Bryan Caplan and David Henderson

Economic History

A Category Archive (366 entries)

Imagining the Proto-Blogosphere

Economics and Culture
Bryan Caplan
How is blogging different from traditional media?  My knee-jerk answer is, "It caters to a higher-IQ audience," but that's not really true.  The real story is that blogging lets a million voices bloom - including but hardly limited to voices... MORE

Recarving Rushmore: With Warren G. Harding

Economic History
David Henderson
My wife and I took a break from work yesterday to channel surf. We found Alfred Hitchcock's classic North by Northwest and we were hooked, staying with it to the end. At the end, there is an exciting chase at... MORE

In response to my recent blogging about Uber and Lyft, Daniel Klein sent me this paper (gated by JSTOR) by Ross Eckert and the recently-deceased George Hilton. It's a fascinating story of rent-seeking special interests (electric streetcar and railway companies)... MORE

Last night, I ended up spending an undue amount of time following the #Ferguson feed on Twitter and watching insanity unfold in real time. Here are a couple of papers I've written that might be relevant: 1. "Inputs and Institutions... MORE

Red Mountain Theatre Company here in Birmingham is running Les Miserables through August 3. We saw it last night. It's the fourth time I've seen Les Mis, and it was worth every bit of what we paid for the tickets.... MORE

While procrastinating earlier (yes, I admit it), I came across a question from LearnLiberty: If you could change the outcome of one major world event, what would it be and why? I had just been thinking about this in light... MORE

The Economist: Give Tetlock Final Cut

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
A year ago, The Economist wrote another stylish but insubstantial editorial.  The topic: the Arab Spring.  The opening:Roughly two-and-a-half years after the revolutions in the Arab world, not a single country is yet plainly on course to become a stable,... MORE

Evaluating The Arab Spring: What Would Tetlock Say?

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I was never optimistic about the Arab Spring.  But the spread of the hellish Syrian Civil War into Iraq leaves the net-effect-so-far quite a bit worse than I expected.  You could say, "You're no expert on this topic, so your... MORE

Dear Reader Almost Passes the Ideological Turing Test

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Michael Malice's Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il is not what I expected.  I thought it was going to be a hilarious mockery of North Korean totalitarianism.  Instead, it's an almost pitch-perfect simulation of the autobiography Kim... MORE

Friday Night Video: Mussolini--A Man of the Left

Economic History
David Henderson
My friend, Lawrence K. Samuels, a local libertarian activist in Monterey County, gave a talk in April on his research on Mussolini. The bottom line: Mussolini was clearly on the left and he never wavered from the left. 0 to... MORE

Piketty on Kuznets

Income Distribution
Scott Sumner
I've started reading Thomas Piketty's now-famous Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Over at MoneyIllusion.com I have some observations on the opening chapter (which is all I have read so far.) Here I'd like to focus on one section of the... MORE

The Improvident Rich

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
From Larry Summers' review of Piketty:When Forbes compared its list of the wealthiest Americans in 1982 and 2012, it found that less than one tenth of the 1982 list was still on the list in 2012, despite the fact that... MORE

Myth of the Rational Voter: The Animated Series, Part 2

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The second video in my Learn Liberty series is now up.  Rejoice in the folly of pessimistic bias!  Yes, Louis C.K. said it better, but humans learn by varied repetition.... MORE

"Hollowing Out": A Global Perspective

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Stagnationists often complain about the "hollowing out" of the economy: Well-paid middle-income jobs are disappearing.  Normally, they only look at the United States and other developed countries.  As a cosmopolitan, however, I'd rather discover what's been happening to incomes at... MORE

Myth of the Rational Voter: The Animated Series

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Learn Liberty is doing a four-video series on The Myth of the Rational Voter's four big economic biases.  Production values are very high, and the animators used so many of my visual ideas that I can now justifiably re-classify my... MORE

Cowen and Crisis Reconsidered

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Robert Higgs famously blames the growth of government on crises - especially wars and depressions.  I firmly believed in this story for over a decade until I read Tyler Cowen's critique:The ratchet effect becomes much stronger in the twentieth century... MORE

I'm a Liberal

Economic History
David Henderson
When I figured out my basic political beliefs at ages 17 and 18, I didn't know the term for them. Katherine George, a left-wing sociology professor at the University of Winnipeg with whom I was arguing, called me a libertarian.... MORE

The Ghetto of Talent

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Charles Murray has recently come under attack for the position he staked out in Human Accomplishment on gender and achievement.  He's ably defended himself by pointing out what he actually wrote.  In the process, though, I remembered my favorite part... MORE

Not Just Horsepower but Power without Horses

Economic History
James Schneider
For awhile, I've been vaguely aware of Norman Borlaug's importance without knowing very much about him. Recently, I've read a Borlaug biography called Our Daily Bread by Noel Vietmeyer. At this point in my life, I don't have the time... MORE

Like many libertarians, I find the bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon to be a fascinating episode in intellectual history. However, I've always been even more interested in Ehrlich's descriptions of imminent mass starvation from The Population Bomb. By... MORE

The best part of Collier's Exodus is his analysis of "diaspora dynamics."  In plain English, Irish like to immigrate to countries that already have a lot of Irish, Jews like to immigrate to countries that already have a lot of... MORE

Socialism Was Born Bad: The Case of Oskar Lange

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Oskar Lange is arguably the most famous of the market socialists.  His fans often see him as a great spokesman for "socialism with a human face."  In the early 1990s, I attended a talk where Ken Arrow lauded Lange as... MORE

A survey on communist symbols

Economic History
Alberto Mingardi
The CRCE is a long standing think tank that worked on the subject of communism and, later, on transitions from communism. They recently published a survey on communist symbols in former socialist countries. By communist symbols, they mean those pieces... MORE

1896: Immigration and The Atlantic

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In 2013, The Atlantic sympathetically profiled the open borders movement.  Quite a change from this piece the magazine ran in 1896, when nearly open borders still prevailed.  The author, Francis Walker, begins with admirable clarity:When we speak of the restriction... MORE

40 Years on the Status Treadmill

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The General Social Survey has spent four decades asking Americans about their self-perceived status:If you were asked to use one of four names for your social class, which would you say you belong in: the lower class (=1), the working... MORE

Prior to 2001, I supported a much smaller government, but I wasn't particularly obsessed about government debt per se. I didn't think that government borrowing was stealing from future generations (the technology for stealing from future generations more or less... MORE

Lenin the Prohibitionist

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Mark Lawrence Schrad's new Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State is more than good; it's novel.  Despite my long-term interest in Russian history, much of what Schrad had to say was genuinely new to... MORE

The old doctrine that the slavery of the black, is essential to the freedom of the white race, can maintain itself only in the presence of slavery, where interest and prejudice are the controlling powers, but it stands condemned equally... MORE

Mandela and Communist Villainy

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Bill Keller in the NYT:But Mandela's Communist affiliation is not just a bit of history's flotsam. It doesn't justify the gleeful red baiting, and it certainly does not diminish a heroic legacy, but it is significant in a few respects.I'm... MORE

Correction on Mandela

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Yesterday, I wrote:While I'm convinced that Mandela was never a Communist, his priorities were thoroughly Leninist: "The point of the uprising is the seizure of power; afterwards we will see what we can do with it."Today, however, I've learned that... MORE

Mandela: Reckless But Lucky

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
I've heard ugly rumors about Nelson Mandela for years.  Was he a Communist - or a terrorist?  His recent death inspired me to learn more.  Alex Tabarrok nudged me to start with Mandela's autobiography, which presumably puts his career in... MORE

Back in 1933 the US had experienced years of deflation and nominal interest rates were close to zero.  FDR sharply devalued the dollar over a period of 10 months, and stock prices closely tracked the value of foreign exchange during... MORE

Why are Keynesians so far-sighted?

Economic History
Scott Sumner
I recently did a post pointing out that higher interest rates don't reduce AD.  Indeed even higher interest rates caused by a decrease in the money supply don't reduce AD. Rather the higher rates raise velocity, but that effect is... MORE

Is Average Over?: Two Equivocal Graphs

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Here are the unredacted graphs from "Tell Me What 'Average Is Over' Looks Like."Graph #1 is from 1978:Graph #2 is from 2008:What's equivocal?  Although the 2008 graph definitely has more inequality, the 2008 labor market consistently offers more continuous rewards... MORE

Tell Me What "Average Is Over" Looks Like

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Here are two graphs of lifetime male income distribution broken down by educational attainment.  One is for 1978, the other from 2008.  I deliberately redact the years and dollar values to preserve the mystery.Graph #1:Graph #2:Now you tell me: Without... MORE

Why I Fight Write

Economic History
Art Carden
This is my last post of my my guest blogging stint for EconLog. I want to thank everyone at Liberty Fund who helped make this possible, and I especially want to thank EconLog permanent bloggers David Henderson and Bryan Caplan... MORE

Gun Grabbing: A Reversal of Fortune

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
While reflecting on the Briggs-Tabarrok Effect, I stumbled across a shocking Gallup survey.  Back in 1959, Gallup started asking a random sample of Americans the following question:What about the possession of pistols and revolvers -- do you think there should... MORE

GMU economic historian Mark Koyama emailed me some comments on my Industrial Revolution post.  Reprinted with his permission.  Note that Billington's figures imply a work year between 3900 and 4500, even assuming, contrary to Billington's lurid picture, that workers got... MORE

The Economic Illiteracy of High School History

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In 11th grade, I took Advanced Placement U.S. History.  I enjoyed it at the time.  Once I started studying economics, however, I was outraged by the economic illiteracy of my history textbooks.  Mainstream historians barely mentioned the unprecedented miracle of... MORE

Why Nations Fail: A Contrarian Take

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Acemoglu and Robinson's Why Nations Fail has been widely praised and extremely influential.  But one of the most brilliant students I've ever taught, Nathan Smith, provides a contrarian perspective.  According to Nathan, it's......one of the most over-rated books I've ever... MORE

The Decline of Creative Destruction

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Though I've been a harsh critic of Tyler's Great Stagnation thesis, I was struck by the following figure in Edmund Phelps' Mass Flourishing:At first glance, this confirms a quarter-century of steadily declining creative destruction - falling job creation and job... MORE

Let's Meet at the Southerns, or, Want to Read My Manuscript?

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Art Carden
I'm working on a book with the venerable Deirdre N. McCloskey on the economic history of the last few centuries, and I've arranged a session at the Southern Economic Association conference in Tampa in which I'll receive comments from Steven... MORE

Capitalism and the filmmakers

Economic History
Alberto Mingardi
As F.A. Hayek wrote in his "History and Politics" (reprinted here), "there is scarcely a political ideal or concept which does not involve opinions about a whole series of past events, and there are few historical memories which do not... MORE

Bleg: The Right Way to Read Tyler

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Please read Tyler's post, then answer the following two questions:1. What percentage of Tyler's readers never have and never will read anything else about the relevance of changing household size for claims about economic stagnation?2. What lesson about the relevance... MORE

Today Tyler chides anti-stagnationists who point to falling household size: Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Persons per family household: 1990: 3.22 2000: 3.24 2010: 3.24 Not so much change, and if you look you will see there is also not so much... MORE

Economics as a Branch of Literature

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bart Wilson
Shortly before arriving at Chapman University in 2008 I discovered some essays by Frank Knight. Every graduate student in economics learns about or, at least, has heard references to Frank Knight, one of the original members of the "Chicago school... MORE

The Mixed Messages of French Schooling

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I finally got around to reading Eugen Weber's classic Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914.  It wasn't what I'd been led to believe.  I heard that the book blamed World War I on public schooling: Europe's late... MORE

Only a Biologist Can Go to Universal Humanism

Economic History
Bart Wilson
When I first read the manuscript for The Rational Optimist, Matt Ridley had me hooked on p. 8: And I find a deep incuriosity among trained economists--of which I am not one--about defining what prosperity is and why it... MORE

Farewell to a great historian

Economic History
Alberto Mingardi
Historians, economists, and voracious readers all over the world mourn the passing of David Landes. Landes, arguably one of the greatest economic historians of our time, was a superb writer and captivated readers all over the world. His son Richard... MORE

I'm working on a book I'm co-authoring with Deirdre McCloskey on the economic history of the last few centuries. Here is a choice passage from page 44 of her 2006 book The Bourgeois Virtues: The tempting shortcut of taxing the... MORE

Peace On Earth Is Almost Here

Cost-benefit Analysis
Bryan Caplan
The ceaseless ugliness of the news notwithstanding, the Great Pacification continues.  Check out Wikipedia's latest map of Ongoing Military Conflicts, circa October 2012.The minor wars are usually dwarfed by private crime.  Even most of the major wars would have seemed... MORE

Kitty Galbraith on Keynes

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
Kitty Galbraith makes Hayek's mistake (although check the big caveat below) This is my next installment on Richard Parker's book on John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics. From a footnote, a quote from Galbraith's wife Catherine (Kitty)... MORE

Expressive Voting, Emigration, and Alsace-Lorraine

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
In 1871, the German Empire annexed the French territory of Alsace-Lorraine, known to the Germans as Elsass-Lothringen.  The inhabitants were overwhelmingly German-speaking, but most clearly resented absorption into the new German Empire.  What is striking, however, is how differently this... MORE

Immigration, Misanthropy, and the Holocaust

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
The Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC features an outstanding exhibit on European Jewry's struggle to escape from Hitler's clutches.  Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis officially encouraged Jewish emigration.  The catch: By definition, every emigrant from Nazi territory had to... MORE

The new future of television?

Trade Barriers
Alberto Mingardi
Google is launching a new device, Chromecast, which has been hailed as a potential "game changer" for the television market. If I get it right, Chromecast basically allows you to bring your web streaming to your television. This would allow... MORE

David Kennedy needs to understand a key paragraph in Hayek's "The Use of Knowledge in Society" There are so many things I like about Chapter One of David M. Kennedy's book, Freedom from Fear. I blogged about the book yesterday.... MORE

The Most Bourgeois Place on Earth?

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Art Carden
We're halfway through one of those most noble of life's rituals--helping a family member move, in this case, my sister to Minnesota--and we spent this morning at what I would argue is the most bourgeois place on Earth: the Mall... MORE

Deirdre McCloskey: Julian Simon Award Winner

Economic History
Art Carden
Tonight, I'm introducing Deirdre McCloskey at the Competitive Enterprise Institute's annual dinner, where she will be recognized with the Institute's 2013 Julian Simon Award. Professor McCloskey is a most deserving recipient and one of the worthy intellectual heirs of Julian... MORE

Kling on Clans, North on States

Economic History
Art Carden
I just read Arnold Kling's Featured Article on Mark S. Weiner's The Rule of the Clan. On the strength of the review I bought the book. Here's Kling's summary of Weiner: 1. A decentralized order is possible. Indeed, it is... MORE

F.A. Hayek would have been 114 years old today. To celebrate, here's a set of videos in which Hayek is interviewed by, among others, Axel Leijonhufvud (!), Armen Alchian (!!), and James Buchanan (!!!). Or, if you prefer the written... MORE

Krugman Gets Hoover Wrong

Economic History
David Henderson
No one whose opinion I respect doubts that Paul Krugman is very clever. Here's a recent example from his column in yesterday's New York Times, titled "The Urge to Purge": When the Great Depression struck, many influential people argued that... MORE

Acemoglu and Robinson on the Wealth of Nations

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
Acemoglu and Robinson divide countries into two types: extractive and inclusive. In extractive countries, one group--usually a very small minority--uses coercive power to grab wealth from and, often literally, enslave a larger group. In inclusive countries, political power is widely... MORE

The Robber Barons: Neither Robbers Nor Barons

Economic History
David Henderson
But a careful reading of the economic research on the "robber barons" leads to a diametrically opposite conclusion: the so-called robber barons were neither robbers nor barons. They didn't rob. Instead, they got their money the old-fashioned way: they earned... MORE

What's driving the high price of doctors: market inequality or government entry restrictions?  My co-bloggers' debate reminds me of a random encounter with some striking evidence: The Digest of Education Statistics' Table 294.If you peruse this table, you'll discover that... MORE

Barkley Rosser on Armen Alchian

Economic History
David Henderson
Barkley Rosser has given me permission to reprint his story about Armen Alchian that he told on Marginal Revolution this morning. Here goes: There is a curious story about Alchian from his work at RAND and from just after his... MORE

Acemoglu and Robinson on Global Warming

Energy, Environment, Resources
David Henderson
I'm spending a large part of my day writing a book review of Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson's Why Nations Fail. Given the main theme of the book, which I like to focus on in reviews, I can't find... MORE

Rockefeller's Railroad Rebates

Business Economics
David Henderson
I had always wondered why John D. Rockefeller would get rebates on railroad shipments, not of his own oil--that I understand--but of his competitors' oil. Such rebates were called "drawbacks." Here's the answer that Michael Reksulak and William F. Shughart... MORE

I used to think that the title of this blog post derived from baseball great Yogi Berra. But I have also seen it attributed to Danish physicist Neils Bohr. (By the way, have you ever noticed that when people quote... MORE

A Question of War and Peace: Some Answers

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Before Christmas, I asked EconLog readers for responses to the following test question:"There are multitudes with an interest in peace, but they have no lobby to match those of the 'special interests' that may on occasion have an interest in... MORE

The Joy of Microwaves

Cost-benefit Analysis
David Henderson
When our microwave oven broke down a few weeks ago after almost 15 years of faithful service, it got me thinking about how valuable microwaves are to my family, which led to thinking about the consumer surplus we get from... MORE

A Question of War and Peace

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 My favorite question from my latest Public Choice final exam:"There are multitudes with an interest in peace, but they have no lobby to match those of the 'special interests' that may on occasion have an interest... MORE

Joseph Schmidt and the Tragedy of Discrimination

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for Joseph Schmidt (1904-1942), my favorite new-to-me opera singer.  His music is wonderfully sweet (start here and here), and his life story a lesson to us all.  Despite his voice, Schmidt had a problem that seemingly... MORE

Social Intelligence: The Wisdom of Muawiya

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
My favorite quotation in the entirety of Larry Gonick's magisterial Cartoon History of the Universe series is from the Caliph Muawiya.  Behold social intelligence:I never apply the sword when the lash suffices, nor the lash when my tongue is enough. ... MORE

My Veterans Day Tribute

Economic History
David Henderson
Every Veterans Day, I try to do something special to remember or honor a veteran. I don't like the standard flag-waving event that this day has become for many people. In many Veterans Day speeches, the speakers talk about the... MORE

Bain Capital and the Decline of Galbraithianism

Economic History
Garett Jones
Today most serious economic observers take it for granted that creative destruction is the norm.  The rise of internet firms, the overnight demise of Enron and Arthur Andersen a decade ago, and especially the rapid turnover of the Fortune 500... MORE

The death penalty has fallen into disfavor in recent years.  But what's the long-run trend?  I've intermittently wondered about this for over a decade.  Last night, I finally decided to check.I found a time series of total U.S. executions from... MORE

Incorruptibly Evil

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I do not intellectually engage with apologists for Nazism or Communism.  When I think someone does not deserve a reply, I simply don't reply.  Still, Counterpunch's instantly infamous "Pol Pot Revisted" has a striking passage:The people now in charge of... MORE

Somin on Libertarians and Jim Crow

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Here are Ilya Somin's interesting observations on my recent bleg, reprinted with his permission. Bryan, David Bernstein probably knows more about this than I do. But here are a few examples: 1. Moorfield Storey, one of the early leaders of... MORE

Libertarians and Jim Crow Bleg

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A searching question inspired by Vipul Naik: Consider the period between 1930 and 1964.  What priority did libertarians give to the abolition of Jim Crow laws?  How many even considered the issue worth specifically addressing?The first instances that come to... MORE

Goodwin's Economix: A Graphic Novel

Economic History
David Henderson
I haven't received a review copy of Michael Goodwin's Economix yet, but I'm not hopeful that it will be good. The first thing I noticed is that in the praise for Economix, only one of the five "praisers" he highlighted... MORE

The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Club, Part 2

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Malcolm's Life of Crime (Chapters 6-10)SummaryWaiting tables at Small's Paradise Bar is Malcolm's school of crime:Some of the ablest of New York's black hustlers took a liking to me, and knowing that I was still green by their terms, soon... MORE

Why Do Slaves Cost Money?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I'm currently revising my notes for labor economics.  Main change: I'm cutting the week on slavery to add a full week on immigration.  It's a tough choice because I'm so fond of my slavery lectures.  But on reflection, the topic... MORE

When I talk about my work for Mercatus on the post-World War II economic boom, one of the responses I often get is that a major reason is the fact that European economies were devastated and, therefore, the U.S. economy... MORE

The book club starts today, with future segments every two weeks.  Breakdown:Part #1: Malcolm's Childhood and Entry-Level Jobs (Chapters 1-5)Part #2: Malcolm's Life of Crime (Chapters 6-10)Part #3: Malcolm and the Nation of Islam (Chapters 11-15)Part #4: Malcolm's Purge, Second... MORE

Nizer on Fascism and Communism

Economic Philosophy
David Henderson
I didn't know that I would generate such discussion with my previous post about Ethel Rosenberg. Just to clear things up, Bryan Caplan's comment is, of course, right. He was referring to the socialist movement, not individuals, as being "born... MORE

How Not to Be a Pacifist

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I often feel the need to save pacifism from the pacifists.  Though the argument for pacifism is surprisingly solid, flesh-and-blood pacifists often make me cringe with their naive and even intellectually dishonest claims.  Some even shamefully glide from pacifism to... MORE

Was Roosevelt the real Hoover?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Price V. Fishback and John Joseph Wallis write, Federal budget outlays in real dollars rose 88 percent under Hoover between 1929 and 1932, faster than the growth in the first three years under Roosevelt (although starting from a lower base).... MORE

What It Takes to Pop a Higher Education Bubble

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
There is no "bubble" in American higher education.  I'll bet on it - or to be precise, I have bet on it.  Nevertheless, while reading the Digest of Education Statistics (Table 208), I discovered a surprising fact: During my lifetime, a... MORE

Evan Soltas on the Great Factor-Price Equalization

International Trade
Arnold Kling
He writes, The basic idea here is that the maintenance of Bretton Woods' fixed exchange rates required a system of financial controls which so severely limited capital flows, global investment and trade that economies were effectively closed. When Bretton Woods... MORE

The Economics of the Olympics

Economic History
David Henderson
There's a widespread view that holding the Olympics must be a money-losing proposition. One of our frequent commenters, Tom West, expressed that view recently. That view is understandable because losing money has been the norm. When the Olympics were held... MORE

A Short History of Gasoline Price Controls

Economic History
David Henderson
In the Weekend Interview in today's Wall Street Journal (WSJ editor Rob Pollock interviews George Shultz), Shultz says the following: And one thing you know from experience is when you control the price of something, you end up getting less... MORE

A People's History of American Empire mentions that former South Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Cao Ky was an open admirer of Hitler.  Intrigued, I decided to investigate.  The charge checks out.  Exact quote:"People ask me who my heroes are. I... MORE

Yesterday I stumbled across a obscure experiment in open borders.  Under the 1954 Geneva Accords, the Vietnamese were explicitly given 300 days to freely migrate between the Communist north and the non-Communist south.  As Wikipedia explains:The agreements allowed a 300-day... MORE

Rejoinder to Ridley on Innovation and Population

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Matt Ridley graciously replies to my critique of his Julian Simon Award Lecture in the comments.  Ridley's in blockquotes, I'm not:First, I know of a lot of people who are not conventionally clever but who contribute to innovation by making... MORE

When I was in sixth grade, a 1967 copy of The Pageant of World History by Gerald Leinwand came into my possession.  While I learned a great deal from it, the book contains shocking omissions.  Here's what Leinwand says about... MORE

Wikipedia's Error on the Dismal Science

Economic History
David Henderson
In addition to Adam Smith's legacy, Say's law, Malthus theories of population and Ricardo's iron law of wages became central doctrines of classical economics. The pessimistic nature of these theories led to Carlyle calling economics the dismal science and it... MORE

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
Guy Delisle's latest graphic novel, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, is outstanding - second only to his transcendent Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.  Like most of Delisle's books, Jerusalem is a non-fiction travelogue.  His wife works for Doctors... MORE

The Terrorist Contradiction

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
After watching Carlos - a dramatization of the life of notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal - I had an epiphany.  Carlos supposedly turns to terrorism because the wicked bourgeois imperialists don't understand any language but violent resistance.  But the only... MORE

Unrealist Foreign Policy

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
From Sean McMeekin's The Russian Origins of the First World War:To assume that Russia really went to war on behalf of Serbia in 1914 is naive.  Great powers do not usually mobilize armies of millions to protect the territory of... MORE

My Thoughts on Technology and Government

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Thanks to Bryan for highlighting and hosting Tyler Cowen's paper. My thoughts: 1. For a long time, I've thought that the technologies of the industrial revolution favored centralization, while the technologies of the information revolution shift the balance somewhat more... MORE

Highlights from "Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?"

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Thanks to the half dozen people who sent me copies of Cowen's "Does Technology Drive the Growth of Government?"  The paper's even better than I remember.  Highlights:The puzzle, courtesy of the great Tullock:I start with what Gordon Tullock (1994) has... MORE

Calvin Coolidge Channels Lysander Spooner

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Matt Yglesias amusingly mocked Calvin Coolidge's note cards in this video, but the actual speech is remarkable.  The President of the United States sounds only two or three steps short of Lysander Spooner:Taxes take from everyone a part of his... MORE

Britain in the 1840s

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Andrew Odlyzko sees parallels with the U.S. today. Britain managed its huge national debt by relying on debt instruments ("consols" and similar bonds) that were perpetual yet callable. That meant that sudden spikes in interest rates, associated with wars or... MORE

Of NWW and Fukuyama

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Here is my comparison of North-Weingast-Wallis with Fukuyama. Neither book makes one optimistic about the near-term prospects for seeing liberal democracies emerge out of the "Arab Spring." Instead, they suggest that sudden revolution from below is not the route to... MORE

Is the Pool of Liberty Drying Up?

Economic History
David Henderson
This is the title of a blog post by Ted Levy. I'll save you the suspense: his answer is yes. In his post, he takes on the views of David Boaz and Brink Lindsey that liberty is increasing. Levy gives... MORE

The Banality of Leninism vs. the Wisdom of Acton

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
I finally finished Crime and Punishment, and was rewarded with two more great Leninist diatribes that predate the dictator's birth.  The first is a confrontation between murderous intellectual Raskolnikov and his sister:"Aren't you half expiating your crime by facing the... MORE

The Banality of Leninism

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Historians often act like Lenin's tyranny was a bolt from the blue: Who would have expected a bunch of socialists to be so bloodthirsty?  Admirers of Lenin, in contrast, often paint him as a great innovator - at least as... MORE

Goldin-Katz and the Education Plateau

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);} .shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);} Normal 0 MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} Education has not plateaued.  Does this... MORE

The Myth of the Education Plateau

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Why has the return to education increased so much in recent decades?  The simplest explanation is that the supply of well-educated workers just isn't keeping up with the demand.  Indeed, many claim that American educational attainment has been stagnant for... MORE

The Austerity of 1946

Economic History
Arnold Kling
John Cochrane writes, I ran across a fascinating article, "A Post-Mortem on Transition Predictions of National Product," in the 1946 Journal of Political Economy, by Lawrence Klein. Klein, who would go on to create the main macroeconomic forecasting models and... MORE

The Demented Pacifism of Irving Fisher

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
On July 15, 1915, the New York Times ran an interview with legendary economist Irving Fisher.  His response to the Great War was staunchly pacifist:After this war is over, of course, Europe will find herself prostrated economically, by the destruction... MORE

Here's the most fascinating exhibit from the Holocaust Museum's "State of Deception" exhibit:(full-size version) The top and bottom read: "Hate and annihilation to our enemies.  Freedom, justice, and bread to our people."  But it's the four heads of the dragon... MORE

The "Virtue" of Low Academic Standards

Economics of Education
Bryan Caplan
Further critique of Goldin-Katz in David Labaree's Someone Has to Fail:Early in the book, the authors [Goldin and Katz] identify what they consider to be the primary "virtues" of the American education system... "public provision by small, fiscally independent districts;... MORE

"Socialists Won Over By War"

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
On June 6, 1915, the New York Times ran a fascinating story on the socialist response to World War I.  A few highlights:Karl Kautsky, editor of Die Neue Zeit, and probably the most influential Socialist in Germany today, attempts to... MORE

How Kahneman Underestimates Luck

Economic Methods
Bryan Caplan
When I received Kahneman's Thinking: Fast and Slow, I opened to a random page, and found a big error:The idea that large historical events are determined by luck is profoundly shocking, although it is demonstrably true.  It is hard to... MORE

David Graeber Interview

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Worth a listen. In fact, he almost endorses my most wrong view!! He says that currency and markets emerged from plunder. However, he does say that there were early trading nations that were not plundering empires. He also has provocative... MORE

Goolsbee, Friedman, and 1980

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Milton Friedman's Free to Choose t.v. series is now 30 years old.  To celebrate, PBS is re-running highlights, followed by new panel discussions.  I was just on one of these panels: me, Austan Goolsbee, Amity Shlaes, and Clarence Page.  (Pre-recorded;... MORE

Steve Jobs: Insanely Great

Economic History
David Henderson
I woke up in Turkey at 4:00 a.m. Thursday, went to my computer, and found out that Steve Jobs had died. I titled this post as I did because "insanely great" was the term Jobs loved to use to discuss... MORE

Joseph Stiglitz on Recalculation

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
He writes, First, America and the world were victims of their own success. Rapid productivity increases in manufacturing had outpaced growth in demand, which meant that manufacturing employment decreased. Labor had to shift to services. The problem is analogous to... MORE

On the History of Money

Money
Arnold Kling
David Graeber writes, Anthropology is full of examples of societies without markets or money, but with elaborate systems of penalties for various forms of injuries or slights. And it is when someone has killed your brother, or severed your finger,... MORE

Grading the Four Faces of Progressive Education

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Ayn Rand raised me to despise Progressive education.  Now that I'm reading Diane Ravitch's Left Back, though, I'm learning that "Progressive education," like Walt Whitman, contained multitudes.  Ravitch identifies four distinct - and often conflicting - trends:First was the idea... MORE

Revisiting the 1930s

Economic History
Arnold Kling
1. Stephen Williamson gives a platform to Harold Cole and Lee Ohanian to defend a recent controversial op-ed. most of the increase in per-capita output that occurred after 1933 was due to higher productivity - not higher labor input. The... MORE

Openness in the Gilded Age

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
A great debating point by Don Boudreaux:[Pat Buchanan] frequently asserts that 19th-century America's policy of relatively high tariffs, along with its impressive economic growth, proves that protectionism promotes prosperity.  End of story; full stop; no further analysis is necessary.  Fact... MORE

Who Said It?

Economic History
David Henderson
In his letter, he described Keynes as "the one really great man I ever knew, and for whom I had unbounded admiration. The world will be a very much poorer place without him." This is quoted in a book that... MORE

Some Macro to read and to think about

Economic History
Arnold Kling
1. Doug Irwin offers a monetarist explanation of the 1937 recession, based on gold sterilization. Scott Sumner is no doubt pumping his fist in the air. 2. Daniel Little on the Great Factor-Price Equalization. 3. Here is a thought I... MORE

The noble Michael Clemens is taking the efficient, egalitarian, libertarian, utilitarian way to double world GDP to the masses.  But one passage made me furrow my brow:All the economic and social arguments against immigrant entry to the workforce could be... MORE

More Wisdom from CPK

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
I've finished Manias, Panics, and Crashes, 5th edition. Some thoughts in addition to my previous ones (here and here). p. 55: The Kipper- und Wipperzeit [according to Wikipedia, translates to tipper and see-saw time] of 1619-1623...got its name from the... MORE

Manias, Panics, and Crashes

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
About the time the first edition came out, in 1978, I read it and also took a course from Charles Kindleberger. At the time, he was in his late 60s, and with his quavering voiced seemed even older. I wanted... MORE

Role-Playing Games: Behind Their Time

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In Why Not?, Nalebuff and Ayres draw our attention to inventions that took forever to arrive but seem obvious in retrospect:Think about the innovation of one-way tolls or rolling luggage.  Prewashed lettuce, the ultimate low-tech invention, has become a multibillion-dollar... MORE

I've set up the resource page for my recent "Liberty and Foreign Policy" debate with Ilya Somin, including the complete audio (now in mp3), my Powerpoint slides, and Somin's outline.  Enjoy.P.S. Special thanks to Chris Baylor for organizing and handling... MORE

People frequently try to refute my pacifism by merely saying "Hitler."  "If only Britain and France had declared war and unseated Hitler when he occupied the Rheinland in 1936!" they say.  My quick reply is, "Yes, but I've got a... MORE

Konner on Child Labor and Vain Dreams

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
More interesting stuff from Melvin Konner's The Evolution of Childhood:In the Six Cultures Study child rearing and behavior were measured among five farming and herding societies (in Kenya, the Phillipines, Japan, India, and Mexico) and a New England town... There... MORE

Tacitus, Peace, and Desolation

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
One of Tacitus' most famous lines is "They make a desert and call it peace."  What I didn't realize until I read The Agricola is that Tacitus is quoting (or paraphrasing) Calgacus, an enemy of Rome.  The full speech (chaps... MORE

Crime Statistics and The Village

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
[Warning: Spoilers for a 2004 movie].At the end of M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, we discover a bizarre conspiracy: In the 1970s, a group of people whose loved ones were murdered move to the middle of nowhere in order to... MORE

The Junker Problem

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The Junkers didn't just make a noble attempt at tyrannicide in 1944; according to Exceptional People, Imperial Germany's landed nobility were also good on immigration:Faced by labor shortages because of Germany's economic boom, Prussian landlords recruited Poles and Ukrainians to... MORE

Fun Facts of Gilded Age Migration

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
More from Exceptional People:On average, 5 percent of the populations of Britain, Ireland, and Norway emigrated every decade between 1850 and 1910, which increased to 14 percent of the Irish population emigrating between 1890 and 1910.  By the turn of... MORE

Entering the Market

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Cambridge University reports on research by economic historian Sheilagh Ogilvie. In some communities in Germany, people recorded their possessions at the time of marriage. This can allow Ogilvie to reconstruct the development of the German economy from 1600 to 1900... MORE

The Golden Age of Immigration

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
The Gilded Age was no libertarian paradise, and it certainly had far lower per-capita GDP than the modern world.  Nevertheless, the Gilded Age was awesome in many important ways.  Above all, as Goldin, Cameron, and Balarajan explain in Exceptional People:... MORE

Macaulay on Southey

Economic History
David Henderson
Don Boudreaux reminds us to read, or reread, Thomas Babington Macaulay's classic, "Southey's Colloquies on Society." In it, Macaulay skewers Southey's reasoning or, more typically, lack of reasoning, about modern society. This is the first time I've read it all... MORE

Happy Mothers' Day

Economic History
David Henderson
One thing I hadn't known is the anti-war, pro-peace aspect of Mothers' Day. An early proponent of Mothers' Day was Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the (pro-war) lyrics to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Maybe she had second thoughts.... MORE

Field Review

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
As promised, here is my review essay on Alexander Field's A Great Leap Forward. I think the highlight of the essay is the table that lays out the six eras discussed in the book. How much does the current period... MORE

Notes From the Field

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
That is, from Alexander J. Field's A Great Leap Forward. I rate the book as must-read. It is about the behavior of productivity in various eras of the twentieth century. He rates the 1930's the highest (!) and the 1973-1989... MORE

Adding to a High School Economics Course

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
I teach an AP economics course, that covers both micro and macro. I do not much care for the AP curriculum, so I try to do things differently. Here are some thoughts, below the fold, on material that I plan... MORE

Household Production Bleg

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I'm looking for the best pieces written about the effect of labor-saving devices (dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, disposable diapers, microwaves, etc.) on female labor force participation and gender roles.  Economic historians, labor economists, sociologists, autodidacts - what can you tell me?... MORE

Bleg 1: Economic History

Economic Education
Arnold Kling
Suppose that you were going to teach an economic history course to high school students. The goal is to offer a better perspective on economic growth and macroeconomic issues than one gets from the usual ahistorical approach. What eras/episodes would... MORE

David Leonhardt quotes economic historian Alexander Field: In 1941, the U.S. economy produced almost 40 percent more output than it had in 1929, with virtually no increase in labor hours or private-sector capital input Sounds like a jobless recovery. The... MORE

History and the Great Depression

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Over the weekend, I was at a seminar that I organized on the historical narrative of the Great Depression. Below the fold, I will summarize some things that came out of it. For me, the most interesting insights concern how... MORE

The Depths of FDR's Anti-Semitism

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
A forthright admission from Andre Schiffrin's pro-Roosevelt Dr. Seuss & Co. Go To War:...Roosevelt took it upon himself to negotiate privately with the Vichy governor of Morocco, Auguste Nogues, and then with General Giraud.  FDR, who spoke fluent French, suggested... MORE

Agnostics for Pacifism

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
A striking observation from my childhood friend Ghassan Bridi:Had we never invaded Iraq, we may have seen the people of Iraq today take to the streets and topple a despotic dictator in the second most populous Arab country on this... MORE

Commie Cargo Cult

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Frank Dikötter's Mao's Great Famine firmly supports a simple but shocking theory of Communism: It was the largest cargo cult the world has ever seen.  Communist revolutionaries were great at seizing power, but if power were their sole aim, the... MORE

Lessons of Smoot-Hawley

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
In Peddling Protectionism: Smoot-Hawley and the Great Depression, Douglas A. Irwin writes on p. 99-100: In terms of political strategy, the Smoot-Hawley tariff represented a huge miscalculation by progressive Republican insurgents...to address the farm situation through a tariff revision. The... MORE

Mao's Great Famine and Depraved Indifference

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In Mao's Great Famine, Frank Dikötter joins the elite club of historians who live up to their duty to impose "the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong."  On purely literary terms I still prefer Jasper... MORE

The Great Pacification

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Suppose you grant every nostalgic memory about the wonder of the Fifties.  Stipulate that America was packed with happy prosperous one-earner families, cozily protected by their unions and patriotic employers.  There's still one wee problem to worry about: nuclear war... MORE

Roosevelt and the Puritans

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Razib Khan writes, Walter Russell Mead has a fascinating blog post up, The Birth of the Blues. In it, he traces the roots of modern American "Blue-state" liberalism back to the Puritans, the Yankees of New England. This is a... MORE

The Great Depression with Great Brevity

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Sumner:My research on the Great Depression convinced me that it was two depressions, occurring one right after the other.  A demand-side recession that began around September 1929, and a supply-side depression that began in July 21, 1933 (with another demand... MORE

The Problem with Schools

Economics and Culture
Arnold Kling
Bryan is not the first one to worry about schools. In 1962, John Holland Snow accused the educational establishment of subversion. I believe that an educational movement or philosophy which minimizes or denies the possibility of our people and institutions... MORE

Paul Seabright on Free-Market Ideology

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
He writes, The reason why it was so easy to sell securities rated triple-A -- like the higher tranches of the now notorious collateralized debt obligations -- was not that every potential buyer was a true believer in the theory... MORE

Michael Barone on Thomas Bruscino

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Again from the Claremont Review of Books, again gated. One enormous divide--far wider than it is today--was between North and South. Between 1865 and 1940, when more than 30 million foreign immigrants moved to the North, only about one million... MORE

On both of Arnold's points (see "Where I Differ with Some Libertarians,") I agree somewhat with Arnold and disagree somewhat. In this post, I focus on his point #1 about libertarians and foreign policy. Like Arnold and unlike Bryan, I... MORE

Agriculture in the 1930s

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Again, from Piers Brendon's The Dark Valley. Half a million Americans moved from city to country in search of subsistence... In Montana thousands of acres of wheat went uncut because they would not pay for the price of harvesting--sixteen bushels... MORE

Stories of the 1930s

Economic History
Arnold Kling
I am reading The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s, by Piers Brendon. Much of it annoys me. For example, he writes, Nor did he [President Hoover] attempt to reduce financial inequalities, perhaps the most fundamental cause of the... MORE

Julian Simon and I vs. Paul Krugman

Economic History
David Henderson
The two economists [Krugman and Simon] appeared in different ways. Krugman wrote a deeply, though unintentionally, ironic article titled "Why most economists' predictions are wrong," filled with predictions that were... mostly wrong. Simon, sadly, had just passed away and so... MORE

McCarthy, the Wilsonite

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Ralph Raico's new book also powerfully argues that compared to Woodrow Wilson, Joseph McCarthy was a tolerant and fair-minded man.  Once the U.S. entered World War I:Wilson sounded the keynote for the ruthless suppression of anyone who interfered with his... MORE

Wilson, the Decider

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Jon Stewart milked much hilarity after Bush publicly anointed himself "the Decider."  While reading Ralph Raico's new book, I discovered that compared to Woodrow Wilson, Bush was a modest man:When foreign affairs play a prominent part in the politics and... MORE

Rationing and Recalculation

Macroeconomics
Arnold Kling
I offer a new insight into the Recalculation Story. It is inspired by this quote from p.66 of Leuchtenberg's The FDR Years, the essay on the way that many policy makers and pundits were calling on the government to mobilize... MORE

What Franklin Roosevelt Accomplished

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
I have been reading William E. Leuchtenburg's The FDR Years, a collection of essays by the author. Jonah Goldberg had recommended one of the essays, called "The New Deal and the Analogue of War," written in 1964. I should hasten... MORE

From the Recommendations for Further Reading column by Timothy Taylor in the Journal of Economic Perspectives fall issue. I eagerly look forward to this regular feature, which was started by the late Bernie Saffran, the beloved Swarthmore economics professor. My... MORE

Regulation of, by, and for Big Business

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Michael Strong points out this forty-year-old essay by Roy Childs. What Kolko and his fellow revisionist James Weinstein (The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State, 1900-1918) maintain is that business and financial leaders did not merely react to these situations... MORE

Speaking of the Fed...

Economic History
Arnold Kling
George Selgin, William D. Lastrapes, and Lawrence H. White have a long paper comparing economic performance before and after the Fed was created. They make a strong case that performance has not improved. I think this history is well worth... MORE

China, India, and Maoist Apologists

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
I do not reply to email from Nazi or Communist apologists.  I don't even write back to say, "I refuse to dignify your email with a response," because that would be a response.  I regard the defenders of totalitarianism as... MORE

Group-Serving Bias: Bloodlands Edition

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
Bloodlands documents the most horrifying single example of group-serving bias I've ever read.  Fair warning: This is not for the faint of heart.In October 1941, Mahileu became the first substantial city in occupied Soviet Belarus where almost all Jews were... MORE

Nutter Russia

Cross-country Comparisons
Bryan Caplan
Warren Nutter (1923-1979) was a prescient detractor of the Soviet economy.  Only today, though, did I learn (through my colleague David Levy) that Nutter actually toured the USSR in 1956 - and shared his observations in U.S. News and World... MORE

Mandela and the Communists

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I'm finding Invictus surprisingly watchable despite its over-the-top depiction of Nelson Mandela as a living saint.  Given my contrarian ways, the movie inspired to search out the inevitably more sordid truth.  The most damning fact on Mandela's public record, in... MORE

By Request: Monetarism and the Great Depression

Economic History
Arnold Kling
The request is for my reaction to the way that economies in the Great Depression seemed to do better after going off the gold standard. Does this provide evidence that monetary easing would help today? In general, macroeconomic data are... MORE

Hitler's War Aims: Bloodlands Edition

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Bloodlands' take on Hitler's war aims fits neatly with my earlier exegesis of Mein Kampf:...Stalin had an economic revolution to defend, whereas Hitler needed a war for his economic transformation.  Whereas Stalin had his "socialism in one country," Hitler had... MORE

Soviet Poland, 1939-41

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands is the best history I've read in five years: important, careful, beautifully written, and morally wise.  Many excellent books explore the parallels between Nazism and Communism, between Hitler and Stalin.  But Snyder almost makes you feel like... MORE

Bloodlands

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
I haven't finished the first chapter of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, but I'm ready to highly recommend the book.  Just one great passage:As Stalin interpreted the disaster of collectivization in the last weeks of 1932, he... MORE

The Real Heroes of Western Civ

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I was too sick yesterday to invoke my annual curse on Columbus.  But in my fever, I still wondered: How did this awful conqueror and slaver ever become an icon of "Western civilization"?  Every society has such men to offer.  ... MORE

150 Years Ago

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
James M. McPherson writes, This pre-industrial world could not survive the transportation revolution, which made possible a division of labor and specialization of production for ever larger and more distant markets. The transportation revolution includes canals, steamboats, and railroads. It... MORE

The Lost History of Volcker-era Monetary Policy

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Karl Smith writes, Its as close to a test of modern macro theory as we have. We thought if we shrank the growth rate of the money supply we would get a recession but we also lower the rate of... MORE

Top Ten Economic Contractions?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
What are the ten most important episodes of economic contraction to study? Some obvious ones: 1. The Great Depression in the U.S. 2. The Great Depression in Europe 3. The Japanese slump of the 1990's and beyond 4. The oil... MORE

Tiananmen Square Hypothetical

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Suppose the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests ended not in a bloodbath, but in the collapse of Chinese Communism and the establishment of multi-party democracy.  What would have happened to the Chinese economy between 1989 and today?  Would it have done... MORE

Rothbard on Communism: Something Sensible

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
As a rule, I find Rothbard's take on the history of Marxism-Leninism to be misguided, if not absurd.  But these paragraphs from Rothbard's 102-page critique of a now-forgotten American history textbook are excellent:This is all he says of the nature... MORE

David Kennedy talks to Russ Roberts

Economic History
Arnold Kling
In this podcast, where the topic is the history of the Depression. Kennedy's book, Freedom From Fear, is one that I read recently and enjoyed. I find it quite interesting that the standard narrative is that Hoover was non-interventionist and... MORE

Most Monolithic

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Murray Rothbard - as well as many of the New Left Cold War revisionists who inspired him - heavily ridiculed the view that the Communist movement was "monolithic."  Like other movements, they point out, Communists quarelled, formed factions, ignore chains... MORE

Growth Clusters

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
From David Halberstam's The Fifties, p. 174: Everyone in this country, he thought, had a car and a family, and sooner or later everyone had to go somewhere. Dorothy Wilson listened to him with growing trepidation--when Kemmons Wilson said he... MORE

More on the Austerity of 1945-1947

Economic History
Arnold Kling
I dug up two interesting articles. In case I am more interested in this than you are, I will put this post below the fold.... MORE

The Austerity of 1945-1947, a third time

Economic History
Arnold Kling
I want to return to the Vedder-Galloway paper, that I mentioned here. I want to make it clear that I have a lot of problems with that paper, and I will not be basing my own views on it. More... MORE

The Austerity of 1945-1947, Again

Economic History
Arnold Kling
In 1991, Richard K. Vedder and Lowell Gallaway wrote, The smooth transition to peace was accomplished despite the existence of a fiscal policy that was the very antithesis of Keynesian economic prescriptions to deal with falling aggregate demand. The most... MORE

The Austerity of 1945-1947

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Official data are somewhat sparse. I would appreciate pointers to any better data or additional information. I am also curious about what newspapers and magazines were reporting at the time about postwar conversion--how well it was going, what was working,... MORE

What's Wrong With Modern Times?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In my youth, I was a huge fan of Paul Johnson's Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Eighties.  His revised edition pleased me less, but I still loved the book.  But whenever I mentioned Modern Times to... MORE

What's the Worst War Since WWII?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
According to Reuters, it's the Second Congo War (1999-2003) aka Africa's World War and the Great War of Africa: (Reuters) - War, disease and malnutrition are killing 45,000 Congolese every month in a conflict-driven humanitarian crisis that has claimed 5.4... MORE

From the AER

Economic History
Arnold Kling
The regular issues of the American Economic Review rarely interest me, but the papers and proceedings issue is often better. This year, covering the meetings held in January and arranged by Robert Hall, is particularly good. It seems as though... MORE

Free Richter

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The Richter reissue is also available as a free pdf.  From my intro: From the outset, many questioned the practicality of the socialists' solution. After you equalize incomes, who will take out the garbage? Yet almost no one questioned the... MORE

Hanson's Brief History of Warfare

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The latest from Robin Hanson's odyssey through anthropology:Most confusion comes from seeking a one-way trend, as in "is there more or less war than in ancient times?" Problem is: overall, warfare increased, then decreased. [...] Yes, most of the "tribal"... MORE

Lidtke's The Outlawed Party

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
After learning the basics of Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws, I turned to Vernon Lidtke's The Outlawed Party: Social Democracy in Germany, 1878-1890, published in 1966.  Despite Lidtke's obvious sympathy for this proto-totalitarian movement, I really enjoyed it.  I take inordinate pleasure... MORE

More Matt Ridley

Economic History
Arnold Kling
From The Rational Optimist, p. 182: Empires, indeed governments generally, tend to be good things at first and bad things the longer they last. First they improve society's ability to flourish by providing central services and removing impediments to trade... MORE

Cato Memories

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Thinking about this Friday's Cato Intern Alumni Reunion is making me nostalgic.  I worked in the legendary think tank's old building (yes, the old building!) in the summer of 1991.  It was an amazing experience.  The highlights of my youthful... MORE

The New Matt Ridley Book

Economic History
Arnold Kling
I picked up a copy at the airport yesterday, and I am about half-way through. It is called The Rational Optimist, and John Tierney has a brief summary. My guess is that a lot of people will want to talk... MORE

On Economic History

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Razib writes, I think it is critical to emphasize why ancient barbarian elites were so keen on conquering civilized states, and why there seems to have been less mass migration of the peasantry. In the modern world when we think... MORE

Counterfactuals and World War II

Economic History
David Henderson
The Symmetry of Counterfactuals Last week, Bryan Caplan raised the issue of what would have happened to the world had Lenin died five years earlier. One of the commenters criticized the idea of considering counterfactuals and, in response, I defended... MORE

History and Counterfactuals

Economic History
David Henderson
In response to Bryan Caplan's excellent post, "What If Lenin's Stroke Came [sic] Five Years Sooner," historian Susan, in the comments section writes: I'm setting aside the major problem of engaging in historical counterfactuals, which as a historian I find... MORE

May Day Remembrance 2010

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
It's once again May Day, and therefore once again time for grateful bloggers to dance on the grave of Marxism.  As usual, Jonathan Wilde of Distributed Republic has volunteered to be lead choreographer of this annual May Day Remembrance.  My... MORE

What If Lenin's Stroke Came Five Years Sooner?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In November, 1917, Lenin overthrew the first democratically elected government in Russian history.  In May, 1922, Lenin suffered the first of three strokes, finally dying in January, 1924.  What would have happened if Lenin had a fatal stroke in mid-1917?It's... MORE

My Recollections of the 1970s

Economic History
David Henderson
Bryan's question is tough to answer. In the culture and in the media, things are so much better now, in the sense that the mainstream media feel the need to contend with libertarian and free-market ideas. They didn't feel that... MORE

The Seventies

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Bryan writes, I'm too young to remember much about the politics and economics of the Seventies. From books, though, I get the impression that American political economy was in complete disarray The first thing that I would say is that... MORE

I'm too young to remember much about the politics and economics of the Seventies.  From books, though, I get the impression that American political economy was in complete disarray: high inflation, high unemployment, crazy price controls, regulatory explosion, crushing taxes,... MORE

The Decline of Coverture

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Most discussions of coverture that I read mentioned that the doctrine was gradually watered down throughout the 19th-century.  Since I couldn't easily find legal details, I decided to take the harder road and offer a qualified libertarian defense of coverture. ... MORE

Postcard from the Gilded Age

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Since there's much misunderstanding of my argument about women's liberty during the Gilded Age (here, here, and here), I thought I'd write a postcard version.  The key premises are just that in the Gilded Age:1. Taxes were much lower and... MORE

Women's Liberty in the Gilded Age: Further Replies

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
SydB asks a fair question: I'm confused. The conclusion that "women had more libertarian freedom in 1880 than they do today" is argued by only looking the law or situation in the 1880s. Huh? That's like saying "man A is... MORE

There's been a lot of pushback against my claim that women were freer during the Gilded Age than they are today.  I'm standing my ground.  Replies to leading criticisms:1. I'm ignoring marital rape.  To be blunt, this issue is almost... MORE

The Depression that Wasn't

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Burt Folsom, Jr. and Anita Folsom write, [President Roosevelt's] key advisers were frantic at the possibility of the Great Depression's return when the war ended and the soldiers came home. I mentioned this in my post on Roger Farmer's book.... MORE

How Free Were American Women in the Gilded Age?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I largely agree with David Boaz's recent attack on libertarian nostaglia.  While many Americans were freer in the Gilded Age than they are today, plenty were not.  But precisely who belongs on the list of people who have more libertarian... MORE

Did Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws Work?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Lately I've been reading a lot about the politics of the German Empire (1870-1918).  I was already vaguely familiar with Otto von Bismarck's Anti-Socialist Laws, but I was surprised by the details.  The first of these laws passed in 1878;... MORE

Against Libertarian Nostalgia

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
David Boaz has a very nice attack on libertarian nostalgia in Reason:The Cato Institute's boilerplate description of itself used to include the line, "Since [the American] revolution, civil and economic liberties have been eroded." Until Clarence Thomas, then chairman of... MORE

John Nye on Economic History

Economic History
Arnold Kling
He writes, The greatest achievement of early modern economic growth was not the Industrial Revolution itself, but the way in which the leading Western economies began to move away from highly parochial, narrow networks of personal exchange and came to... MORE

From Poverty to Prosperity Watch

Economic History
Arnold Kling
I am interviewed on Australian radio. Also, Don Boudreaux recommends this talk by Stephen Davies. I assume that the "surprising prediction" to which Don refers is that young people today will live hundreds of years. I have been making that... MORE

Robin Hanson on Long-term Growth

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Those of us who know him are familiar with his outlook for a sudden transition to what would seem to us like hyper-growth. The rest of you will find this talk new and mind-blowing.... MORE

What I'm Reading

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Africa: A Biography of the Continent, by John Reader. An excerpt (p. 306): Six terms referring to horn shape, and "not fewer" than seventeen cattle colour terms were coined between AD 800 and 1450 in...[southern Africa]...So much linguistic innovation over... MORE

In Defense of Cato

Economic History
David Henderson
Nathan Smith, a commenter on Arnold's recent post, stated: Cato libertarians are ferociously ignorant about all things foreign-policy-related, ignorant not in the sense of being unaware of facts but of refusing to be influenced by them, and their views are... MORE

The Invention of Enterprise

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
I am still slogging through the new book edited by Landes, Mokyr, and Baumol. Again, self-recommending if From Poverty to Prosperity left you hungry for more in-depth reading. In chapter 1, Michael Hudson discusses my Most Wrong Belief, which is... MORE

Evil Shortage: Why the Evil Empire Fell

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Arnold says that the Soviet Union fell due to the "moral rot" of corruption.  As long as we define "corruption" broadly, as Arnold seems to do, I think he's dead wrong.  Soviet moral rot was worst in the Thirties, when... MORE

Ridiculous Sentence on Economic Policy

Economic History
David Henderson
Co-blogger Bryan asked for candidates for ridiculous sentences on economic policy. I have one candidate and another possible. The first is the old socialist saw: Production for use and not for profit. The second, which I can't find quickly, is... MORE

So Bad It's Good

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
A single sentence in the Durants' The Age of Napoleon makes me wonder whether I can trust a word they write on economic policy:In the laissez-faire economy, producers, distributors, and consumers labored to mulct one another, or to evade the... MORE

Questions I'm Going to Ask John Nye

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
My colleague John Nye specializes in French economic history.  Other than his job market talk, though, I can't say that he's done much to bring me up to speed in this field.  Since I have much to learn, I'm taking... MORE

How the Economy of Anarchist Spain Really Worked

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Last week, I received a Polish translation of a long essay I wrote over a decade ago on Spanish anarchism.  During the Spanish Civil War (1936-9), an avowedly anarcho-socialist movement called the CNT won control over large parts of Spain. ... MORE

What I've Been Reading

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
In order of satisfaction: 1. Empire of Liberty,by Gordon Wood 2. The Great Transformation, by Karl Polanyi 3. Masters and Commanders, by Andrew Roberts 4. Startup Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer Wood is giving us the history of... MORE

Hummel Responds

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Jeff Hummel sent me a gentlemanly response to my critique of his WWII revisionism lecture: While I usually appreciate attention, I wasn't expecting it in this case.  I posted those two talks on an obviously nascent webpage to make them available... MORE

Hummel's Three Laws and WWII Revisionism: Part 1

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I recently listened to an old lecture (c.1979) that economist and historian Jeff Hummel put on his webpage.  It's a one-hour intro to World War II revisionism.  While I'm sympathetic to the conclusion that U.S. participation in WWII actually made... MORE

Dominating the Narrative

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Will Wilkinson writes, Ygesias says, "I believe that absent the [TARP] bailout, we'd be looking at even higher unemployment today." I think this is a plausible claim. But I don't know of a satisfactory way to evaluate it. It's plausible... MORE

Lessons from Banking History

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Piergiorgio Alessandri and Andrew G. Haldane write, Historically, the link between the state and the banking system has been umbilical. Starting with the first Italian banking houses in the 13th century, banks were financiers of the sovereign. Sovereign need was... MORE

The Great War

Economic History
Arnold Kling
John Quiggin writes, The names of Asquith, Bethmann-Hollweg, Berchtold and Poincare are barely remembered, yet on any reasonable accounting they belong among the great criminals of history. Not only did they create the conditions for war, and rush (eagerly in... MORE

The Writing on the Wall

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I've been thinking all day about what to write for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Here goes.The conventional interpretation of the Wall: Socialism, a movement that began with wide-eyed idealism, was gradually corrupted.  The first... MORE

Money--Designed or Emergent?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
George Selgin writes, Economists generally take for granted, if only tacitly, a teleological view of money's historical development, according to which it first takes the "primitive" form of mundane commodities such as cowrie shells and cacao seeds, and then advances... MORE

The State of the Economy, I

Economic History
Arnold Kling
The financial crisis creates significant opportunity for long-term pessimists. Again, I recommend the podcast featuring Ken Rogoff and Niall Ferguson. Rogoff has been a gloomy person (in a fun way) for as long as I have known him, which is... MORE

This Time is Different in Concert

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
I've talked before about the new book by Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, titled This Time is Different, which is about how financial crises have been around a long time and have a lot in common with one another. (You... MORE

Remembering the Collapse of Communism

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe is - and will probably remain - the most glorious political event of my life.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I missed the 20th anniversaries of the end of Communist rule... MORE

What I'm Reading

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Empire of Liberty, by Gordon Wood. Part of the Oxford series on American history, it focuses on the period 1789-1815. So far, I find myself thinking about it in the context of the Cowen-Hanson theory of political behavior and also... MORE

Unbelievably Good News

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I wish Julian Simon were around to read this passage from "The Low-Fertility Trap Hypothesis: Forces that May Lead to Further Postponement and Fewer Births in Europe":In the past decades, population projections were based on the expectation that after the... MORE

Ohanian and His Critics

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Lee Ohanian's paper on "What - or Who - Started the Great Depression?" didn't get a lot of love in the comments.  I'm not going to reply to all the criticisms, but there are a few I'd like to... MORE

Like almost everyone else, libertarians typically argue that Herbert Hoover's policies exacerbated the Great Depression.  But there's a key difference: Normal people blame Hoover's commitment to laissez-faire, but libertarians blame Hoover's proto-New Deal policies.  Libertarian economists are particularly likely to... MORE

Spontaneous Order Denied

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Doug Rushkoff says that our capitalist society is neither spontaneous nor an order. He thinks it came about because of some decisions made by monarchs in the 13th century. The first innovation was to centralize currency. What better way for... MORE

Some Morning Links

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Profit from bank bailouts--so far. The profits come from banks that have paid back the government, and recall that some banks were forced to take bailout funds in the first place. We will see what happens to the full sample.... MORE

Sumner, Wilson, Harding, Keynes

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In his latest one-two punch, Scott Sumner...1. ...explains why Woodrow Wilson was the worst president in U.S. history:...Wilson's economic policies were perhaps the worst in American history.  He presided over the creation of the Fed and the income tax, which... MORE

Is There Hope for My Most Wrong Belief?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
David Frum writes, [Peter] Heather takes a less benign view of Rome. Here, he says, is a society of savage aggressiveness, that grew not through productivity improvement but by waging war on its neighbors to enslave their populations. Pointer from... MORE

Should Make-Work Count?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
According to official numbers, unemployment stayed extremely high through the New Deal.  But some of Roosevelt's defenders say the numbers are misleading.  Bob Murphy, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal, explains their... MORE

This Morning's Must Read

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Arnold Kling
Steven Gjerstad and Vernon Smith on the housing bubble. How can one crash that wipes out $10 trillion in assets cause no damage to the financial system and another that causes $3 trillion in losses devastate the financial system? The... MORE

Tonight I'm going to see Mikhail Gorbachev, last dictator of the Soviet Union.  I've heard he's really boring.  I plan to leave early.  Even so, I'm happy to pay $20 to see the most influential man of the second half... MORE

What Amity Shlaes Got Right

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Matt Yglesias joins the attack squad on Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man, a history of the Great Depression and the New Deal. For me, the main take-aways from the book are: 1. Franklin Roosevelt had no coherent economic... MORE

The Future

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Jeff Cornwall summarizes the panel on the outlook for the economy and entrepreneurs at the Kauffman Foundation forum this past weekend in Kansas City. In a later post, I will discuss the interesting ideas that were brought up at that... MORE

Adolf Hitler's Economics

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
David Henderson
Lew Rockwell has an interesting article today on Adolf Hitler's economic policies. His bottom line: Adolf Hitler was a Keynesian. Two highlights: What were those economic policies? He suspended the gold standard, embarked on huge public works programs like Autobahns,... MORE

Universal Human Nature

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Christopher I. Beckwith writes, Viewed from the perspective of Eurasian history over the last four millennia, there does not seem to me to be any significant difference between the default underlying human socio-political structure during this time period--that is, down... MORE

Folsom on New Deal

Economic History
David Henderson
I saw a masterful performance yesterday at San Jose State University: a talk by historian Burton Folsom on his new book, New Deal, Raw Deal. Folsom has a lot of energy and humor. The way he told the story of... MORE

Canada's Central Bank

Economic History
David Henderson
Yesterday, blogger Megan McArdle had an interesting post on Canada. She wrote: Canada is now being held up as a regulatory example to us, but Canada has always been an odd duck--it was also the only major economy in the... MORE

Land of Lincoln

Economic History
David Henderson
My occasional co-author, Jeff Hummel, has scored a real coup: getting a balanced assessment of Abraham Lincoln published in Illinois. And not just in Illinois but also in the most important Illinois newsaper, the Chicago Tribune. And not just in... MORE

Nostalgianomics, A Cato Gem

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I enthusiastically recommend Brink Lindsey's "Nostalgianomics."  It's just plain interesting, well-written, and edifying.  In a just world, it would have appeared in The New Yorker.  The springboard of the piece is Krugman's recent love letters to the 1950s.  Brink grants... MORE

The 1930's and Today

Economic History
Arnold Kling
The Washington Post reports on how economists are still debating the 1930's. We are, but I bet I could get a pretty broad swath of economists, left and right, to agree to the following: 1. The steps that Roosevelt took... MORE

Are We Getting to Him?

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
During President Obama's press conference on Monday, the first question was: Can you talk about what you know or what you're hearing that would lead you to say that our recession might be permanent when others in our history have... MORE

Sense from Frank Rich

Economic History
David Henderson
Yes, you read that correctly. Frank Rich, the partisan New York Times columnist, has a good column today. In it, he delves into what he calls "[T]he tsunami of populist rage coursing through America." Here's one of the best sections:... MORE

Urban Death Traps

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Razib Khan writes, up until the year 1900 the world's cities were massive genetic blackholes. Cities only kept their population up through migration, which explains how Rome shrunk to 30,000 inhabitants by the 7th century. Today,. we think of cities... MORE

Try This on Your Favorite Curmudgeons

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
If your holiday season was anything like mine, you've heard some elderly relatives denounce the "kids these days."  "They don't read the newspaper!"  "They don't know when World War II ended!"  "How can democracy survive with this level of ignorance?!"... MORE

Krugman's View of Corruption

Economic History
David Henderson
In his column in today's New York Times, Paul Krugman claims that Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was "clean" and avoided corruption. So clean was FDR's Works Progress Administration, writes Krugman, that "when a Congressional subcommittee investigated the W.P.A., it... MORE

New Deal Panel, II

Economic History
David Henderson
I heartily second Bryan Caplan's endorsement of the Canadian TV show on the New Deal. Bryan focused on the economic content and I want to add my own thoughts to that, but beyond that is the amazing tone of the... MORE

New Deal Panel

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I enthusiastically recommend this panel discussion on the New Deal, featuring Russ Roberts, Lee Ohanian, David Kennedy, Eric Lascelles, and Joe Martin.  Random observations:1. Kennedy and Lascelles, the most pro-Roosevelt guys on the panel, strangely torpedo their own cases by... MORE

Crisis Prophet

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Stiglitz is bragging about his amazing foresight:Rereading some of my papers in preparing for the publication of the second volume of my Selected Works (to be published by Oxford University Press), I came across a paper, written almost two decades... MORE

Cowen on Great Depression

Economic History
David Henderson
I work as little as possible on my birthday (November 21), which is why I didn't post yesterday. Tyler Cowen's column in yesterday's New York Times is excellent and I want to note some highlights, with my additional thoughts, and... MORE

The Origins of Money

Economic History
Arnold Kling
In contrast to my militaristic account, we have Nick Szabo: Local but extremely valuable trade was, this essay argues, made possible among many cultures by the advent of collectibles, by the time of the Upper Paleolithic. Collectibles substituted for otherwise... MORE

Hoover Blasts His Opponents

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
You've heard what Hoover said in his own defense on November 5, 1932.  What did he say about his opponents?  His lead-in:I would again call your attention to the fact that with the Democratic victory in congressional elections of 1930,... MORE

Hoover Sings His Own Praises

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Murray Rothbard opened my eyes to the real story about Herbert Hoover, but his quotation splicing makes me wince.  In my next two posts, I'm going to dissect one of Hoover's last major speeches before the 1932 election - his... MORE

Hoover: The Myth of Free Trade

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
These days a lot of economists blame the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act for worsening the Great Depression.  Herbert Hoover considered this hypothesis back in 1932 - and angrily rejected it.Note: When Hoover says "our opponents set up the Hawley-Smoot tariff bill,"... MORE

I recently relayed one of Murray Rothbard's great Herbert Hoover quotes.  When I was tracking the quote down, though, I noticed something weird in Rothbard's work.  The online 5th edition of Rothbard's America's Great Depression (p.187) states: "To portray the... MORE

Precogs at the Onion

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
No joke - The Onion really did run this story for Bush's first inauguration:Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address... MORE

Economic Crisis: Lessons from 1932

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
We might have done nothing. That would have been utter ruin. Instead we met the situation with proposals to private business and to Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of... MORE

Strong Leadership

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Many of us are grasping at historical analogies to the current financial crisis, and the 1930's keep coming up. One of the lessons of the 1930's is that in times of crisis people want strong leadership. In the 1930's, that... MORE

My Most Incorrect Belief

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Gavin Kennedy and Mark Koyama are still beating me to a pulp. Koyama writes, Polanyi and the historians and sociologists who have been inspired by Polanyi mainly claim that markets didn't exist before 1800 or 1750 because they don't know... MORE

Putin's backing new textbooks for social studies and modern Russian history, and they sound awful. The Times says that the social studies book:...presents as fact Mr Putin’s view that the Soviet collapse was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th... MORE

Greg Clark and Jane Jacobs

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Wolfgang Kasper weaves them together in an interesting essay. Anyone who has spent only a few days working in different cultures will realise how influential and pervasive these differing attitudes are. During three days’ work, say, in Shanghai, you will... MORE

Asian Economic History

Economic History
Arnold Kling
At Gene Expression, the bloggers closely follow what might be called the Pomerantz controversy, after the writer of The Great Divergence, where it is argued that Asia and the West were at similar points of development just prior to the... MORE

The Best of Solzhenitsyn

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's passing reminds me of my favorite passage from his writings:But let us be generous. We will not shoot them. We will not pour salt water into them, nor bury them in bedbugs, nor bridle them up into a... MORE

Producer and Consumer Cities

Growth: Causal Factors
Arnold Kling
Maarten Bosker, Eltjo Buringh, and Jan Luiten van Zanden write, The sociologist Max Weber introduced a distinction between ‘consumer cities’ and ‘producer cities’... The classical consumer city is a centre of government and military protection or occupation, which supplies services... MORE

The Last Quarter Century

Income Distribution
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong writes, The true history of the U.S. since 1980, IMHO at least, is not Sean Wilentz's "Age of Reagan" but is instead composed of a half dozen or so deeper and broader tides, like: 1. The end of... MORE

Best Movie About Communist Romania Ever

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
All the hype about the Romanian movie 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days is true. It's an amazing period piece about the last years of its Communist dictatorship. It's a vivid illustration of the effects of prohibition on quality. And... MORE

Holocausts of Communism Test Now in Spanish

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
A hard-working volunteer has translated my long-standing Holocausts of Communism Test into Spanish. While the Spanish-speaking world was not the worst victim of Communism, it was a victim: Not just Cuba, but also Spain (during its Civil War), Nicaragua, El... MORE

Rat-ta-ta-ta-tat

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Admittedly I'm a sucker for a period piece, but World War I dogfight drama Flyboys has the most exciting aerial combat scenes I have ever seen. See it - it's way better that you'd expect. P.S. Get ready for the... MORE

West Virginia's got the lowest level of economic freedom in the U.S. What's the reason? Newly-minted WVU Ph.D. Claudia Williamson traces it to West Virginians' serious historical misconceptions in her chapter in Russ Sobel's edited volume, Unleashing Capitalism: Why Prosperity... MORE

What I'm Reading (Slowly)

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Second Nature, by Haim Ofek. It was written in 2001. It tries to address some puzzles in evolution and in ancient economic history. For example, why is the human brain overdeveloped, in the sense that it is larger than necessary... MORE

American Mugabe, Revisted

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Remember last year's blogosphere debate on whether FDR was an "American Mugabe"? I just came across a 1997 piece by Robert Higgs that I should have been quoting in my defense. But late is better than never. His thesis:In retrospect... MORE

What is a Market Economy?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Troy Camplin writes, In the "Acharnians," Dicaeopolis is in Athens and complaining about the war and how he is "longing hopelessly for peace, loathing town and homesick for my village . . . where you don't hear cried of "Buy... MORE

Economics Appears Late

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, the absence of a developed economics until the mid-18th century remains a startling anomaly in the history of ideas. Why was that? I would note that the theory of probability also was developed surprisingly late. I think... MORE

The Plunder Economy

Economic History
Arnold Kling
From Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, p. 221: The expansion and maintenance of the trading routes did not derive from an ideological commitment of the Mongols to commerce and communication in general. Rather, it... MORE

The Classical and Medieval Economy

Economic History
Arnold Kling
George Grantham writes it appears likely that at its peak the classical economy was almost as large as that of Western Europe on the eve of the Industrial Revolution...in the more fertile districts of southern Britain and northern Gaul rural... MORE

Ancient Rome, etc.

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Mark Koyama has two more follow-ups, here and here. In the first, he writes Roman transport links were as good as any that existed in Europe until the late 18th or even the 19th centuries. This may address a point... MORE

Yet More Economic History

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
A representative sentence from John Darwin's history of the world since 1400, After Tamerlane (p. 305). The steamship and railway were the battering rams with which European traders could break the monopolies that African coastal elites and their inland allies... MORE

On Economic History

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Mark Koyama writes, in the great agrarian empires such as Rome, there was a large volume of trade in ordinary goods. Grain, wine, olive oil, ceramics, were traded on a tremenous scale. They were not plundered and then redistributed as... MORE

More on Trade and Empire

Economic History
Arnold Kling
James McCormick reviews Bryan Ward-Perkins on the fall of the Roman Empire. the era between Pompeii’s suppression of the pirates in the mid-first century BCE and the fall of Carthage to the Vandals in 439CE is the longest period of... MORE

Truck and Barter or Bandits?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Paul Walker writes, Arnold Kling isn't buying into this. He writes,"I just don't believe that over a thousand years ago human beings had the trustworthiness, discipline, numeracy, and institutional base to engage in what we would today recognize as free... MORE

Of Mayas and Markets

Economic History
Arnold Kling
The New York Times reports, The findings, archaeologists say, are some of the first strong evidence that the ancient Maya civilization, at least in places and at certain times, had a market economy similar in some respects to societies today.... MORE

Power and Plenty

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Power and Plenty is the name of a new book by Ronald Findlay and Kevin H. O'Rourke. Chapter 6, "Trade and the Industrial Revolution," is worth reading.... MORE

Did MAD Work - Or Did We Just Get Lucky?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I think it's obvious that the Soviet Union was a vastly greater threat to the U.S. than Islamic terrorism will ever be. But some readers don't agree; in their view, the practice of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) meant that, in... MORE

IQ, Race, and History

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Michael H. Hart's book, Understanding Human History, probably first came to my attention via Tyler Cowen. In his conclusion, Hart writes (p. 416), The central hypothesis of this book is that genetic differences between human groups (in particular, differences in... MORE

Clark gives Greif Grief

Institutional Economics
Arnold Kling
Gregory Clark goes medieval on Avner Greif. In chapter 2, Greif lays out a formal definition of an institution. This is, “An institution is a system of rules, beliefs, norms and organizations that together generate a regularity of (social) behavior”... MORE

Malthusian Myopia

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The Malthusian model is not as crazy as Greg Clark's interpretation of it in A Farewell to Alms (here's Clark's reply; here's my rebuttal, with a second reply from Clark in the comments). But even correctly interpreted, the Malthusian model... MORE

Gavin Kennedy, Adam Smith, and Gregory Clark

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Kennedy writes, In the extreme, I have suggested that economic history of the last 10,000 years (and for long enough before that) the history of the poor is not the decisive factor in economic development: it is the history of... MORE

When I teach undergraduate labor, I lecture on "Why the Standard Story of Labor Is Wrong." Here's the standard story, according to me:1. In the days before the minimum wage, unions, etc., life was terrible for workers because employers paid... MORE

Reply to Clark

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Clark and I are moving toward agreement on the implications of the Malthusian model, but I'm still not satisfied. He writes:Caplan replaces my figure 2.1 with one where disease and harvest failures cause the technology schedule to move down but... MORE

Clark Replies

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Gregory Clark emailed me the following reply to my criticism and asked me to post it to the blog. I'm happy to oblige. Everything that follows is Clark, not me. Clark right on Malthus! Bryan Caplan raises some interesting points... MORE

Arnold on Clark

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I think Arnold is mis-stating not only Malthus, but even Clark. Maybe it's just semantic, but I don't think so. Here's Arnold:A bad year for grass (the bad harvest scenario) starves a lot of the herd, which is bad. But... MORE

In the Malthusian economy before 1800 economic policy was turned on its head: vice now was virtue then, and virtue vice. Those scourges of failed modern states - war, violence, disorder, harvest failures, collapsed public infrastructures, bad sanitation - were... MORE

A Farewell to Alms: Overview of My Critique

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I've finally finished Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms. Like everyone else, I agree that it's well-written and addresses important topics. And I think lunch with Clark would be fun. But frankly, I can't find much else good to say... MORE

The Messiness of Economic Analysis

Economic Methods
Arnold Kling
In summing up his reaction to Gregory Clark's book, Tyler Cowen writes, Greg wants an explanation with a Malthusian or a Ricardian rigor and logic. I believe our explanations will be more like those of history than of economics. That... MORE

DeLong is no Slouch

Economic History
Arnold Kling
I cannot figure out the status of Brad DeLong's The Economic History of the Twentieth Century: Slouching Towards Utopia?. When I go here, it looks like an abandoned project. But just yesterday, Brad wrote, In some ways the world economy... MORE

Interview with Gregory Clark

Economic History
Arnold Kling
He says The book challenges the modern orthodoxy of economics - that people are essentially the same everywhere, and with the right set of institutions, growth is inevitable - in three ways. First by showing that there were societies like... MORE

Cowen, Clark, and Malthus

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen writes, Why should we aggregate income comparisons by country (or the whole world) rather than by city? World history looks very different if we do the latter. Aren't most countries relatively recent inventions anyway? More generally, I would... MORE

Farewell to Alms Watch

Economic History
Arnold Kling
New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade writes, Historians used to accept changes in people’s behavior as an explanation for economic events, like Max Weber’s thesis linking the rise of capitalism with Protestantism. But most have now swung to the... MORE

Conceived in Tribalism

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Here's a puzzling reaction to my doubts about the wonders of American independence:The chief goal of libertarianism is not low taxes or any specific public policy outcome but rather liberty.Actually, the libertarian view is that liberty consists in specific public... MORE

The IQ Revolution?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Gregory Clark writes, Millenia of living in stable societies, under tight Malthusian pressures that rewarded effort, accumulation, and fertility limitation, encouraged the development of cultural forms--in terms of work inputs, time preference, and family formation--which facilitated modern economic growth. This... MORE

Taxes, Independence, and Canada

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
In response to yesterday's doubts about the benefits of American independence, many commenters emphasized the importance of taxes - and pointed me to the Declaration of Independence. But this doesn't really answer my question: Did the Revolution actually lead to... MORE

Independence Day: Any Reason to Celebrate?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Can anyone tell me why American independence was worth fighting for? Most libertarians interpret the Revolutionary War as a libertarian crusade. But when you ask about specific libertarian policy changes that came about because of the Revolution, it's hard to... MORE

One of my pet ideas is the Jock/Nerd Theory of History. If you're reading this, you probably got a taste of it during your K-12 education, when your high grades and book smarts somehow failed to put you at the... MORE

Victims of Communism Dedication Tomorrow

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The Victims of Communism Memorial will be dedicated tomorrow in Washington, D.C. This is a great chance to set the record straight, and remember the greatest totalitarian disaster of human history. I wish they had worthier headline speakers than a... MORE

Depression Economics

Economic History
Arnold Kling
My latest essay says, most of the ignorance that plagued policymakers during the 1930's was conceptual. They did not understand the difference between lost resources and under-utilized resources. They did not understand the relationship between financial markets and markets for... MORE

All Depression, All the Time

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Russ Roberts interviews Amity Shlaes. From the notes: NRA even ruled out a consumer's picking out best chickens from a batch—just had to take first ones that came to hand. But consumer and business choice are very important. Concept was... MORE

Outstanding Book, Standout Price

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Arnold Kling
Randall E. Parker's The Economics of the Great Depression costs $125. The contents of the book are outstanding--more on that further on in this post. But the price stands out even more. I believe that one can construct an economic... MORE

The Great Depression

Economic History
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay. I would have thought that 1929 should have looked pretty good to people living in the depths of the Depression. But one of the many interesting lessons of Amity Shlaes' new history of the Great Depression... MORE

Estonian Symbolism

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I rarely care about symbolic issues, but for the Estonian statue controversy, I'll make an exception: Young Russians staged raucous protests in Moscow on Wednesday to denounce neighboring Estonia for removing a Soviet war memorial from its capital, and the... MORE

May Day Remembrance

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Once again, the folks at Catallarchy (now The Distributed Republic) offer an eloquent May Day Tribute to the victims of Communism, past and present. Check it out.... MORE

Shlaes on the New Deal

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Amity Shlaes spoke last evening at the American Enterprise Institute. Her topic, which is also the topic of her forthcoming book, was Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. In her talk, the New Deal comes across less as an economic revolution and... MORE

300 and Freedom

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
While watching 300 for the second time today, I kept remembering David Stannard's description of America's Founding Fathers as "slaveholding philosophers of freedom." There's a lot of high-minded talk in 300 about free Greeks standing against Persian tyranny (not to... MORE

A Relic of Prohibition

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
An enthusiast on the Pulp Hero discussion board provides some authentic flavor of the Prohibition Era: An official Medicinal Liquor prescription form. It's funny to think that alcohol was once treated like medical marijuana.... MORE

The New Deal vs. the Kling Deal

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I'm frankly puzzled by Arnold's latest take on the New Deal. (That quote is from him, not DeLong as I initially guessed!) I think the New Deal was moderately fascist (i.e., Mussolini light, not Hitler light), but let's leave that... MORE

The New Deal Legacy

Economic History
Arnold Kling
The online Wall Street Journal arranged a celebrity death match between Brad DeLong and yours truly on the topic of the New Deal. What would have happened in the U.S. without the New Deal? My father answers with one word:... MORE

Calhoun's Defense of Poland's Unanimity Rule

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Historians have a standard story about the partition of Poland in the 18th century: Poland was unable to defend itself effectively because it had a crazy unanimity rule that gave every nobleman a veto over everything. Seems plausible. But yesterday... MORE

Consensus on Roosevelt Fast Approaching

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Daniel Gross says Roosevelt was better than Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini. I agree. This does raise the interesting point that given world conditions for investors, the U.S. should have been able to do really well without really trying. Instead it... MORE

American Mugabe?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Brad thinks it's a little crazy for me to compare Roosevelt to Mugabe: To get to somebody willing to argue that the entire New Deal taken as a whole made things worse, you have to go to somebody like Arnold's... MORE

Normal Criticism of the New Deal

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong's of course right that I'm not normal. At the same time, he's backed off enough that I wonder if he'd put himself in the same boat as two normal guys with negative things to say about the New... MORE

What Was the New Deal?

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Reading Brad DeLong's latest word on the subject, I find that we seem to agree on the economics, but perhaps not on the history. We both like Roosevelt's policies of going off the gold standard and providing deposit insurance. Where... MORE

Roosevelt's Law of Tooth and Claw

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Hamilton and Arnold are making a lot of sense. On the negatives of the New Deal, though, it's also worth pointing out how scary Roosevelt's policies and populist rhetoric were to business. If I were a potential investor in 1933,... MORE

The New Deal and the Great Depression

Economic History
Arnold Kling
James Hamilton writes, The notion that if we can just create more monopoly power for every single sector of the economy, encouraging every sector to produce less so they can raise their wages and prices, that we will then somehow... MORE

Jefferson on the Indians

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I was curious to read more about Jefferson's position on the Indians. Here's a nice set of quotations. It's full of high-minded rhetoric, like: Our system is to live in perpetual peace with the Indians, to cultivate an affectionate attachment... MORE

New World Apocalypse

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The most straightforward - if not the best - way to interpret the end of Apocalypto is that Christian Europeans finally arrived in the New World to put an end to monstrous pagan barbarism. Whether or not that was Gibson's... MORE

When Ayn Rand Villains Ruled the Earth

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
A leading criticism of Ayn Rand's novels is that her villains are unbelievable. No one runs around proclaiming their devotion to the opposite of what John Galt believes. People who say this should read more about the '30's and '40's.... MORE

Columbus: The Far Left is Dead Right

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
By the time Christopher Columbus appeared in Lisbon in 1477 an Old World slave trade was thriving in the eastern Atlantic between West Africa, the Atlantic islands, and Europe. In his famous letter on his first voyage he informed Ferdinand... MORE

The Lipinsky Memoir

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
My online Museum of Communism has a new exhibit: The memoirs of Romuald Lipinsky. Lipinsky was deported from Poland to Siberia by the Soviets when he was 15 years old. Last year, he told me his tale of woe and... MORE

When Hell Froze Over

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Not long after Abbie Hoffman praised "revolution for the hell of it," David Friedman memorably retorted "revolution is the hell of it." While reading literary historian Gleb Struve's edifying Russian Literature under Lenin and Stalin, I came across an eloquent... MORE

Tragedy of the Commons

Economic History
Eric Crampton
While I was at GMU, Gordon Tullock was working on a book he intended to call "Open Secrets" -- things that most people don't know but ought to. Levy and Peart's re-discovery of the origins of the term Dismal Science... MORE

Socialist Hate Speech of Antiquity

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Toward the end of the fifth century c.e., another religious reform movement was launched by Mazdak. It came in 497... Mazdak asked King Kobad (488-531) the question, "How do you judge a man who has the antidote but does not... MORE

The Lamentable Teddy Roosevelt

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Time has put Teddy Roosevelt on the cover of its 5th Annual Special Issue, and the coverage stretches the limits of sycophancy. It reminds me of my high school history textbook, which praised any President who backed new regulations or... MORE

I just found out that Milton Friedman's great-grandson Tovar Miles Friedman was born pre-maturely last year, but is now doing well. His story brought me from pity to joy in minutes. Now that you know that things work out, you... MORE

May Day Mourning

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
This May Day, the able bloggers of Catallarchy have once again assembled a great line-up of short essays on the dark history of Communism. Highlights include a moving vignette by Polish deportee Romuald Lipinsky on his time in Siberia; Clara... MORE

Putin's Potemkin Dissertation

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Vladimir Putin's supposed to be an economist. Kind of embarassing. But it turns out that he plagiarized his dissertation, so we can justly banish him from the club: According to the Kremlin’s official biography, Putin, 53, obtained a PhD in... MORE

The Misconception of the Twentieth Century

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Even many people with little sympathy for the Soviet Union admire its "heroic" role in World War II. What all too few people realize is that for the first twenty-two months of World War II, the Nazis and the Soviets... MORE

Red-Handed Ratchet Effect

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Robert Higgs is famous for his analysis of the "ratchet effect." As Higgs explained in his Crisis and Leviathan, governments expand during crises, then conveniently fail to return to their initial size after the crisis ends. Of course, it's possible... MORE

Lenin and Goebbels: Can You Tell Them Apart?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
You probably can, but mostly because Lenin is such a terrible writer: Goebbels: Bourgeois social theory is primarily concerned with the individual. It is thus essentially determined by pity, or compassion, or the Christian love of one's neighbor or similar... MORE

Galbraith vs. the Internet

Economic History
Arnold Kling
From my latest essay, The death of the entrepreneur was greatly exaggerated. Over the past two decades, the strength of entrepreneurialism has been unmistakable. The economy has been much more dynamic than Galbraith would have predicted. Many of the industrial... MORE

Funding Jihad

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Due to mild fear of a strip search at the airport, I decided not to fly with Daniel Brown's A New Introduction to Islam. But it was worth the wait. In another fascinating section, Brown explains how the early holy... MORE

How Islam Spread: Veeery Slooowly

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
I am engrossed by Daniel Brown's A New Introduction to Islam. It's packed with juicy scholarship. A standard history will tell you that Islam swept the Middle East in the space of thirty years. What it won't tell you is... MORE

The 1920's and the 1990's

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Robert J. Gordon writes, The evolution of the economy after 2000 was, of course, entirely different than after 1929, and we have previously attributed this to the aggressive easing of monetary policy that sustained a major boom in residential construction... MORE

Keep on Truckin', Stalin-Style

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Did central planners under socialism focus on economics or politics? Lazarev and Gregory present an interesting test in their article "The Wheels of a Command Economy." (Published in the 2002 Economic History Review, and popularized in Gregory and Harrison's piece... MORE

What the Future Holds

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Nick Bostrom and Milan Ćirković asked me to write a chapter for their edited volume on Global Catastrophic Risks. Most of the other contributors are natural scientists who consider the risks of things like asteroids, nanotech, and nuclear war. But... MORE

Wisdom from the Great Depression: Who Said It?

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Here are some surprisingly modern observations on the Great Depression from the year 1931: We live in a society organized in such a way that the activity of production depends on the individual business man hoping for a reasonable profit,... MORE

The Real Chiang Kaishek

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Brad DeLong recently described Chiang Kaishek as a "twentieth-century Chinese nationalist, socialist, general, and dictator." By itself, this description is rather surprising. The legendary Chinese anti-Communist was actually a socialist? But not only is Brad right about this; you could... MORE

Hummel Reviews Woods

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Jeff Hummel, one of the most knowledgeable historians I personally know, has an interesting review online of Thomas Woods' Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. I haven't read the book, but the review is a fun read. I particularly liked... MORE

Economic Illiterates of the Great Depression

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
According to my paper on the idea trap, economic downturns reduce economic literacy. Just when people need their economic common sense the most, they open their hearts to the crackpots. Perhaps the best example is the Great Depression, when every... MORE

May Day Mourning

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
Jonathan Wilde at Catallarchy has orchestrated a moving and edifying May Day blog extravangaza on the dark history of communism. Catallarchy has gone the extra mile here, offering twelve fine short essays, and leading off with R.J. Rummel, Nicholas Weininger,... MORE

The Blogging Meme

Economic History
Bryan Caplan
The term "blog" was coined in 1999, and it now gets 105,000,000 google hits. Compare that to "democracy," which only gets 43,800,000. Wikipedia provides a fascinating and thorough discussion.... MORE

History of Markets

Economic History
Arnold Kling
Brad DeLong posts the syllabus for his economic history course. Included is this paper by Peter Temin. He claims that in the Roman Empire, the prices represent extensive market exchanges typical of a market economy, not reciprocal exchanges typical of... MORE

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