Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Heroes of blogging



I thought I'd take a post to write about my personal blog heroes. These are the bloggers not just whose blogs I enjoy - there are a huge number of those - but who have A) inspired me personally, while B) using their blogs to do something really unique, invaluable, and positive for the world. I'll try to keep it a short list, so realize that I do not necessarily consider people not on the list (e.g., your favorite blogger) to be un-heroic. Also, realize that there a ton of blogs I've never read and people I've never heard of, so this is just a list of my heroes, not the heroes. Finally, realize that the heroes are not in any order.


1. J. Bradford DeLong



America is divided between two hive minds, whose psychic force is greater than that of any individual. These are the liberal hive mind and the conservative hive mind. From the late 1970s through at least 2008, the conservative hive mind was more unified and powerful than its liberal rival. As its dominance grew, it overreached more and more, culminating in the insanity of the Bush years, when Karl Rove boasted that the administration "created its own reality". This had to be stopped. Brad DeLong, formerly a moderate, middle-of-the road, technocratic sort of economist, was one of many bloggers who rose to the challenge of battling that baleful reality-bubble. But unlike the others, DeLong brought the intellectual heft of a top-rank economist. When concepts needed explaining, he explained with great patience. But when agents of the overgrown conservative hive-mind needed skewering, he skewered without mercy. And despite fighting against the conservative hive mind, DeLong has never become a thrall to the liberal one.

DeLong is often criticized for being mean - he did, after all, invent the "Stupidest Man Alive Award (TM)" - but I think that the exigencies of the moment justified that meanness; the Conservative Reality Bubble just had to be stopped. But it's also important to understand that the meanness is only a small part of DeLong's blog; a large part is his explanation of difficult economics ideas in simple ways. More than probably any other blogger, DeLong goes out of his way to actually understand his opponents' arguments. More than probably any other blogger, he admits when he's changed his mind, and explains in great detail why he things his old ideas were wrong. And he is better at taking criticism than most bloggers, reposting "Brad DeLong smackdowns" on his own blog. And he does it all with fun Cthulhu references.

But in addition to his own blog (Grasping Reality With Both Hands) and the blog at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, DeLong has worked tirelessly to support blogging as a medium, working closely with the Kaufmann Foundation (where his wife works), helping to organize yearly blog symposia (to which he invites bloggers who vigorously disagree with him), and promoting younger bloggers. Much of the blogosphere as we know it today is the way it is because of the work of Brad DeLong.


2. Cory Doctorow



Besides being one of my favorite science fiction authors, the founder of BoingBoing is another individual who has shaped the blogosphere. In his novels, Doctorow is unrivaled in his ability to portray accurately the culture of modern geeks and nerds, and his blog is basically set up to cater to that segment of society. BoingBoing has everything a nerd or geek could want - cool new technologies, science fiction, weird news, and social commentary. Geek culture itself wouldn't be what it is without Cory Doctorow (who, by all accounts, blogs from a balloon wearing a red cape and goggles).

But besides being the Alpha Geek of the North American information age, Doctorow has also worked tirelessly to support the very best of libertarian causes. His libertarianism is what I would call "pure", unsullied by any connection with moneyed interests or the ghost of the Confederate States of America. Doctorow's idea of freedom is all about what makes individual human beings feel free, not about what Robert Nozick or Ayn Rand arbitrarily defined as "liberty" in order to support an anti-leftist agenda. And Doctorow fights passionately for his idea of liberty. He campaigned vigorously against the SOPA/PIPA bill, and won. He has fought against digital rights management. He turned the death of Aaron Swartz from a simple tragedy into a tragedy plus a scandal and a cause. And his book Little Brother was the most inspiring treatise I've read about the insanity of America's post-9/11 curbs on civil liberties. To think that it came from a Canadian!


3. Phil Yu



America is in the middle of a huge, titanic, epochal change. It is changing from a nation of mostly white people (with a few black people) to a fully multiracial nation. Already, a quarter of Americans are Hispanic, East Asian, or South Asian. That change is causing enormous political and social disruption; if we're going to come out of it as a unified nation, we're going to have to accept the newcomers as "real Americans", the way we once accepted East and South European immigrants into the fold a century earlier. Relatively few bloggers have focused on this problem, but Phil Yu has risen to the challenge. His blog, Angry Asian Man, is less angry than visionary. It started out as a way to battle racism against Asian-Americans, but became an epic chronicle of the creation of Asian-American culture. Yu still alerts the blogosphere to instances of racism (and not just racism against Asians), but his blog is the place to find cool new Asian-American bands and films and artists and read the testaments of Asian-Americans. He has also spearheaded efforts to lobby the American government for a more liberal approach to immigration. And to top it all off, he posted this really cool cover of TLC's "Waterfalls".

More than any other blogger, Phil Yu makes me excited about the future of America.


4. Richard Florida



By all accounts, America is already very urbanized. But much of that "urban" area consists of endless, sterile rows of suburban houses, connected by crowded highways to office parks or strip-malls. That kind of faux-urbanization was poorly done; in an age of high gasoline prices, continued population growth, and increased "agglomeration economies" and "knowledge spillovers", that kind of sprawl is increasingly disadvantageous to our economy, in addition to being socially isolating and community-killing. Thus, one of America's biggest challenges over the next few decades will be to "fill in" the land we've developed, turning suburbs into walkable "new urbanist" communities. But how? Americans have spend decades fleeing the urban blight of old manufacturing cities like Detroit, Cleveland, or St. Louis. We need ideas to guide us through this transition, and give us a template and a model. We also need people to keep inspiring us, and keep reminding us that New Urbanism, in whatever form it eventually takes, will be good for us.

Enter Richard Florida. The writer of books like The Creative Class, and the co-founder and editor of The Atlantic Cities, the best New Urbanist blog. Florida disseminates important facts and information about cities, identifies trends and patters and examples, and constantly promotes the idea of cities in a very inspiring way. But - unlike most bloggers - he is also willing to admit the limitations of his ideas, and to recognize the trade-offs that life in cities requires. All in all, if New Urbanism has a prophet, Richard Florida is it.


5. Paul Krugman



Paul Krugman is a very famous guy who paid attention to me when I started blogging back in 2011, and who is thus partly responsible for whatever tiny amount of fame I myself possess. Because of this, I am sometimes accused of being a Krugman yes-man. In actuality, Krugman's de-facto patronage has caused me to go out of my way to disagree with him as much as I can without sacrificing intellectual honesty. The truth is that my blog actually dramatically underrepresents the degree to which I like Krugman.

What does Krugman do? First, he does a bit of what DeLong does - he assaults the Conservative Alternate Reality Bubble, and brings the intellectual heft of a top-rank economist to bear. But he has also helped improve the public debate about macroeconomic policy. In particular, much of the thinking of our business and political class was (and still is) dominated by the stagflationary experience of the 1970s. We just went through an episode that was much worse than the 70s, and much more akin to the Great Depression. But people's minds were not prepared to deal with that, and as a result you had lots of people warning about inflation when the real danger was unemployment. Those sorts of warnings, though they are still being issued by some, have now largely been discredited in the public sphere, and I think Krugman helped speed that process along. (In the academic sphere, models were modified as new data came in...but those changes have not yet trickled up to the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the screen of CNBC.)

In addition, Krugman helped spark a very public debate about macroeconomic methodology. That debate, which was somewhat similar to the debate about string theory in physics, drew in lots of smart people from outside the economics field, who suddenly peered into the murky world of macroeconomics and said "Hey, what are y'all doin' in there?". Krugman and I don't always see eye-to-eye on modeling issues, but in opening that public debate, he has done the academic field itself a great service.


6. Barry Ritholtz



There is a huge amount of financial disinformation and misinformation and just plain bullshit out there in the world. Most financial news is random noise, and some is even worse than that. And there's a good reason why there is all that bad financial information out there: it makes money for the people who put it out there. Thus, it is kind of a wonder that Barry Ritholtz exists at all.

Barry Ritholtz works in the financial industry, giving people advice and helping them manage their money. But in addition, he offers lots of free advice on his blog, The Big Picture. That in and of itself is highly unusual. Much of his advice is about how you shouldn't trust the finance industry of which he is a part. That is even more unusual. And when Barry makes a correct prediction - such as when he nearly perfectly called the bottom after the 2008 stock market crash - he attributes it to luck. That is pretty extraordinary. Along with his partner and fellow blog hero Josh Brown (The Reformed Broker), Barry is helping to bring honesty to financial media.

Barry is, to my knowledge, the first popular finance blogger to report extensively on behavioral finance. Since most individual investors (read: YOU) tend to make a ton of investing mistakes - trading too much, chasing trends, being overconfident, etc. etc. - behavioral finance is probably the single most important thing that most blog readers can learn about. Well done.


7. James Pethokoukis



American conservatism needs to start thinking again. The Reagan-era package of "cut government, whip inflation, beef up the military, squawk about traditional Christian values, and make white people scared of nonwhite people" reached the end of its usable shelf life sometime in the late 90s and went plunging off a cliff in the Bush years, finally degenerating into the dead end that is the Tea Party. Many people have been cited as thinkers who were destined to reform the movement - Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat, to name a couple. But as I see it, Jim Pethokoukis, a blogger for the American Enterprise Institute, is the best of the crop.

First of all, Pethokoukis has taken on the "inflationista" crowd, including goldbugs, hard-money folks, and paleo-cons of all stripes, who have convinced themselves that "government money-printing" is a dire threat to human freedom. He has aggressively promoted the monetarism of Milton Friedman, which says that monetary policy ("printing money") is the best way to get out of a depression, and that inflation is not the big danger when there is slack in the economy. Also, unlike the old Reagan conservatives, Pethokoukis actively worries about the plight of the unemployed, the unemployed, and families for whom income has fallen. He worries about the "rise of the robots" and the replacement of human jobs with automation. But he's no liberal convert - he's trying to find a new way for conservatism to be relevant to the majority of working, struggling Americans, not to cave in and embrace the positions of the Left.


More Heroes of Blogging (i.e., I'm getting tired of writing these big long paragraphs)

Mark Thoma - The tireless, irrepressible, indispensible curator of the economics blogosphere. If not for Thoma, our online community would be a hollow shell of what it is, and most good posts would languish in obscurity.


Miles Kimball - I originally left Miles off the list because we frequently co-write articles, and to include him sounded too much like calling myself a hero. But Miles is heroic in his own right, using his blog to fight for smart policies like electronic money and a U.S. sovereign wealth fund, and also writing "sermons" that contain great perspective on life and religion. So he must be included.


Annalee Newitz - The very best online surveyor of futurism and science fiction, and editor of the excellent website io9


Ed Yong - The web's best science link aggregator, and a campaigner for realism in science writing


Josh Brown - Another one of the web's best finance bloggers, and partner of Barry Ritholtz


Ta-Nehisi Coates - One of the most insightful, thoughtful, trenchant writers on racial issues in America.


Jake Adelstein - A fearless reporter on organized crime, corruption, and government oppression in Japan.


Ezra Klein - The guy who turned blogging into a vehicle for serious policy research


David Andolfatto - The most serious macroeconomics blogger out there, bringing real academic macro into the blog realm


Nate Silver - The guy who beat the political noise machine (now mostly retired from blogging)


John Aziz - The most open-minded person on the internet


Matt Yglesias - The guy who got me into blogging in the first place, and the king of well-placed snark



(What's missing from this list? Women, mainly. There are lots of good female bloggers out there, but in economics there are sadly many, many more men, and the men tend to get more attention and fame. I really wish I knew more female blogger heroes' I should try to find them. Luckily, many of my favorite Twitter people are women, such as Garance Franke-Ruta, Jennifer Oullette, and Lisa McIntire.)

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of bloggers I think are great. Please do not read it as such. There are MANY other excellent bloggers I like and read. An incomplete list would include: Tyler Cowen/Alex Tabarrok, Ramez Naam, Menzie Chinn/James Hamilton, Sean Carroll, John Cochrane, Matt O'Brien/Derek Thompson/Jordan Weissmann (The Atlantic), Garance Franke-Ruta, Carola Binder, Kevin Grier, Owen Zidar, Jeremie Cohen-Setton, Antonio Fatas, Peter Dorman, Izabella Kaminska/Cardiff Garcia/Kate Mackenzie/Tracy Alloway (the Financial Times), W. David Marx, Dean Baker, Erik Brynjolfsson (when he blogs), Ramez Naam (when he blogs), Nick Rowe/Frances Woolley/Stephen Gordon, Mike the Mad Biologist, Felix Salmon, Justin Fox, Jonathan Chait, Tim Harford, Bill McBride, Kevin Drum, Timothy Taylor, Simon Wren-Lewis, Ryan Avent, Diane Coyle, Roger Farmer, Dan Drezner, Alexis Madrigal, Tim Carney, Catherine Rampell, Nancy Folbre, Ramesh Ponnuru, Bryan Caplan, Robert Waldmann, Timothy Johnson, Tony Yates, Cosma Shalizi, Larry Wasserman, and (yes) Stephen Williamson...Let none claim that these bloggers are un-heroic.

91 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:09 PM

    TravisV here (from TheMoneyIllusion comments section).

    I don't understand: why exactly did you exclude Scott Sumner from this list? He's a far bigger hero than any of these other people. He was the only one insisting "The Fed is not out of ammo!" when it really counted in early 2009.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous7:40 PM

      Noah is simply encouraging a certain favored group and currying favor, not actually engaged in an assessment about those that contributed most to econ blogging during the last 5 years or whatever.

      Delete
    2. Sumner has been wrong about everything, QE and austerity, you name it. His NGDP futures idea was shot down by people who actually design futures contracts and trade them. QE simply changes rates, but the Fed could change them without QE, by announcement. The whole idea was ridiculous from the start. Market Monetarism = a bunch of academics who don't understand monetary operations and assume magic powers from portfolio effects.

      Delete
    3. I agree that he should have at least been mentioned in the 2nd part. Keep in mind also that he didn't attempt to be objective. After all, he did say it was a list of his heroes, not all heroes.

      Delete
  2. My favourite female bloggers on econ at the moment are Frances Coppola and Izabella Kaminska. In fact they'd possible take the top 2 places on my heroes of blogging list, if I ever made one!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also like Kate Mackenzie, Catherine Rampell, Nancy Folbre, Yves Smith, Diane Coyle, and Traci Alloway.

      Delete
    2. Throw in Stephanie Kelton.

      Delete
    3. Seconding Stephanie Kelton. And I would read Linda Beale even if she weren't a fellow Bear.

      Not to mention Maggie Mahar, currently at healthinsurance.org.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous5:13 PM

    No Tyler Cowen?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only thing of value are his links sections

      Delete
    2. definitely - he should stick to chess

      Delete
  4. Anonymous5:14 PM

    Sausage party. Only ONE woman? Sorry, did not see Yglesas. Only TWO women???.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your #1 hero is most famous for surreptiously removing comments from his blog, that disagree with him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Martin6:46 PM

      I guess it's the surreptiously that makes it so mean - others do it much more boistriously.

      Delete
    2. Why do you think he's my hero? ;-)

      Delete
    3. Nathanael11:18 AM

      Brad never removes my comments. :-) And I disagree with him extensively.

      I think Brad just removes stupid disagreements -- neoconservative tripe. He's pretty open to weird radical views, but not to Koch brothers copy-and-paste garbage.

      Delete
  6. What about blog collectives, like Crooked Timber, or Wonkette?

    ReplyDelete
  7. jtroll7:00 PM

    1. Dean Baker's omission is a crime. In a just world he would be as widely read as Krugman.

    2. Isn't 538 relaunching soon?

    3. I think Noah is anti‐Apple but John Gruber of Daring Fireball is in my opinion good at what he does (and makes the case for no comments). John Siracusa is another good Apple‐centric tech blogger.

    4. http://agonyin8fits.blogspot.com/ is an obscure blog I like. It's the only blog I know to regularly take issue with Megan Mcardle, (she's the conservative member of the Klein‐Yglesias blogging brat‐pack.).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 538 has been 'relaunching soon' for like a year...

      Delete
    2. I would have mentioned Susan of Texas above, but she's been on hiatus of sorts since at least mid-November (and really, except for a brief period, since early 2013).

      Delete
  8. Cullen Roche from Pragcap.com is my personal favorite. That guy has spent years debunking myths about QE, hyperinflation, Austrian economics, government finances and the Federal Reserve.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Of the ones not mentioned so far by anybody who deserve mention are McBride of Calculated Risk and Jim Hamilton of econbrowser. Both are high quality and data oriented without having obvious agendas.

    Barkley Rosser

    ReplyDelete
  10. I plead guilty to being a Scott Sumner fanboy, so I've obviously got my own biases, but I think it's a bit too uncharitable to credit Pethokoukis as blogging to promoting a monetary response to the financial crisis and fail to mention Sumner at all. That being said, I'll take your selection of Pethokoukis as a wink in Sumner's direction. (lingering bad blood over that "civility" dustup?)

    And no love for the under-21 division of Yichuan Wang and Evan Soltas (who, I'm happy to say, are also Sumner acolytes)?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dan S9:22 PM

    I too am a big Sumner fan, but I think even those who disagree with him really ought to give him credit for putting monetary policy back in the spotlight at a time when everyone was arguing for either complete monetary impotence or impending hyperinflation. Everyone has moderated that position in the past few years, but people seem very reluctant to give Sumner any credit for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember, I said my heroes, not the heroes!

      Delete
    2. Dan S8:56 AM

      I know, but...it just makes me sad. He's my blogging/econ hero, and I want him to be other people's too.

      Delete
    3. I mean no disrespect to Pethokoukis, but recognizing him as a blogging hero for promoting monetarism in the blogosphere is like recognizing Scottie Pippen as a basketball hero for leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships.

      The omission is so glaring it begs an explanation.

      Delete
    4. Oh snap, you snubbed Sumner *again* in your supplemental list of not-heroic-to-Noah-but-still-great-bloggers! Ouch!

      Delete
    5. jtroll3:30 PM

      Dean Baker snubbed again, too.

      Delete
  12. Anonymous9:41 PM

    Cowen blogging at least one item every single day since he started blogging, and he can't make the list?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember, I said my heroes, not the heroes!

      Delete
    2. He blogs like a guy determined to blog something every single day.

      Delete
    3. Exactly. While Thoma blogs every day and makes it look easy. (The Benny Goodman of blogging.)

      Delete
  13. Anonymous10:59 PM

    What about Dean Baker?

    ReplyDelete
  14. With regard to women, one of the best bloggers I ever read was Maxine Udall, Girl Economist, but so sadly she died young three years ago. Here's a sample of her great work:

    http://www.maxineudall.com/2010/12/weve-come-a-long-way.html

    ReplyDelete
  15. A humongous one you're missing is Jonathan Chait. I suspect he's not here just because you haven't read him much, but he's just awesome. Extraordinarily smart, and he does something so so valuable. Day in and day out, in detail, and with great clarity, and competence, he meticulously goes through wrong arguments and explains why they're wrong. They're almost always from the right, but with the right gaining such devastating power from their greatest ally, ignorance, and with a billionaire powered propaganda machine, this is such an important service. And no one does this like him; no one really makes this a daily job.

    The guy makes a job of reading the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page, watching Fox News etc., so there's someone constantly policing them, constantly explaining and exposing their tricks, their disinformation, their outright lies. I mean, you do have Dean Baker, and often Paul Krugman, but no one does this day in and day out, exposing the right with such detail and completeness, and he has extraordinarily high intelligence. I really consider the guy a national treasure. I wish he had a "Wonkblog" with 10 people like him on staff, so they could do so much more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my Chait comment could really be misinterpreted. Lots of people debunk the right, point out the wrongness, the deceit, but Chait, really makes this a day-by-day profession, in that he regularly reads the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Weekly Standard, Charles Karuthummer, George Will, etc., and when he debunks and exposes, he really directly and meticulously goes through the logic like no other. Krugman will often thank him for saving him this pain and effort, because it can be stomach turning to read their conning, and time consuming to lay out very clearly and meticulously how they're trying to fool you, and why it's wrong.

      Delete
    2. Krugman's major theme these days is that conservative economists use outcome based reasoning to develop their theories. Chait's piece on the subject was seminal.

      Delete
  16. Noah,

    I like Krugman's style, and yours, particularly because there is an implicit code of conduct, I think, of a) holding one another to account; b) being able to admit getting something wrong; and c) being able to change one's own opinion.

    On this note, Krugman needs to be called to account on something noted by Tabarrok and Sumners, Krugman said:

    "But as Mike Konczal points out, we are in effect getting a test of the market monetarist view right now, with the Fed having adopted more expansionary policies even as fiscal policy tightens."

    in April of last year. He then dismissed, this month, the notion that the growth of the past two quarters said anything about market monetarism.

    I have yet to see Krugman reply on this issue. It is a serious issue, the Sumner and Tabarrok post say it better, because a) he defined a test and b) refused to acknowledge the outcome of the test. When other people have done similar things (e.g. when Cochrane claimed there was a danger of high inflation and then refused to accept he was wrong when it didn't occur) he has gone for their jugular.

    Personally, if Krugman does not end up replying to this issue, with some degree of contrition, I think it will be a sign that he does not possess the intellectual integrity I thought he had. Being able to admit mistakes in this context is very important.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have not noticed that Krugman has no intellectual integrity? There's been many instances before (Wisconsin versus Texas education, Giffords shooting, Bankers responsibility, Fiscal is the only game in town from 2008 and so on and so forth ). Did you notice that all his opinions strangely enough align exactly against the Republican party? Pretty much on every single issue? Accident?

      Delete
    2. Krzys: So intellectual integrity means praising the Republicans from time to time?

      Delete
    3. Sumner is hurt because he was ignored, but no bet really happened, Krugman considers market monetarists a sideshow (his words!).

      With all the support he has given to unconventional monetary policy since the 90s market monetarists should really stop hating on the guy. He is really your most prominent ally.

      He ignored you and there is a difference in opinion, you have to respect that. If he was really convinced that this last year unconventional monetary policy saved the day (year?), he would be all over the place saying it and rubbing it in Rand Paul's face, don't you think? AND why aren't you guys rubbing in monetary economics in gold-bugs faces?

      But hey, you'd rather do some hippie-punching.

      Delete
    4. Dimitar,

      No, It means not being aligned on every single issue with one party. Every. Single. One. Especially, coupled with the encouragement not to read the useless garbage that right-wing fanatics (such as Tyler Cowen) write.

      The above is the very definition of a political hack.

      Delete
    5. Dimitar,

      No, Krugman is not a great fan of the unconventional monetary policy, since he made a major mistake in late 2008 by insisting that Fiscal Policy is the only game in town. Given that his allies controlled the govt. the huge error of not easing up on Monetary Policy is also partially his. Not to mention, that no matter what model he uses, the conclusion is always the same: more fiscal policy and/or more taxes He does not want monetary policy to work, since the ultimate project he is behind - that is larger govt. - would be endangered.

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. Dimitar,

      When you use "you guys" I hope you are not referring to me. I am not taking sides in the debate over which model of the economy is best.

      This is about how public intellectuals should conduct themselves and be held to account in order to improve our (the human race's) understanding of the issues. We need to be as rigorous in maintaining good practice amongst those we agree with (if not more so) as those we disagree with.

      The liberal hive mind (Noah's term) frequently beat people over the head for the following kind of scenario: Dave says "X will happen", X does not happen, Dave will not change his position despite X not happening.

      This has now happened to Krugman. He said it was a test. Then he claims later, when the results are in, that it is not a test. Hypocrisy is not acceptable especially from one's intellectual allies because it discredits everyone if people let it slide. What makes a group right is its ability to maintain high standards of rigour within the group and that means holding each other to account, otherwise you start Derping without realizing it. This is not about hippy punching its about intellectual integrity.

      It is not a big deal for Krugman to admit that he got this wrong, in some sense, as he has admitted to getting things wrong in the past. I do think it is a problem if he doesn't - it is important that he has the moral high ground when calling on others to admit when they have got things wrong.

      Delete
    8. Krzys,

      I understand your distaste for fanatics of both wings, but I don't think Krugman is one. True, he doesn't hide he wants to restore and expand the welfare state in the USA, but being a hack means that he is somehow dishonest and/incompetent and I don't see how.

      On monetary policy he has implied in 2009 on the NYT that the FED should buy $2 Trillion of assets: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/opinion/11krugman.html?ref=paulkrugman

      Apparently citing this guy:
      http://www.iie.com/publications/interstitial.cfm?ResearchID=1451

      He has done it numerous times since.

      I think the 'alternative agenda' applies more to Sumner - after all he is the one who is after Krugman, not the reverse. And I don't see Sumner going off on the opponents of QE who are mostly on the right.

      Delete
    9. Dimitar,

      Yes, Krugman talk at times about the usefulness of the monetary policy after the embarrassment of his 2008 Fiscal policy only, but always try to play with words one way or another and in general expresses doubt about the "unconvetional" monetary policy. This last proclivity was very neatly illustrated by the last MM test he himself set up and now so obviously failed. The insistence that there was no test AFTER the results came in the wrong way, speaks volumes about both his integrity and ability to admit he was wrong.

      It's not the first time either. Just look at baseless accusations he threw towards conservatives just hours after Gifford shooting with nothing to back it up with before any facts were in. The examples are legion. He is a hack.

      Delete
    10. Nathanael11:20 AM

      Fiscal policy is the only game in town, and this has been proven in the last several years.

      And right-wingers did do everything he expected them to do after the Giffords shooting. *sigh* -- right-wingers are so predictable.

      Delete
  17. Learned more about you than about what it takes to be a Noahpinion than a blog hero, I'm not sure if that was the intention.

    So, trying not to be a Krugman/DeLong fanboy? It is really, really hard, I know I try everyday :). Seriously now, it is very important that bloggers keep an open mind and your role is much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Maybe someone should compile a biggest idiots list - a guy like Paul Murphy from FT Alphaville springs to mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mean him on the list.

      Delete
  19. Cowen / Tabarrok are a striking omission. While Alex's posts are very interesting (to me), maybe intellectual stimulation doesn't count as sufficiently unique. Tyler's posts, however, often highlight the weird and wonderful on the internet .. his assorted links are like a highbrow version of tumblr, which makes him a blog hero for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I definitely enjoy Marginal Revolution. I read it every day.

      Delete
  20. Interesting how much attention Sumner gets in the comments. Not undeservedly...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Anonymous1:44 PM

    This is generally a good list, but I would never, ever include Richard Florida. His Creative Class nonsense is Tom Friedman-esque in its inability to see anything outside the elite POV of a knowledge economy, Pure B.S. He does have some good infographics, but the negative well outweighs the positive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A) I like the Creative Class stuff, and it does have connections to real economic theories ("knowledge spillovers").

      B) Florida reports on a huge number of urbanism-related issues, not just the Creative Class stuff.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous3:50 PM

      Knowledge spillover is the prototypical industry-promoted economic theory: totally hype the positive externalities, and ignore any and all negative ones. And its predominant view in his economics outlook is a completely myopic view of reality. There is no room in his worldview for anything good to happen outside the Creative Class.

      His urbanism is too tied up with his Creative Class work to be taken seriously. If you want to some more serious urbanism writing, look up Aaron Renn's Urbanophile blog.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous4:42 PM

      To expound on this a (little) bit, I find it a bit shocking to find on this list one of the most important intellectual enablers of income inequality. His ideas have been used to justify the pandering to the rich, vocal elements of what he considers the Creative Class. Urban planning now is involved in huge investments in what the Creative Class wants, because, you know, that's what you have to do to keep them. It is exactly the same as cities pandering to companies with lavish tax breaks. So money that could be spent on the poor goes instead to that smart new Orchestra Hall, or the latest hip neighborhood, etc. These ideas are totally toxic on the fabric of a community, in that it picks winners and losers, with the poor always being the loser.

      Delete
    4. Nathanael11:22 AM

      Noah, Richard Florida would not be my first pick for an urbanism blogger. Chuck Marohn might be, even though the man does not understand economics *at all* and is just dead wrong about a lot of it -- but urbanism, he understands. Yglesias, of course, always boils it down correctly to the simplest possible catchphrase.

      But perhaps the hive mind of "streetsblog.org" is the best urbanist blog out there.

      Delete
  22. DRN00012:21 PM

    T-N Coates: "Maybe not a technically a 'blogger'." Huh? (or, better: "WTF?") His blog is central to what he does. Check it out:http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/

    ReplyDelete
  23. James Pethokoukis, the inequality denier hack, elevated to a hero? The 'thinker' who produces pieces of intellectually dishonest (or grotesquely ignorant) garbage like this one (http://www.aei-ideas.org/2011/10/5-reasons-why-income-inequality-is-a-myth-and-occupy-wall-street-is-wrong/)? Eeeeeek...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah that wasn't great...but Pethokoukis is a hero of mine for trying to redefine conservatism.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous3:52 PM

      If you're looking for someone to redefine conservatism, this is a much better place to start:

      http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/a-jobs-agenda-for-the-right

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. Not great, Noah? Understatement of the year, it seems to me. :-)

      Fortunately, someone gave him the smackdown post he deserved, which should be read in full: http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/aeis_myth_of_equality.php?page=all

      Delete
  24. Anonymous4:19 PM

    Noah,

    You shouldn't go out of your way to disagree with anyone, much less Paul Krugman - especially since he and Brad DeLong tend to agree far more often than not about the economics of any given issue. Don't cave to the Krugman bashers. It's just a fashionable thing that supposedly shows how "Serious" you are when you do it that way. You can have a thoughtful disagreement without going out of your way to do so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just feel a little guilty about having a famous "patron".

      Delete
  25. Female finance blogger over here! I noticed that every list of good investing/finance/econ blogs is about as feminine as a prostate exam. I'm not saying mine is any good, but I'm trying to increase the number of female finance participants. Any thoughts on the blog would be greatly appreciated!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous4:44 PM

      For starters, check out mathbabe.org. Cathy, the author of the blog, was a quant in the finance industry, and she has some unique insights there. She also has other female bloggers on her blogroll.

      Delete
    2. Blog thoughts:

      1. I don't actually have any idea how to make a blog popular, or I would have given the secret to all my friends.

      2. Using Twitter probably doubled my pageviews.

      3. For a new blogger, fewer blog posts = better.

      4. I got popular by interacting with established bloggers and getting involved in their discussions. Not sure if that works for everybody.

      5. Publicizing research will get the attention of a few hardcore nerds, while getting in fights will get the attention of thousands of laypeople.

      6. None of this probably applies to finance blogs. So don't listen to me. Go ask Josh Brown and Barry Ritholtz! They are nice guys.

      I'll read more Cathy O'Neil...

      Delete
  26. Anonymous10:40 PM

    Glad to see Ritholtz on your list. I wish more academic bloggers would pay attention to those with industry experience.

    ReplyDelete
  27. >>From the late 1970s through at least 2008, the conservative hive mind was more unified and powerful than its liberal rival.

    The hell it was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nathanael11:28 AM

      It certainly was. Part of it was that the conservative hive mind expelled and shunned those who failed to toe the party line. The liberals didn't -- liberals were *liberal* about who they let in. This made the conservative hive mind more unified.

      As for more powerful, that is bleeeeding obvious -- just look at Presidential policy on military spending (a.k.a. burning money for favored "conservative" contractors) from the late 1970s through the present. The only President who tried seriously to reverse this was G.H.W. Bush (the older one), who also called Reaganomics "voodoo economics", and who was basically kicked out by the conservative hive mind for his thought crimes.

      Delete
    2. Is America less liberal than it was in the 1970s? No. It's vastly more liberal. Therefore, the liberal hive mind is more powerful than the conservative hive mind.

      Is the liberal hive mind less liberal than it was in the 1970s? No. again. Is the conservative hive mind less conservative? Very much so. It's basically liberal in all but name. Therefore, the conservative hive mind was less unified.

      Delete
  28. Pleasantly surprised about how much I agree with Smith's choices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would add Jared Bernstein, David Glasner, Econospeak, John Cassidy, Jonathan Cohn, Crooked Timber, and Steve Randy Waldman.

      Delete
  29. You seemed to have missed the best econ blog out there, by a lady no less, the ever on the case Naked Capitalism!! and its blog-master, Yves Smith!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I just want to give a shout out to the woman who introduced me to the econ blogosphere with her wit and deep insights.

    Tanta, the guest/co-blogger!at calculated risk was the funniest most interesting blogger I have read to this day. She elucidated to many the functional flaws in the mortgage business and laid the groundwork to help understand how then financial crises happened as it was occurring. Sadly cancer stole her away from the world but I will always measure all bloggers against her standard of clarity and wit. May she rest in peace.

    ReplyDelete
  31. If you read Te-Nahesi Coates you should know that at it's founding, the USA was 19.3% black. One fifth of the population is not a few.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Ronan8:11 PM

    Dude, you need better heros
    Dude

    ReplyDelete
  33. Well at least Sumner made the blog roll in the left hand column, along with Glasner and Beckworth.

    At the top of my list of *completely* missing blogs are: Cullen Roche (pragcap), John Hatzius (JKH) at monetaryrealism, JP Koning at moneyness, Marcus Nunes, Lars Christensen at marketmonetarist.

    Also glad to see that Nick Rowe made the list.

    Other good ones: Nick Edmonds, Ramanan, and... I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot. Bill Woolsey, beowulf, Sankowski, Coppola, Steve Roth... shoot, it's tough to be thorough I guess.

    #1 that doesn't have a blog that should: Mark Sadowski (not Sankowski!: I already covered him). Maybe Benjamin Cole too. Sorry if I forgot you here... :(

    ReplyDelete