January 12, 2004
Open Trials for Those Accused of Crimes Against Humanity

Let's give the microphone to Robert H. Jackson: Of one thing we may be sure. The future will never have to ask, with misgiving, what could the Nazis have said in their favor. History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say. They have been given the kind of a Trial which they, in the days of their pomp and power, never gave to any man. But fairness is not weakness. The extraordinary fairness of these hearings is an attribute of our strength. The Prosecution's case, at its close, seemed inherently unassailable because it rested so heavily on German documents of unquestioned authenticity. But it was the weeks upon weeks of pecking at this case, by one after another of the defendants, that has demonstrated its true strength. The fact is that the testimony of the defendants has removed any doubt of guilt which, because of the extraordinary nature and magnitude of these crimes, may have existed before they spoke. They have helped write their own judgment of condemnation....

Posted by DeLong at 11:58 PM

January 04, 2004
The Gibbon-o-Matic

The Gibbon-o-Matic: Gibbon-o-Matic!: In the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilised portion of mankind.* The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence: the Roman senate appeared to possess the sovereign authority, and devolved on the emperors all the executive powers of government. During a happy period (A.D. 98-180) of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this, and of the two succeeding chapters, to describe the prosperous condition of their empire; and afterwards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall; a revolution which will ever be remembered, and is still felt by the nations of the earth. *I think that at the time the Han people of the Central...

Posted by DeLong at 10:13 AM

December 27, 2003
Department of "Huh?"

Glenn Reynolds and Michael Novak demonstrate that they have never read (or do not remember) their Thucydides (or anything else about Classical Athens) when they claim that Athens's problem was that it was insufficiently aggressive and warlike. In Novak's words, "In a word, in order to survive and to prosper, democracies need to infuse a Spartan spirit into their Athenian thinking. To maintain the peace, prepare for war. A democracy too soft will soon perish." No no no no no no no. That was not Classical Athens's problem at all, not at all. Classical Athens's problem--according to our only effective source, Thucydides--was that it had aggressively built up and continued to expand an empire that both Sparta and Persia regarded as a threat, and then thrown away a large part of its strength on an attempt to conquer Sicily that added Syracuse to its list of enemies as well. There's lots to criticize in the Athens of Perikles, Nikias, and Alkibiades. But only true idiots think it "soft" in any sense....

Posted by DeLong at 04:09 PM

December 24, 2003
Notes: The Scarcity of Wage-Labor in Classical Athens

From G.E.M. de Ste. Croix (1981), The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press): ... the Socratic dialogues included in Xenophon's Memorabilia... demonstrate very nicely how small a role was played by wage-labour in classical Athens.... [T]he charming conversation between Socrates and the high-class call-girl Theodote.... Socrates... quizzes the girl about the source of her income... nice furniture... good-looking and well-set-up slave girls. "Tell me, Theodote," Socrates asks, "have you a farm?"... "No," she says. "Then have you a house that brings in rents?"... "No, not that either." "Then haven't you some craftsmen?"... When Theodote says that she has none of these, Socrates asks where she does get her money from, as if he had exhausted all possible alternatives.... The point of the story that particularly concerns us is the nature of the three questions that Socrates puts to Theodote. They suggest... that anyone at Athens [with leisure]... might be expected first to own a farm (which of course he would either work with slaves under an overseer or let outright); or secondly to own a house, which he would let either as a whole or in sections... or thirdly to have slave craftsmen... ...a conversation...

Posted by DeLong at 07:20 AM

December 23, 2003
Ancient Inventions

Teresa Nielsen Hayden directs us to the Smith College Museum of Ancient Inventions....

Posted by DeLong at 07:18 PM

The Invention of Tradition

(Sings:) Good King Wenceslas looked out, On the Feast of Stephen, When the snow lay round about, Deep and crisp and even; Brightly shone the moon that night, Tho' the frost was cruel, When a poor man came in sight, Gath'ring winter fuel. "Hither, page, and stand by me, If thou know'st it, telling, Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?" "Sire, he lives a good league hence, Underneath the mountain; Right against the forest fence, By Saint Agnes' fountain." "Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, Bring me pine logs hither: Thou and I will see him dine, When we bear them thither." Page and monarch, forth they went, Forth they went together; Thro' the rude wind's wild lament And the bitter weather. "Sire, the night is darker now, And the wind blows stronger; Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer." "Mark my footsteps, good my page; Tread thou in them boldly: Thou shalt find the winter's rage Freeze thy blood less coldly." In his master's steps he trod, Where the snow lay dinted; Heat was in the very sod Which the saint had printed. Therefore, Christian men, be sure, Wealth...

Posted by DeLong at 07:16 PM

Notes: Life as a Hunter Gatherer

Andrew Flood writes: Child mortality rates for modern hunter gatherers http://harpend.dsl.xmission.com/pennington/humannature/lectures.fall.2003/hgdemo_nofigs.pdf Hazda, Kung life expectancy and cause of death http://www.anthro.utah.edu/PDFs/Papers/NBJ2002.pdf Causes of death in pre-Columbian America http://www.hist.umn.edu/~rmccaa/laphb/27fall97/laphb27a.htm The book Guns, Germs, and Steel has some quite useful material on HG populations in Poynesia (where the geography meant thousands of micro experiments and Australasia)....

Posted by DeLong at 09:22 AM

December 17, 2003
Chris Bertram Reads About the Potato Famine

Chris Bertram is reading Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom, and has come to the part about the 1840s Potato Famine in Ireland: Crooked Timber: Famine in Ireland : I’ve just reached Amartya Sen’s chapter “Famines and Other Crises” in Development as Freedom . He has some discussion of the great famines that depopulated Ireland from 1845 onwards. The potato blight had destroyed the crop but the Irish peasantry lacked the resources to buy alternative foodstuffs which continued to be exported: ship after ship — laden with wheat, oats, cattle, pigs, eggs and butter — sailed down the Shannon bound for well-fed England from famine-stricken Ireland. (p.172) Sen argues that cultural alienation (or even hostility) meant that very little help was provided by the government of the United Kingdom to alleviate to destitution and starvation of the Irish through the period of the famine. (p. 173) Interesting, because Natalie Solent , who has been writing about famines recently links to an essay in the National Review Online by the awful John Derbyshire on the subject. Derbyshire asks why the British government did not organize adequate relief, or prevent the export of foodstuffs from Ireland while Irish people were starving. and answers...

Posted by DeLong at 07:36 PM

December 09, 2003
Die Karajitische Ethik und der 'Geist' des Kapitalismus

Marcus Noland has a paper arguing that in the modern world Islam is not a barrier or a hindrance to economic growth. Tyler Cowen disagrees, arguing that: To the extent that Islam has negative effects, it operates through indirect mechanisms. Islamic countries have a difficult time establishing democracy and rule of law and good economic policy. True, if you include enough proxy variables in the regression -- such as good policy -- the influence of Islam will wash out. Islam is an indirect cause of some problems, not the direct cause, and the direct causes may well have more statistical significance. But the point remains that Islam can influence the variables that matter. The study uses intra-national comparisons as well. Muslims in the United States have done quite well.... But again this is missing the point. The fact that Islamic individuals can do well, when embedded in some other economic and legal order, does not mean that Islamic countries can sustain such institutions. In fact I think that Islamic philosophy and theology make it harder to have a liberal legal order. I haven't covered all the relevant evidence, such as the greater wealth of Islam in medieval times... And...

Posted by DeLong at 09:58 AM

November 29, 2003
Remedial Thanksgiving Work

The Thirteen-Year-Old's American history teacher has announced that the class is going to skip straight from the causes of the American Revolution to the Constitution, skipping the entire Revolutionary War. So we are going to do some remedial work: reading the collected works of Richard Ketchum (Decisive Day, Saratoga, and Winter Soldiers) and watching The Patriot, the Last of the Mohicans, and a three-tape documentary. Question: why is The Patriot so long? Would anything have been lost if it were a 90 minute movie rather than a 145 minute movie?...

Posted by DeLong at 01:16 PM

November 22, 2003
Turkey Trots to Water...

The Thirteen-Year-Old is reading Eagle Against the Sun--the part about the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Admiral Nimitz to Admiral Halsey: TURKEY TROTS TO WATER GG WHERE IS RPT WHERE IS TASK FORCE 34 THE WORLD WONDERS The Japanese plan should have worked--given how bull-headed Admiral Halsey was--save for the fact that Admiral Kurita had "a disturbing tendency to always doubt the success of any mission he had been assigned... timidity, indecisiveness, and irresolution," and for Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague's willingness to attack the Japanese main force with seven destroyers and six small escort carriers: CITATION: The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to TASK UNIT SEVENTY-SEVEN POINT FOUR POINT THREE, consisting of the U.S.S. FANSHAW BAY and VC-88; U.S.S. GAMBIER BAY and VC-10; U.S.S. KALININ BAY and VC-3; U.S.S. KITKUN BAY and VC-5; U.S.S. SAINT LO and VC-65; U.S.S. WHITE PLAINS and VC-4; U.S.S. HOEL, U.S.S. JOHNSTON, U.S.S. HEERMANN, U.S.S. SAMUEL B. ROBERTS, U.S.S. RAYMOND, U.S.S. DENNIS and U.S.S. JOHN C. BUTLER for service as set forth in the following CITATION "For extraordinary heroism in action against powerful units of the Japanese Fleet during the Battle off Samar, Philippines, October 25, 1944. Silhouetted...

Posted by DeLong at 04:54 PM

November 18, 2003
Creeped Out

Is it just me, or do you too get creeped out by people who write? Loss and Occupation: In fact, of course, the American South knows what it's like to lose a war, and to be occupied... First of all, in lots of the South--Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, Western Virginia, Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee (where the author of the above lives)--the overwhelming bulk of the population stayed loyal to the union. And there were substantial unionist minorities elsewhere. For them, the experience of the Civil War was not one of loss and occupation... But leave unionist states, regions, and minorities aside. There were 9 million inhabitants of the Confederacy. 3.5 million of them were slaves. For at least 39% of the inhabitants of the Confederacy, the experience of the Civil War was not one of defeat and occupation, but one of victory, (however imperfect) liberation, and deliverance. Why don't they count? Why aren't African-Americans part of "the South"?...

Posted by DeLong at 09:52 PM

Department of "Huh?"

Glenn Reynolds writes: Instapundit.com: MY OFFICE IS A BATTLEFIELD. No, that's not a metaphor for the state of my desk (er, well, actually it is a metaphor for the state of my desk, but that's not what I mean). The Law School is in the Fort Sanders neighborhood, so called because it's the site of Fort Sanders, whose siege played the decisive role in the Siege of Knoxville during the Civil War, opening the path for Sherman's march to the sea. There were cannon, trenches, telegraph wire (substituting for barbed wire, which hadn't quite been invented), and snipers, one of whom played an important role... And I say, "Huh?" At the end of 1863--the time of the Confederate attack on Ambrose Burnside's army entrenched in Knoxville, TN--three union armies commanded by William T. Sherman, Joseph Hooker, and George Thomas (with Ulysses S. Grant there to direct all three) were in Chattanooga, more than 100 miles to the southwest. The road from Chattanooga to Atlanta to Savannah and the sea does not run through Knoxville. It does not run within 100 miles of Knoxville. Confederate success at capturing Knoxville would not have hindered Grant's and Sherman's plans and campaigns in the...

Posted by DeLong at 09:25 PM

November 15, 2003
One Hundred Interesting Mathematical Calculations: Number 16: How Rich Is Fitzwilliam Darcy?

The mother of the bride-to-be says: Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Chapter XVII of Volume III (Chap. 59): Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! dear me! Mr. Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really true? Oh! my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and how great you will be! What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages you will have! Jane's is nothing to it -- nothing at all. I am so pleased -- so happy. Such a charming man! -- so handsome! so tall! -- Oh, my dear Lizzy! pray apologise for my having disliked him so much before. I hope he will overlook it. Dear, dear Lizzy. A house in town! Every thing that is charming! Three daughters married! Ten thousand a year! Oh, Lord! What will become of me. I shall go distracted.... My dearest child.... I can think of nothing else! Ten thousand a year, and very likely more! 'Tis as good as a Lord! And a special licence. You must and shall be married by a special licence. But my dearest love, tell me what dish Mr. Darcy is particularly fond of, that I may have it tomorrow. So how rich is Fitzwilliam Darcy, anyway?...

Posted by DeLong at 04:02 PM

November 14, 2003
Notes: Richard Pipes on Ronald Reagan

Timothy Noah tells us what Reagan advisor and Russia hawk Richard Pipes thought of Ronald Reagan: Saint Ronald, Part 2 - Richard Pipes' new memoir adds ballast to CBS's miniseries. By Timothy Noah: "Reagan," Pipes writes, "was a poor judge of people; he basically liked everyone, which was part of his charm but also a source of weakness, for a politician must be able to distinguish friend from foe. … Reagan was remote: even his children complained they could never get close to him. His amiability served as a shield that protected him from more intimate relationships. He drew on his inexhaustible reservoir of anecdotes to avoid serious conversation. "Unquestionably, Reagan's political and economic ideas were in some respects simplistic: I once heard him say that one million Sears Roebuck catalogues distributed in the Soviet Union would bring the regime down." Pipes quotes some notes from his diary about his first NSC meeting in Oct. 1981: "RR totally lost, out of his depth, uncomfortable. After making some commonsensical remarks did not speak for forty-five minutes or so; when he finally spoke up it was to sigh "Oh boy"--meaning "what am I to make of this mess?". He did not listen...

Posted by DeLong at 11:54 AM

November 12, 2003
The Pre-Civil War Standard of Living

What was going on before the Civil War with respect to the American standard of living? "Development, Health, Nutrition, and Mortality: The Case of the 'Antebellum Puzzle' in the United States" by Michael R. Haines, Lee A. Craig, Thomas Weiss (NBER Working Paper No. h0130, Issued in). Abstract: The 'Antebellum Puzzle' describes the situation of declining stature and rising mortality in the three decades prior to the American Civil War (1861-65). It is labeled a puzzle, since this period was one of rapid economic growth and development in the United States. Much of the debate regarding this puzzle has centered on whether the American diet, both in terms of protein and caloric intake in the mid-nineteenth century. But the mortality environment also appears to have worsened (or at least failed to improve), a situation associated with rapid urbanization, commercialization, transport improvement, and increased geographic mobility. The disease environment was being nationalized and internationalized. This paper analyzes the relationship between local agricultural surpluses, nutritional status, mortality conditions, and adult heights. Employing a sample of the muster records of Union Army recruits (1861-65) as well as data from the published population and agricultural censuses of 1840 and mortality data from the 1850...

Posted by DeLong at 05:01 PM

November 11, 2003
Veterans' Day

Veterans' Day: Picture from Invisible Adjunct. "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced."...

Posted by DeLong at 05:48 PM

November 05, 2003
Notes: Long-Run Living Standards

Something to add to the to-read pile: Joerg Baten and Nikola Koepke (2003), "The Biological Standard of Living in Europe During the Last Two Millennia" (Tuebingen economics dept. working paper series no. 265). Abstract: This paper offers the first anthropometric estimates on the biological standard of living in central Europe in the first millennium, and expands the literature on the second millenium. The overall picture is one of stagnant heights. There was not much progress in European nutritional status, not even between 1000 and 1800, when recent GDP per capita estimates arrive at growing figures. We find that heights stagnated during the Roman imperial period in Central, Western and Southern Europe. One astonishing result is the height increase in the fifth and sixth centuries. Noteworthy is the synchronicity of the height development in three large regions of Europe. In a regression analysis of height determinants, population density was clearly economically (but not statistically) significant. Decreasing marginal product theories and Malthusian thought cannot be denied for the pre-1800 period. Of marginal significance were climate (warmer temperatures were good for nutritional status!), social inequality, and gender inequality (both reduce average height)....

Posted by DeLong at 03:50 PM

October 27, 2003
Origins of the Industrial Revolution

Carol Shiue from U. Texas came through today to challenge the current orthodoxy that good institutions --> security of property rights --> expanded trade --> industrial revolution in northwest Europe. Her point? China's internal trade and market functioning in the eighteenth century look as secure and as well-functioning as northwest Europe's. Security of property, market-supporting institutions, and an efficiency-functioning and marketized commercial economy may well be necessary prerequisites for an industrial revolution, but they aren't sufficient. Carol Shiue and Wolfgang Keller (2003), "Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution" (Austin: U. Texas). Abstract: Does trade cause growth? How about the Industrial Revolution itself? A widely-held view is that the more efficient markets in Europe provided an important reason for why the Industrial Revolution began its spread in the late eighteen century from Europe and not from China. Many reasons have been proposed for this supposed market efficiency gap: geography, culture, nationality, population, institutions, and historical "accidents" like the conquest of the Americas. In this paper we compare the actual efficiency of markets by examining data on the spatial dispersion of grain prices from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century. This analysis is made possible...

Posted by DeLong at 05:03 PM

October 24, 2003
Help!

The Ten-Year-Old is rereading Pride and Prejudice, and is asking questions that neither Ann Marie nor I can answer about entails, specifically, about how Longbourne is so entailed that it must be inherited by the odious and obsequious Mr. Collins. Me, I'm wondering why Mr. Collins is behaving like such an obsequious toady to Lady Catherine de Burgh. Mr. Collins does have great expectations now that Mrs. Bennett is ten years into menopause, and surely somebody in London would be willing to lend him money until his happy day comes... UPDATE: Thanks to DanlWebster, the answer to the Collins/Bennett conundrum: pemberley.com: Mr. Collins is not the son of a deceased sister of Mr. Bennet. Not only is it said at the beginning of Chapter 7 that "Mr. Bennet's property... unfortunately for his daughters, was entailed, in default of heirs male, on a distant relation", but also the standard type of entail by male primogeniture doesn't indiscriminately favor males over females -- rather, it favors males who can trace a male-only line of descent from a past owner over all other descendants, both males and females. Therefore inheritance by or through females only happens after all the sons, and sons of...

Posted by DeLong at 08:15 PM

October 23, 2003
The Thirteen-Year-Old Is Reading About the War of 1812

"The ocean-going American navy at the start of the War of 1812 consisted of six fourth-rate ships." "That's harsh. Why say such nasty things about the navy of your country?" "They're true." "But I thought the American super-frigates--the Constitution, the Constellation, and so forth--were very good ships." "Ah. The original meaning of "rate" doesn't mean whether it's good or bad--its a British navy classification of its size. We would call a brand-new fully-equipped 74-gun British Napoleonic War navy vessel with a crack crew and full stores a first-rate ship, wouldn't we?" "Yes, Socrates, we would." "But no matter how good the crew and how well-caulked the ship, it would be a third-rate ship." "Are you saying that Horatio Nelson won the Battle of the Nile with a fleet consisting of entirely third-rate ships?" "Well, he did have one second-rate ship along." "So how big did a ship have to be to be first-rate?" "At least 100 cannon on three different decks." Royal Navy: The largest vessels were First Rates with three decks and 100 guns of which HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, is the best known example. Second Rates also had three decks and between 90-98 guns. The...

Posted by DeLong at 02:02 PM

October 17, 2003
Notes: The Escalator to Modernity

I always thought that this was very very nicely put: Lawrence Summers, "Foreign Aid: Why Do It? And What Works?" October 17, 1994 When the history of the final twenty years of the twentieth century is written, there will be two big stories: the end of the cold war and the transformation of the developing nations. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that this is the era when 3 billion people got on a rapid escalator to modernity. Our discussion of foreign aid should start with the recognition that what is happening in the world's emerging markets is probably more important for U.S. interests than it has been at any time in the past fifty years. The maintenance of and support for stable prosperity in those parts of the world where progress is under way is central to the American purpose in the world. Here are five observations on the process of foreign assistance and the promotion of those objectives. First, to have important effects, policy needs to be leveraged. Even the Marshall Plan financed less than 5 percent of the investment that took place in Western Europe during the late 1940s. Achieving maximum leverage today means transferring...

Posted by DeLong at 05:28 PM

Eliot Abrams Identifies Himself with Joe McCarthy

Eliot Abrams of the National Security Council staff may (or may not: I cannot assess the probabilities) be one of the White House aides who betrayed the covert identity of Joe Wilson's wife, and thus joined the ranks of those whom George H.W. Bush would call "insidious traitors." At least, Abrams has been fingered by various Washington journalists who hang from the gossip vine (and who may or may not know anything at all). It is in this context, I find it interesting that in an article he wrote for National Review back in 1986 Eliott Abrams not only defended but--in a sense--identified himself with Joe McCarthy: Here's something I wrote on this several years ago: Eliott Abrams, "McCarthyism Reconsidered," National Review February 26, 1996, pp. 57-60. [A review of the reissue of William McCarthy and L. Brent Bozell, McCarthy and His Enemies (Regnery).] To read Eliott Abrams's review of Buckley and Bozell's McCarthy and His Enemies is to enter a strange and inverted world. One learns that the issue at stake in the fight over Senator Joe McCarthy was not whether General of the Army, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense George Marshall was a Maoist traitor, or...

Posted by DeLong at 04:55 PM

October 15, 2003
The Manaus Opera House

Deep in the Brazilian Amazon is Manaus, and inside Manaus is the Manaus Opera House: The Amazon Theater is one of the most important monuments left by the exhilarating rubber boom period. It was preserved as a national partimony in 1965, and will celebrate its centenary in 1996, in perfect condition after a thorough renovation that left it in its original colors and details. The architecture is eclectic and neo-classic with material and artists brought in from Europe. On the outside of the building, the dome is covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles painted in the colors of the national flag. In the shape of a harp, the central nave can seat 640 in the auditorium and the 3 floors with box seats. Toward the back, the stage curtain projects the painting "Meeting of the Waters"; originally done in Paris by Crispim do Amaral. This curtain rises vertically so as not to damage the painting. On the ceiling are painted scenes depicting music, dance, drama, and a homage to Carlos Gomes. The central gold chandelier descends to the level of the seats for cleaning purposes and changing light bulbs. Above this chandelier, in the middle of the roof, there is...

Posted by DeLong at 09:27 PM

The "Embedded" Economy Thesis

Something I wrote back in 1997: worth dredging up... I have been following the discussion of Karl Polanyi, and I have been worried because it seems to me that of readers are missing the point. I think that Polanyi does have an interesting argument. But it is being hidden from many because of his terminology. The underlying point is that it used to be the case--painting with a very broad brush--that what happened in economic transactions was in large part determined and guided by sociological and political relationships, but that now--again painting with a very broad brush--the principal direction of influence it is reversed: politics and sociology are more shaped by economic factors than they in turn manage to shape what happens in economic transactions. In Polanyi's vocabulary, this is a transformation from an "embedded" to a "market" economy. And many readers do not hear Polanyi's point because their first reaction is: "We have had markets since time out of mind: what was the agora of Periclean Athens?" I'm not sure how true Polanyi's point really is. But I do think it is worth thinking about. What does Polanyi mean by a claim that a market is "embedded" in a...

Posted by DeLong at 02:50 PM

October 13, 2003
Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty...

Today's Letters and Science Faculty Forum was about sculpture in the city of Aphrodisias, capital of late-Roman Imperial Caria, in southwestern Anatolia. Located next door to a marble quarry in one of the most heavily-populated regions of the Roman Empire, the ruins of Aphrodisias are filled with marble statues from apprentices' attempts to carve feet to cult images of gods to the statues of the family that funded the building of Aphrodisias's Council Hall. Because the marble was so nearby and so cheap, sculptors could get lots of practice and become genuinely great. Works by sculptors from the Aphrodisian school are found around the Roman Empire--in Hadrian's villa at Tivoli, for example. But sometime in the seventh century people stopped quarrying the marble of Aphrodisias, stopped carving the marble into statues, and stopped living in the city itself. Although Caria is about as far as you can get from the Rhine and the Danube across which the Goths and the Huns came, and about as far as you can get from the upper Euphrates across which the Sassanids and the Arabs came, it is still the case that "the barbarians will find you." Global weather disturbances causing famines. Plagues. Barbarian...

Posted by DeLong at 03:47 PM

October 07, 2003
Citation Help Needed: Leon Trotsky

Somewhere in the back of my brain is the unshakeable certainty that Comrade Lev Davidovich Bronstein was wont to say, to people who refused to read their Capital sufficiently seriously, "You may not be interested in the dialectic, but the dialectic is interested in you." Now comes Lawrence Kaplan--the finest neoconservative writer on national and global security affairs in America today--with a question: "I've been attempting to track [this] down for weeks.... You are the only source listed by google, which leads me to suspect that the actual quote is a bit more elaborate. Any clues about the source--was it Trotsky?--or the exact quote?" A little googling tells me that the overwhelming opinion of 650 other people on the internet is that the quote is, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." I'm outvoted 650 to 1, and should retire from the field. Jim Henley reminds me that "Alan Furst used the Trotsky quote, 'You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you,' as the epigraph to his very fine Night Soldiers," which is a very fine World War II-era espionage novel (but not as fine as Furst's Dark Star,...

Posted by DeLong at 04:17 PM

September 24, 2003
Birth of the Nation

I never know what to do with sociologists who claim that "nationalism" is a product of "modernity": who postpone the birth and growth of western European "nationality" to the age of the democratic revolutions, and say that beforehand "nationalism" was a sentiment held by at best a small elite. Yes, "nationality" does grow a lot stronger as the nineteenth century rolls forward. But France in 1795 was hardly "modern" and yet the levee en masse was a very impressive example of "nationalist" mobilization. Elizabeth I Tudor, Queen of England--and perhaps the most skilled politician of the late sixteenth century--is pushing the "nationality" button as hard as she can when she rides to inspect her army at Tilbury. Her subject William Shakespeare pushed the "nationality" button hard too. And none of these uses of nationalism were confined to a narrow elite, but rather were aimed at casual playgoers, common soldiers, and the military-age manpower of all of France. Three centuries earlier, it is no accident that the students at the Sorbonne or at Bologna are divided, for administrative and social purposes, into remarkably modern-looking ethno-linguistic nations. Perhaps most interesting of all, consider the attempts to construct durable states--empires--back before the early...

Posted by DeLong at 07:38 PM

September 23, 2003
But I Get Seasick!

Don Alonso de Guzman el Bueno, Duque de Medina Sidonia, writing to his King Felipe II "the Prudent" Habsburg upon learning that King Felipe has appointed him to command the Invincible Spanish Armada: My health is not equal to such a voyage, for I know by experience of the little I have been at sea that I am always seasick and always catch cold. My family is burdened with a debt of nine hundred thousand ducats, and I could not spend a real in the king's service. Since I have had no experience either of the sea, or of war, I cannot feel that I ought to command so important an enterprise. I know nothing of what the [former commander the late] marquis of Santa Cruz has been doing, or of what intelligence he has of England, so that I feel I should give but a bad account of myself, commanding thus blindly, and being obliged to rely on the advice of others, without knowing good from bad, or which of my advisers might want to deceive or displace me. The Adelantado Mayor of Castile is much finer for this post than I. He is a man of much experience...

Posted by DeLong at 06:55 AM

September 22, 2003
The Asian Century

Martin Wolf looks forward to the Asian Century: FT.com Home US: Asia's rise is the economic event of our age. Should it proceed as it has over the last few decades, it will bring the two centuries of global domination by Europe and, subsequently, its giant North American offshoot to an end. Japan was but the harbinger of an Asian future. The country has proved too small and inward-looking to transform the world. What follows it - China, above all - will prove neither......

Posted by DeLong at 09:09 AM

September 20, 2003
The Tasks of Economic Historians

And what you say at the Economic History Association annual meeting when you cannot resist making the session you chair overrun its time slot even more: The Tasks of Economic Historians: Let me further abuse my position as chair, momentarily substitute a little planning for the ongoing decentralized agoric process, and make a point that Gail [Triner] hinted at but that I hoped would be and think needs to be made much more strongly: The missing key, it seems to me, is an appropriately textured and useful theory of "government success" as well as "government failure": in Northwest Europe and in East Asia, heavy-handed governments interested in resource allocation, national champions, and neomercantilist industrial policies--such governments managed to orchestrate or conduct or to feebly wave their batons while the musicians did what they would have done anyway--and the result was for two generations astonishingly rapid growth and extremely prosperous, relatively egalitarian societies. Elsewhere--well, restrictions on imports to boost your terms of trade and ensure that scarce export earnings are spent on capital goods that serve as the carriers of technological knowledge turn out, in practice, to enrich the nephew-in-law of the Vice-Minister of Finance. Protected home markets to provide a...

Posted by DeLong at 10:59 PM

September 10, 2003
AAUUGGHH! I Want My Nanotechnology Now!

Well, not nanotechnology but microtechnology. I want to find my copy of Donald Kagan's The Archidamnian War so I can sound smart in a long-distance email conversation I am having with my brother. I want to quote the part where Donald Kagan says that Thucydides is completely, completely wrong in his overall assessment of the causes of the Peloponnesian War. If my entire sources on the Peloponnesian War consisted of (a) Thucydides, (b) dubious material from the historical moralist Plutarch, and (c) other scraps of evidence, I would be extremely, extremely wary of contradicting Thucydides on anything. Thucydides was a very smart guy. Thucydides saw and learned lots of stuff that he did not put down in his book. To argue--as Kagan does--that Thucydides's evidence as presented in the book is not strong enough to support his conclusions is not to argue that Thucydides's conclusions are incorrect. Yet Kagan is bold, bold in his declarations that they are. As Chris says: ...the knowledge is so damn spotty that there is a sense in which Kagan's work can be nothing other than a thin gloss on Thucydides. I wonder how much our view of Ancient Greece would be different had the...

Posted by DeLong at 02:55 PM

September 08, 2003
Whittaker Chambers on Khrushchev's 1956 Denunciation of Stalin

One of the great analytical howlers of the twentieth century: Whittaker Chambers sees Khrushchev's decision to denounce Stalin as a move aimed at undermining the morale and will of the West, and at making Communism a more dangerous and ruthless beast. The possibility of the Primacy of Internal Politics--that Khrushchev was more concerned about Russia, Russia's political system, and his own guilt about the 1930s and 1940s and his personal responsibility to try to foreclose the possibility of it ever happening again than about gaining a slight advantage in the Cold War--never enters Chambers's mind: From Whittaker Chambers (1989), Ghosts on the Roof (Washington: Regnery Gateway: 0895267659), p. 287-90. Reprinted from Life, April 30, 1956. What the new Communist strategy envisages is the mounting, on a world scale, of a vast "partisans of peace" movement. Its formations will be the popular front... [but it will go] far beyond popular fronts, which however manipulable [by the Communists], have manifest limits.... [A]ll that is necessary to change the weather is for the Communist blizzard to stop freezing men's hopes.... [T]he tactical problem for Communism... [is] that of the wind and sun... competing to make a man take off his overcoat. To make...

Posted by DeLong at 08:28 PM

August 21, 2003
Milja van Tielhof, The 'Mother of All Trades': The Baltic Grain Trade in Amsterdam

Another book that I need to add to the pile. But how many $143 sub-400 page books will I be able to persuade Berkeley's libraries to buy over the next decade? Surely not very many. I won't even be able to muster the support of Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Jan de Vries--he has no need for Englished versions of recent research in Nederlandisch archives. Clearly we are approaching the end of scholarly academic book publishing as we know it, and the publishers are deciding that it is time to grab for as much money as they can from their captive academic library customers even at the price of eroding their relationships with the libraries. It's going to be interesting to watch what happens next. Milja van Tielhof, _The 'Mother of All Trades': The Baltic Grain Trade in Amsterdam from the Late Sixteenth to the Early Nineteenth Century_. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002. xviii + 370 pp. EUR114 or US$143 (cloth), ISBN: 90-04-12546-9. Reviewed for EH.NET by Regina Grafe, Department of Economic History, London School of Economics. Milja van Tielhof's book _The 'Mother of All Trades': The Baltic Grain Trade in Amsterdam from the Late 16th to the Early 19th...

Posted by DeLong at 05:30 PM

August 20, 2003
The Electricity Revolution

A very nice little snippet on a past industrial revolution--but what's it doing in a "neurotechnology" weblog? :-) Brain Waves: Neurotechnology on Corante: After almost a century of research into the nature electricity, the 1870s would be the decade when the cluster of innovations that made the new electricity infrastructure emerged -- alternators, dynamos, generators, transformers, switch gear, and power distribution systems. As broad implementation plans were being planned in the 1870s, smaller scale electrification projects began to slowly revolutionize industry after industry.  Low cost, high quality steel was one of the first products cheap electricity made possible.  Radical process innovations such as Bessemer and Siemens steel processes used inexpensive electricity to manufacture low cost steel on a mass scale.  Steel and electricity changed society, reshaping how humans lived in close urban quarters.  Until the 1880s few buildings were ever built more than five stories tall, but with the emergence of abundant and strong steel, skyscrapers were born.  In 1883 the first building to employ steel skeleton construction was Home Insurance Building in Chicago, reaching an amazing 25 stories. The subsequent erection in Chicago of a number of similar buildings made it the center of the early skyscraper architecture. By 1913, New York began to edge...

Posted by DeLong at 12:29 PM

The Eating of Shellfish

Kevin Drum asks why modern-day Christians do not fear the wrath of The One Who Is whenever they commit the abomination of eating shellfish: CalPundit: Traditional Marriage: POSTSCRIPT: On a serious note, Alex's post reminds me of a theological question I'm curious about. Anyone who actually knows anything about Christian theology should feel free to jump in. Here's the question: what part of the Bible — in the New Testament, I assume — removes the obligation of Christians to obey the million and one rules in Leviticus and elsewhere? You know, the dietary stuff, the sexual restrictions, etc. etc. And have all the Old Testament rules been superseded by the New Testament, or only some of them? What's the deal? There are two sources for what went on. The first is the account of the man formerly known as Saul of Tarsus: St Paul writes in the second chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus.... I laid before [the Jerusalem church] the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but [I did so] privately before those [of the Jerusalem church] who were...

Posted by DeLong at 07:30 AM

August 17, 2003
Petra Moser on Nineteenth-Century Innovation

Ah. This is good. The core of Petra Moser's Berkeley economic history Ph.D. dissertation reaches working paper stage. It is a wonderful, wonderful piece of work: How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World Fairs: This paper introduces a new internationally comparable data set that permits an empirical investigation of the effects of patent law on innovation. The data have been constructed from the catalogues of two 19th century world fairs: the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London, 1851, and the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, 1876. They include innovations that were not patented, as well as those that were, and innovations from countries both with and without patent laws. I find no evidence that patent laws increased levels of innovative activity but strong evidence that patent systems influenced the distribution of innovative activity across industries. Inventors in countries without patent laws concentrated in industries where secrecy was effective relative to patents, e.g., food processing and scientific instruments. These results suggest that introducing strong and effective patent laws in countries without patents may have stronger effects on changing the direction of innovative activity than on raising the number of innovations....

Posted by DeLong at 06:31 PM

August 08, 2003
Notes: Nixon and Civil Rights

Topic: Notes: Nixon and Civil Rights From Sally L. Todd Sistersara@aol.com: In the election of 1960, Martin Luther King Senior did not endorse Nixon. After Kennedy personally called Coretta King when Martin Jr. had been sent to the Georgia Penitentiary for driving on an expired license, "Daddy" King made a public statement to the effect that he had a bushel full of votes he planned to deliver to John Kennedy. There is another intersection between Civil Rights and Cold War International Relations that emerged in the 1960 campaign that is most telling, though sadly it has not gotten sufficient attention. Beginning about 1957 the Ford Foundation, and a number of educational groups and institutions did a substantial study of College and Graduate Level opportunities and achievements among elite in African countries scheduled for independence or decolonization. Of course they found much lacking. Their recommendation was to establish a significant number of places in quality American institutions for offer to young Africans with both academic promise and leadership ability. In the fall of 1960 this program was scheduled to begin with the arrival of 500 African students. Ford and other foundations had arranged full scholarships for this group, with many institutions...

Posted by DeLong at 08:00 PM

The Invention of Tradition

Listening to a tape about the life of Stephen Foster, 1826-1864. A Pittsburgh boy, a ninth child, born, schooled, and lived in Pittsburgh pretty much his entire life.Yet this guy from Pittsburgh created an amazing amount of what we now think of as southern and western folk music: "The Old Folks at Home", "My Old Kentucky Home", "Old Black Joe", "Massa's in the Cold, Cold Ground", "Oh, Susannah!", "Camptown Races", and others.What's a guy from Pittsburgh doing writing songs about the Swanee River? About Kentucky plantation mansions? About mining camps? And--most interesting--his songs seem to have been very popular not just in the relatively urbanized east, but in the south and west as well. The people they were written about seem to have grabbed them up with both hands as (idealized) depictions of how things were. And the (relatively) urbanized and urbane easterners grabbed onto them too--as authentic windows into the raw, alien, but exciting and fascinating cultures of the Slave South and the Wild West.Truly, totally weird. We are in "the invention of tradition" territory.Similar weirdness includes the fact that the words to the Christmas carol version of "Greensleaves"--"What Child Is This?"--were written by a late-nineteenth century Victorian trying...

Posted by DeLong at 08:54 AM

July 29, 2003
Notes: Some Historical Questions

Some historical questions I want to find the answers to: - What difference did it make for medieval economies--and for the relative prosperity of the Muslim world in the middle ages--that Muhammed was a merchant? What was the typical pre-agricultural density of hunter-gatherer populations? What share of the world's population lived in the Iraq-Turkey-Syria-Lebanon Fertile Crescent in 5000 BC? 2000 BC? We hear a lot about the military revolution at the end of the sixteenth century: we hear about Gustaf Adolf, about Maurice van Nassau, even about (the earlier) Gonsalvo de Cordoba. We hear about the effective use of firearms and cannon. Discipline. Logistics--both ammunition supply and keeping guys fed and (relatively) plague free. And we hear of the victories won by Maurice van Nassau and Gustaf Adolf of Sweden over the half-modernized Spanish and Austrian armies, just as we hear of the victories won a century earlier by Gonsalvo de Cordoba and his half-modernized tercios over the unmodernized Italian mercenaries and French cavaliers. But we don't hear much about similarly striking victories won a little bit earlier somewhat further to the east: we hear little about Babur the Mogul or about Mehmet II the Conqueror of the House...

Posted by DeLong at 04:04 PM

Wonders of the Internet

Courtesy of Ogged: Printable Maps for Presidential Elections 1789-2000 : In January 2002, the National Atlas announced the release of a new printed map, Presidential Elections 1789-2000. Soon after, three associated products were made available -- printable maps, online maps, and downloadable data. This page features the printable maps for the Presidential Elections 1789-2000. The Presidential Elections map is a wonderful source of historical information and the printable maps make that information even more accessible......

Posted by DeLong at 11:35 AM

July 26, 2003
Notes: In the Shadow of Malthus

Begin with the shape of the demographic transition since 1820, with population growth rates plotted as a function of levels of guestimates of levels of real GDP per capita (measured in Maddison's 1990 "International Dollars") for the world's various regions for six irregular (but sensible) subperiods.* The figure shows how population growth rises rapidly as societies progress and grow their annual per-capita incomes from a Malthusian near-subsistence level of $400 (1990 International Dollars) per person per year up to $1,100 or so. Then population growth levels off--typically at 1.75% per year or so--as fertility restriction becomes widespread. Once societies pass $4,000 per capita a year or so, the demographic transition proper sets in, and population growth rates start to decline markedly. Underlying data source: Angus Maddison (2001), The World Economy in Millennial Perspective (Paris: OECD). Raw preliminary spreadsheet at: http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/data-TCEH/Maddison_Millennial_Numbers.xls. Let's concentrate on the left-hand side of the figure--the one that lets us hypothesize that human population growth rates are essentially zero when annual GDP per capita levels (guessed-at in 1990 international dollars) are around $400, and that each ten percent increase in living standards above that subsistence level boosts population growth rates by about 0.2 percentage points per year:...

Posted by DeLong at 07:26 AM

July 25, 2003
The Demographic Transition

The shape of the demographic transition since 1820. Population growth rates plotted as a function of (log) levels of real GDP per capita (measured in Maddison's 1990 "International Dollars". Data points are regions of the world since 1820 for six irregular (but sensible) subperiods. Trend line is a nine-point centered moving average of region-period points ranked by per capita income. To help with the scale, remember that a log of 6 corresponds to GDP per capita levels of $400 per year, that a log of 7 corresponds to $1100 per year, and 8, 9, and 10 correspond to $3,000, $8,100, and $22,000, respectively. The figure shows how population growth rises rapidly as societies progress and grow their incomes from a Malthusian near-subsistence level of $400 (1990 International Dollars) per person per year up to $1,100 or so. Then population growth levels off--typically at 1.75% per year or so--as fertility restriction becomes widespread. Once societies pass $4,000 per capita a year or so, population growth rates start to decline markedly. Of course, we don't really know what happens once incomes pass $25,000 per capita per year or so, or indeed if there will continue to be a systematic relationship at all....

Posted by DeLong at 08:44 PM

Crude Life Expectancy Estimates

For the world for the last 2000 years: Source: Maddison (2001), pp. 29-30. Roman Egypt from 33-258 is taken as a proxy for the world in 100. Maddison takes his estimates for Egypt form Bagnall and Freier (1994). R.S. Bagnall and B.W. Frier (1994), The Demography of Roman Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Angus Maddison (2001), The World Economy in Millennial Perspective (Paris: OECD). For nations since 1800: Source: Maddison (2001), pp. 29-30. Angus Maddison (2001), The World Economy in Millennial Perspective (Paris: OECD)....

Posted by DeLong at 05:08 PM

July 24, 2003
Germany on the Eve of the Great Depression

The second saddest book on my bookshelf was published in 1928, by the British publisher Methuen. The book's title was Republican Germany: An Economic and Political Survey. It was written by two British political scientists: H. Quigley and R.T. Clark. In the introduction the authors wrote that they were fortunate because they had a single, central, powerful theme: the coming-to-maturity of the post-World War I German republic: The consolidation of the German [Weimar] Republic is in itself a theme of the most absorbing interest; it lends itself to dramatic presentation with the leading characters active at moments with a real dramatic force.... The fifth and probably last act is now being played, and promises something more heartening than a catastrophic ending. There may be scenes of conflict, world-shaking events, accompanied by the possibility and dangers of war, but the real consumation will probably be reached--namely, the recognition of the German Republic as a permanent feature in German history and its economic and political relations, and, with it, the opening of a new era of international prosperity. Quigley and Clark's--long--book contains three mentions of Adolf Hitler: a passing reference to the "Hitler incident", a half-page narrative of Hitler’s unsuccessful 1923 attempt...

Posted by DeLong at 01:38 PM

Notes: Political Effectiveness: Bolsheviki

From Edmund Wilson (1940), To the Finland Station (New York: New York Review of Books: ). Wilson writes about the: ...remarkable scene at the first congress of the Soviet dictatorship after the success of the October insurrection of 1917, when [Leon] Trotsky, with the contempt and indignation of a prophet, read [the socialist] Martov and his followers out of the meeting. "You are pitiful isolated individuals," he cried at this height of the Bolshevik triumph. "You are bankrupt; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on--in the garbage-pile of history!" These words are worth pondering for the light they throw on the course of Marxist policy and thought. Observe that the merging of yourself with the onrush of the current of history is to save you from the ignoble fate of being a "pitiful isolated individual"; and that the failure to so merge yourself will relegate you to the garbage-pile of history, where you can presumably be of no more use. Today [in the late 1930s], though we may agree with the Bolsheviks that Martov was no man of action, his croakings over the course that they had adopted seem to us full of far-sighted intelligence....

Posted by DeLong at 01:23 PM

The Beginning of the Information Age

The Gutenberg Bible Online...

Posted by DeLong at 10:05 AM

July 21, 2003
Notes: Kaiser on the Vietnam War

One of the peak intellectual experiences of my friend Mike Levitin was a freshman seminar on the origins of World War I run by historian David Kaiser. Here Kaiser gives his one-sentence assessment of American policy in Vietnam: In 1965 there was obviously more support for the Viet Cong in South Viet Nam than for the Saigon government, and our attempt to make the Saigon government prevail killed, literally, millions (certainly well over one million) without affecting the result.... In short: Long-run benefits: zero. Short-run costs: millions dead. Even if you are fighting on the side of the good guys, it is only worth making war if the odds that you will win are very, very high indeed....

Posted by DeLong at 02:54 AM

July 14, 2003
Bastille Day

Bastille Day...

Posted by DeLong at 03:01 PM

July 13, 2003
Otto of Freising: An Imperialist View of the Lombard Communes

Otto of Freising, Gesta Frederici (Twelfth Century). James Ross and Mary McLaughlin, eds. (1949, 1977), The Portable Medieval Reader (London: Penguin: ), pp. 281-3. [T]he Lombards... retain the elegance of the Latin language and a certain courtesy of manners. They also imitate the activity of the ancient Romans in the management of the cities and in the preservation of the state. Finally, they are so attached to their liberty that, to avoid the insolence of rulers, they prefer to be reigned over by consuls than by princes... [T]here are three orders among them, of captains, vassals, and the commons... consuls are chosen, not from one order, but from each, and, lest they be seized with a greed for power, they are changed nearly every year. From which it happens that their territory is all divided into cities... so that there is hardly to be found any noble... with so great an influence as not to owe obedience to the rule of his own city.... [T]hey do not disdain to raise to the badge of knighthood and to all grades of authority young men of low condition... workmen of contemptible mechanical arts.... From which it happens that they are pre-eminent among...

Posted by DeLong at 08:31 PM

July 08, 2003
Notes: Hayek and Democracy

I have long been of the opinion that Friedrich Hayek saw more deeply into why the market economy is so productive--the use of knowledge in society, competition as a discovery procedure, et cetera--than neoclassical economics, with its Welfare Theorems that under appropriate conditions the competitive market equilibrium (a) is Pareto-Optimal or (b) maximizes a social welfare function that is the sum of individual utilities in which each individual's weight is the inverse of their marginal utility of income. I have also long been of the opinion that Karl Polanyi saw more deeply than Hayek into what the necessary foundations for a well-functioning and durable market economy--and good society--were. But last night I ran into a passage that makes me wonder whether Hayek in his inner core believed that democracy had any value--even any institutional value--at all. It came on pp. 171-2 of Friedrich Hayek (1979), Law, Legislation and Liberty: The Political Order of a Free People vol. III (Chicago, Il.: University of Chicago Press: 0226320901): Egalitarianism is of course not a majority view but a product of the necessity under unlimited democracy to solicit the support even of the worst.… It is by the slogan that 'it is not your...

Posted by DeLong at 11:54 AM

July 07, 2003
Books: Alan Furst: Dark Star

Alan Furst (1991), Dark Star (New York: Houghton Mifflin: 0006511317). When I talk to practically any of my undergraduates these days, I have a nearly impossible task to do when I try to convince them that the twentieth century has, after all, ended much better than it might have been. The half-full undergraduates talk of how wonderful and advanced our industrial civilization is, and how human progress to this point was nearly inevitable. The half-empty undergraduates talk about poverty in the developing world, inequality, and injustice, and seem deaf to the idea that the world we live in is much better than the world that we seemed headed for during the second quarter of this century. The Great Depression. Stalin's purges. World War II. Hitler's genocides--they have read about these, but they are not *real*, and the idea that for decades people thought that the forces headed by Stalin or by Hitler were the wave of the future (or the last chance to stop an even greater evil) does not penetrate below the surface. So the next time I teach a course on the entire politico-economic history of the twentieth century, I think I may assign Alan Furst's novel Dark...

Posted by DeLong at 09:49 PM

Better Futures that Might Have Been

There are many sad books on my bookshelf: books that whenever I open them cause tears to gather in the corner of my eyes, and cause my nose to sniffle. This is not because I am allergic to dust from old books (which I am), but because many old books seem to me to be markers of a better future that did not come to be. Of these, I think the saddest is an old, old book from 1911: Norman Angell's The Great Illusion: A Study of the Relation of Military Power in Nations to Their Economic and Social Advantage. Norman Angell's argument is simple: It is that in modern industrial warfare between great powers, everybody loses. Losers lose. And the winners lose. Many of their fathers, sons, and husbands are dead. Much of their wealth has been blown up. And it is next to impossible to claim that these sacrifices are counterbalanced by any positive economic advantages. Straightforward plunder of the conquered country yields little. Confiscation of property and the imposition of reparations burdens damages the rule of law on which modern industrial prosperity rests. And even if you do manage to get the conquered country to ship you...

Posted by DeLong at 03:58 PM

July 06, 2003
What Should College Professors Be Paid?

The past is a different country. Even the relatively recent past of, say, a century ago is a very different country. In 1905 "G.H.M.", an anonymous college professor, wrote a four-page article for the Atlantic Monthly in which he pleaded for more money for college professor salaries, and claimed to be vastly underpaid. The first thing to note is the relative level of professorial salaries back then: he claimed that the "average college professor’s salary"--the salary that he saw as clearly inadequate and unfairly low--"is about $2,000." Stan Lebergott's estimates in the Historical Statistics of the United States are that the average annual earnings of an employee in America in 1905 were $490 dollars if employed for the entire year--or $451 taking account of the hazards of unemployment. What G.H.M. says is the average college professor's salary is more than four times annual average earnings of the time. Today's professors don't make such large relative salaries (except in business, law, and medical schools). In order to match turn-of-the-century college professors in terms of income relative to the national average, a professor today would have to make an academic salary of roughly $250,000--a height far above any professorial average, and one...

Posted by DeLong at 04:09 PM

July 04, 2003
The Declaration of Independence

WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation. WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes;...

Posted by DeLong at 11:59 PM

July 02, 2003
A Historical Document: "In the Long Run It Is the Majority Who Will Determine What the Constitutional Rights of the Minority Are"

The judicial philosophy of Chief Justice Rehnquist, taken from Rehnquist (1952), "A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases"*. This memo expressing Rehnquist's position** on a number of issues is usually cited for the flat declaration at the end that Plessy v. Ferguson (establishing the legality of the "separate and unequal" principle of segregation in governmental treatment of Blacks and whites) "was right and should be re-affirmed" even though Rehnquist is aware that it is an "unpopular and unhumanitarian position" for which he has been "excoriated by 'liberal' colleagyes." More interesting, from my perspective at least, are Rehnquist's beliefs that: Jimmy Madison was an idiot for including individual rights in the Constitution: "The Constitution, of course, deals with individual rights, particularly in the first Ten and the fourteenth Amendments. But as I read the history of this Court, it has seldom been out of hot water when attempting to interpret these individual rights." No matter what the Constitution says, the Supreme Court cannot protect minority rights of any kind, and it should not try, for "in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are." The Warren Court's attempt to use the...

Posted by DeLong at 03:30 PM

June 28, 2003
Augustus, by John Williams

Highly, highly recommended: John Williams (1974), Augustus (Little Rock: University of Arkansas: 1557283435). Best if read in combination with: Ronald Syme (1939), The Roman Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 0192803204)....

Posted by DeLong at 10:41 AM

June 22, 2003
Notes: Intro to History of American Corporate Control

I'm going to talk about the rise of American financial and bank-group capitalism, and Marco is going to talk about its fall. Together we'll talk about the waxing of the House of Morgan and the Dynasty of Rockefeller and their other peers, and then their waning. How the U.S. first becomes and then moves from being, a century ago, a "normal" country--with family pyramids and powerful investment banks--as far as corporate control and financial organization is concerned to being a distinctly abnormal country. Our general rhetorical strategy is to take refuge in historians' standard argument #3: that things are really complicated, and all neat, clean theories by people like our friends Mark Roe (1993) and Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer (1998) are only partial and incomplete because they do great violence to historical reality and ignore complexity, contingency, just dumb luck, and sheer chance. So let me start with a passage from the tallest Canadian economist. A generation ago on the very first page of his New Industrial State John Kenneth Galbraith wrote about--perhaps mourned?--the passing of the influence of the great business families of America: Seventy years ago the corporation was the instrument of its owners...

Posted by DeLong at 10:56 AM

Note: What Does "Control" Mean?

A note on Caroline Fohlin, "Ownership and Control in the German Corporation": I want to load yet another task onto our conference organizer and editor Randall Morck's broad, tall, northern, Albertan back. Yet another thing that our editor needs to do is to give us a definition of "control" that we can all use in our papers. In the U.S. context, which is the only one I really know--when Morgan right-hand George F. Baker tells AT&T during the Panic of 1907 that he will rollover their loans only if they will replace their current president with Theodore N. Vail and if they will change their entire strategy from the "Macintosh" one of selling high-priced telephones to rich people to the "Microsoft" strategy of universal nationwide low-price service, is that control? When NY, NH, & Hartford RR president Charles Mellen tells journalist C.W. Barron that he is proud to wear the Morgan [thrall] collar, is that control? When other board members of the Union Pacific tell Frank Vanderlip to be quiet and stop complaining about the fees the U.P. is paying its underwriters because Vanderlip's bank is getting its fair cut, is that control? In all three cases, I would say,...

Posted by DeLong at 10:35 AM

June 06, 2003
Another Reason That I Am a Bad Person

Another reason that I am a bad person is that I do not link to Matt Welch enough. Today he recommends a truly excellent book: Matt Welch: I just finished The File, by Timothy Garton Ash, and I heartily recommend it to all of you. Garton Ash, the Oxford historian-journalist who has witnessed and written books about the Solidarity movement, the Central European revolutions of 1989, and West Germany?s Ostpolitik policy (while compiling two books of Mitteleuropa-related essays, one pre-revolution, one post-revolution), wrote this modest little 1997 volume about researching his own Stasi file, then confronting the people (including friends) who spied on him......

Posted by DeLong at 02:07 AM

May 29, 2003
The Struggle for Gallic Freedom and Independence Reaches a Key Point

The struggle for Gallic freedom and independence from Rome reaches a critical point: Julius Caesar's Warblog: 10. Vercingetorix: uddenly new enemy troop movements are visible. A force about 60,000 strong has concentrated at the most awkward point in our siegeworks: a hill too large to include in our defences, so that the camp there is built at a slight incline. Simultaneously Commius' cavalry has lined itself up facing the outer wall, while his infantry has left camp in battle order. And now troops once again pour out of Alesia. I'm looking for a position from which I can view all of these developments. This could be the big one......

Posted by DeLong at 11:27 AM

May 14, 2003
Notes: Chiaki Moriguchi: Last Economic History Seminar: "Did American Firms Break Their Welfare Capitalist Promises During the Great Depression?"

Chiaki Moriguchi from Northwestern. Here to talk about welfare capitalism--or maybe better to call it corporate welfarism--in the U.S. in the 1920 and 1930s. Vibrant, growing movement in the 1920s: corporations to provide social welfare benefits that the state would have provided in Europe. Collapse in the 1930s. Corporations wanted to cut costs, and with unemployment so high why bother on programs to attach workers to the firm? Loss of trust thereafter hard to regain--workers turned to CIO instead to negotiate for benefits, et cetera. Did the NLRA foreclose a return of corporate welfarism? Survival in high-wage high-skill firms: IBM, GE, Proctor and Gamble. Foreshadowing of modern HRM for skilled high-wage workers? Chiaki approaches the topic from a perspective that treats Japan--not the U.S., not western Europe--as the typical case. Very refreshing and instructive approach: to presume that welfare capitalism and company unions a la post-WWII Japan should be the rule in mass-production high-skill manufacturing, and to search for explanations for American divergence from the "natural" pattern... Great, great topic!...

Posted by DeLong at 05:22 PM

May 12, 2003
Notes: Polanyi: Aristotle Discovers the Economy

Karl Polanyi, "Aristotle Discovers the Economy," in Trade and Market in the Early Empires... A whole bunch of this article is simply wrong: the claims that "in the fourth century... Greeks initiated the gainful business practices that in much later days developed into the dynamo of market comnpetition" are false. This means that Polanyi is wrong when he says that Aristotle is examining a new phenomenon when he looks at the economy. Aristotle is examining an old phenomenon from the point of view of an Athenian aristocrat. But there is much of value in Polanyi's exposition of what Aristotle says... p. 79: Trade is "natural" when it serves the survival of the community by maintaining its self-sufficiency... the operation of giving a share... from on's surplus. The rate... follows from the requirement of philia, i.e., that the goodwill among the members persist.... The just price, then, derives from the demands of philia as expressed in the reciprocity which is of the essence of all human community... p. 80: Trade... is "natural" as long as it is a requirement of self-sufficiency. Prices are justly set if they conform to the standing of the participants in the community, thereby strenghening the goodwill...

Posted by DeLong at 04:14 PM

Notes: The Character of the Absolutist State in Western Europe

Perhaps the most interesting argument about why the demographic crisis produced by the Black Death did not lead to the reemergence of serfdom in Western Europe (as lords discovered that, with population down by 1/3, they would rather be labor lords than landlords) is that made by Perry Anderson in his book Lineages of the Absolutist State. Anderson argues, first, that the particular role of Western European towns made a formal reimposition of servile bondage impossible: "...the aristocracy had to adjust to a second antagonist: the mercantile bourgeoisie... towns... the intercalation of this third presence... prevented the Western nobility from settling its accounts with the peasantry in Eastern [European] fashion, by smashing its resistance and fettering it to the manor. The medieval town... hierarchical dispersion of sovereignties... feudal mode of production... freed urban economies from direct domination by a rural ruling class.... [Urban] economic and social vitality acted as a constant, objective interference in the class struggle on the land, and blocked any regressive solution to it by the nobles." Feudal lords could agree among themselves and with the king to reimpose serfdom, but they lacked the power to do so if peasants could still (as they could in Western...

Posted by DeLong at 02:02 PM

May 10, 2003
The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis

Paul Krugman's post, Serfs Up!, reminds me of one of my major sins this spring (for which I must atone): my cutting Evsey Domar (1970), "The Causes of Slavery or Serfdom: A Hypothesis," Economic History Review 30:1 (March), pp. 18-32, from my spring 2003 Economics 210a reading list. As Krugman summarizes Domar's main point: Domar was motivated by his knowledge of Russian history. Serfdom in Russia, he knew, wasn't an institution that dated back to the Dark Ages. Instead, it was mainly a 16th-century creation, contemporaneous with the beginning of the great Russian expansion into the steppes. Why? He came up with a simple yet powerful insight: there's no point in enslaving or enserfing a man unless the wage you would have to pay him if he was free is substantially above the cost of feeding, housing, and clothing him. Imagine a pre-industrial society where population is pressing on limited land supplies, and the marginal product of labor - and hence the real wage rate under competitive conditions - is barely at subsistence. In that case, why bother establishing property rights in human beings? It costs no more to hire a free worker than to feed an indentured laborer. Indeed,...

Posted by DeLong at 10:08 PM

May 09, 2003
Notes: Historical Online Archives

The Harvard Crimson Online Archives now extend back in time to 1900. A huge amount of work in American history and sociology is now potentially a lot easier... </P...

Posted by DeLong at 10:39 AM

May 08, 2003
The First Warblogger

For those who have not been following C. Julius Caesar's Warblog, it is reaching one of its climaxes: Caesar and his army are closing in on the forces of the Arverni chieftain Vercingetorix, and the fate of Roman control of Gaul hangs in the balance: ...We've arrived at Alesia. It looks to be impenetrable - upon a hill, between rivers... Just imagine a France--sorry, a Gaul--where they spoke Gaelic instead of Romance......

Posted by DeLong at 07:43 PM

May 07, 2003
Notes: Alexander Gerschenkron

Recommended by Rebecca Hellerstein... Nicholas Dawidoff (2002), The Fly Swatter: How My Grandfather Made His Way in the World (New York: Pantheon: 0375400273). Alexander Gerschenkron p. 10: ... someone who was going to grow up to be a person of true principle would get that way by proving his loyalty to small things, like the Boston Red Sox. I was cautioned never to blame the umpire for the many disappointments suffered by the Red Sox. My grandfather wanted me to feel that a person creates his own luck. Although he accredited fate, felt that fate--like God--was immutable, he also seemed to find it oddly beside the point and believed that a man stood a better chance in life if he ran out every routine ground ball to second base. "Nicky boy, you never know," was one of his prized phrases... p. 34: ... To a very real degree, Shura was raised on an ecumenical creed with tenets best expressed by Pushkin in his poem "I Built a Monument Not Made by Hands"--the last verse in particular: "Long will be remembered by the nation That of the good in men's hearts I did speak-- That I praised freedom in this age...

Posted by DeLong at 07:39 PM

May 01, 2003
Bradford Is Not Annoyed, But Is Rather Impressed

However, there are also a large number of very, very nice moments in William Hitchcock's Struggle for Europe as well (William Hitchcock (2002), The Struggle for Europe (New York: Doubleday: 0385497989)). I am impressed by: William Hitchcock on the fecklessness of European left-wing intellectuals: p. 10: Simone de Beauvoir... Americans, she write, "approved of all Truman's speeches. Their anti-Communism bordered on neurosis; their attitude towards... France... arrogant condescension"... "we had loved them, these tall soldiers in khaki who had looked so peaceful; they were our liberty." Now they represented "our dependence and a mortal threat".... de Beauvoir's line of attack on the United States, echoed in the writings of hundreds... missed a crucial part of the overall picture. The Iron Curtain was quite real... a decidely nasty form of political order... could well have been visited upon France, Germany, and Italy, were it not for those tall U.S. soldiers in khaki. De Beauvoir failed to see--did not wish to see--the nature of the "people's democracies" being erected in Eastern Europe under Soviet coercion... distressed intellectuals did not publish memoirs and go on the lecture circuit; they wrote forced confessions and went to prison... William Hitchcock on what Stalin was thinking:...

Posted by DeLong at 09:58 PM

Bradford Is Annoyed II

I find myself annoyed beyond reason by two short passages in William Hitchcock's otherwise very nicely done Struggle for Europe (William Hitchcock (2002), The Struggle for Europe (New York: Doubleday: 0385497989)): The second is an even more truly bizarre passage on Decolonization: p. 171: ... The independence of Ghana now led British colonial officials to accept a new logic... independence... ought to be granted swiftly so as to preserve a modicum of control over the process.... Nigeria... 1960... Gambia... 1965.... In Kenya, a large white settler population resisted a swift withdrawal, and they had to be placated.... On balance, the British experience of decolonization in Africa was a successful one... swift, done with an earnest desire to promote viable African successor states, and carried out with a marked absence of violence... I don't think many Africans today would view decolonization as "successful": I think that they would say that power was handed over to the wrong people, in successor states that had the wrong institutions, in a manner that appears in retrospect as if planned and intended to destroy Africa's hopes for progress, development, peace, and happiness for at least a full generation. Julius Nyerere and his belief that Tanzanians...

Posted by DeLong at 09:55 PM

Bradford Is Annoyed I

I find myself annoyed beyond reason by two short passages in William Hitchcock's otherwise very nicely done Struggle for Europe (William Hitchcock (2002), The Struggle for Europe (New York: Doubleday: 0385497989)): The first is a truly bizarre passage on the post-World Wa II Soviet-backed coup in Czechoslovakia: p. 114: Now events followed the pattern visible in Poland and Hungary.... Communist propaganda spewed forth from the Ministry of Information.... Three democratic ministers... received mail bombs... police and trade unions... moblized to intimidate..... Communist... Interior Minister Nosek had begun a purge of non-Communist police officers... democratic parties demanded their reinstatement... Nosek refused... democratic ministers... resigned en masse on 20 February. In France and Italy, this move had been the preliminatry to a reformulation of governments that excluded the Communists. This is what the ministers hoped [President] Benes would now do. He did not... Communists staged immense rallies... mobilized... police, unions, and army leadership... declared that they would resort to violence if they were not given control of the government. Benes was caught on the horns of a dilemma. He could reject the demands of the Communists, overrule the results of the 1946 election (in which they had freely won a majority), and...

Posted by DeLong at 09:53 PM

April 30, 2003
Notes: Edwardian Manor House

Watching the "Edwardian Manor House" miniseries on PBS. I keep expecting a Jacquerie--a full-fledged servants' revolt. The businessman who is playing the role of the master of the house insists on the most stringent standards of Edwardian behavior, decorum, and fingers-to-the-bone labor from the "servants," yet he does not do his own part: he refuses to eat his offal for breakfast. The other thing I had not realized was how tightly constrained the Edwardian upper class was. It's true that their servants did lots of things for them, but they had to show up at the right place at the right time to be served--the idea that one might decide to do anything at the spur-of-the-moment was almost inconceivable, because it would throw the whole social mechanism of ten to twenty people into disarray (as opposed to simply turning off the microwave and putting the stuff back into the refrigerator for one extra day while one goes out for dinnfer)....

Posted by DeLong at 09:21 PM

April 20, 2003
Notes: William Hitchcock, The Struggle for Europe

Notes William Hitchcock (2002), The Struggle for Europe (New York: Doubleday: 0385497989). p. 10: Simone de Beauvoir... Americans, she write, "approved of all Truman's speeches. Their anti-Communism bordered on neurosis; their attitude towards... France... arrogant condescension"... "we had loved them, these tall soldiers in khaki who had looked so peaceful; they were our liberty." Now they represented "our dependence and a mortal threat".... de Beauvoir's line of attack on the United States, echoed in the writings of hundreds... missed a crucial part of the overall picture. The Iron Curtain was quite real... a decidely nasty form of political order... could well ahve been visited upon France, Germany,a nd Italy, were it not for those tall U.S. soldiers in khaki. De Beauvoir failed to see--did not wish to see--the nature of the "people's democracies" being erected in Eastern Europe under Soviet coercion... distressed intellectuals did not publish memoirs and go on the lecture circuit; they wrote forced confessions and went to prison..." p. 17: ...Under this agreement, some 2 million Soviet D[isplaced ]P[ersonds] were repatriated from the Western portion of Germany under Anglo-American control; to these may be added another 3 million in Eastern Germany already in Russian hands.... Of the...

Posted by DeLong at 11:45 AM

April 18, 2003
The Human Web

I have been reading J.R. McNeill and William H. McNeill (2003), The Human Web: A Bird's-Eye View of World History (New York: Norton: 039305179X). It has some very nice (but highly compressed) formulations of key world-historical points. Its general viewpoint is a human-ecological look at what basic agricultural technologies make possible, coupled with an analysis of the urban-commercial-military-religious superstructure build on top of the agrarian peasantry. Its explanation of why the Industrial Revolution took place in Europe is a mixed Weberian-Marxist one: institutional differences between Europe and the rest of Eurasia+North Africa+the East African Coast (universities, religious fragmentation, self-governing cities) allowed the bourgeosie to keep from being dominated by either the feudal nobility nor the agrarian bureaucratic nobility--and the bourgeoisie is, we all know, a most revolutionary class. (Why didn't the Industrial Revolution happen in the Middle East, where merchants had even greater potential--Muhammed was a merchant, after all? A combination of (a) ecological degradation that eroded the possibility of dense populations, and (b) no rivers--hence trade is limited by what camels can carry.) Highly recommended. Here are a few of the highlights: p. 31: ...domesticated animals provided much of the impetus for the subsequent spread of the Southwest Asian...

Posted by DeLong at 11:32 AM

March 27, 2003
Walking Into the Past

Rich Baker walks into the human past with Luca Cavalli-Sforza's Genes, Peoples and Languages as his guide. Sharp Blue: Genes, Peoples and Languages: There is a desert in humanity's past. Here, on the shores of the future, there are cities buzzing with commerce and industry, linked by highways and airliners and sea-lanes plied by gigantic cargo ships. Satellites race overhead, data streaks across global networks. A dizzying array of factories process raw materials into progressively more complex arrays of products. Start walking in the direction of the past and things slowly change. For the first few centuries of our trek, the cities are much the same but they become smaller and dirtier and less interconnected. Then suddenly, we reach the pre-industrial hinterland. For the next thirty or forty centuries, we're in a rolling countryside of small towns and scattered farms and the occasional sea full of sailing ships. Occasionally empires rise and fall. Clothing and the products of industry becomes simpler. Here and there are picturesque pyramids. Iron and steel disappear, then writing. For another seventy centuries, there are farming villages and guys riding around on horses with bows and stone axes, and the occasional small town of stone or...

Posted by DeLong at 01:49 PM

March 20, 2003
On Tribe on Wilentz on Scalia

Now comes the estimable and sharp-witted James Glass before the bar of logic and argument, bringing forward Larry Tribe as a witness to defend Antonin Scalia against my bill of indictment accusing him of being a theocratic intellectual zombie--that is, somebody who belongs in the court of a medieval Pope like Innocent III, and not on the Supreme Court of Thomas Jefferson's and Abraham Lincoln's United States of America. Tribe's witness for Scalia takes the form of a critique of a New York Times commentary by Sean Wilentz, who also attacked Antonin Scalia for being, well, a theocratic intellectual zombie. I confess I am not convinced by Tribe's argument and prefer my own conclusions (surprise! surprise!). Let me try to indicate why: In his critique of Wilentz, Tribe makes four substantive points: It is simply wrong for Wilentz to say that Scalia blames the emergence of democracy for the breakdown of that consensus that held that state power was to be obeyed because it was in some sense special and holy, for Scalia is "[f]ar from holding democracy’s emergence responsible for what he laments as the breakdown of that consensus." It is simply wrong for Wilentz to describe Scalia's desired...

Posted by DeLong at 06:37 PM

March 16, 2003
History From Below: The Russian Civil War

Pedantry - everything that bored you to death in high school has posted excerpts from Grandpa Martens's accounts of life during the Russian Civil War--and why the coming of Lenin and Trotsky's Bolsheviks to get rid of the anarchists was seen as a true godsend....

Posted by DeLong at 07:16 AM

March 07, 2003
THE PILE Grows Ever Higher

THE PILE grows ever higher. Yet another book to go into the "to read very soon" pile. *Sigh*: Rene J. Barendse (2002), The Arabian Seas: The Indian Ocean World of the Seventeenth Century. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2002. xvi + 589 pp. $85 (hardcover), ISBN: 0-7656-0728-x; $34.95 (paperback), ISBN: 0-7656-0729-8. Reviewed for EH.NET by Alan Heston, Departments of Economics and South Asia Regional Studies, University of Pennsylvania. <aheston@econ.upenn.edu> This is an extremely rewarding book to read, but not at one sitting. It is quite long, focusing on one century of transport, finance, business practices and commerce in the economic center of the world at the time, the seas from the Ottoman to Mughal Empires. The command of detail that Barendse displays is impressive. The extensive use of Dutch, Portuguese and French materials provides a very rich base for his study, as these include many translations of Arabic materials. Begun as a dissertation in 1985, published in Dutch in 1998, and now in English, it is a mature study that continually tries to relate its findings to other work in the field. The author, an Associate Research Fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies in Amsterdam, provides a curious...

Posted by DeLong at 10:37 AM

March 04, 2003
Those Who Do Not Remember History...

Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it, and the rest of us are condemned to repeat it with them. Gerardo della Paolera and Alan M. Taylor point out that those who have studied the 1929 collapse of the gold standard in Argentina would have found few surprises indeed in the 2001 collapse of the currency board. Yet another brick in the wall suggesting that it is long-lasting institutional deficiencies that are the causes of the "bad policies" that overoptimistic economists like me think stand in the way of successful development and growth. Gaucho Banking Redux: Gerardo della Paolera, Alan M. Taylor | NBER Working Paper No. w9457 | Issued in January 2003 | Argentina's economic crisis has strong similarities with previous crises stretching back to the nineteenth century. A common thread runs through all these crises: the interaction of a weak, undisciplined, or corruptible banking sector, and some other group of conspirators from the public or private sector that hasten its collapse. This pampean propensity for crony finance was dubbed 'gaucho banking' more than one hundred years ago. What happens when such a rotten structure interacts with a convertibility plan? We compare the 1929 and 2001...

Posted by DeLong at 02:02 PM

March 03, 2003
The Real Supply Siders

John Quiggen succumbs to High Relativism, and proclaims that whether Ronald Reagan was "convinced" that cutting tax rates would raise tax revenues is unknowable. John Quiggin: Wanniski's claim to have convinced Reagan is rejected by (broad sense) supply-siders who were around at the time, like William Niskanen (quoted by Alex Robson), and it seems unlikely that the truth can be determined... I think that this nihilistic-relativistic conclusion is much too pessimistic. What Reagan thought in his heart-of-hearts is not very important. Reagan wanted to lower taxes, balance the budget, and cut waste, fraud, and abuse in government. He (naively) relied on his advisers--his Grand Viziers--to share his priorities and to prepare and implement policies that would accomplish them. It went wrong: Reagan did not run for President so that he could become the biggest deficit-spender in American history. We know a lot about how it went wrong. But if we are to accurately set out what we know, we need to recognize that "supply side" and "economist" are contested terms of art. Different people use these terms to mean different things--deliberately use these terms to mean different things. Let's review the bidding. There are four ideological police actions in progress....

Posted by DeLong at 10:26 AM

February 28, 2003
Would Ezra Pound Have Been a Better Poet If He Had Taken Ec 10 From Marty Feldstein?

Would Ezra Pound have been a better poet if he had taken Ec 10 from Marty Feldstein? Daniel Davies appears to answer this question with a "yes," as he turns his attention to critiquing Pound's Canto XLV for Pound's failure to include an appropriate general-equilibrium model in his stanzas. D-squared Digest -- A fat young man without a good word for anyone: If you aren't able to charge rates of interest which compensate you for the risk you're taking, then as a lender, you're only going to do business with people familiar to you, which means that the typical working man is not going to find anyone who is prepared to lend to him. This means that the working class is denied one of the principle luxuries of the capitalist class; the ability to make decisions about the timing of purchases of goods independently of the fixed timing of the arrival of one's income. And it turns out that this is a very valuable advantage to enjoy. Usury has been very good in this regard. Pound is possibly in this passage and in the "bread made of good flour", thinking of the obvious association between predatory lending practices and poverty,...

Posted by DeLong at 08:21 AM

February 26, 2003
The Decline in the Art of Political Invective

I'm reading Procopius's Secret History of Byzantium, and thinking how far the art of political invective has declined since the sixth century. Mind you, someone like Andrew Sullivan on Bill Clinton at least gets the ball in the ballpark, but there is nothing to match, say: Well, then, this emperor was dissembling, two-faced; a clever fellow with a marvellous ability to conceal his real opinion, and able to shed tears, not from any joy or sorrow, but employing them artfully when required in accordance with the immediate need, lying all the time; not carelessly, however, but confirming his undertakings both with his signature and with the most fearsome oaths, even when dealing with his own subjects. But he promptly disregarded both agreements and solemn pledges, like the most contemptible slaves, who by fear of the tortures hanging over them are driven to confess misdeeds they have denied on oath. A treacherous friend and an inexorable enemy, he was passionately devoted to murder and plunder; quarrelsome and subversive in the extreme; easily led astray into evil ways but refusing every suggestion that he should follow the right path; quick to devise vile schemes and to carry them out; and with an...

Posted by DeLong at 08:41 PM

February 20, 2003
Thinking About Aristotle of Stagira and Moses Finley

I'm never sure whether I should begin my economic history survey courses with Aristotle or not. As Moses Finley powerfully argues, Aristotle does not care about the economy. The fragments in his Ethics and Politics that economists like Joseph Schumpeter point to are, mostly, concerned with other things than economic analysis. Karl Polanyi thought that Aristotle's naivete was the result of the fact that a mercantile, market, commercial economy was something very new. He was surely wrong: it was not something new, but rather something that Aristotle as a Hellenic aristocrat would have been embarrassed to be caught thinking seriously about. Still, I now wish I'd started this semester's history course with more on Aristotle. His perspective is so different from ours that it provides a useful mental shock: On Aristotle: Consider, first, that Aristotle of Stagira was not an idiot (even if he did believe that women had fewer teeth than men). For two thousand years people--pagan Hellenes, Christian Europeans, and Islamic Arabs, Egyptians, Mesopotamians,and Iranians--called Aristotle of Stagira "the philosopher", as if there could be only one. Think of the way seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century Britons regarded Newton (or the way we regard Einstein). So we need...

Posted by DeLong at 08:57 PM

February 19, 2003
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea

I last read this book two years ago, and I read it last weekend on yet another trip to Monterey. I found myself, once again, enthralled. I also found myself wishing that I had assigned it--or something similar to it--to my students. And then I thought that my reading lists are too long already, and that adding another two to three hours onto their weekly readings would not please them... I wrote the piece below two years ago... H.N. Turteltaub (2001), Over the Wine-Dark Sea: A Sea Adventure of the Ancient World (New York: Forge: 0312876602). I picked this book up from the Barnes and Noble front table on my way down to Monterey for vacation. I had been looking for something light. Instead, I found myself engaged in the book for perhaps four times as many hours as I would usually spend on a book this length. I was entranced because the subject was interesting, because the writing did not get in the way of the story, and because I found myself greatly admiring the project--the historical, educational project--that the author is engaged in. H.N. Turteltaub is also Harry Turtledove, the author of a large number of heroic fantasy...

Posted by DeLong at 07:46 PM

February 14, 2003
The Marquis de Lafayette

Some people in the United States have too short a memory. Without Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), his example, and the decision he spurred France to to intervene in the American Revolution on the side of the colonists, this nation would not stand here now. There is a statue of Yves in the central square of what passes for Lafayette, California's downtown. Every time I pass it, I think of the debt for our very existence as a nation that we owe to the Marquis and to France--a debt that we can never repay, but only honor. He is buried in American soil: he brought some back from the United States to France, and it was used for his gravesite....

Posted by DeLong at 04:37 PM

February 11, 2003
On Machiavelli's "Letter to Vettori," or, The Value of the History of Economic Thought

A surprisingly-large number of people have recently asked me why I am interested in the history of economic thought. They make various points. First, we don't learn physics from Galileo's Discourse on Two New Sciences. There are other, better, more complete, more accurate ways of presenting the material. In any real body of knowledge, the more up-to-date has to be preferred to the less because we know more than they did. Second, there are the dangers of promoting dead and dry texts to the status of unquestionable authorities. Karl Marx saw misery in industrial England in the 1840s, jumped to the conclusion that market economies could never deliver persistent, sustained, significant improvements in real wages to the working class, jumped to the conclusion that markets had no place in any truly human mode of social organization, and--because his words became Holy Writ, the sacred gospel that was never to be questioned of a Millennarian World Religion--more than a billion people were doomed to even deeper poverty for more than a generation. Third, there is the danger that one will read texts one has placed high on a pedestal and discover in them a secret message, a crucial form of knowledge...

Posted by DeLong at 03:08 PM

David Hume Gives Adam Smith Some Bad News

David Hume gives Adam Smith the bad news about the reception of Smith's first book, the Theory of Moral Sentiments. From DAVID HUME   Lisle Street, Leicester Fields April 12, 1759 Dear Smith, I give you thanks for the agreeable present of your Theory [of Moral Sentiments]. Wedderburn and I made presents of our copie to such of our acquaintance as we thought good judges, and proper to spread the reputation of the book. I sent one to the Duke of Argyle, to Lord Lyttleton, Horace Walpole, Soames Jennyns, and Burke, an Irish gentleman, who wrote lately a very pretty treatise on the sublime. Millar desired my permission to send one in your name to Dr. Warburton. I have delayed writing to you until I could tell you something of the success of the book, and could prognosticate with some probability whether it should be finally damned to oblivion, or should be registered in the temple of immortality. Tough it has been published only a few weeks, I think there appear already such strong symptoms, that I can almost venture to fortell its fate. It is, in short, this-- But I have been interrupted in my letter by a foolish...

Posted by DeLong at 03:02 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

September 01, 2002
The New German Problem

Project Syndicate: The New German Problem: J. Bradford DeLong : September 2002 As Germany prepares to elect its next Chancellor, the two main candidates, Gerhard Schroeder and Edmund Stoiber, agree on one thing: unemployment must be reduced. Over the past two decades, high unemployment has transformed Europe in general and Germany in particular into a sociological time bomb. What will the unemployed - especially the long-term unemployed with only dim memories of integration into the world of work - do with themselves and their time? What will happen to confidence in governments that can not solve the problem? It is easy to forget that little more than 50 years ago, Europe was the world's most violent continent. Europeans spent the previous forty years slaughtering each other on a scale unprecedented in human history. Against this backdrop, Western Europe after 1950 was remarkably peaceful and stable, even taking into account the fall of the French Fourth Republic and the transitions from dictatorship to democracy in Portugal, Spain, and Greece. The most remarkable transformation of all was that of the Federal Republic of Germany. Anyone familiar with German history since 1800 is still astonished at the enthusiasm with which the nation that...

Posted by DeLong at 04:44 PM

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

A Cautionary Tale

British Admiral Sandy Woodward -- commander of the Falklands naval battle group during Britain's war with Argentina in the 1980s -- tells the story of a pre-Falklands naval exercise in which he, with one British destroyer, three frigates, and four Exocet missiles, 'sank' the US fleet carrier Coral Sea. A cautionary tale: I was clear in my mind what I wanted to practise: the US battle group, with all its escorts and aircraft, was to take up positions well out to sea. Their job was to stop my force from getting through their guard to 'sink' their carrier before they 'sank' us. Admiral Brown was happy enough with that -- if you had been in his position, you would have been too. He could spot an enemy surface ship more than two hundred miles away, track it at his leisure, and strike it at a comfortable range with any six of his missile-launching attack aircraft. And that was only the first layer of his defence. By any modern military standard, he was well-nigh impregnable. I had Glamorgan and three frigates, plus three Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, two of which were tankers and the third, a stores ship. The frigates were...

Posted by DeLong at 01:52 AM

August 23, 2002
Max Sawicky Has Been Duped!

The well-meaning and honorable but naive and somewhat gullible Max Sawicky has been duped. He trots out a paragraph from George F. Kennan's 1948 Policy Planning Study 23: Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction. and calls it: ...a confession of original sin in U.S. foreign policy, from 1948 to the present. (It is from a memo that was originally classified.) In this light, both 'our' (i.e., the State's) motives and our deeds become problematic, don't they? But those who have led the Rt. Hon. Mr. Sawicky to this quotation have...

Posted by DeLong at 04:12 PM

August 22, 2002
A Short Excursion Into Political Philosophy

Chris Bertram quotes from Rousseau's Emile about how good social institutions discourage self-centered individualism and encourage republican virtue, and goes on to say that that's not Rousseau's ultimate position: Junius: "'Good social institutions are those that best know how to denature man, to take his absolute existence from him in order to give him a relative one and transport the I into the common unity, with the result that each individual believes himself no longer one but a part of the unity and no longer feels except within the whole. A citizen of Rome was neither Caius nor Lucius; he was a Roman.' (Bloom trans, p.40). I don't believe that this is the view that Rousseau ends up advocating, but there's a long and complicated story to be told about that... And I'm curious. I Am Not a Political Philosopher. But I thought that was the position Rousseau ended up advocating: that now that we have moved from the innocent goodness of the State of Nature to the complicated social patterning of technology-based society, we can no longer achieve Goodness, so we have to settle for something lesser: Virtue--thinking first and foremost of how our actions affect others......

Posted by DeLong at 07:20 AM

August 15, 2002
...Shall Not Perish From the Earth

Carey Gage of Cognocentric defends the idea of reading the Gettysburg Address on the one-year anniversary of 911. I agree. It's very relevant--all except the "four-score" and "civil war" parts. We have now been running for more than two hundred years. Thank God, our current ongoing war is not a civil one. And it is: ...for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. CognoCentric: The Gettysburg Address is only nominally about a nation at civil war. It is about the sacrifice made by those who died in a war being waged so that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." It is about renewing the commitment of the living "to the great task remaining before us[:] ... that cause for which they...

Posted by DeLong at 01:59 AM

August 14, 2002
Did Anything Noteworthy Happen at Runnymede?

Dan Kohn pleads for judicial review. If this goes awry, it will be the result of a very long chain of historical events originating with Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's attempts to use his office to fight for the South in the Civil War... Dan Kohn's Blog: If you don't know the name Yaser Esam Hamdi, you soon will. He was in court today to determine whether the right of Habeas Corpus, first granted to a few English nobles in the fields of Runnymede in 1215 and guaranteed by the constitution to all US citizens, will now be taken away by the Bush Administration's cavalier definition of an :"enemy combatant". The NYT reports on the federal judiciary playing their role as one of the main bulwarks of liberty: "'I have no desire to have an enemy combatant get out,' the judge said. 'But due process requires something other than a declaration by someone named Mobbs that he should be held incommunicado. Isn't that what we're fighting for?'"...

Posted by DeLong at 06:17 PM

July 22, 2002
Britain in 1902 and the U.S. in 2002

For the clippings file... Charlie's Diary Political metaphor for the day. Here's a thumbnail picture of a country, as it appears from outside: In the middle of the previous century, this country was an economic superpower, with domestic industries responsibilty for nearly 50% of planetary GDP. Since then, its lead has been eroded by rival second-rank great powers and developing nations, but it still stands at 25-30%. It sits at the heart of a vast free-trade system, although its domestic industries are subtly butressed by regulatory barriers and foreign relations muscle that give them added clout in overseas markets and partial exemption from competition at home......

Posted by DeLong at 08:48 AM

July 12, 2002
European Economic History Reading Course: Fall 2002: First Draft Syllabus

1. Basics Robert Bates and Avner Greif (1998), Analytical Narratives (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Massimo Livi-Bacci (2001), A Concise History of World Population (Oxford: Blackwell). 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). 2. Europe Before the Industrial Revolution Carlo Cipolla (1980), Before the Industrial Revolution (New York: Norton). 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). 3. The European World Economy Kenneth Pomeranz (2000), The Great Divergence: Europe, China, and the Making of a Modern World Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Barbara Solow,ed. (1991), Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press). 4. The Coming of the Industrial Age NFR Crafts (1985), British Economic Growth during the Industrial Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Joel Mokyr, ed. (1999), The British Industrial Revolution: An Economic Perspective (Boulder, CO: Westview Press). 5. Globalization Barry Eichengreen and Marc Flandreau (1997), The Gold Standard in Theory and History Kevin O'Rourke and Jeffrey Williamson (1999), Globalization and History: The Evolution of a...

Posted by DeLong at 12:04 PM

July 05, 2002
Caesar's Commentaries

It's been a long time since I read this. I want to read it again... Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars: with the Supplementary Books attributed to Hirtius. From the UVA Library's Electronic Texts Center. All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in our Gauls, the third. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The river Garonne separates the Gauls from the Aquitani; the Marne and the Seine separate them from the Belgae. Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilization and refinement of [our] Province, and merchants least frequently resort to them, and import those things which tend to effeminate the mind; and they are the nearest to the Germans, who dwell beyond the Rhine, with whom they are continually waging war; for which reason the Helvetii also surpass the rest of the Gauls in valor, as they contend with the Germans in almost daily battles, when they either repel them from their own territories, or themselves wage war on their frontiers. One part of these, which it...

Posted by DeLong at 08:39 AM

July 04, 2002
An Historical Document

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America: When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that...

Posted by DeLong at 08:00 PM

July 03, 2002
The Accumulation Century, the Education Century, and What Comes Next...?

The nineteenth century was the age of invention, innovation, and accumulation. New technologies were developed in the lab and installed in the field, on the road, and in the factory. These new technologies were for the most part embodied in expensive and sophisticated capital goods. Hence economic growth in the nineteenth century was overwhelmingly the accumulation and deployment of physical capital goods that embodied productve modern technologies. By contrast, the twentieth century saw not a rise but a fall in the physical capital-output ratio. We have many more and much more sophisticated machines and structures now, yes. But the ratio of the value of capital to the value of output has fallen. In this sense, the twenteith century was the human-skill century, one in which the key complementarity was not between technology and machines but between technology and the skills and capabilities of the labor force. What comes next? What will the start of the twenty-first century bring? Unless the U.S. makes a major national effort, a variety of forces seem to be working to make the upgrading of the educational and skill level of the American labor force much slower in the future than it has been in the...

Posted by DeLong at 01:20 PM

June 27, 2002
It's the Fast of Tammuz

Hmmm... Why does my Palm Pilot--excuse me, my Handspring Visor Palm-Compatible Not-Connected Organizer Personal Digital Assistant--know that today is the Fast of Tammuz? What is the Fast of Tammuz? What is Tammuz? Googling... Ah. There are five minor fasts on the Jewish calendar... instituted by the Sages to commemorate some national tragedy... The Fast of Tammuz, Tammuz 17, is the date when the walls of Jerusalem were breached. So the Fast of Tammuz is a fast that takes place in the month of Tammuz, not a fast for the Babylonian god Tammuz--although the (Jewish) month Tammuz is named after the (Babylonian) god Tammuz--the good shepherd who was slain, descended into hell, and then was resurrected by the love and power of his wife Inanna....

Posted by DeLong at 12:52 PM

June 23, 2002
Bequests: An Historical Perspective

So I've finally put to bed a sketch of how the relative economic importance of bequests has changed over the past five centuries. The more I think about it, the more I think that the central points--the stunning decline in the relative importance of inherited wealth with the coming of modern economic growth, and the way in which America initially defined itself as hostile to inheritance for equality of opportunity's sake--are very important. Thus I find myself frustrated: I think I have important things to say, but I don't think I've said them as well as they deserve. Abstract: Practically every major aspect of our system of inheritance today is less than two hundred and fifty years old. Two hundred and fifty years ago, inheritance proceeded through primogeniture--as if those leaving bequests cared not for the well-being of their descendants but only for the wealth and power of the lineage head. Before the industrial revolution, inheritance played an overwhelming and crucial role in wealth accumulation and wealth distribution that it does not play today. Migration to the New World was accompanied by a rapid shift in the perception of the purpose of inheritance as the old patterns failed to flourish...

Posted by DeLong at 02:25 PM

June 21, 2002
Julius Caesar: His Personal Weblog

C. Julius Caesar's Personal Weblog: "I'm heading up to Geneva. One of the Gaul tribes is planning on cutting through Roman territory, in an attempt to go and fight some other tribe. I'm the governor of Gaul now, so I have to stop them... I'm caught a little off guard – there's only one legion up there, so I'm trying to raise some more at the same time. "Well, it looks like I might be away more than I'd like, so I decided to set up this blog. My friends in Rome can keep track of what I'm up to amongst the barbarians..." Bloggus Caesari...

Posted by DeLong at 04:28 PM

June 10, 2002
Cultural Historians Are Different From You and Me

If asked where in the past I would like to go on a one-way permanent trip, I would definitely not say "Amsterdam in 1660"--or any place else without antibiotics. Five years ago (so that I could make a real killing in the stock market) would seem about right. The past is another, fascinating country, yes. But the pre-industrial past is poor, disease ridden, ignorant, and--if one reflects on the cost of nighttime illumination and the difficulty of travel--boring. (On a two-way round-trip into the past, however, there are lots of possibilities...) Yet Columbia's Simon Schama appears to think very differently... Independent News Simon Schama: You ask the questions He is currently University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University in New York. He is internationally acclaimed for his books, which include The Embarrassment of Riches, Citizen, Rembrandt's Eyes, and his two volumes of A History of Britain. Q: If you could make one journey backwards in time, without the possibility of coming back, where would you go?Douglas Martin, by e-mail A: Amsterdam, 1660. The best bread; the best pictures; the most stunning streetscapes in the world; the most musical pubs; the glossiest dogs; the most dazzling women, the...

Posted by DeLong at 04:42 PM

June 07, 2002
How Much of a Difference Did Trade Make in the Nineteenth Century?

Something to add to my "to be read" list. The question of how much of rises in real wages in western Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century were due to world trade and migration--the existence of the temperate "settler regions" like the U.S., Canada, Australia, Argentina,and so on--has long interested me. And Kevin O'Rourke and Jeffrey Williamson have been gnawing at pieces of this puzzle for a long time... From Malthus to Ohlin: Trade, Growth and Distribution Since 1500 Kevin H. O'Rourke, Jeffrey G. WilliamsonNBER Working Paper No.w8955 Issued in May 2002...

Posted by DeLong at 12:56 PM

May 31, 2002
World Population Distribution 2000

I'm tired of maps of world population that lazily represent a country's population as evenly distributed throughout its territory. Who in India lives in the Thar Desert? How many people in Egypt live outside the Nile Valley? The map below is an attempt to show the real human population distribution in 2000

Posted by DeLong at 02:10 PM

May 19, 2002
Things That Make You Go, "Hmmm..."

That Romania is north of Bulgaria is not *that* hard a concept to hold on to...

Posted by DeLong at 03:42 PM

May 16, 2002
The Fall of France, 1940

Josh Marshall writes: "I really, really, really want to recommend a book to you. It's called Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France and it's by Ernest R. May, a highly respected diplomatic historian. There are two reasons why this book is so good. The first is that it is just a marvelously engrossing narrative of one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th Century..."

Posted by DeLong at 02:52 PM

May 01, 2002
The Economic History of India

Tirthankar Roy, _The Economic History of India 1857-1947_. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000. xiv + 318pp. Rs. 595 or $24.95 (cloth), ISBN: 0-19-565154-5. Reviewed for EH.NET by Santhi Hejeebu, Department of Economics and History, University of Iowa. Teachers of Indian economic history will welcome Tirthankar Roy's _Economic History of India 1857-1957_. Roy provides a chronological survey of the colonial economy by economic sector -- agriculture, small-scale industry, large-scale industry, plantations, mines, banking, and the public sector. The book also provides separate chapters on "the macroeconomy" and "population and labour force." In a heterodox field in which historical economists often find themselves defensive about their methods and struggling with a paucity of records, Roy offers a serious attempt to place the tools of economic analysis in the service of Indian history. The goal of his _Economic History of India_ is to convey to budding historians and economists how this might be done. Despite the fact that the survey covers the colonial period, Roy does not view the government of British India as the prime mover of the economy. This is most evident in his lucid discussion of the de-industrialization debate. He writes, "De-industrialization means a decline in traditional small scale industry...

Posted by DeLong at 05:26 PM

April 16, 2002
Robbins on Keynes

Stanley Fischer's Robbins Lectures have a quote from Lionel Robbins's wartime diaries (June 24, 1944) about John Maynard Keynes's intellectual dominance over the Atlantic Alliance's post-WWII economic planning: Keynes was in his most lucid and persuasive mood; and the effect was irresistible. At such moments, I often find myself thinking that Keynes must be one of the most remarkable men that have ever lived – the quick logic, the birdlike swoop of intuition, the vivid fancy, the wide vision, above all the incomparable sense of the fitness of words, all combine to make something several degrees beyond the limit of ordinary human achievement. Certainly, in our own age, only the Prime Minister [Churchill] is of comparable stature. He, of course, surpasses him. But the greatness of the Prime Minister is something much easier to understand than the genius of Keynes. For in the last analysis, the special qualities of the Prime Minister are the traditional qualities of our race raised to the scale of grandeur. Whereas the special qualities of Keynes are something outside all that. He uses the classical style of our life and language, it is true, but it is shot through with something that is not traditional,...

Posted by DeLong at 10:00 PM

March 21, 2002
Robbins on Keynes

Stanley Fischer's Robbins Lectures have a quote from Lionel Robbins's wartime diaries (June 24, 1944) about John Maynard Keynes's intellectual dominance over the Atlantic Alliance's post-WWII economic planning: Keynes was in his most lucid and persuasive mood; and the effect was irresistible. At such moments, I often find myself thinking that Keynes must be one of the most remarkable men that have ever lived – the quick logic, the birdlike swoop of intuition, the vivid fancy, the wide vision, above all the incomparable sense of the fitness of words, all combine to make something several degrees beyond the limit of ordinary human achievement. Certainly, in our own age, only the Prime Minister [Churchill] is of comparable stature. He, of course, surpasses him. But the greatness of the Prime Minister is something much easier to understand than the genius of Keynes. For in the last analysis, the special qualities of the Prime Minister are the traditional qualities of our race raised to the scale of grandeur. Whereas the special qualities of Keynes are something outside all that. He uses the classical style of our life and language, it is true, but it is shot through with something that is not traditional,...

Posted by DeLong at 10:00 PM

February 02, 2002
Ten Questions About the Evolution of American Corporate Governance

(1) What testable claims are actually made by Mark Roe in his _Strong Managers, Weak Owners_? How would we test them? (2) Just how were the late nineteenth-century Robber Barons able to raise so much capital without effective investor protections? (3) The separation of investment from commercial bankings has legal foundations in the fact that progressive-era reform proposals were dusted off and applied to the securities markets because the New Deal had to do something. But does it have older roots? (4) What do we think of the extent-of-territory theory: taht the U.S. is just so damn big that diversification is just too attractive? (5) What do we think of the retail sales theory: Salmon Chase, James Stillman, Charles Merrill all made lots of money by pushing securities out to retail investors at relatively high prices? (6) What do we think about the weak governance theory: that political influence was worth less in U.S., hence the benefits of diversification were more valuable than the benefits of having a central financier-negotiator to strike deals with the government? (7) Paul Allen, a very smart guy, tried to become high-tech financier-baron and had his head handed to him. Why? (8) Why does having...

Posted by DeLong at 04:37 PM

February 01, 2002
Key Dates in the Invention and Development of the Steamship

Steamship Chronology 1822 | England's S.S. Aaron Manby is the world's first iron steamship. She undergoes trials on the Thames and then goes into service across the Channel, arriving at Paris June 10 with a cargo of linseed oil and iron. 1829 | New York sailing captain Cornelius van Derbilt, 33, begins building steamboats.1840 The wooden steamship Britannia arrives at Boston on the first voyage of the government-subsidized Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. established the year before by Nova Scotia-born shipper Samuel Cunard, 43, in association with George and James Burns of Glasgow and David M'Iver of Liverpool. 1843 | The S.S. Great Britain launched July 19 by I. K. Brunel is the first of the large iron-hulled screw-propeller steamships that will dominate the transatlantic trade. The six-masted, single-screw, 3,270-ton vessel is 322 feet in length overall and carries a crew of 130 including 30 stewards, her dining room seats 360, she is the first propeller-driven ship (and first iron ship) to cross the Atlantic......

Posted by DeLong at 04:55 PM

November 09, 2001
The Fourth Estate

Il Quarto Stato One of my favorite paintings: I'm happy to have found it on the web......

Posted by DeLong at 09:57 PM

November 06, 1999
Review of Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel

Why did Europeans conquer Peru, Mexico, Ghana, and Australia? Why didn't Incas, Aztecs, Ashanti, or Australians conquer Eurasians. That is the question that Jared Diamond answers--largely successfully--in this book. And his answer can be summed up in one phrase: "seeds, germs, size, and guns." (Note that the answer is not "guns, germs, and steel"--a phrase that is more euphonious but less meaningful.) Eurasian societies acquired a key advantage relative to other societies because of big seeds. Eurasian societies acquired a key advantage (relative to other societies) in their resistance to germs. The relatively advantageous biological endowment of Eurasian societies was then reinforced because of the size of Eurasia. And the relative edge possessed by European societies was then amplified to overwhelming proportions by guns....

Posted by DeLong at 04:17 PM

June 01, 1990
Robert B. Barsky and J. Bradford DeLong (1990), "Bull and Bear Markets in the Twentieth Century," Journal of Economic History 50: 2 (June), pp. 1-17.

Robert B. Barsky and J. Bradford DeLong (1990), "Bull and Bear Markets in the Twentieth Century," Journal of Economic History 50: 2 (June), pp. 1-17....

Posted by DeLong at 03:10 PM

January 01, 1990
J. Bradford DeLong (1990), "In Defense of Henry Simons' Credentials as a Classical Liberal," Cato Journal 9: 1 (Winter), pp. 105-122.

J. Bradford DeLong (1990), "In Defense of Henry Simons' Credentials as a Classical Liberal," Cato Journal 9: 1 (Winter), pp. 105-122....

Posted by DeLong at 03:07 PM

J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers (1990), "Price Level `Flexibility' and the Coming of the New Deal: A Response to Sumner," Cato Journal 9: 1 (Winter), pp. 729-735.

J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers (1990), "Price Level `Flexibility' and the Coming of the New Deal: A Response to Sumner," Cato Journal 9: 1 (Winter), pp. 729-735....

Posted by DeLong at 03:04 PM

December 01, 1989
J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Review of Nicholas Spulber, Managing the American Economy from Roosevelt to Reagan," Journal of Economic History 49:3 (December), pp. 1058-1059.

J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Review of Nicholas Spulber, Managing the American Economy from Roosevelt to Reagan," Journal of Economic History 49:3 (December), pp. 1058-1059....

Posted by DeLong at 02:59 PM

September 01, 1989
J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Facets of Interwar Unemployment," Journal of Monetary Economics 49:3 (September), pp. 800-802.

J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Facets of Interwar Unemployment," Journal of Monetary Economics 49:3 (September), pp. 800-802....

Posted by DeLong at 02:02 PM

July 01, 1989
J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "The `Protestant Ethic' Revisited: A Twentieth-Century Look," Fletcher Forum 13: 2 (Summer), pp. 229-242.

J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "The `Protestant Ethic' Revisited: A Twentieth-Century Look," Fletcher Forum 13: 2 (Summer), pp. 229-242....

Posted by DeLong at 01:59 PM

J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Nassau Senior's `Last Hour' and the `Advances' Conception of Capital Revisited," History of Political Economy 21: 2 (Summer), pp. 309-310.

J. Bradford DeLong (1989), "Nassau Senior's `Last Hour' and the `Advances' Conception of Capital Revisited," History of Political Economy 21: 2 (Summer), pp. 309-310....

Posted by DeLong at 01:46 PM

March 01, 1988
J. Bradford DeLong (1988), "Review of I. Berend and K. Borchardt, eds., The Impact of the Great Depression of the 1930s," Journal of Economic History 48:1 (March), pp. 239-240.

J. Bradford DeLong (1988), "Review of I. Berend and K. Borchardt, eds., The Impact of the Great Depression of the 1930s," Journal of Economic History 48:1 (March), pp. 239-240....

Posted by DeLong at 11:42 AM

September 01, 1987
J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of N.F.R. Crafts, British Economic Growth during the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 790-792.

J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of N.F.R. Crafts, British Economic Growth during the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 790-792....

Posted by DeLong at 11:39 AM

J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of Bernard Elbaum and William Lazonick, The Decline of the British Economy," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 792-795.

J. Bradford DeLong (1987), "Review of Bernard Elbaum and William Lazonick, The Decline of the British Economy," Journal of Economic History 47:3 (September), pp. 792-795....

Posted by DeLong at 11:37 AM

August 01, 1986
J. Bradford DeLong (1986), "Senior's `Last Hour': A Suggested Resolution of a Famous Blunder," History of Political Economy 18: 2 (Summer), pp. 325-333.

J. Bradford DeLong (1986), "Senior's `Last Hour': A Suggested Resolution of a Famous Blunder," History of Political Economy 18: 2 (Summer), pp. 325-333....

Posted by DeLong at 08:14 AM

July 01, 1986
J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers (1986), "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," in Robert J. Gordon, ed., The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press for the National Bureau of Economic Research), pp. 679-719.

J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers (1986), "The Changing Cyclical Variability of Economic Activity in the United States," in Robert J. Gordon, ed., The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press for the National Bureau of Economic Research), pp. 679-719....

Posted by DeLong at 08:11 AM

J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers (1986), "A Comment on John Taylor's `Improvements in Macroeconomic Stability: The Role of Wages and Prices'," in Robert J. Gordon, ed., The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press for the National Bureau of Economic Research), pp. 667-675.

J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers (1986), "A Comment on John Taylor's `Improvements in Macroeconomic Stability: The Role of Wages and Prices'," in Robert J. Gordon, ed., The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press for the National Bureau of Economic Research), pp. 667-675....

Posted by DeLong at 08:08 AM