J. Bradford Delong

Bradford Delong, a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, served as a deputy assistant secretary of the treasury in the Clinton administration.

Recent Articles

Republic of the Central Banker

In the middle of our market economy sits an island of central planning, the Federal Reserve. No president or Congress dares challenge the power of its chairman, Ben Bernanke.

Ben Bernanke is the closest thing to a central economic planner the United States has ever had. He bestrides our narrow economic world like a colossus. Unelected (he was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by an overwhelming majority in the Senate) and unaccountable (unless the Congress decides that it wishes to amend the Federal Reserve Act and take the blame for whatever else goes wrong with the economy), he is responsible only to his conscience -- and his open-market committee of himself, the other six governors of the Federal Reserve Board, and the 12 presidents of the regional Federal Reserve banks. The fate of the economy in the next administration depends far less on the president than on this moral-philosopher-prince to whose judgment we have entrusted a remarkable share of control over our destiny. How did an ivory-tower academic whose specialty is the details of the Great Depression get to this position? What does he do all day? How did so much power come to...

Debate Club

Rubin's Remarkable Achievement By Bradford DeLong In 1992, the incoming Clinton administration had, broadly speaking, two strategic options for domestic policy. The first was a double-or-nothing "social democracy" strategy. Federal spending at the time was running at 22 percent of the gross domestic product, hardly changed from 1980. Contrary to conservative mythology, the Reagan revolution hadn't shrunk the government, but it had changed its shape. As a share of federal spending, domestic expenditures outside of the entitlement programs were down by one-third, while debt interest and military spending were up. Forecasts showed deficits continuing -- indeed, rising -- as far as the eye could see. If policy had stayed unchanged, the federal debt -- which had already risen from 26 percent of the GDP in 1980 to 48 percent in 1992 -- would have continued climbing to 72 percent in 2000. Bill Clinton could have said: Let the deficit problem be the responsibility of some future Republican...

Robert Rubin's Contested Legacy

In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices From Wall Street to Washington By Robert Rubin and Jacob Weisberg, Random House, 448 pages, $35.00 In 1992 the incoming Clinton administration had, broadly speaking, two strategic options for domestic policy. The first was a double-or-nothing "social democracy" strategy. Federal spending at the time was running at 22 percent of gross domestic product, hardly changed from 1980. Contrary to conservative mythology, the Reagan revolution hadn't shrunk the government, but it had changed its shape: As a share of federal spending, domestic expenditures outside of the entitlement programs were down by one-third, while debt interest and military spending were up. Forecasts showed deficits continuing -- indeed, rising -- as far as the eye could see. If policy had stayed unchanged, the federal debt -- which had already risen from 26 percent of GDP in 1980 to 48 percent in 1992 -- would have continued climbing to 72 percent in 2000. Bill Clinton could have...