Search Results for 'acemoglu'

When I read at the “Why Nations Fail Blog” that “the very high incarceration rates for African-Americans is a uniquely American failure” I sent them an email citing Julius Uzoaba’s comparison of Canada, Australia the U.S and U.K. Acemoglu responded shortly afterward, saying they would follow up next week, and now they have. I would quibble with some of their points. They emphasize that the U.S is a democracy and say Prohibition was ended once people started  believing it caused more crime than it prevented and mobilized against it. According to Daniel Okrent, a major motivation was tax revenue, which it provided a lot of in the days of low/no income taxes and was sorely needed during the Great Depression. There’s just not going to be as much money in legalizing drugs, and the government doesn’t need it as much. Additionally, U.S complacency over the War on Drugs is contrasted with calls from legalization in Latin America, but I would emphasize that the most notable statesmen calling for legalization/decriminalization (which wouldn’t do much, the folks in prison are generally dealers rather than petty users) are EX-officials rather than the folks currently in office.

The title of his post was “Who supports the US penal system”, but the major policy discussed is the war on drugs. I examined support for legalizing marijuana here, surprisingly enough blacks were slightly less in favor of ending a policy which disproportionately incarcerates their cohort. It was a pretty small difference, but I would have expected a larger gap in the opposite direction.

*I guess some James Robinson character is his co-author, but I’d never heard of him before, plus his name comes last alphabetically.

A while back I wondered what Chris Coyne would say in response to Daron Acemoglu’s paper showing institutional improvement in areas the French Revolution spread to. Oddly enough, I found Yglesias citing the Austrian-anarchist’s essay on recent books from the more left-anarchist’s James Scott and applying those ideas to modern counter-insurgency. His paper (with Adam Pellillo, who I’ve never heard of before) has a footnote referencing Acemoglu’s paper. Since it’s short, I’ll just quote the whole thing here:
In a recent article, Acemoglu et al. (2009) argue against this position. They contend that the impact of the French Revolution on European institutions proves that good institutions can be imposed from outside. Specifically, after 1792, French forces invaded numerous countries and imposed a civil code while abolishing guilds and the remnants of feudalism. They argue that the countries invaded performed better economically than those that didn’t. This, however, misses the point. The use of the guillotine is a means of raising the cost of enforcement. Demand curves do indeed slope downward and if you raise the cost of certain behaviors high enough people will respond. Stated simply, if the gun is big enough outsiders can get insiders to behave differently. Putting aside the issue of ethics, this is an extremely costly means of changing behaviors.

So I guess Coyne would agree with Daniel Klein that drug prohibition reduces drug use and gun laws reduce gun possession.

Reading Tyler Cowen’s interview with Tooze (Marginal Revolution post here) I was surprised to see him cite both Broadberry and the better known Angus Maddison on the relative underdevelopment of 1930s Germany. The discussion between Tooze and Cowen does make it somewhat ambiguous whether Germany is supposed to have been undeveloped merely relative to the U.S and even Great Britain but also to continental European countries like France. Because if that was not the case, then it’s less surprising both that Germany quickly defeated France and that they decided to launch such a war in the first place. After all, Germany had fought France in the previous World War under a different government and presumably different ideology (the goal of “lebensraum” in the east, discussed in said interview, seems to have had less importance then).

Regular readers (if I have any) might recall that I have previously blogged about about Broadberry’s critique of Acemoglu & Johnson’s “Why Nations Fail”, from some basic slides that I copied to a more formal paper. I personally found it quite compelling even in the former case, but haven’t previously come across many people citing him, while Acemoglu remains a huge deal (whose work I recommended to Mencius Moldbug over a decade ago).

On a completely unrelated note, Dischord Records just put all their catalog free on Bandcamp. Tooze’s “Wages of Destruction” would be a good album/song title, if not necessarily a band name.

I’ve previously blogged Broadberry’s critique of Acemoglu & Johnson’s “Why Nations Fail”. The discussion at Greg Cochran’s review of Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs & Steel” got me googling, which is how I found this more formal writeup from Broadberry.

I’d been planning on reading Elinor Ostrom for a while, possibly (though less than probably) before she and Oliver Williamson won the econ Nobel (there not being a poli-sci fauxbel, it was a decent enough fit). Peter Boettke had been writing about her and the “Bloomington School”, but it seemed best to go to the source. A lot of the work she’s known for centers on common pool resources, so “Governing the Commons” seemed the best single text to go for.

I’d first like to get out of the way the canard that Ostrom somehow debunks Garett Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” or shows it to be a non-issue. She regards it as one possible outcome, and some of the examples in the book are of people that failed to prevent it from happening. Her complaint is that policymakers jump to assume firstly that it will happen if they don’t intervene, and secondly that their intervention will fix things. The people on the ground who actually use the resource often notice the problem and come up with systems that they have the capability of carrying out (for the most part) for themselves, and outsiders intervening sometimes makes things worse. One of my links earlier suggested that Ostrom is arguing for anarchy, and anarchists can certainly rely on some of her arguments, but that would not be an accurate representation of her position. The beneficiaries of common pool resources often make use of government resources (as in her first study, California water basin management), but they can also achieve government backing and still fail (as with some of those very basins). (more…)

Commenter “ThePolyCapitalist” at Marginal Revolution stated that Stephen Broadberry (who I had not heard of before) had given a critique of “Why Nations Fail” that James Robinson was not prepared for. I decided to contact Broadberry and see if his argument was available anywhere online. He sent me a powerpoint, but since there weren’t graphics or anything I think his notes will work fine as text in a blog post: (more…)

It wasn’t too many posts ago that I last discussed the “Why Nations Fail” blog but via Cheap Talk I see it has become relevant to the news-cycle. They respond to Mitt Romney’s claim that Israel is wealthier than Palestine (wealthier than Mitt Romney even claimed) because of culture by instead blaming institutions, tying that in with the Israeli occupation. David Bernstein, on the other hand, would point out that the standard of living in the West Bank and Gaza actually improved after the occupation, and that (at least as of 1993) the per capita GDP was higher in those territories than Egypt or Jordan (from which they originally came). Eli Dourado is unsatisfied with either explanation and wants to know the upstream variables for both institutions and culture.

Their response either interrupted or marked the end of a series of posts on post-apartheid South Africa. Daron Acemoglu & James Robinson seemed to be chiefly concerned with inequality, while when I typically read someone worried about South Africa the fear is generally focused on power plants shutting down, HIV epidemics, or a supposed genocide of Boer farmers. They reference the fear of Zuma (and his machine gun song) going the way of Zimbabwe, but they think that the cautious avoidance of frightening the white elite led to insufficient land reform and the co-opting of black politicians. Oddly enough they praise the creation of a “vibrant” democracy even though it effectively seems a one-party state. Singapore is a very well functioning one-party state, and I would have said the same thing of Japan before their Lost Decade, but I don’t put that much weight on vibrant democracy. I’m also confused by their use of acronyms in the last post, I assume “NIC” means “newly industrializing country” but “newly latinamericanized country” makes little since there is a continuation of long pre-existing inequality, and Brazil of the BRIC group is quite “latin american” already in that respect. The comparison with Germany in that post is also off since it was already a fairly wealthy country before the world wars broke out. The original posts can be found here, here, here, here and here, but I figure they should be compiled into one so they can be read in one place and in order. (more…)

I’m not going to say I refuse to believe Josh Foust when he says drone strikes appear to be fairly popular in the directly affected Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, but extremely unpopular in the rest of the country. But it would certainly not be what I’d expect, given all the stories about wedding parties (maybe that’s more an Afghan thing?) and other mistakenly blown up folks. I extensively quoted Randall Collins on the effect of distance on attitudes toward violence here.

In other news, Garett Jones says the new Acemoglu & Miller book “Why Nations Fail” egregiously neglects the effect of IQ on national culture. A commenter here recently chided Charles Kenny for ignoring human capital, I’ll have to reread his paper on the economic performance of communist countries to see what if anything he said about that. I plan on returning to Jones’ point in my next post.

This post’s title from an album the Irish program at my local jazz station has been promoting.

Some years back when I watched Saturday Night Live regularly, and everyone complained about how much better it was when Chris Farley/Mike Myers/Eddie Murphy/Bill Murray was on the show, one of the writers appeared on Weekend Update (no, not Tina Fey) to point out an anomaly. He was the only Jew on the comedy team, which he explained was like an NBA team with just one black dude. The list of other names sounded more like a St. Patrick’s day arrest lineup.

Listening to the Greg Cochran interview I recently linked, the point he made about the Irish getting mixed up with everyone else on earth set some gears in motion that hadn’t clicked before. Brad Delong & Paul Krugman have been complaining about the decline of the Chicago School recently, and even Chicago-educated quasi-monetarist Scott Sumner agrees. The modern Chicago school is represented by the likes of John Cochrane, Kevin Murphy and Casey Mulligan (at least they aren’t Ed Prescott, whose surname is more Anglo) together with the odd Huizingas and Zingales. Hmm. The old Chicago school (alright, not the Old Chicago school of Knight & Viner) was represented by the likes of George Stigler, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker and Julian Simon. Brian Doherty noted how so many of the founders of the modern libertarian movement were Jewish in Radicals for Capitalism, and Half Sigma just made the same point recently. I brought up a similar point at his blog in defense of Austrian economics when he tried to associate it with anti-semitism, and he replied that the people I listed were either dead or very old.

Is there any point to my rambling? SNL, as well as the Chicago and Austrian schools have all seen better days, and in those days seemed more Jewish than they are now. Might we theorize that the ethnic composition of an intellectual enterprise shifting from Jewish to Irish is akin to rats leaving a sinking ship?

For those wondering about Armenians, Armen Alchian of the Chicagoite colony at UCLA is matched today by Lee Ohanian (damn, just an apostrophe away from Irish!). While Alchian worked with Harold Demsetz, Ohanian writes with Harold Cole, another Anglo surname. Daron Acemoglu was born in Turkey but is ethnically Armenian and teaches at the Salt Pole university MIT. Economists in America are increasingly foreign, which may make my hypothesis less and less relevant as time goes on. Among those extra-ethnic economists is Narayana Kocherlakota, who might suggest that I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Is it Anne-Marie Slaughter’s mission in life to make realists look like colossal geniuses compared to her? I was groaning when I first watched her talk with Anatol Lieven. I had somehow got the impression that Stephen Walt was to the left of his famed realist colleague and co-author, John Mearsheimer, but I didn’t see any indication of a bleeding heart in their recent diavlog. I actually laughed when Walt is listing strategic priorities for America and she adds the security of Israel as if he had merely forgotten it, giving no indication that she was aware of that book. She talks about the imperative of the new Obama administration to act “boldly” and how in attempting to create peace between the Israelis and Palestinians or Indians and Pakistanis (same thing I guess) he could “win big but also lose big”. And in case I haven’t asked this before, why the hell would anyone want to be associated with Woodrow Wilson?

Going back to foreign affairs of the past, David Henderson has a veteran’s day tribute to economist and WW2 pilot Richard Timberlake “a veteran who did not give his life and knew that he wasn’t fighting for our freedom”. Only interested in staying alive, he sounds like a character from Catch-22, which I still haven’t read. I recall hearing that Heller himself was not so cynical when he was actually flying but became so later. In the Viggo Mortensen narrated cartoon authobiography of Howard Zinn he describes realizing that he was fighting for American imperialism when he was bombing Europe in that same war. I’m glad that at least some lefties have a dimmer view of the “good war” and I wonder if he put in a good word for Charles Lindbergh in any of his books.

What follows is a long-rambling with hardly anything to do with the above, so I have put it below the fold.


This one has little connection to the previous two editions and wanders around rather aimlessly. It thus follows the long and ignoble tradition of declining sequel quality. (more…)

mupetblast (EDIT: aka Dain) in the Attack the System group points to this review by Philip Hammond in Spiked of Paul Berman’s “Power and the Idealists” and Paul Hockenos’ “Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic”. Aside from Fischer (foreign minister of Germany), the former book focuses on Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister. Both men were radicals back in 1968 but they became divided over the Iraq war (which Kouchner supported and Fischer opposed). I have been peeved by Spiked in the past for their attempt to make the modern right seem “hip” by aping the history of the left (see their critique of environmentalists as a middle class oppressing those below them). This review seemed to take the opposite tack. It seems to reject modern “humanitarian interventionism” as being just as foolish as the 60s radicalism that preceded it. One good part is the arrogance of those behind “the ’68ers’ war” in Kosovo, where Kouchner was made governor once it was a protectorate. Though many liberals still point to it as an example of good intervention, Hammond points out how they were fooled into seeing genocide when it wasn’t there and ignored violence perpetrated against the Serbs once the dust settled. Another good part is how lofty ideology served to mask the age-old rivalry of French and English imperialism (more specifically in the Biafran war) which seems quite different from the monolithic “international community” that Mencius Moldbug paints. A final interesting point is the publication in Stern magazine of photos with Fischer and his radical buddies beating up a cop. Speaking of which, there is some hubbub (oddly enough among right-wingers who won’t be there to suffer) about a group of barely-disguised Obama supporters calling themselves “Recreate ’68” and the awful violence they will unleash like in the Democratic convention in Chicago. Now can anyone point me out to photos or video of the hippies at that convention committing any violent acts, rather than the Chicago police dishing out violence to them?

On a related story, the American Prospect has a long article on Christopher Hitchens and his ideological migration, which also places a heavy focus on 1968. Although as a paleo I must hate Hitchens and his neo-conservatism, I feel a certain kindred spirit as a thoroughly English “Protestant atheist”. I was disappointed when Mencius Moldbug, who once denied being a cavalier and spoke of “the one revolution which ever was glorious” now declaring himself a Jacobite.

In the same Marginal Revolution post which linked to that Hitchen article, we also find this discussion on the World Bank, governance and growth from Daron Acemoglu, Douglas North, Dani Rodrik and Francis Fukuyama. Quite a find, especially North’s bit. I haven’t read his book, so it might be old stuff to those who have.