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Bradford DeLong

Bradford DeLong

J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in budget and trade negotiations. His role in designing the bailout of Mexico during the 1994 peso crisis placed him at the forefront of Latin America’s transformation into a region of open economies, and cemented his stature as a leading voice in economic-policy debates.

Articles by Bradford DeLong

Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, November 16-22, 2021

November 22, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. The extremely sharp Sam Abbott has what I think is an excellent column on how much the U.S. economy is held back by our collective failure to construct a reasonable and effective system for childcare. Read “The child care economy: How investments in early care and education can fuel U.S. economic growth immediately and over the long term,” in which he writes: “Insufficient child care options can prevent parents who wish to work from doing so, with mothers often bearing the brunt of this challenge. … High-quality early care and education provides critical socialization and learning opportunities when the brain is developing rapidly and is particularly responsive to the outside environment. … Adequate funding is necessary for human capital

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, November 2-8, 2021

November 8, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. The general flow of news and misinformation in today’s media gives people who are not following closely a very false impression. It greatly understates how far we still are away from full employment. There remain considerable supply constraints on people’s willingness and ability to work—fear of catching Covid-19 and then giving it to immunocompromised and elderly relatives and friends, plus the logistical difficulties that stubbornly remain large, due to the inability to get all of the pieces of the family weekly schedule together, and due to failures of supply chain management in the U.S. economy as a whole. As these supply constraints are relaxed in the future, there will then need to be the demand to pull people back into work, and into

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, October 26-November 1, 2021

November 1, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. The excellent Anna Stansbury makes a very good point here—the size of the penalties multiplied by the likelihood of enforcement are such that a firm can, in all probability, make higher profits by violating than by complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Nation Labor Relations Act. To the extent that firms do comply with these legal obligations, it is as part of a broader social contract of expectations of cooperative behavior. But that social contract has been degrading and decaying at least since the late 1960s. Read her “Do US Firms Have an Incentive to Comply with the FLSA and the NLRA?,” in which she writes: ‘To what extent do US firms have an incentive to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, October 19-25, 2021

October 25, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1.  Highlighting this from a year and a half ago from Equitable Growth’s new president & CEO. Read Michelle Holder, “The “Double Gap” and the Bottom Line: African American Women’s Wage Gap and Corporate Profits,” in which she wrote: “Though African American women have historically had the highest labor force participation rate among major female demographic groups in the United States, they face both the gender wage gap and the racial wage gap—a reinforcing confluence that I term the ‘double gap’… [showing] that both the share of women in the labor force and the crowding of women into low-wage jobs are negatively correlated with the labor income share.”2. Check out Equitable Growth’s new “A Visual Economy,” which features “visuals on a

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, October 13-18, 2021

October 18, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. Our Expert Focus series this month tells you why you should be paying attention to the extremely sharp Francisca Antman, Mónica García-Pérez, Mark Hugo López, G. Cristina Mora, and Eileen V. Segarra Alméstica. Read Aixa Alemán-Díaz, Christian Edlagan, and Maria Monroe, “Expert Focus: Latino leaders in economics and a call for more data & research about Latinos and Hispanics,” in which they right: “Equitable Growth is committed to building a community of scholars working to understand how inequality affects broadly shared growth and stability. To that end, we have created the monthly series, ‘Expert Focus.’ This series highlights scholars in the Equitable Growth network and beyond who are at the frontier of social science research. … In

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, October 5-12, 2021

October 12, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. If the distribution of U.S. income and wealth is not moving much, and if one is (for reasons that are largely tactical-political) willing to submerge questions about the current state of the distribution of income and wealth, then there is some sense in taking measures of national income as a summary statistic of the state of the U.S. economy. If not, not. For a generation and a half it has been clear that neither of those conditions holds anymore, if they ever really held at all. And yet we are still using national income as our summary statistic—when we are not using the stock market, that is. Read Austin Clemens, “Measuring economic outcomes for all U.S. workers and their families will hold policymakers accountable for creating

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, September 21-27, 2021

September 27, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. Back in the real old days, large family sizes meant that the economies of scale in child care were captured for the most part within the family, and certainly within the extended family. In our time of nuclear families and low fertility a great deal of this essential work and life is done at a much greater societal resource load per child than a better organized society would do. Read Sam Abbott, “The child care economy,” in which he writes: “Insufficient child care options can prevent parents who wish to work from doing so, with mothers often bearing the brunt of this challenge. … High-quality early care and education provides critical socialization and learning opportunities when the brain is developing rapidly. … Adequate funding is

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, September 14-20, 2021

September 20, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. The stakes involved in pushing the U.S. congressional reconciliation bill to the goalposts are very large indeed. Read Alix Gould-Werth and Sam Abbott, “Congressional investments in social infrastructure would support immediate and long-term U.S. economic growth,” in which they write: “President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda … boasts the potential to reshape the U.S. economy … [by] supporting workers and families with investments in care infrastructure, including a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program and increased investment in early care and education, as well as income supports, such as a permanent fully refundable Child Tax Credit and structural reforms to the Unemployment Insurance program. Common sense, as well

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, August 31-September 13, 2021

September 13, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1) Sixty-two very good people were funded for the next year, “Equitable Growth announces a record $1.39 million in research grants for scholars examining economic inequality and growth.” I confess that this program has been even more of a success than I had projected. It turns out a lot of very good people really were budget-constrained in doing the very good work that they wanted to do. And I confess that I had underestimated how much the research-university system as it worked a decade ago was constraining visible economic research away from policy-relevant and equitable growth-relevant topics. :2. It was the economist Martha Bailey who first hammered home to me how incredibly important fertility control and child spacing has been for

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, August 10-16, 2021

August 16, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. Back when I worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury during the Clinton administration, it was completely and totally routine for us to have distribution tables by income—not by race, but the ones by income were not an unreasonable proxy. It was a problem that distributional tables were not very good. To make them good would’ve required a significant staff boost. The same will be true for the Congressional Budget Office. That’s why the CBO budget needs a substantial boost to do a good job of carrying out this increase in its mission. Read Corey Husak, “Congress needs distribution analyses to make informed, equitable policy choices and the CBO FAIR Scoring Act would deliver it,” in which he writes: “Before voting on legislation, members

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, August 3-9, 2021

August 9, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. Getting social insurance to people who need it during the coronavirus pandemic also entails getting a lot of extra resources to people who really do not need it. Why? Precisely because the income support infrastructure in the United States is so weak. We could have done the income support job much more cheaply and fairly amid the pandemic. Not that I regret the effort. I do not regret it at all. But continuous improvement is the watchword. And there is a huge amount that we could have done beforehand, and that we could do now, to improve our nation’s social infrastructure. Read Liz Hipple and Alix Gould-Werth, “Weak income support infrastructure harms U.S. workers and their families & constrains economic growth,” in which

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, July 27-August 2, 2021

August 2, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. Read this policy analysis by former Equitable Growth senior policy advisor Liz Hipple to understand what it would mean if the federal Child Tax Credit becomes permanent, Back in March, in “The child allowance will pay dividends for the entire U.S. Economy far into the future,” she wrote: “Economists, other social scientists, and policymakers alike already know from research into other, similar income support programs, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, that increasing the economic resources that families have helps them make investments in their children’s human capital development, which, in turn, improves children’s school performance and completion and boosts their

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, July 20-26, 2021

July 26, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. I would put this analysis more strongly. The price level now is 10 percent below where consensus forecasts that it would be a decade ago. In that context, a quarter—or a year, or two years—of 5 percent-a-year inflation is simply not an issue. Read Francesco D’Acunto and Michael Weber, “A temporary increase in inflation is not a long-run threat to U.S. economic growth and prosperity,” in which they write: “Recent 5 percent inflation rate appears much less concerning once we account for what economists call the base rate effect—the price level 12 months ago, in the midst of a pandemic recession in which demand was artificially low due to lockdown measures. … As this base rate effect vanishes over the next few months—due to the sharp drop in

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, July 13-19, 2021

July 19, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. I think this is a great decision and is going to lead to great and wonderful things. Read “A note from incoming Equitable Growth President & CEO Michelle Holder,” in which she writes: “I’ve admired the Washington Center for Equitable Growth since its inception in 2013, so I am thrilled to become its next leader. Equitable Growth’s mission—to accelerate research on how inequality affects economic growth and stability—hits home for me. … Examining how inequality inhibits growth, and promoting effective and actionable policies, is absolutely critical if we want to improve our economy and society more broadly. As a second-generation immigrant, first-generation college graduate, and working mom, my lived experience lies at the nexus of

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, June 29-July 6, 2021

July 6, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. The first reason that tax cuts on capital income and on income for the rich did not produce higher investment and faster economic growth is that an economy at full employment (or in a U.S. economy where the Federal Reserve has a very strong sense of the wedge it should maintain vis-à-vis full employment), any incentive effects of tax cuts on investment will be offset by the drag imposed by the larger government deficit on investment. Only when the economy is not at full employment, and the Fed either is or thinks it is out of ammunition, can tax cuts have any significant effect on aggregate demand. And, even then, it is not clear that the component of aggregate demand that will be boosted is the investment component. There is an income as

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, June 22-28, 2021

June 28, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. This is an excellent choice. This will be great fun. And we really do have a shot at changing the world, albeit in a small way: “Equitable Growth Names Economist Michelle Holder as New CEO” in a press release that details “Holder will take the reins at 7-year-old nonprofit research and grantmaking organization dedicated to accelerating research on how economic inequality affects economic growth and stability. … Holder is an assistant professor of economics at John Jay College, City University of New York. Her research focuses on the Black community and women of color in the U.S. labor market. Holder will succeed former President and CEO and co-founder Heather Boushey, who currently serves as a member of the White House Council of Economic

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, June 15-21, 2021

June 21, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. Past discrimination in the United States has created a legacy of present inequality in wealth, income, access to education, and so on. Present discrimination amplifies these inequalities inherited from the past and ensures that they are transmitted into the future. We do not know nearly as much as we should about how these processes are working out on the ground in the United States today. And if we are going to attain equitable growth, we very much need to collect much more data on how these processes are working. Read Shaun Harrison, “The imperative of focusing on racial equity in U.S. economic statistics,” in which he writes: “The coronavirus pandemic and resulting sharp recession put a glaring spotlight on the importance of data

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, June 2-7, 2021

June 7, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. Here’s a brand-new, very interesting, and very well-done working paper by Raissa Dantas and Jacob Robbins. Read their “Covid–19 Businesses Reopenings & Consumer Spending,” in which they write: :This paper studies … Covid–19 retail and restaurant shutdowns. … We find reopening policies substantially increased the dramatic ‘V’ shaped pattern of consumer spending for categories directly impacted by the laws: a 68.4 p.p. increase in non-essential in-store spending and a 16.7 p.p. increase in full-service indoor dining. For sectors not directly impacted—essential retail, limited-service restaurants, and online—we find a limited impact of reopenings. We estimate that retail reopenings are responsible for 34% of the total trough-to-peak recovery

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, May 25–June 1, 2021

June 1, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. The very sharp Adriana Kugler, one of Equitable Growth’s grant recipients, on MPR news. I would highlight the urgency of accomplishing the tasks with respect to reforming unemployment benefits that she lays out. This really must be done before the next recession, which could come any year. And they should be done immediately. In the end, the United States may turn out, all in all, to have handled the coronavirus pandemic better than other North Atlantic economies because of the extraordinary vaccine success and a fiscal response that was, for once, at the proper scale. But the average accomplishment of the comparison group was so bad that “best in class” is very weak praise indeed. Listen to Kugler on MPR and read a synopsis

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, May 18-24, 2021

May 24, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. This is (part of) the argument that Stephen S. Cohen and I were trying to make in our 2016 book Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Policy. Our conception of how our economic policy was in the past—when successful, pragmatic, and utilitarian—has been largely lost during the ideological age of the past generation. Read Nic Johnson, Robert Manduca, and Chris Hong, “The American anti-austerity tradition,” in which they write: “The victory of neoliberalism beginning in the 1980s has … totally vitiated our historical imaginations, it can be hard to picture the American past as anything other than a laissez faire frontier society … Recogniz[ing] our unfamiliar history can give policymakers the confidence they need

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Brad DeLong: Worthy reads on equitable growth, May 11-17, 2021

May 17, 2021

Worthy reads from Equitable Growth:

1. As I previously wrote, burning rubber and leaving skid marks as you rejoin traffic at speed is not the same thing as boiling over and melting your engine. My view is that we should not worry about an inflationary spiral from “overheating” until we have made back the 9 percentage points by which the price level today has undershot expectations of where prices today would be back at the start of the Great Recession. Read Equitable Growth’s “Overheating is not a concern for the U.S. economy,” which says: “Plans for further public investments should be judged primarily on the merits of those investments. Arguments that the U.S. economy will overheat ignore the need for additional investments in the economy and rely on the possibility of future

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PODCAST: Hexapodia XIV: The Capital Gains Tax

May 17, 2021

Noah Smith & Brad DeLong’s 30:00 < [Length of Weekly Podcast] < 60:00

Key Insights:

Economic arguments against higher taxes that may have been somewhat plausible back in the days of 70% or so maximum individual and 40% or so maximum capital gains tax rates simply do not apply now.

Right-wing parties that don’t think they can credibly make the argument that cosseting their core constituencies is necessary for rapid economic growth search for some non-economic cleavage in which the rich and the right-thinking poor, or the right-colored poor, can be on one side and the people who seek a fairer and more equal distribution of income and higher taxes on the rich can be put on the other—let’s all yell about critical race theory, and maybe they won’t pay attention to the fact that

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Cory Doctorow on How Weblogging Made His Brain What It Is Today; & BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-16 Su

May 16, 2021

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember…

An all-in commitment to weblogging has been extraordinarily successful for Cory Doctorow. But for most of us the connections between the current flow, the past stock, and the larger projects that he has managed to maintain have eluded us. We can either manage the flow, curate the stock, or ship large projects—only one at a time:

Cory Doctorow: The Memex Method. When Your Commonplace Book Is a Public Database: ‘The very act of recording your actions and impressions is itself powerfully mnemonic…. The genius of the blog was… in the publishing. The act of making your log-file public requires a rigor that keeping personal notes does not…. Repeated acts of public description adds each idea to a supersaturated, subconscious solution

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BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-13 Th

May 16, 2021

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember…

 
First:
The world would have been much better advised fifteen months ago to, rather than listening to the infectious-disease community, WHO, & CDC, to have simply observed: This thing evolved it batcaves. Avoid batcaves. Make sure that the respiratory environment in which you breathe is as close to being the exact opposite of a batcave as you can—ventilation, outdoors, distanced, masks:

Zeynep Tufekci: The Few Sentences That Explain Much of What Went Wrong With Our Pandemic Response: ‘How could it be so wrong, even after more than a year?… Some of the founders of public health and the field of infectious control of diseases around the world made key errors and conflations around the turn of the 20th century. These errors

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HOISTED FROM THE ARCHIVES: Review of Richard Evans: “Lying About Hitler”

May 16, 2021

I always wish I had done something more with this…

Richard Evans (2000), Lying About Hitler: History, the Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial (New York: Basic Books: 0465021522). 
Richard Evans (1997), In Defense of History (New York: Norton: 0393319598).

The Irving Case
For about a decade Richard Evans’s (1987) book Death in Hamburg: Society and Politics in the Cholera Years 1830-1910 had been on my "read someday" list. But at the beginning of 2000 I ran across his name again. He was to be an expert witness for author Deborah Lipstadt in her defense against David Irving’s charge that she had libeled him by calling him a "Holocaust denier."
Irving had sued Lipstadt because her 1994 book Denying the Holocaust, had called him a "discredited" historian with "neofascist"

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Grasping Reality by Brad DeLong 2021-05-16 23:51:43

May 16, 2021

First:
A Snippet from a Dialogue: The Current Plague in India:
Axiothea: How much worse are things in India than the statistics the Indian government is reporting say?
Parmenides: We do think that here in the United States we have had 900,000 rather than 600,000 deaths—out of a total caseload of perhaps 60 million, perhaps 120 million. How bad are things in India right now, really? And how bad are they going to get?
Aesclepius: We do not know. We guess that true plague deaths are between three and eight times officially recorded deaths. And we guess that India is only halfway through this current plague wave.
Axiothea: If so, note that India currently is at 200 reported deaths per million—say the true number is 1000, 0.1% of the population, and it is going to double before this

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BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-11 Tu

May 16, 2021

Snippet from a Dialogue:
Axiothea: The gap between the labor-force participation rate for prime-age workers and the unemployment rate is still large—as large as it was in 2014. That suggests to me that our first take should be that, except for rate-of-change effects, the labor market now is about as tight as it was in 2014.
Kephalos: That the “labor shortage” crowd thinks that the unemployment rate includes a bunch of people who are really out-of-the-labor-force is something I find somewhat disturbing. Or do they not know that unemployment is still elevated?
Glaukon: The job-openings series hit an extraordinary record high at the end of March: over 8 million. I suggest that helps answer some of the questions. It certainly would not be easy to fill that many slots quickly, no matter

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BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-11 Tu

May 16, 2021

Snippet from a Dialogue:
Axiothea: The gap between the labor-force participation rate for prime-age workers and the unemployment rate is still large—as large as it was in 2014. That suggests to me that our first take should be that, except for rate-of-change effects, the labor market now is about as tight as it was in 2014.
Kephalos: That the “labor shortage” crowd thinks that the unemployment rate includes a bunch of people who are really out-of-the-labor-force is something I find somewhat disturbing. Or do they not know that unemployment is still elevated?
Glaukon: The job-openings series hit an extraordinary record high at the end of March: over 8 million. I suggest that helps answer some of the questions. It certainly would not be easy to fill that many slots quickly, no matter

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