41 episodes

Key insights—economics, finance, political economy, and wrestling with how to teach the world good economics through every means possible, & some means impossible...

braddelong.substack.com

braddelong.substack.com

"Hexapodia" Is the Key Insight: by Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Brad DeLong

    • Business
    • 4.5 • 38 Ratings

Key insights—economics, finance, political economy, and wrestling with how to teach the world good economics through every means possible, & some means impossible...

braddelong.substack.com

braddelong.substack.com

    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XL: Coming to America Immigration Edition

    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XL: Coming to America Immigration Edition

    Key Insights:

    We should avoid the tendency to paint the past, nostalgically, as a golden age.

    If we take the long view there is an overwhelming continuity in the immigrant experience.

    The immigrant experience is a very positive story—both then and now.

    There is great hope for positive change in our immigration system: comprehensive immigration reform is not a third rail in American politics.

    Remember George Washington’s take on immigration: “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment…”

    There is a great deal right with America, but if we want to focus on what is wrong with America, look to intersectionality: what is happening to the sons of 1st-generation Caribbean-American immigrants?

    Hexapodia!

    References:

    Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan: Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success https://www.amazon.com/Streets-Gold-Americas-Immigrant-Success/dp/1541797833>

    Leah Platt Boustan: Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migrants in Northern Cities and Labor Markets https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GP3POLU/>
    +, of course:

    Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0/mode/1up>

    Notes & Questions:

    Americans vastly overestimate how many immigrants are in the country today. Americans guess 36% of the country is born abroad, whereas the real number is 14%.

    The second biggest misconception is that immigrants nowadays are faring more poorly in the economy and are less likely to become American than immigrants 100 years ago. That is simply not true

    Immigrants take steps to 'fit in' just as much today as they did in the past.

    The children of Mexican parents do pretty well today! Even though they were raised at the 25th percentile in childhood, they reach the 50th percentile in adulthood on average. Compare that to the children of US-born white parents raised at the same point, who only reach the 46th percentile.

    One of the main changes for Mexican immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s is that they settled in larger numbers away from "gateway" communities.

    The children of poor Irish or Italian immigrant parents outperformed the children of poor US-born parents in the early 20th century; the same is true of the children of immigrants today—with the exception of the sons of 1st generation Caribbean-Americans.

    Immigrants tended to settle in dynamic cities that provided opportunities both for themselves and for their kids. This makes sense: immigrants have already left home, often in pursuit of economic opportunity, so once they move to the US they are more willing to go where the opportunities are. 

    We suspect that educational differences between groups matter today. Immigrant families can pass along educational advantages to their children.

    For kids in 1910 observed working in 1940, immigrants have lower levels of education than otherwise similar children of US-born parents, but yet they earn more. Why? Geography. Immigrants and their children lived in more dynamic locations (for example: in cities, and outside of the South).

    Immigrants that people (somewhat disparagingly) call "low-skilled" are actually pretty selected: It takes a lot of bravery, motivation, and resourcefulness to pick up and move to a new country, especially without much money or connections or language skills. 

    What role did the Cold War and the Red Scare play in discouraging social movements and progressive legislation?

    What were the effects of the early “computerized factory” on the labor market and on productivity?

    Get full access to Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality at braddelong.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 13 min
    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXIX: Bidenomics Industrial Policy Edition: CHIPS & IRA

    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXIX: Bidenomics Industrial Policy Edition: CHIPS & IRA

    Key Insights:

    Be pragmatic! Do what works! Reinforce success! Abandon failure!

    CHIPS & IRA are only, at most, 1/4 of what we should be doing.

    These are both very good things to do, as far as running a successful industrial policy is concerned.

    Maybe there was something to Biden’s claims that he could lead congress after all.

    Hexapodia!

    References:

    Matt Alt: Pure Invention: How Japan Made the Modern World https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YJZYFTS>

    Stephen S. Cohen & J. Bradford DeLong (2016): Concrete Economics: The Hamiltonian Approach to Economic Policy (Cambridge: HBS Press, 978-1422189818) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00O92Q6C6/>

    J. Bradford DeLong (2022): Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the 20th Century (New York: Basic Books, 978-0465019595) https://www.amazon.com/Economic-History-Twentieth-Century/dp/0465019595/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3U3XCUXOZ37HW>

    Chalmers Johnson (1982): MITI and the Japanese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy, 1925-1975 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 978-0804712064) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0804712069/>

    W. David Marx (): Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012271ONK>

    +, of course:

    Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0/mode/1up>

    Get full access to Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality at braddelong.substack.com/subscribe

    • 48 min
    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXVIII: Crypto & "Web3"

    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXVIII: Crypto & "Web3"

    Key Insights:

    The most recent round of Tech elephants, rhinoceroses, unicorns, and spiny lizards—Netflix, Shopify, etc.—are very unlikely to payoff for those investors who stay on the ride to the very end.

    That said, they were very much worth doing even if they never make their shareholders any money. The growth of communities of engineering, entrepreneurial, and organizational practice is a huge benefit for innovation and growth—and the overwhelming bulk of that becomes non-rival public knowledge, that nobody can make scarce and hence charge people through the nose for.

    Having your rich and your superrich fund R&D for little return is not the worst thing to have happen.

    The ideas behind “Web3”—an end to the walled-garden Web2 internet, with the useful parts of the social graph trustable and publicly accessible to anyone who wants to communicate—are great ones.

    The ideas behind “Web2”—the clickbait-ad walled-gardens—are horrible. And it is not just Facebook and Twitter. Google and Amazon are manifestly less useful than they were a decade and a half ago. Why? Because using pixels to inform is less profitable than using them for selling ads, and the companies have decided to be evil.

    Code is fundamental: a tech-finance drought is no reason not to learn to code. It is a reason to get a job working for a company that already has a real product, and, you know, profits.

    At bottom, all of “crypto” is very familiar. It is taking out a map, drawing property lots boundaries on them, and then trying to sell those lots to people by telling them that the railroad is coming through. And in the end everyone will be very happy If the railroad does come through, and does not decide to build its river-crossing bridge ten miles north.

    Hexapodia!

    References:

    Scott Chipolina & George Steer: The Terra/Luna Hall of Shame https://www.ft.com/content/40c06a4f-3586-40be-b5ad-b836b5dcdc0d>

    Brad DeLong: Tesla’s Valuation(s)

    Brad DeLong: Wonders of þe Invisible Crypto World

    Adam Ozimek: Think Bigger About Remote Work

    Noah Smith: Meme Stocks & Bitcoin Will Not Redistribute Wealth: Financio-Populism Is Built on Dreams & Smoke

    Noah Smith: Suddenly Startups Are Having Trouble Raising Money. Why?: ‘A Few Reasons for the Big VC Funding Crunch

    Noah Smith: What Kind of Financial Asset Is Bitcoin?: Is It Money? Digital Gold? A Tech Stock? Recent Events Shed Some Light on The Question

    Nicholas Weaver: Blockchains & Cryptocurrencies: Burn It With Fire https://www.ischool.berkeley.edu/files/blockchains-and-cryptocurrencies-burn-it-fire-nicholas-weaver>

    +, of course:

    Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0/mode/1up>

    Get full access to Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality at braddelong.substack.com/subscribe

    • 41 min
    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXVII: A Meta-Podcast on the Ezra Klein Show, Larry Summers Edition; or, The Inflation Outlook Again

    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXVII: A Meta-Podcast on the Ezra Klein Show, Larry Summers Edition; or, The Inflation Outlook Again

    Key Insights:

    Not so much key insights, as key questions: (a) What are the teams? (b) 1920, 1948, 1951, 1974, or 1980? (c) Are there any true members of Team Transitory left? (d) Who is on Team The-Fed-Has-Got-This? (e) Who is on Team Hit-the-Economy-on-the-Head-with-a-Brick? (f) What inflation rate do we want to support economic reopening? (g) What inflation rate do we want to support the sectoral rebalancing—towards goods production, & towards the deliverator economy? (h) How would expected inflation get embedded in the labor market without strong unions and multi-year contracts? (i) How would expected inflation get embedded in the labor market without it first showing up in out-year bond market breakevens?

    With Putin’s invasion-of-Ukraine supply shock, Summers’s position looks a lot stronger

    Near the zero-lower-bound, there is a high option value to waiting to raise

    That optionality still seems to us, for the moment, to be the major consideration

    Thus it is too early to hit the economy on the head with a brick—even the small 5%-interest-rates brick

    But it is not too early for Jay Powell to furrow his brow and say that the Fed is considering Larry Summers’s arguments very carefully.

    Noah Smith finds that he is much more in accord with Larry Summers than he thought he would be.

    Larry and Ezra like Brad’s forthcoming Slouching Towards Utopia

    Elon Musk should take over Twitter

    Hexapodia!

    Charts:

    References:

    J. Bradford DeLong (2022): Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the 20th Century (New York: Basic Books, 978-0465019595) https://www.amazon.com/Economic-History-Twentieth-Century/dp/0465019595/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3U3XCUXOZ37HW>

    J. Bradford DeLong: America’s Macroeconomic Outlook

    Ezra Klein & Larry Summers: I Keep Hoping Larry Summers Is Wrong: What If He Isn’t?: The Ezra Klein Show https://www.nytimes.com/column/ezra-klein-podcast>

    Paul Krugman: High Inflation in the United States: Newsletter 2022-03-29 https://messaging-custom-newsletters.nytimes.com/template/oakv2?CCPAOptOut=true&emc=edit_pk_20220329&instance_id=57038&nl=paul-krugman>

    John Scalzi: The Kaiju Preservation Society https://www.amazon.com/Kaiju-Preservation-Society-John-Scalzi-ebook/dp/B0927B1P8L>

    Noah Smith: When Will the Fed Drop the Hammer?

    Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash https://www.amazon.com/Snow-Crash-Novel-Neal-Stephenson-ebook/dp/B000FBJCJE>

    +, of course:

    Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0/mode/1up>

    Get full access to Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality at braddelong.substack.com/subscribe

    • 51 min
    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXVI: Four Lost Cities, by Annalee Newitz

    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXVI: Four Lost Cities, by Annalee Newitz

    Key Insights:

    There is a perspective from which “today” means “post-Ordovician”

    Catul-Huyuk as 900 families living cheek-by-jowl, and after 1500 years… people leave…

    Angkor’s uniquely vulnerable water reservoirs… and eventually… people leave…

    Cahokia’s sophisticated organization of labor… but eventually… people leave…

    Pompeii… well, we know why people flee all-of-a-sudden…

    Cities are magical places, but not always, and not forever…

    Cities suffer from abandonment when an overdetermined disaster hits a sclerotic system: you can deal with politics, you can deal with climate change by themselves, but…

    Question: Will Detroit or Miami or Houston be the next “lost city” in the U.S.?

    Hexapodia!

    References:

    Annalee Newitz: Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age (New York: W.W. Norton, 2021) https://www.google.com/books/edition/Four_Lost_Cities_A_Secret_History_of_the/l6K6DwAAQBAJ>

    Joseph Tainter: The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988) https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Collapse_of_Complex_Societies/YdW5wSPJXIoC>

    +, of course:

    Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep (New York: Tor, 1992) https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0/mode/1up>

    Get full access to Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality at braddelong.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 21 min
    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXV: Putin's Surprise Attack on Ukraine, wiþ Special Guest Kamil Galeev

    PODCAST: "Hexapodia" is þe Key Insight! XXXV: Putin's Surprise Attack on Ukraine, wiþ Special Guest Kamil Galeev

    We Truly Did Not Have History Rhyming to the Spanish Civil War on Our 2022 Bingo Card!…

    Subscribe to get this in your email inbox. Become a paid subscriber if… I will not say that this ‘Stack will cease to exist without paying subscribers. I will say that the frequency of this ‘Stack depends on enough people being paying subscribers for me to feel under a sense of obligation to prioritize this, rather than something else. And I will say that the survival of our civilization may well depend on our reattaining a functional, rational public sphere—and that subscribing to ‘Stacks that you find useful may well be the most productive thing you can do to help make that happen

    Thank you for reading Brad. Please share this with anyone who you think will find it useful.

    Key Insights:

    Putin’s decision to invade came as a great surprise to everyone.

    The information flow to Putin is very bad, very low quality.

    Muscovy, St. Petersburg, Novgorod, Minsk, Kyiv are all ‘Rus.

    But the cultural, political, and linguistic differences between Kyivan and Muscovite ‘Rus are surprisingly deep, historically speaking.

    Economic sanctions can do a lot to degrade Russia’s war-fighting machine, and should be used to do so.

    Bounties and rewards for defectors and for the neutralization of equipment might be very effective, and should be promoted.

    Countries and régimes run on myth, and military defeat is the most effective way that a pernicious myth gets destroyed.

    Be afraid, be very afraid: Putin’s survival—his personal political, the causes he has invested his life in, and perhaps his mortal—depend on his “winning” in some sense.

    If appeasement of Putin could be made to work, it might well be worth trying.

    But it is highly unlikely that appeasement of Putin could be made to work.

    Really-existing Putinite petro-kleptocracy looks worse than really-existing Brezhnevite socialism.

    References:

    ChinaTalk: Russia's Pivot to Asia From Czars to Putin

    Kamil Galeev: Why Russia Will Lose

    Kamil Galeev: Twitter https://twitter.com/kamilkazani>

    Wilson Center: Kamil Galeev https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/kamil-galeev>

    +, of course:

    Vernor Vinge: A Fire Upon the Deep https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0/mode/1up>

    You can now read Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality in the new ‘Stack app for iPhone—but not (YET) Android.

    The ‘Stack Communications Apparat says: “With the app, you’ll have a dedicated Inbox for my ‘Stack and any others you subscribe to. New posts will never get lost in your email filters, or stuck in spam. Longer posts will never cut-off by your email app. Comments and rich media will all work seamlessly. Overall, it’s a big upgrade to the reading experience. If you do not have an “Apple device”, you can join the Android waitlist here.”

    I have been a beta tester for the iPhone ‘Stack app. The use case I have found for it is as a podcast player— using Apple's text-to-speech feature for ‘Stacks that do not have attached audio podcasts. It has, so far, been a very very good experience.

    Get full access to Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality at braddelong.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 8 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

Kewaunee Gal ,

Insightful Content

I just discovered Noah Smith. I find him very insightful, knowledgeable and self aware. I would love to hear a discussion on this podcast with Sam Harris, particularly on race-related issues in the US as well as politics in Israel and the BDS movement.

IKnowATon ,

Recorded outside near a lawnmower

Good analysis (they don’t provide definitions for terms and fail to provide a lot of context for their more abstruse claims), and Noah Smith is never smart enough to record without a hairdryer going in the background of whatever industrial silo he lives in.

K999bru ,

Excellent

A good combination of hosts.
Berkeley-Bubble Brad is interesting on a lot of topics, but Noah keeps it real with some very independent thinking.
Audio could be better…better mics, and maybe run it through a podcast app to level the audio level of the participants…some are way louder than others. Simple fix.

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