October 26, 2003
Movable Type Education Weblog Portal

Interesting: Movable Type Education Weblog Portal...

Posted by DeLong at 06:28 AM

October 12, 2003
Depressing News About Vouchers

Chang-Tai Hsieh and Miguel Urquiola are unable to find any signs that vouchers made a positive difference for education in Chile: When Schools Compete, How Do They Compete? An Assessment of Chile's Nationwide School Voucher Program: In 1981, Chile introduced nationwide school choice by providing vouchers to any student wishing to attend private school. As a result, more than 1,000 private schools entered the market, and the private enrollment rate increased by 20 percentage points, with greater impacts in larger, more urban, and wealthier communities. We use this differential impact to measure the effects of unrestricted choice on educational outcomes. Using panel data for about 150 municipalities, we find no evidence that choice improved average educational outcomes as measured by test scores, repetition rates, and years of schooling. However, we find evidence that the voucher program led to increased sorting, as the best public school students left for the private sector....

Posted by DeLong at 03:53 PM

August 31, 2003
The Architecture of Teaching

It's a horrible room, Evans 70: underground, clockless, windowless, with old blackboards and cheap free-standing metal chairs. Fortunately for me (and them), it is not also horribly overcrowded. I follow Ken Wachter, who is teaching demography. I precede an upper-division mathematical logic class. I soon learned when I took mathematical logic that p -> q was supposed to be the same thing as q v (~p). But I never believed it. It didn't make sense that p -> q should automatically be true whenever p was false. Consider the sentence: "If Socrates were a parrot, he would be 200 feet tall." p = "Socrates is a parrot" q = "Socrates is 200 feet tall". Since p is false, p -> q is supposed to be true. But it clearly isn't. "Implication" in mathematical logic is not what I mean by "If... then... "...

Posted by DeLong at 11:43 AM

August 27, 2003
The Pierian Spring

"First day of school! " "First day of slavery! Of oppression! It's unconstitutional! Thirteenth Amendment!" "Nonsense. It's the first day of your new chance to drink deep of the Pierian Spring." "It's involuntary servitude!" "It's your chance to invest in your own human capital to raise your future earnings and give you more and better life-chance options." "But what if I don't want to?" "But you do want to. Or, rather, your true will--what you would will if you were fully informed and fully mature in your judgment--is to eagerly go to school. I would be oppressing you if I did not make you go to school." "Hmmph. Who decides what my true will is?" "I do. I'm the leading cadre in this family, after all." A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring. Alexander Pope...

Posted by DeLong at 07:59 AM

July 23, 2003
Notes: Teaching Programs

PEIS 101 Nick Biziouras recommends that some way be found to make Econ 100a and Econ 100b prerequisites for PEIS 101....

Posted by DeLong at 06:15 PM

June 02, 2003
Notes: Teaching: Deflation

Note: Add this to the reading list for my fall 2003 Economics 101b Intermediate Macroeconomics course? Monetary Policy in a Zero-Interest-Rate Economy , May 2003, FRB Dallas, by Evan Koenig and Jim Dolmas...

Posted by DeLong at 10:09 AM

May 21, 2003
Economics 210a Final Exam

Thursday May 22, 12-3, in Evans 608-7...

Posted by DeLong at 11:28 PM

May 12, 2003
Paul Krugman's "Thinking About the Liquidity Trap"

Paul Krugman's "Thinking About the Liquidity Trap": Thinking about the liquidity trap: We live in the Age of the Central Banker - an era in which Greenspan, Duisenberg, and Hayami are household words, in which monetary policy is generally believed to be so effective that it cannot safely be left in the hands of politicians who might use it to their advantage. Through much of the world, quasi-independent central banks are now entrusted with the job of steering economies between the rocks of inflation and the whirlpool of deflation. Their judgement is often questioned, but their power is not. It is therefore ironic as well as unnerving that precisely at this moment, when we have all become sort-of monetarists, the long-scorned Keynesian challenge to monetary policy - the claim that it is ineffective at recession-fighting, because you can?t push on a string - has reemerged as a real issue. So far only Japan has actually found itself in liquidity-trap conditions, but if it has happened once it can happen again, and if it can happen here it presumably can happen elsewhere. So even if Japan does eventually emerge from its slump, the question of how it became trapped and what...

Posted by DeLong at 07:28 AM

May 10, 2003
Economics 236: Extra Readings: Liquidity Trap

Paul R. Krugman (1998), "It's Baaack: Japan's Slump and the Return of the Liquidity Trap," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Vol. 1998, No. 2. (Fall), pp. 137-187. Paul R. Krugman (1999), "Thinking About the Liquidity Trap." Lars Svensson (2003), "Liquidity Traps, Policy Rules for Inflation Targeting, and Eurosystem Monetary-Policy Strategy". Lars Svensson (2000), "The Zero Bound in an Open Economy: A Foolproof Way of Escaping from a Liquidity Trap." Willem H. Buiter and Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou (1999), "Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them"....

Posted by DeLong at 09:34 PM

May 07, 2003
The Statistics Professor is Correct

OK. Let's try again. This is an example about the importance of background probabilities--the importance of taking statistics seriously--that's been used by every economist I've talked to who has ever taught in a law school. (And they almost invariably say that their students do not get it.) A bank robber puts the loot in a suitcase, runs out of the bank, gets into a taxi, and is driven off. A witness sees him. The witness says, "It was a black taxi, not a yellow taxi." Further tests reveal that this witness get's the color of the taxi--whether it is black or yellow--right 80% of the time. So the police dispatcher radios all cars, saying "He's in a taxi. There's an 80% chance it's a black taxi." Now a supervisor hands the dispatcher a slip of paper that tells the dispatcher that 90% of the taxis in the city are yellow, and only 10% are black. "It's unlikely that the taxi is black," the supervisor says. The dispatcher begins, "Correction..." What should the dispatcher say? A law professor says: "The dispatcher should say, 'No correction.' The taxi is either black or yellow. We have a witness. We know the reliability of...

Posted by DeLong at 11:54 AM

The Law of Large Numbers

Eugene Volokh attempts to explain why he is "agnostic" on the question of whether William Bennett is, over a long period of intensive high-stakes gambling at the slots, (a) "nearly even" (as Bennett claims), or (b) has lost a fortune. The fact that anybody who gambles a lot of money over a long time at the slots loses a fortune with extremely high probability, is, to Volokh, not relevant: "Some casinos are estimating the total losses at over $8 million, but Bennett explicitly says otherwise.... This has little to do with statistics -- it's a question of fact." This strongly reaffirms my belief that Eugene Volokh--along with many, many, many others--simply does not understand statistics, does not understand the force of statistical arguments, does not understand how overwhelmingly unlikely it is that any long-time heavy gambler at the slots could be "about even." From my perspective (and from the perspective of everybody here on the third and sixth floors of Evans Hall), it is simply impossible to write a paragraph like Volokh's unless you are--in some powerful sense--ignorant of statistics. When the background probability of some state of affairs is overwhelmingly improbable, claims that the state of affairs actually took...

Posted by DeLong at 10:56 AM

May 06, 2003
Elementary Statistics

Eugene Volokh writes: Volokh Conspiracy: People are condemning Bill Bennett, who has taken on the role of a spokesman for virtue and morality, for what seems to be a gambling habit that has lost him $8 million over the last ten years.... Nonetheless, Bennett suggests that he's "come out pretty close to even," though others doubt this... Suppose you play the $500 slots 20,000 times--thus betting ten million dollars in total--on slot machines that are programmed to keep 10% of the take (which is a quite low house percentage for slot machines), and suppose that the standard deviation of payoffs is $1350 (a large number, but then slots do give some very large payoffs). How likely is it that you have come out "pretty close to even"? Anyone a third of the way through their first course in statistics will know that 20,000 times is enough to safely apply the central limit theorem, and thus will be able to quickly and easily figure out that: Your expected loss is $1 million even. There are only five chances in a hundred that you will have lost more than $1.3 million. There are only five chances in a hundred that you will...

Posted by DeLong at 12:27 PM

May 05, 2003
Notes: Berkeley Needs a Strategy

Conclusion: Berkeley needs to build lots of new dorms. Lots of new dorms. Even with effectively zero tuition, it is becoming unaffordable to go to Berkeley. We need to charge higher fees to business and law students (and maybe some of our engineering students?) and use the money to build lots of new dorms......

Posted by DeLong at 04:37 PM

May 04, 2003
The School of Zeno and Chrysippus

The learned and luminously-penned Invisible Adjunct (who appears to leave a remarkably large and easily visible intellectual footprint, in the circles in which I move, at least) directs us to a website that tells us that the School of Zeno and Chrysippus has risen in the rankings from number 50 to number 22. This is well-deserved. In fact, the Thirteen-Year-Old has already been thoroughly exposed to Zenoxian paradoxes and their solutions in his learning that one has two repeated-decimal representations: 1.00000..... and 0.99999.......

Posted by DeLong at 11:38 AM

May 02, 2003
Economics 236: Supplementary Readings for May 5

Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, Andrei Shleifer, and Robert W. Vishny (1998), "Law and Finance", Journal of Political Economy. Edward L. Glaeser and Andrei Shleifer (2002), "Legal Origins", Quarterly Journal of Economics. Florencio Lopez de Silanes, Simeon Djankov, Rafael La Porta, and Andrei Shleifer (2002), "The Regulation of Entry", Quarterly Journal of Economics. Simeon Djankov, Edward L. Glaeser, Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer (2003), "The New Comparative Economics."...

Posted by DeLong at 07:47 AM

April 17, 2003
Harvard Political Philosophy at the End of the 1970s

Jacob Levy says: Jacob Levy: (Ah, to have been at Harvard in the 1970s, able to hear Rawls and Nozick and Sen, Walzer and Shklar, all at the same institution!) I assure you, it was highly cool. (I never got much out of Nozick, however: I found _ASU_ in the library to be better than Nozick in person.)...

Posted by DeLong at 02:47 PM

April 10, 2003
Notes: LTCM

A short summary of what went wrong at LTCM....

Posted by DeLong at 09:35 PM

Notes: More Finance Demand Curves Sloping the Wrong Way

Notes: Teaching: Econ 236: Behavioral: Finance: Yet More Demand Curves That Slope the Wrong Way This time it's due to performance-based arbitrage: PBA: circumstances in which the fact that prices move against fundamentals leads investors to think that their smart-money managers aren't so smart, and so withdraw funds: From Andrei Shleifer and Robert Vishny (1995), "The Limits of Arbitrage" (Cambridge: NBER Working Paper 5167). One model of risky arbitrage is that of a large number of investors taking small positions against the mispricing. Fama's (1965) classic analysis of efficient markets and Ross's (1976) Arbitrage Pricing Theory are based on this model. An alternative, and in many cases more realistic view, is that arbitrage is conducted by a few professional, highly-specialized investors who combine their knowledge with resources of outside investors to take large positions. They operate in markets where fundamentals are difficult to ascertain and correct hedging strategies are hard to implement, such as the currency and derivative markets. The fundamental feature of such arbitrage is that brains and resources are separated by an agency relationship. the money comes from wealthy individuals, banks, endowments, and other investors with only a limited knowledge of individual markets, and is invested by arbitrageurs...

Posted by DeLong at 03:49 PM

Notes: Risk Aversion

Teaching Notes for Econ 236: April 9: What do different risk aversion parameters imply about gambles? Kocherlakota (1995) [Narayana R Kocherlakota (1995), "The Equity Premium: It’s Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, 1996-1, pp. 42-72.] reports that the raw "equity premium puzzle" implies a coefficient of relative risk aversion of 18... (and then there is the risk-free rate puzzle: at a crra of 18, you need a raw time preference factor of -8% per year to fit average per-capita consumption growth to the average real risk-free rate of interest. What does such a high risk aversion parameter mean? Well... ...At a coefficient of relative risk aversion of 1... you are indifferent between a this year's consumption level of $30,000 for certain and a 58% chance of $40,000 coupled with a 42% chance of $20,000. ...At a coefficient of relative risk aversion of 5... you are indifferent between a this year's consumption level of $30,000 for certain and a 86% chance of $40,000 coupled with a 14% chance of $20,000. ...At a coefficient of relative risk aversion of 10... you are indifferent between a this year's consumption level of $30,000 for certain and a 97.6% chance of $40,000 coupled with...

Posted by DeLong at 03:44 PM

April 07, 2003
A Koan for the Academic Proletariat

The Invisible Adjunct asks the question, "what is a visiting assistant professor?" The answer is, "it depends." Sometimes a visiting assistant professor is a visiting assistant professor--that is, a tenure-track assistant professor at one school who is taking a year to visit and teach at another. And sometimes a visiting assistant professor is a visiting assistant professor--that is, a temporary, non-tenure track, low-status employee added to the faculty to fill some of the great holes in the teaching line....

Posted by DeLong at 12:20 PM

March 04, 2003
Lingua Franca

The Economist writes about the rise of English as the world's Lingua Franca. It is not clear to me that this rise is unstoppable. A century ago, I think, one would have bet that French had a lock as the language of culture and diplomacy, and that German had a lock as the language of science, technology, and scholarship. Perhaps Mandarin will be the world's lingua franca two centuries from now. But probably not: probably it is English. The European Union's formation and expansion is giving English a powerful leg up. In the end, however, it may well turn out to be the fact that India's educated elite speaks English that will be truly decisive......

Posted by DeLong at 02:14 PM

February 26, 2003
Swords Don't Kill People! Novels Kill People! Department

Mark Kleiman, a professor supported in high style by the hard-working taxpayers of Orange County, has been reading the kind of violent-youth-subculture glorifying novel that right-thinking people like William Bennett and Lynne Cheney see as a large part of the permissive-decadent destructive culture imposed on us by a liberal elite that is responsible for so many of the ills of America today. Shame on him! Shame! Shame! Mark A. R. Kleiman: Just finished reading (re-reading, actually) a book about a young man who starts out in life with almost no money, no job or job-relevant education, a deadly weapon, and a determination that anyone who fails to treat him with what he considers proper respect will pay for it in blood. Eager to achieve membership in one of the two gangs of armed thugs who between them terrorize the peaceful citizens of a great city, he challenges three of its respected members to fight to the death. When their affray is interrupted by members of the rival gang, he joins with the three he was about to fight, and together they kill one of their assailants and leave three others seriously wounded. That makes the four of them inseparable...

Posted by DeLong at 07:53 PM

February 25, 2003
Bill Dickens and James Flynn on Heredity, Environment, and IQ

Nathan Newman points me to an online version of Bill Dickens's and James Flynn's theory that attempts to explain all of the puzzling facts about heredity, environment, and measured test-score IQ. The theory is plausible. It is coherent. It is powerful and sensible. And it is politically correct as well: Heritability Estimates vs. Large Environmental Effects: The IQ Paradox Resolved: How could solid evidence show both that environment was so feeble (kinship studies) and yet so potent (IQ gains over time)? Dickens has proposed a model that we believe solves the paradox. It assumes that people who have an advantage for a particular trait will become matched with superior environments for that trait; and that genes can derive a great advantage from this because genetic differences are persistent. A genetic advantage remains with you throughout life, while environmental differences tend to come and go, unless sustained by the steady pressure of genes. Take those born with genes that make them a bit taller and quicker than average. When they start school, they are likely to be a bit better at basketball. The advantage may be modest but then reciprocal causation between the talent advantage and environment kicks in. Because you...

Posted by DeLong at 03:30 PM

February 14, 2003
Notes: Macro Field Course: February 12, 2003

Economics 236: February 12 Post-Class Notes On February 12 I taught Andrei Shleifer's "Implementation Cycles" (Journal of Political Economy, 1986) paper to my advanced macroeconomics Ph.D. students class. Once again, just has happened the week before, I didn't get through the paper. I had thought it would be easy--that I would finish with plenty of time to sketch extensions and qualifications. After all, the class does run from 12 to 2. However, that was not enough time. My recurrent problem is that I spend so much time in asides on the modeling strategy--"this term is in this definition because twenty minutes from now it will cancel that when we take a derivative to establish the first-order condition", "note that even though we have started with a rather general and flexible setup in which firms have a number of different decisions to make, the setup has been carefully designed so that when push comes to shove there is only one economically interesting and non-obvious decision a firm ever has to make", "note that if this condition is not satisfied, then the consumer's utility is infinite and it is not clear in what sense we can say that the model even has...

Posted by DeLong at 04:48 PM

A Faculty Lunch Somewhere in Academe...

Professor #1: "I'm proud to announce that my conference has sold out." Professor #2: "In that case, I'm putting my registration up for auction on eBay tomorrow morning." Someone: "Do we have a nanotechnology program here on this campus?" Research Director: "Of course we have a..." Professor #3: "It's just very small, and hard to find." Somebody Else: "We were investigating joining the campus wireless network, but they wanted to charge the department $40,000 up front." Someone: "My God! So what are you doing?" Somebody Else: "We bought four wireless access points for $500 total, and plugged them into our own network." Professor #4: "We have five assistant professor offers that we've voted, and none of them has cleared the administration." Professor #5: "And the grapevine is that Candidate X really wants to come here to teach--if, that is, his offer appears from the administration in finite time, of course." Still Someone Else: "And why do you need a UniversityNet ID to log onto the campus wireless network? This means that visitors for the day are completely out of luck. Why isn't wireless 802.11b dialtone as much a resource available to anybody walking onto the campus as sunlight or air?"...

Posted by DeLong at 04:42 PM

September 04, 2002
Messrs. Lorentz and FitzGerald

Uncertain Principles if you start to get close to light speed, you need Special Relativity to describe what really happens... *Sigh.* This is what happens when you read weblogs by real physicists--especially those who have been part of a team making Bose-Einstein condensates in their laboratory. (Kids! Don't try this at home!) My spreadsheet on the effects of product and income-side estimates of total output on our conception of the economic boom of the 1990s is now filled with Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction formulas... Consider a person standing on the surface of the earth, and consider an event--the birth of a child, say--at that exact same time (in his frame of reference) on the other side of the galaxy--100,000 light years, or 9 x 10^20 meters away. Now consider a second person walking past that first person at that exact same moment (when in the first person's reference frame the child is born), in the direction of the point 100,000 light years away. If you asked that second person whether the child on the other side of the galaxy had been born yet, and if so how old was she, you would get a different answer. According to my calculations, the...

Posted by DeLong at 05:04 PM

September 03, 2002
More From Civilization: Democracy Is Way Too Hard!

"Dad?" "Yes?" "Democracy is way too hard!" "Yeah! Democracy is way too hard!" It is the twelve-year-old and the nine-year-old, speaking in chorus from the back seat. "In democracy, when you move one military unit out of its home city two people become unhappy," says the nine-year-old. "And if you don't spend a complete and total fortune on entertainment and luxuries, your people riot," says twelve-year-old. "It's impossible to wage an aggressive campaign of conquest," says the nine-year-old. "They force you to make peace prematurely." "But aren't your people much more productive? Aren't people richer? isn't scientific progress faster? Isn't total production much, much higher?" I ask. "Yes. But what good is that if I want to conquer the world?" asks the nine-year-old. "Remember. Civilization is not just a war game. It's a peace game too. You can win by creating a great and peaceful civilization," I say. "Not if another civilization on earth happens to be led by Genghis Khan and possesses nuclear weapons," says the twelve-year-old. "You're looking at it from the wrong perspective," I say, changing the subject, hoping to distract my children from the moral question--unsuitable for Berkeley--of whether it is possible for a preemptive war...

Posted by DeLong at 06:15 PM

Really Scary

It's hard to know if this is a fair picture of what went on--and of how ignorant the typical large-corporation board member is. But if it is a fair picture, it's really scary. Back to School, but This One Is for Top Corporate Officials September 3, 2002 By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN HICAGO The class was not faring well. On its accounting exam the average score was 32 percent. The teacher was particularly exasperated that so many students had missed a multiple-choice question on the meaning of retained earnings. "Don't tell me that you're on the audit committee and can't tell me what retained earnings are," Roman L. Weil, an accounting professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, said to the class. These were no first-year M.B.A. students. They were top executives and board members of some of the nation's largest corporations, at a novel post- Enron boot camp. About 80 officers and directors from companies including Pfizer, McDonald's, Motorola and Dow Chemical sat through three days of lectures to understand how to do their jobs at a time when far more people are watching them....

Posted by DeLong at 01:54 PM

September 02, 2002
Science Labs

The Nine-Year-Old and I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday with a Science Kit Minilabs Electric Motor kit. It was harder to assemble than I had thought, largely due to the large size of my fingers coupled with an armature assembly that is only one inch in diameter. The Nine-Year-Old wandered off several times during the 150-fold wrapping of the wire around the armature assembly--a time-consuming and boring part of the assembly of the motor. But--and here's the remarkable thing--it worked, and worked well, the first time: the D-battery drove the (unloaded) motor at some 600 rpm. The Twelve-Year-Old was impressed. The Nine-Year-Old wondered why so much energy was being dissipated in vibration and noise, and couldn't this energy be trapped and used for something? I worry, periodically, about the kids and science. The things they deal with are--in so many ways--so far removed from basic scientific principles. You could build an AM crystal radio back when I was a kid. You can't build a DVD player. You could fix a car--change the spark plugs, look at the distributor cap, monkey with the carburetor--when I was a kid. You can't today. I thought it was really neat the first...

Posted by DeLong at 09:10 AM

August 29, 2002
European Economic History Reading Course: Fall 2002: Second Draft Syllabus

1. Basics September 12: Robert Bates and Avner Greif (1998), Analytical Narratives (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Massimo Livi-Bacci (2001), A Concise History of World Population (Oxford: Blackwell). September 19: Douglass North (1981), Structure and Change in Economic History (New York: Norton). Douglass North (1990), Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). Jack Goldstone (1987), "Cultural Orthodoxy, Risk, and Innovation: the Divergence of the East and West in the Early Modern World," Sociological Theory, 119-135. September 26 Jared Diamond (1999). Guns, Germs, and Steel (New York: W.W. Norton). 2. Europe Before the Industrial Revolution October 3: Carlo Cipolla (1980), Before the Industrial Revolution (New York: Norton). Philip Hoffman (1988), "Institutions and Agriculture in Old Regime France," Politics and Society, 16, 241-264. October 10: Jan de Vries and Ad van der Woude (1997), The First Modern Economy: Success, Failure, and Perseverance of the Dutch Economy, 1500-1815 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press). Jan De Vries, “The Industrious Revolution and the Industrious Revolution,” Journal of Economic History 54 (1994): 249-270 3. The European World Economy October 17: Kenneth Pomeranz (2000), The Great Divergence: Europe, China, and the Making of a Modern World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Richard Easterlin (1981),...

Posted by DeLong at 09:44 AM

August 21, 2002
Go To College!

If you're listening to this, are under 35, and haven't been to college: go to college. If you have children who are thinking of not going to college: convince them to go to college. Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz have called the twentieth century, "America's century of education." During that century the United States widened its lead over other industrial economies by creating the universal high school, and by developing a large and flexible system of colleges and universities. They believe that this educational expansion greatly increased the skills and adaptability of America's labor force throughout the twentieth century, and was a large part of the reason that America was and is richer and Americans more productive than people anywhere else in the world. But in the past few decades we've seen a slowdown in the growth of education in America. This slowdown has been accompanied by a sharp rise in the difference between the earnings of young workers who have and have not been to college. We economists are scratching our heads: since the--economic--benefits of going to college have become so large, why aren't more people going? One possibility is that people do not realize that the...

Posted by DeLong at 05:09 PM

August 15, 2002
I Am Envious Again

John Irons of Amherst has thought out what an economics website should be, has come up with an interesting design that works, and has successfully implemented it. I am envious... ArgMax.com - Economics News, Data, and Analysis...

Posted by DeLong at 09:38 AM

August 14, 2002
A Tale of Graduate School Burnout

Another one for the clipping file... A Tale of Graduate School Burnout A Tale of Graduate School Burnout...

Posted by DeLong at 09:49 PM

One of the Ultimate Questions...

The twelve-year-old just asked a series of three questions, the last of which was one of the Ultimate Questions: What is this ln - e^x button on my calculator? What is e=2.718281828... good for? If e is defined as the number for which the curve y=e^x has everywhere a slope equal to its y-axis value, why is e=2.718281828... ? Needless to say, I could not answer the third question. Fathers really don't know very much, do they?...

Posted by DeLong at 12:56 PM

July 08, 2002
Sustaining American Economic Growth: Education as the Highest Priority

The third of the four things that I had hoped to have finished by mid-May is finally put to bed--on July 9. *Sigh*. Nevertheless, I like it a lot: it is a chapter for a book to be edited by Henry Aaron, part of Brookings's Agenda for the Nation series. It's co-written with the brilliant and thoughtful team of Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz. We're supposed to talk about sustaining American economic growth. What do we say? A fast growing economy is a rich economy. A rich economy is one in which people have more options and better choices: the people can—through their individual private and collective public decisions—decide to consume more, lower tax rates, increase the scope of public education, take better care of the environment, strengthen national defense or accomplish any other goals they might choose. For an economist these are sufficient reasons to consider growth a good thing. Moreover, in America at least, slow economic growth appears to heighten political gridlock, and thus reduce the quality of political decisions. Although faster economic growth is a good thing, it is not the only good thing. The future benefits of more rapid economic growth come at a cost. Resources...

Posted by DeLong at 12:32 PM

November 10, 1999
How We Might Be Able to Do a Better Job of Teaching Macroeconomics

Macroeconomics Textbook Manifesto There is an apocryphal rule about new textbooks: they can only have 15% new material. A successful new textbook must be different enough from the old standards to give professors an incentive to switch, but must to similar enough to the old standards to keep the process of switching from requiring professors to throw away all their old lecture notes and completely redesign their courses. This is a neat trick. It makes intellectual progress--at least intellectual progress in undergraduate instruction--nearly impossible. Nevertheless, I believe that I can accomplish it. I think that I can greatly slim down "legacy" topics that are now included largely for intellectual-historical reasons (and that cause difficulty and confusion in teaching). I also think that I can make significant expositional improvements in several areas. Thus I think I can wind up with a shorter book that teaches students more material of interest and remains similar enough to past macroeconomics textbooks to be generally acceptable......

Posted by DeLong at 03:56 PM