At the end of my third year of blogging, and the beginning of my fourth, I am in Oslo, completing my tour of Nordic central banks. That is fitting, because so big a part of my efforts this past year, both on my blog, on Quartz, and in my travels, has been devoted to campaigning for the end of the zero lower bound that stands in the way of good monetary policy.
On this journey, which also included two high-level conferences in London, I have begun to see the foundations of the paper standard begin to crack. What a few years ago was a fringe idea–eliminating the zero lower bound by using a time-varying paper currency deposit fee at the cash window of the central bank–is now being taken very seriously by powerful central bankers.
To keep myself going in efforts to end the zero lower bound, I often remind myself of all the people who have suffered from its effects in the last few years–often without realizing what the source of their economic troubles has been. I imagine these people saying to one another “Why doesn’t somebody do something about this?” and combine it with the knowledge that we economists are the somebodies who need to do that something.
Though I would not trade away my travels and writing in opposition to the zero lower bound for anything I could reasonably have hoped to accomplish with that time and effort instead, those efforts–and in particular, the travels–have not been without opportunity cost. There are many things I would have liked to write about on other topics, but ran out of time.
So what I have done in the past year besides oppose the zero lower bound? The answer tells what beacons I look toward to guide my actions. I hope I have managed to be a decent human being most of the time–a difficult goal with many facets. I hope I have mostly taken care of myself and my relationships to those closest to me. And I hope I have been a reasonably good colleague, coauthor and teacher.
On this blog, I have had a few guiding lights I have looked to. I try to answer most of the questions that people pose to me. I try to give honest opinions. I try to have something new on this blog every day, even if it is only a link to an article I found interesting and important. I have been consistent in doing a religion post or a philosophy post (currently on John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty) every Sunday. I try to have at least a couple of other more substantial posts each week. And I try not to let too long a time pass without writing a more polished piece for Quartz that I feature here as well.
I look for opportunities to double-task, such as teaching my students to write by having them write many blog posts and then using some of the best of those as guest posts here. I post interesting documents here that I have created for other purposes. And I use blog posts to clarify ideas that I can later pursue as research topics.
Some days it is hard just to keep up with email, tweet a link to the day’s blog post, already stored up in the queue from before, and post the link on Facebook. But other days I feel a fire inside of something that wants to be said. And when I look back through my blog archives, I feel proud of what I have been able to do. To me, this blog is not just a collection of posts, but a single, coherent hypertext object. I hope the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
One thing I notice in the blog statistics I get from Google Analytics is how much of my traffic is for posts in my back catalog. I like that: having some posts that seem useful enough to people that there is continuing traffic for them even in the long run.
I feel bad sometimes that I am not able to do more, but I don’t seriously regret the choices I have made, only that the time budget constraint is not more expansive than it is.
Thanks to all of you–the readers who have made this blog a social act instead of an exercise in solipsism. I appreciate all of your feedback and your words of encouragement.
You might be interested in my first blog post and my first and second anniversary posts as well as this third anniversary post you just read: