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Acemoglu on U.S Decline

Saturday, November 12, 2016 14:22
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All economists should read this new piece by MIT’s Daron Acemoglu.  Acemoglu and Robinson have long argued that nation’s with inclusive institutions grow and that it is difficult to build and maintain such elusive institutions.  Dr. Acemoglu worries that the U.S is at a tipping point in which are institutions may make the transition to being extractive.  As a half joke, President Elect Trump would point to natural resources and would say that under his administration that there will extractive resources (namely coal and other stuff in the ground).

One weakness in Daron’s piece is that he goes back hundreds of years to the Roman Republic to find case studies of institutional dynamics.  While I’m impressed with his knowledge, the data point he supplies teaches us nothing about today.  President Trump and his team are well aware that the New York Times and the Supreme Court and Elizabeth Warren and all of the other checks and balances limit Presidential Power.   The new administration will learn “the Art of the Deal”.   Mr. Trump is posturing to improve his bargaining power in future negotiations.  

I would like to see “doom and gloomers” write out a set of future events such that the U.S becomes Russia.   In an age where everyone is blogging away (including me), how does Google become subverted so that people can’t post to their blogs and to Twitter?  How is our freedom stripped away?  In an age of 24/7 real time information,  how would the U.S military be turned against the U.S people (or maybe just the coastal elites such as my West LA neighborhood)?

I will ask again.  What is your worst nightmare about the Trump Administration? Once you verbalize this, then explain to me how this vision could come about.  How powerful is the modern American President?  In a nation of 340 million self interested people, how does one person “take over”?  How robust is our system to shocks?


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