Matthew Townsend and Eric Martin: Who Is Winning Trump’s Trade War with China? So Far, It’s Mexico: “America’s imports from Mexico surge the most in seven years as Trump’s policies shift supply chains…

  14. Potch: There should be a hotline you can call where you can safely pronounce words you’ve only ever read out loud for the first time, and they say ‘oh sweetie’ and kindly explain how it’s pronounced…” vagrantcow: “Google pronunciation is a thing. 2019 is on the phone, for you…

  15. Tom Joseph: The question why Mueller didn’t recommend whether Trump should face Obstruction charges is baffling people. Punting the decision to HJC doesn’t make sense either. The answer may be simple—Mueller knows Trump has dementia, which makes T’s intent, responsibity & charges an unknown…

  16. Brian Krassenstein: “BREAKING: “Motel 6 will pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit by the Washington state attorney general over the lodging chain’s practice of handing over guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents…

  1. Guy bar-Oz et al.: Ancient Trash Mounds Unravel Urban Collapse a Century Before he End of Byzantine Hegemony in the Southern Levant | PNAS: “The Late Antique Little Ice Age (LALIA) was recently identified… proposed as a major cause for pandemic and extensive societal upheavals in the sixth–seventh centuries…. Archaeological evidence for the magnitude of societal response to this event is sparse…. This study uses ancient trash mounds… to establish the terminal date of organized trash collection and high-level municipal functioning on a city-wide scale…

  2. John Harwood: @JohnJHarwood: “Trump/GOP promised lasting 3+% growth from self-financing tax-cuts. Mainstream economists predicted brief deficit-fueled growth burst. The record so far: 2018 Q2 4.2%, 2018 Q3 3.4%, 2018 Q4 2.6%, deficit way up. Fed forecasts: 2019 2.3%, 2020 2.0%, 2021 1.8%…

  3. David Leonhardt: Trump’s Trade Grade: “It’s a neat microcosm of President Trump’s economic policy: He picks a yardstick to measure the American economy—the trade deficit—that’s mostly meaningless. He spends years criticizing it as too high and promising to reduce it. And under his administration, it surges…. ‘He set out to fix a non-problem (a trade deficit) and created real ones including international conflict, higher consumer prices and gross inefficiency in our economy’, the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes…

  4. Nobody ever showed me credible numbers stating that New York’s proposed subsidies to Amazon were a good deal for the people of New York, let alone for the country as a whole. That makes me strongly suspect that credible numbers cannot be calculated. Unless a recession hits at the right (or rather wrong) moment, the people who would have worked in New York at Amazon HQ2 will work elsewhere, and the state economy as a whole is likely to be healthier: Nathan Jensen: Economic Development Public Policy Lessons Abound in New York’s Amazon HQ2 Debacle: “Most of these incentives are bad public policy. Virginia’s HQ2 bid was more public focused. It includes future payments based on a formula involving new, high-paying jobs as well as and other public subsidies, but it also includes a promise of infrastructure and education investments that would serve not only Amazon but also the entire community. The subsidies continue to face opposition. New York’s bid, in contrast, was designed primarily to put more money into the pockets of Amazon…

  5. Brilliant from my freshman roommate Robert Waldmann: Robert Waldmann: The Transformation of Left Neoliberalism: “The correct assertion that bureaucrats are too dumb to centrally plan also implies that they are too dumb to design efficient and incentive compatible mechanisms. The correct (and more important) argument that public servants can’t be trusted to be purely public spirited… applies in order of increasing force…

  6. Nick Bunker: Puzzling Over U.S. Wage Growth: “The unemployment rate is below its Great Recession levels, but wage growth hasn’t picked up in recent years. The prime employment rate may be a better predictor of wage growth than unemployment rates. The state of U.S. wage growth these days is puzzling. The unemployment rate is below where it was before the Great Recession back in 2007, but nominal wage growth is below its level that year and hasn’t picked up in recent years (according to some data series). For economists and analysts who believe that a tighter labor market should lead to higher wages, this disconnect is confusing…

  7. Homer: What We Owe Exiles: “We live at a great distance from others amid the much-sounding sea,/Far way, and no other mortals visit us./But this man who has wandered here, who is so ill-starred,/It is right to care for him now. For all are from Zeus,/The strangers and the beggars, and our gift is small but dear to them./Come, handmaidens, give the stranger food and drink;/Bathe him in the river, where there is shelter from the wind…

  8. Regular Gem: @Choplogik: “We write ‘Millenials Are Killing The [X] Industry’ because when you write ‘Unsustainable Profit-Driven Systems Are Crumbling Around A Wage-Suppressed Global Populace Serving Roughly 2000 Aging Billionaires’ people get too depressed to click through & watch our hair cream ads…

  9. The thing to note about both Cain and Moore is that they are for: (i) the gold standard, (ii) sound money, (iii) market rather than artificially-low interest rates, (iv) quantitative easing, and (v) low interest rate Federal Reserve policy. There is no there there: Sam Fleming: Donald Trump Calls for U-turn by Federal Reserve to Stimulate Economy: “US president says rate cuts and quantitative easing would allow ‘rocket ship’ growth…. Mr Trump’s decision to propose Herman Cain… to be a governor of the Fed’s powerful board… also… nominate Stephen Moore…. It remains to be seen how the two prospective nominees will fare if they face Senate confirmation…. Mr Gapen said: ‘In our view, the experience of each candidate does not seem to be the main reason the Trump administration is considering their nominations. The administration has been openly critical of recent Fed interest rate increases and would prefer lower interest rates and a more accommodative monetary policy stance. Both Cain and Moore have altered their views on appropriate policy in this direction’…

  10. Umair Haque: Why the Anglo World is Collapsing: “How the Dunces of Modern History Ended Up Being Us: You and me. The Anglos. I think that we have to confront a difficult truth. One that’s especially difficult for me, as an Anglo, an English-speaker, and maybe for you, too. Our societies are not looking like they are going to make it. Take a hard look at America and Britain. Do these seem like sane, enlightened, thinking societies to you anymore? Or just places where the most aggressively ignorant, cruel, and abusive rise to the top—cheered on by people who wish they were the most aggressively ignorant, cruel, and abusive?…

#noted #weblogs