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



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

    • Business
    • 4.5 • 49 Ratings

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



    PODCAST: Hexapodia LXI: DeLong Smackdown Watch: Snatching Back the Baton for Supply-Side Progressivism Edition

    PODCAST: Hexapodia LXI: DeLong Smackdown Watch: Snatching Back the Baton for Supply-Side Progressivism Edition

    Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour...
    Key Insights:
    * A number of years ago, Brad DeLong said that it was time to “pass the baton” to “The Left”. How’s that working out for us? #actually, he had said that we had passed the baton—that the absence since January 21, 2009 (or possibly January 21, 1993) of Republican negotiating partners meant that sensible centrism produced nothing—that Barack Obama had proposed John McCain’s climate policy, Mitt Romney’s health care policy, George H.W. Bush’s entitlement-and-budget policy, Ronald Reagan’s tax policy, and Gerald Ford’s foreign policy, and had gotten precisely zero Republican votes for any of those. Therefore the only choice we had was to pass the baton to the Left in the hopes that they could energize the base and the disaffected to win majorities, and then offer strong support where there policies were better than the status quo.
    * But my major initial take was that the major task was to resurrect a sensible center-right, in which I wished the Niskanen Center good luck, but was not optimistic.
    * But everyone heard “Brad DeLong says neoliberals should ‘bend the knee’” to THE LEFT…
    * That is interesting…
    * Should neoliberals bend the knee?
    * How has the left been doing with its baton? Not well at all, for anyone who defines “THE LEFT” to consist of former Bernie staffers who regard Elizabeth Warren as a neoliberal sellout.
    * It has, once again, never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
    * But the conditions that required passing the baton to the left—High Mitch McConnellism, Republican unity saying “NO!” to everything by every Republican to make the Black president look like a weak failure—no longer hold.
    * And the principal adversaries to good governance and a bright American future are reactionary theocrats, neofascist grifters, and true-believer right-neoliberals to the right and cost-disease socialists to the left.
    * But in the middle, made up of ex-left-neoliberals and nearly all other right-thinking Americans, are we supply-side progressives.
    * Instead, there is a governing coalition, in the Senate, composed of 70 senators, 50 Democrats and 20 Republicans, from Bernie Sanders through J.D. Vance—a supply-side progressive or supply-side Americanist coalition.
    * It is therefore time to snatch the baton back, and give it to the supply-side progressivist policy-politics core, and then grab as many people to run alongside that core in the race as we possibly can.
    * The Niskanen Center cannot be at the heart of the supply-side progressivist agenda because they are incrementalists and critics by nature.
    * The principal business of “Leftist” activists over the past five years really has been and continues to be to try to grease the skids for the return of neofascism—just as the principal business of Ralph Nader and Naderites in 2000 was to grease the skids for upper-class tax cuts, catastrophic financial deregulation, and forever wars.
    * &, as always, HEXAPODIA!
    * Beauchamp, Zack. 2019. "A Clinton-Era Centrist Democrat Explains Why It's Time to Give Democratic Socialists a Chance." Vox. March 4, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190304123456/https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/3/4/18246381/democrats-clinton-sanders-left-brad-delong>.
    * Black, Bill. 2019. "Brad DeLong's Stunning Concession: Neoliberals Should Pass the Baton & Let the Left Lead." Naked Capitalism. March 5. https://web.archive.org/web/20190305123456/https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2019/03/bill-black-analyzes-brad-delongs-stunning-concession-neoliberals-should-pass-baton-let-left-lead.html>.
    * DeLong, J. Bradford. 2019. “David Walsh went to the Niskanen Center conference. He got hives…” Twitter. February 25. https://twitter.com/delong/status/1100166150845939712>.
    * DeLong, J. Bradford. 2019. "Carville &

    • 1 hr 8 min
    PODCAST: Hexapodia LX: DeLong Smackdown Watch: China Edition

    PODCAST: Hexapodia LX: DeLong Smackdown Watch: China Edition

    Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour...
    Key Insights:
    * Someone is wrong on the internet! Specifically Brad… He needs to shape up and scrub his brain…
    * Back in the 2000s, Brad argued that the U.S. should over the next few generations try to pass the baton of world leadership to a prosperous, democratic, liberal China…
    * Back in the 2000s, Noah thought that Brad was wrong—he looked at the Chinese Communist Party, and he thought: communist parties do not do “coëxistence”…
    * Noah understands people with a limitless authoritarian desire for power—people like Trump, Xi, Putin, and in the reverse Abe—and the systems that nurture and promote them…
    * Why did Brad go wrong? Excessive reliance in the deep structures of his brain on the now 60-year-old Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World.
    * Why did Brad go wrong? A failure to understand Lenin’s party of a new type as a bureaucratic-cultural organization…
    * Suggestions for what Brad DeLong should earn during his forthcoming stint in the reëducation camp are welcome…
    * &, as always, Hexapodia…
    * Bear, Greg. 1985. Blood Music. New York: Arbor House. https://www.lwcurrey.com/pages/books/103667/greg-bear/blood-music>.
    * Brown, Kerry. 2022. Xi: A Study in Power. London: Icon Books.https://www.kerry-brown.co.uk/books/xi-a-study-in-power>.
    * Cai, Xia. 2022. "The Weakness of Xi Jinping: How Hubris and Paranoia Threaten China’s Future." Foreign Affairs. September/October. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/xi-jinping-china-weakness-hubris-paranoia-threaten-future.
    * DeLong, J. Bradford. 2019. "What to Do About China?" Project Syndicate, June 5. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-america-relations-trump-diplomatic-weakness-by-j-bradford-delong-2019-06>.
    * DeLong, J. Bradford. 2019. "America’s Superpower Panic". Project Syndicate, August 14. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/america-china-superpower-rivalry-history-by-j-bradford-delong-2019-08>.
    * DeLong, J. Bradford. 2023. "Theses on China, the US, Political-Economic Systems, Global Value Chains, & the Relationship". Grasping Reality. Accessed June 19. https://braddelong.substack.com/p/theses-on-china-e-us-political-economic>.
    * Lampton, David M. 2019. Following the Leader: Ruling China, from Deng Xiaoping to Xi Jinping. Berkeley: University of California Press.ttps://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520303478/following-the-leader>.
    * Moore, Barrington, Jr. 1966. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord & Peasant in the Making of the Modern World. Boston: Beacon Press. https://archive.org/details/socialoriginsofd0000unse_v4l0>.
    * Pronin, Ivan, & Mikhail Stepichev. 1969. Leninist Standards of Party Life. Moscow: Progress Publishers. https://archive.org/details/leninist-standardsof-party-life_202307>.
    * Sandbu, Martin. 2022. “Brad DeLong: ‘The US is now an anti-globalisation outlier’”. Financial Times. November 23. https://www.ft.com/content/791fe484-595f-44f9-86e7-55bdbbbd22e8>.
    * Sasaki, Norihiko. 2023. "Functions and Significance of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reforms and the Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission." Chinese Journal of Political Science 28 (3): 1-15. Accessed May 14, 2024. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24761028.2023.2185394.
    * Shambaugh, David, ed. 2020. China and the World. New York: Oxford University Press. https://academic.oup.com/book/32164>.
    * Vinge, Vernor. 1999. A Deepness in the Sky. New York: Tor Books. https://www.amazon.com/Deepness-Sky-Zones-Thought/dp/0812536355>.

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

    • 46 min
    PODCAST: Hexapodia LIX: Mourning the Death of Vernor Vinge

    PODCAST: Hexapodia LIX: Mourning the Death of Vernor Vinge

    Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour...
    Key Insights:
    * Vernor Vinge was one of the GOAT scifi authors—and he is also one of the most underrated…
    * That a squishy social-democratic leftie like Brad DeLong can derive so much insight and pleasure from the work of a hard-right libertarian like Vernor Vinge—for whom the New Deal Order is very close to being the Big Bad, and who sees FDR as a cousin of Sauron—creates great hope that there is a deeper layer of thought to which we all can contribute. The fact that Brad DeLong and Vernor Vinge get excited in similar ways is a universal force around which we can unite, and add to them H.G. Wells and Jules Verne…
    * The five things written by Vernor Vinge that Brad and Noah find most interesting are:
    * “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era”,
    * A Fire Upon the Deep,
    * A Deepness in the Sky,
    * “True Names”, &
    * Rainbows End…
    * We do not buy the Supermind Singularity: The world is not a game of chess in which the entity that can think 40 moves ahead will always easily trounce the entity that can only think 10 moves ahead, for time and chance happeneth to us all…
    * We do not buy the Supermind Singularity: Almost all human intelligence is not in individual brains, but is in the network. We are very smart as an anthology intelligence. Whatever true A.I.s we create will be much smarter when they are tied into the network as useful and cooperative parts of it—rather than sinister gods out on their own plotting plots…
    * We do not buy the Supermind Singularity: mind and technology amplification is as likely to be logistic as exponential or super-exponential…
    * The ultimate innovation in a society of abundance is the ability to control human personality and desire—and now we are back to the Buddha, and to Zeno, Kleanthes, Khrisippus, and Marcus Aurelius…
    * With the unfortunate asterisk that mind-hacking via messages and chemicals mean that such an ultimate innovation can be used for evil as well as good…
    * Addiction effects from gambling are not, in fact, a good analogy for destructive effects of social media as a malevolent attention-hacker…
    * Cyberspace is not what William Gibson and Neil Stephenson predicted.
    But it rhymed. And mechanized warfare was not what H.G. Wells predicted.
    But it rhymed. A lot of the stuff about AI that we see in science fiction will rhyme with whatever things are going to happen…
    * The Blight of A Fire Upon the Deep is a not-unreasonable metaphor for social media as propaganda intensifier…
    * We want the future of the Whole Earth Catalog and the early Wired, not of crypto grifts and ad-supported social media platforms…
    * Vernor Vinge’s ideas will be remembered—if only as important pieces of a historical discussion about why the Superintelligence Singularity road was not (or was) taken—as long as the Thrones of the Valar endure…
    * Noah Smith continues to spend too much time picking fights on Twitter…
    * &, as always, Hexapodia…
    * DeLong, J. Bradford. 2022. Slouching Towards Utopia: The Economic History of the 20th Century. New York: Basic Books. http://bit.ly/3pP3Krk>.
    * Bursztyn, Leonardo, Benjamin Handel, Rafael Jiménez-Durán, & Christopher Roth. 2023. “When Product Markets Become Collective Traps: The Case of Social Media”. Becker-Friedman Institute. October 12. https://bfi.uchicago.edu/insight/research-summary/when-product-markets-become-collective-traps-the-case-of-social-media/>.
    * Patel, Nilay, Alex Cranz, & David Pierce. 2024. “Rabbit, Humane, & the iPad”. Vergecast. May 3. https://overcast.fm/+QN1ra_4w8>.
    * MacIntyre, Alasdair. 1966. A Short History of Ethics: : A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century. New York: Macmillan. https://archive.org/details/shorthistoryofet00maci>.
    * Ober, Josia

    • 1 hr 11 min
    PODCAST: Hexapodia LVIII: Acemoglu & Johnson Should Have Written About Technologies as Labor-Complementing or Labor-Substituting

    PODCAST: Hexapodia LVIII: Acemoglu & Johnson Should Have Written About Technologies as Labor-Complementing or Labor-Substituting

    In which Noah Smith & Brad DeLong wish Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson had written a very different book than their "Power & Progress" is...
    Key Insights:
    * Acemoglu & Johnson should have written a very different book—one about how some technologies complement and others substitute for labor, and it is very important to maximize the first.
    * Neither Noah Smith nor Brad DeLong is at all comfortable with “power” as a category in economics other than as the ability to credibly threaten to commit violence or theft.
    * Acemoglu & Robinson’s Why Nations Fail is a truly great book. Power & Progress is not.
    * We should not confuse James Robinson with Simon Johnson
    * Billionaires running oligopolistic tech firms are not trustworthy stewards of the future of our economy.
    * The IBM 701 Defense Calculator of 1953 is rather cool.
    * The lurkers agree with Noah Smith in the DMs.
    * The power loom caused technological unemployment because the rest of the value chain—cotton growing, spinning, and garment-making—was rigid, hence the elasticity of demand for the transformation thread → cloth was low.
    * We need more examples of bad technologies than the cotton gin and the Roman Empire.
    * Acemoglu, Daron, & Simon Johnson. 2023. Power and Progress: Our Thousand-Year Struggle Over Technology and Prosperity. New York; Hachette Book Group. https://archive.org/details/daron-acemoglu-simon-johnson-power-and-progress-our-thousand-year-struggle-over->
    * Acemoglu, Daron, & James A. Robinson. 2012. Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. New York: Crown Publishers. https://archive.org/details/WhyNationsFailTheOriginsODaronAcemoglu>
    * Besi. 2023. “Join us Tues. Oct. 10 at 4pm Pacific for a talk by
    @MITSloan’s Simon Johnson…” Twitter. October 9. https://twitter.com/BESI_Berkeley/status/1711541113738387874>.
    * DeLong, J. Bradford. 2024. “What To Do About the Dependence of the Form Progress Takes on Power?: Quick Takes on Acemoglu & Johnson's "Power & Progress”. Grasping Reality. February 29.
    * DeLong, J. Bradford; & Noah Smith. 2023. “We Cannot Tell in Advance Which Technologies Are Labor-Augmenting & Which Are Labor-Replacing”. Hexapodia. XLIX, July 7.
    * Gruber, Jonathan, & Simon Johnson. 2019. Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream.
    The book is available on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/e-20190429>.
    * Johnson, Simon, & James Kwak. 2011. 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. New York: Vintage Books. https://archive.org/details/13bankers0000unse>.
    * Smith, Noah. 2024. “Book Review: Power & Progress”. Noahpinion. February 21.
    * Walton, Jo. 1998. “The Lurkers Support Me in Email”. May 16. http://www.jowaltonbooks.com/poetry/whimsy/the-lurkers-support-me-in-email/>.

    +, of course:
    * Vinge, Vernor. 1992. A Fire Upon the Deep. New York: TOR. https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0>.

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

    • 1 hr 8 min
    PODCAST: Hexapodia LVII: The "Vibecession" Is Losing Its Vibe

    PODCAST: Hexapodia LVII: The "Vibecession" Is Losing Its Vibe

    Producer Confidence & Consumer Confidence (in the Economy), & Our Confidence (in Our Analyses): Noah Smith & Brad DeLong Record the Podcast We, at Least, Would Like to Listen to!; Aspirationally Bi-Weekly (Meaning Every Other Week); Aspirationally an hour...
    Key Insights:
    * The disjunction between all the economic data having been very good and very strong for the past year and tons of reports and commentary about how people “weren’t feeling it” is mostly the result of the fact that things work with lags.
    * There are other factors: partisan politics, and the insistence of Republicans that they must not only vote but also at least say that they agree with their tribe.
    * There are other factors: the old journalistic adage that “what bleeds, leads”, exponentiated by the effects of our current short attention-span clickbait culture.
    * There are other factors: journalists, commentators, and the rest of the shouting class are depressed as their industries collapse around them, and somewhat of their situation leaks through.
    * There are other factors: while people think they personally are doing well, they do remember stories of others not doing wellm and are concerned.
    * But mostly it was just that things operate with lags: that was the major source of the “vibecession” gloom-and-doom which was at sharp variance with the actual economic dataflow.
    * We are not the modelers: we are, rather, the agents in the model.
    * The metanarrative is always harder than the narrative: trying to answer “why don’t people say they think the economy is good?” is very hard to answer in a non-stupid way, and most of us are much better off just saying: “hey, guys, the economy is really good!”
    * It is good to be long reality—as long as you are not so leveraged that your position gets sold out from under you before the market marks itself to reality,.
    * Lags gotta lag.
    * And, finally, hexapodia!
    * Burn-Murdoch, John. 2023. “Should we believe Americans when they say the economy is bad?” Financial Times, December 1 https://www.ft.com/content/9c7931aa-4973-475e-9841-d7ebd54b0f47>.
    * Cummings, Ryan, & Neale Mahoney. 2023. “Asymmetric amplification and the consumer sentiment gap”. Briefing Book, November 13. >.
    * El-Erian, Mohamed. 2024. “A warning shot over the last mile in the inflation battle’. Financial Times, January 15. https://www.ft.com/content/497499b1-0e9f-4215-a536-ecd483ad42b9>.
    * Faroohar, Rana. 2024. “Is Bidenomics dead on arrival? The time is ripe for the administration to rethink its messaging”. Financial Times, December 18. https://www.ft.com/content/816ccbf7-d0d5-47be-9c8d-8a8a0cbd0afe>.
    * Fedor, Lauren, & Colby Smith. 2023, “Will US voters believe they are better off with Biden? Under pressure after a string of damning polls, the US president is resting his hopes for re-election on his personal economic blueprint”. Financial Times, November 6. https://www.ft.com/content/23687b6b-ac6f-46ab-a701-917a5ed64f4f>.
    * Financial Times Editorial Board. 2024. “Why Biden gets little credit for a strong US economy: The president’s team needs to show more energy in addressing voters’ concerns”. Financial Times, January 11. https://www.ft.com/content/a2373c26-87ea-4b77-944f-8a6b28c8675b>.
    * Ghosh, Bobby. 2022. “Biden’s a Better Economic Manager Than You Think:
    On more than a dozen measures of relative prosperity, he’s outperformed the last six of his seven predecessors. On reducing the budget deficit, he has no peers”. Bloomberg, November 8.
    * Greenberg, Stanley. 2024. “The Political Perils of Democrats’ Rose-Colored Glasses: Paul Krugman’s (and many Democrats’) beliefs about the economy and crime miss the reality that Americans still experience”. American Prospect, February 5. https://prospect.org/politics/2024-02-05-political-perils-democrats-rose-colored-glasses/>.
    * Hsu, Joanne. 2024. “Surveys of Consumers: Final Results for January 2024”. February 2. http://www.

    • 47 min
    PODCAST: Hexapodia LVI: Economic Development: Oks & Williams, Rodrik & Stiglitz

    PODCAST: Hexapodia LVI: Economic Development: Oks & Williams, Rodrik & Stiglitz

    & a start-of-the-semester academic-email-addresses-only paid-subscription sale:
    Key Insights:
    * Young whippersnappers Oks and Williams are to be commended for being young, and whippersnapperish—but we disagree with them.
    * Contrary to what Brad thought, the fertility transition in Africa really has resumed.
    * The problem of how you provide mass employment for people is different than the problem of how you increase your economy’s productivity by building knowledge capital, infrastructure, and other forms of human capital.
    * It is important to keep those straight and distinguished in your mind.
    * Commodity exporting should be viewed as a distinct development strategy from industrialization, and indeed from everything else.
    * Sometime during the plague, Brad DeLong really did turn into a grumpy old man yelling at clouds. It's time that he should own that.
    * People should take another look at the pace of South and Southeast Asian economic development. It is a very different world than it was 25 years ago.
    * Thus if you are basing your view on memories of or on books written based on memories of how things were 25 years ago, you are going to get it wrong. BIGTIME wrong.
    * Only the Federal Reserve can get away with saying “it’s context dependent”. All the rest of us have to put forward Grand Narratives—false as they all are—if we want to actually be useful.
    * Hexapodia
    * Bongaarts, John. 2020. "Trends in fertility and fertility preferences in sub-Saharan Africa: the roles of education and family planning programs." Genus 76: 32. https://genus.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41118-020-00098-z>
    * Kremer, Michael, Jack Willis, & Yang You. 2021. "Converging to Convergence." National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 29484, November 2021. https://www.nber.org/papers/w29484>
    * Oks, David, & Henry Williams. 2022. "The Long, Slow Death of Global Development." American Affairs 6:4 (November). https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2022/11/the-long-slow-death-of-global-development/>.
    * Patel, Dev, Justin Sandefur, & Arvind Subramanian. 2021. "The new era of unconditional convergence." Journal of Development Economics 152. https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/deveco/v152y2021ics030438782100064x.html>.
    * Perkins, Dwight. 2021. "Understanding political influences on Southeast Asia's development experience." Fulbright Review of Economics and Policy 1, no. 1: 4-20. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/FREP-03-2021-0021/full/html>.
    * Rodrik, Dani, & Joseph E. Stiglitz. 2024. "A New Growth Strategy for Developing Nations." https://drodrik.scholar.harvard.edu/research-papers>.
    * World Bank. 2023. "South Asia Development Update October 2023: Economic Outlook." https://www.worldbank.org/en/region/sar/publication/south-asia-development-update>.

    +, of course:
    * Vinge, Vernor. 1992. A Fire Upon the Deep. New York: TOR. https://archive.org/details/fireupondeep00ving_0>.

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

    • 1 hr 7 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
49 Ratings

49 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.

jasoncwerch ,

Very good could be better

Insights are wonderful. However, I’d encourage that when a guest is on that they have the floor for the majority of the time and are allowed to interject. Brad can be a little controlling with the airtime. Thanks for the content!

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.

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