August 28, 2013
Most influential economics blogs
According to Onanalytica Indexes, it looks like you're reading one of the ten most influential economics blogs.
Posted by James Hamilton at August 28, 2013 07:02 AMdigg this | reddit
I saw that. Congrats.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 28, 2013 07:10 AM
Well, of course, congratulations.
Having said that, Econbrowser is down four places from last year. Some of that is unavoidable (eg, due to the rise of FT Alphaville). On the other hand, it seems to me that your posts are a bit more sparse (is that true?) and Menzie has devolved into a something of a Wisconsin policy protester. (I wish Menzie would spend more time on mechanics, the same on statistics, and less on ideology. On the other hand, count the number of comments on the birther post.)
As I have said before, I think you should expand the contributor roster to three. I think it would raise the rankings and ease the pressure on you and Menzie. Here are some suggestions, along with folks I think deserve some recognition.
I don't always agree with Mark, but his research is impeccable and he's more and more in the limelight. He'd be a good add.
What could compel Gary Gorton to blog? Money, women, a new HP calculator? He needs to get out of the ivory tower and mix it up a bit. (Yes, I mean you with, Slugs.) Gorton would benefit greatly from becoming a regular poster on Econbrower, and we would benefit greatly as well.
Econbrowser could use a contributor with a bit of a conservative bias, and Greg would fit the bill. Now, he has his own blog, but there are no comments. I rarely read it. Both he and Econbrowser would benefit if he posted here.
Claudia's an economist at the DC Fed, and she comments over at Marginal Revolution. She's the Peggy Noonan of the economics world. She'd be a great add in terms of perspective, technical skill and writing style. But could she do it without losing her job at the Fed? They should let her blog. We have very few (any?) women economics bloggers, and we could use one.
Of course, Evan Soltas is not coming over to Econbrowser, but he had arguably the best year of any blogger out there, and he deserves some kudos. Kudos, Evan.
Not all journalists are useless. Izabella is actually very good technically and has had a very good year in the blogosphere. I might put Megan McArdle in this class as well. Both also deserve kudos.
Posted by: Steven Kopits at August 28, 2013 08:49 AM
If I were Isabella Kaminska, I'd be furious at being lumped together with McArdle. Same with Sahm and Noonan. Gak!
Posted by: kharris at August 28, 2013 09:16 AM
Congratulations. Kudos to you and Menzie.
I would like to warn you guys about confirmation bias, as academics you should always remain steadfastly skeptical and independently minded. Try to avoid straying to a presumption as this will result in your excellent blog being "editorial" rather then erudite.
Economics is a field much like Climate Science in that it is very hard or impossible prove any assertion because we do not have a controlled environment to test hypotheses, an "economic laboratory" or a "scalled down model lab of the atmosphere" to play with if you will (the closest may the CLOUD experiment ongoing at CERN).
As far as statistics and computer models go - Disraeli was right! Damn Lies!
What I greatly appreciate is when you argue a point and explain your reasoning but also cover alternative explanations - these posts are real gems coming from two very high calibre academics!
Thank you for your time and efforts!
Posted by: Jeremy at August 28, 2013 10:13 AM
Congrats! I believe that much of your success is the fact that you have an open forum that does not censor opinion. You appeal to all sides of the economic spectrum.
Great job! Keep it up.
Posted by: Ricardo at August 28, 2013 11:26 AM
Congratulations, Jim and Menzie.
econbrowser 4 places down, now at 10.
zerohedge 9 places up, now at 8.
And Krugman with his left-wing propaganda is on top.
Well, that says all about that ranking. Citation number ranking seems not to be the silver bullet.
Anyway guys, keep on going.
Posted by: Johannes at August 28, 2013 11:43 AM
I frequently read most of the blogs in the top 10, and a majority at least occasionally in the top 20. If you remove those sponsored by big media, my observation is that many of the independent econ blogs have a quirk or two that run as themes through the blog. For example, with Brad Delong you get "Liveblogging WWII" and with Marginal Revolution you get food or music or "The culture that is " type posts that may or may not relate directly to the economic stories of the minute.
I don't see it a problem that here we have some local Wisconsin stuff. Why not? It's their blog. Some of it is interesting whether it is directly related or not. I say make it a regular feature.
Posted by: randomworker at August 28, 2013 11:52 AM
Steven Kopits We have very few (any?) women economics bloggers, and we could use one.
And then you mentioned Sahm and Kaminska. Bo-o-o-ring! Think out of the box. Probably the most original and complicated mind I've ever encountered would be Deidre McCloskey. Now her posts would fill up the comments section big time. After a morning of a tag team cliometrics between McCloskey and Robert Fogel, you were pretty well spent and useless for the rest of the day.
I don't know what to say about an index that has zerohedge.com only four places below this blog. Typo? Maybe it should have been 800 rather than 8???
Posted by: 2slugbaits at August 28, 2013 02:25 PM
Congrats to both of you. I agree with Ricardo that not censoring opinions is a big plus. Lord knows, I've directed a few (few to many) smarmy comments at Menzie and, yet, he has never censored anything. So thanks from me to Menzie. Great blog.
Posted by: Anonymous in Cincy at August 28, 2013 02:37 PM
McCloskey is not an economist, and I don't think she writes particularly well. She would not fit in as an Econbrowser contributor, I think.
By contrast, I always read what Claudia writes if I come across her comments. I don't find her boring, just the opposite. And she is, in fact, a quite good economist, and she is well-informed on debates and perspectives within the Fed, which I consider important.
Kaminska I mentioned in that I think she's elevated her status quite a bit in the blogosphere in the last year. I didn't include her as an Econbrowser contributor. But if we're looking for bloggers who have become more influential, Izabella makes my list. However, Soltas in unquestionably first in that regard, at least from my perspective.
As for Zero Hedge, I find it mesmerizing. I use it as a news source as much as anything else. It has an amazing turnover of stories, many of them not covered elsewhere. It's unique, but I don't consider it in the same class as Econbrowser. It's the economics version of a cross between Drudge and FT Alphaville.
By the way, I would have also added Wonk Blog and 538 to that list, neither of which made the cut.
Posted by: Steven Kopits at August 28, 2013 03:15 PM
I love this blog. It's fantastic.
I hope you will use excerpts from your book, Menzie, to illustrate the dangers of capital flows etc as they relate to the turbulence in the EM
Posted by: raskolnikov at August 28, 2013 04:41 PM
"McCloskey earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Economics at Harvard University. (Her dissertation on British iron and steel won in 1973 the David A. Wells Prize.)"
Is economics also like cosmology, seeing as we don't have a "scaled down model lab of the universe" to play with? Perhaps it is also like evolutionary biology, since we don't have a "scaled down model lab of speciation over time" to play with? What about geology, seeing as we don't have a "scaled down model lab of the lithosphere" to play with? I hear you just can't prove anything in geology these days. So uncertain.
Posted by: nnoxks at August 28, 2013 05:04 PM
Steven K. - McCloskey is not an economist? And does not write particularly well? True, I have not read much she has produced since her name change, but I can't imagine a deterioration such that she would not merit much higher than average of the eclectic group in your first post, both as a writer and an economist. Greg Mankiw in the same breath as Mark Sadowski?
One thing for sure, the quality of the comments on this site is better than on many that are ranked higher. And the extremely mild hand at censorship is a marvel to behold.
Posted by: don at August 28, 2013 05:22 PM
Let's compare McCloskey's papers with Menzie's.
One of them understands macro and econometrics.
Posted by: Steven Kopits at August 28, 2013 05:33 PM
There is hard science and soft science. In soft science things generally become accepted through the build up of evidence from observations. In hard science, it is usually possible to design a specific experiment and test a hypothesis beyond any shadow of a doubt. The pitfall is to mistake soft science as hard science. The degree of certainty is much lower in soft science.
Posted by: Jeremy at August 28, 2013 08:37 PM
I think you were addressing my comment. If not then ignore this. Are you suggesting that cosmology, geology, evolutionary biology, and earth systems sciences are "soft" sciences? If so, that is incorrect.
You asserted that McCloskey was not an economist. That was plainly an incorrect assertion.
Posted by: nnoxks at August 28, 2013 11:39 PM
There is hard and soft science, and I often prefer the soft kind. Hayek would fall into the soft variety, for example. But McCloskey's the "Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication" at UI Chicago? All of those? Just how bad are the budget cuts there?
In any event, Econbrowser, while it may have soft topics from time to time, to my mind is not a soft blog. It's written by two hard core quantitative economists. Jim has written books on econometrics and Menzie's technical posts speak for themselves.
Now, as for my choice of potential contributors. Of course, Mankiw's a much bigger name than Sadowski, but Mark's more likely to sign on. When Mark posts or comments, I find that I am forced to pay attention and carefully consider his argument, even if I disagree. He has, therefore, I think the essential quality of a good blogger--he's strong analytically and likes to write publicly. We'll be hearing more from Mark, whether on Econbrowser or elsewhere.
Claudia Sahm for me is like Mark. When she writes, I know I will be challenged and learn something I don't know. And she's inside the Fed. If they had an ounce of brains, they'd let her blog, because I can assure you she's more valuable doing that than anything she's working on now.
And no comment on Gary Gorton? If I thought it would help, I'd go to New Haven in person and beg Gorton on bended knees. In terms of mechanics (causal linkages), is there anyone better in the US?
So here are the strategic plays in summary:
Mankiw: Beefs up Econbrowser, makes it more "open", more prominent, less of a niche website. But if Mankiw wanted to deal with Slugs, he'd allow comments on his own website...
Sadowski: I think he's very much on the level of posts we see at Econbrowser. He turns two into three, but doesn't change the essential nature of the blog.
Gorton: He's an important voice, under-recognized in my opinion. He has Jim's and Menzie's level of seniority. He'd add some heft to the site; but in some sense, I think it's more important for Gorton than for Econbrowser.
Sahm: Claudia's a very solid, technical economist. Brings a feminine perspective in a male dominated field. (How many women commenters do we have? Any?) And, of course, if the Fed Chair has any brains, then Econbrowser becomes the place to float Fed trial balloons.
So, everyone brings something a bit different. That's the point I was trying to make.
Posted by: Steven Kopits at August 29, 2013 06:14 AM
No I did not make the assertion that the sciences you mentioned are soft sciences. In fact I did not mention them but you did. Since you asked, Biology is regarded as bordering on soft science. I would say the physics and chemistry within cosmology and geology and earth systems science has hard science at their core however at the fringes they become as soft as "geography". Two cents...
Posted by: Jeremy at August 29, 2013 06:43 AM
Where is the like button?
Posted by: spry at August 29, 2013 06:47 AM
The comments above immediately reminded me of Fantasy Baseball/Football, hell you name the sport, where people select their version of the perfect team.
Best to the team of Hamilton and Chinn. Also thanks to the host of commenter's that provide laughs.
Posted by: dilbert dogbert at August 29, 2013 06:53 AM
I personally come here mostly to be amused by the comedy of erroneous assumptions. It would be more useful in this context to have a list of least influential economic blogs, given that most of what comes out of academe these days is just a little better than worthless.
But I do look forward to the day when Econbrowser's content reaches the level of relevance and penetrating insight as that of Banzai and the Stand-Up Economist:
I know it's a rather high bar to set for oneself, but you guys are worthy of the attempt.
Posted by: Bruce Carman at August 29, 2013 01:38 PM
One of them understands macro and econometrics.
I wouldn't say McCloskey doesn't understand macro; more that she just isn't very interested in it. She used to say that economics after Alfred Marshall offered a good lesson in theh law of diminishing returns. Sometimes, when he's in one of his grumpier moods, I think Krugman shares that same sentiment about macro post-Keynes. And she has very little patience with a lot of econometrics (she even co-authored a rather well known book it), although that is not the same as saying she opposes quantitative economics. Afterall, she is probably the leading spokesperson for cliometrics since Fogel died a few months ago.
In any event, there is more to economics than macro and econometrics. McCloskey's beef has always been that too many (and especially British) economic historians are great historians and lousy economists. Applying formal economics and quantitative techniques corrects a lot of what's wrong with what's taught in both history and econ departments. For example, quantitative economic analysis of granary storage in 13th century manorial economies improves medieval history in the liberal arts college as well as correcting a some of the insurance models taught in the biz school. Understanding the Enclosure movement through the eyes of an economist fixes what historians get wrong and provides important lessons about production functions with at least one inelastic input. If you don't understand the economics of railroads in 19th century America and Mexico, then you probably don't understand the economics of big data.
I suggested McCloskey not because I always agree with her (I don't), but because her views can be very unsettling in the way that a pike in a carp pond keeps the fish active. And the sheer number of comments posted here regarding the McCloskey suggestion pretty much prove my point.
Posted by: 2slugbaits at August 29, 2013 02:29 PM
Thankfully they didn't rank you by your commenters .
Thanks again for the site, Jim and Menzie. This site and most of the other top 10, plus Calculated Risk and Dean Baker, are must reads in my book.
Posted by: benamery21 at August 29, 2013 05:19 PM
Thankfully they didn't rank you by your commenters ."
Don't worry your comments aren't as bad as you think.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 30, 2013 10:20 AM
I'd wager a $ I'm the only regular reader of ZH that will post on this thread.
I read it for news and shi7s and giggles, but never post as that wouldn't be useful to anyone. My posts would mostly be;
"YOU'RE ALL WRONG.
YOU'RE ALL WRONG.
YOU'RE ALL WRONG"
Posted by: Justin at August 31, 2013 06:37 AM
I'll take that sum off you, Justin.
Posted by: Steven Kopits at August 31, 2013 07:20 AM