# supplysideliberal.com Named 9th Best Macroeconomics Blog on the Planet, According to Feedspot

Link to Feedspot’s list of Top 20 Macro Blogs

I was pleased to be included in Feedspot’s list of Top 20 Macro Blogs, in the 9th spot. I added their badge to my sidebar.

As one of their inputs, Feedspot used the Alexa rank of my blog site. It took me a while to realize this was a rank, not a rating, so lower numbers are better and higher numbers are worse! Being the 1,168,514th ranked website according to Alexa is something, but it doesn’t sound that impressive! :)

# Why I Blog

Today marks four years since my first post, “What is a Supply-Side Liberal?” I have had a tradition of anniversary posts:

The past year has been an intensely busy year for me in research, teaching and in looking for ways to get more leeway in relation to my time budget constraint. There are many activities I would in principle be glad to cut back on, but they turn out–in part by an important bit of economic logic–to be a subset of the activities especially crucial for getting paid. What I want to do more of is blogging–something I do for free. (I have been paid a meaningful amount as a Quartz columnist, but it is a very small fraction of what I earn from my regular salary.) So why do I put such a high priority on blogging? I gave an answer after a little over one year of blogging in “Why I Write.” Let me answer it now in terms of the reasons that keep me going, with no end in sight, after four years of blogging.

The main reason I blog is the hope of making a difference in the world. I have always expected that having any influence on economic policy would be very difficult. So I have been pleased at how well rewarded my efforts to forward negative interest rate policy as a monetary policy option have been. I realize that the stars may have specially aligned for negative interest rate policy. Other policy and individual choice areas may be harder to make a difference in. But I have faith that as long as one’s timeline is on the order of decades or generations, there is always great hope that the world can be diverted onto a significantly better path.

The second reason I blog is to express myself. This is closely related to what I wrote in “A Year in the Life of a Supply-Side Liberal”:

In the public arena, not having a blog, Twitter account, Facebook page or similar platform felt to me a little like being one of those ghosts in the movies who try to talk to their still-living friends and family, but find that their words are inaudible. Now I can talk back when I disagree with what I read in the Wall Street Journal at the breakfast table. Or I can add my two cents to an idea that I agree with.

There is a nuance now. Some days I have something I am dying to say. Other days, I think “I need to stay in the game by blogging regularly so that when I do have something I am dying to say, there will be readers there to hear it.” That is, I try to be dependable for my readers so that they will be there when I have an idea I really want to get out there. (According to the rules I have made up for myself, being dependable for my readers includes (a) having something new every day, even if it is just a link, (b) having a Sunday post on either religion or a key text like John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (c) at least two other posts with some meat to them each week and (d) having the blog be visually appealing with several pictures every week to break up the words. Living up to that has not always been easy.)

The third reason I blog is the pleasure of all the relationships I have made online. Blog posts, their associated Facebook posts, and all the tweets I do have helped me get to know many people I otherwise wouldn’t, and to interact with people I already knew more than I otherwise would. It is great to feel connected to people. And those online connections often spill over into the rest of my life, whether in the academic sphere, the sphere of journalism, or the personal sphere. I had a chance on Monday to write about some of those online relationships in “Friends and Sparring Partners: The Skyline from My Corner of the Blogosphere.”

Someday I hope I can reap all of these rewards from blogging and have blogging figure into my merit raises as well. I get indications that blogging is a definite plus for recruiting of graduate students and recruiting of new professors, since for the growing fraction of economists who read blogs, it is attractive to go to a department that hosts a familiar blogger. There is great hope that someday economics departments will realize the value of blogging for recruiting and for the reputation of a department more generally for a simple reason. How positive economists are about blogs and blogging is strongly correlated with age. Generational replacement alone will make the attitude of the average working economist of the future much more positive toward blogs in the future than it is now. And already, the positive attitudes of many of the young toward blogs is what makes blogging so valuable for recruiting.

Sometimes blogging has been hard work. I have enmeshed myself in a motivational web that makes it easy to do that hard work despite the sacrifice that sometimes represents.

But blogging is also a lot of fun, and definitely rewarding on many levels. I even feel blogging has made me smarter than I otherwise would have been, because of all of the extra thinking it has led me to do. If you have had a fraction as much fun reading my blog as I have had writing it, I have been successful.

# Friends and Sparring Partners: The Skyline from My Corner of the Blogosphere

Intelligent Economist: Top 100 Economics Blogs of 2016

Keeping up with my personal life, teaching, research, writing my own blog, and reading from the Wall Street Journal and the Economist plus varied articles that I see on Twitter leaves me much less time to read economics blogs than I would like. Still, there are some blogs that I read with some frequency. The Intelligent Economist’s list “Top 100 Economics Blogs of 2016″  gives me to think about the blogs in this list that bulk largest in my consciousness and correspondingly have the most influence on me. My emphasis in this post is on the bloggers themselves rather than their blogs. And as my title suggests, this is a very personal view (some might even say egocentric–see my confession in “The Egocentric Illusion).

I am mostly borrowing the fairly arbitrary order of the Intelligent Economist, but I have grouped people into “friends” and “sparring partners.” To make it into this post, a blogger had to be both in the Intelligent Economist’s list and someone who bulks large in my consciousness.

## Friends:

Noah Smith: Bloomberg View Economics

I was Noah’s principal dissertation advisor, but Noah was my advisor in starting my own blog. I am a great admirer of Noah’s vivid style, his wide-ranging command of ideas and his ability to penetrate to the heart of an issue. I analyzed Noah’s style in my post “Brio in Blog Posts” for the sake of my students, whom I asked to write close to 40 blog posts over a semester in my Monetary and Financial Theory class. There is very little daylight between Noah’s views and mine. In addition to his Bloomberg View columns, his own blog Noahpinion, and some popular Quartz columns coauthored with me (see for example #1 math, #4 econ PhD and #13 Minneapolis here), Noah has a hard-hitting series of guest posts on my blog about religion

Narayana Kocherlakota: Bloomberg View Economics

One of the most pleasant surprises this year has been Narayana Kocherlakota’s full-speed-ahead emergence as a major blogger and tweeter, not long after he stepped down as President of the Minneapolis Fed. Narayana is a strong proponent of negative interest rates, though I am not aware of his having the negative interest rates for paper currency that are the linchpin of my proposal for eliminating the zero lower bound.

Ben Bernanke’s Blog

Other than reading his blog, Ben is too busy for me to have any meaningful interaction with him electronically, but I have known him a long time from NBER conferences, I had lunch with him twice at the Fed itself in the past few years (he made a habit of eating lunch in the Fed’s regular cafeteria), saw him when he came to speak at the University of Michigan, and expect to see him at a Brookings conference next month. You can see my disagreement with him about negative interest rate policy in “Ezra Klein Interviews Ben Bernanke about Miles Kimball’s Proposal to Eliminate the Zero Lower Bound.” I have declared Ben Bernanke a hero on many occasions for his actions mitigating the harm from the Financial Crisis of 2008 and making the Great Recession less severe than it might have been. However much better monetary policy might have been than what Ben achieved, I have some appreciation for how hard it is to figure out in real time what needs to be done in a crisis and how hard it is to persuade others in real time to support the actions that are needed. Ben did admirably in a tough situation.

Tyler Cowen: Marginal Revolution

Tyler Cowen and I were graduate school classmates at Harvard. He wrote about our time in graduate school here. I appreciate Tyler’s thoughtful attention to the supply side of the economy in his blog, and I love the metaphor of a “Marginal Revolution,” which I play off of in my 2d anniversary post “Three Revolutions.” I have greatly admired Tyler’s longer pieces (some published in other venues), such as “The Inequality that Matters.” My favorite of Tyler’s recent posts is “What are the core differences between Republicans and Democrats?”

Alex Tabarrok: Marginal Revolution

I greatly appreciate Alex Tabarrok’s levelheaded commentary on a wide range of issues. And I like his emphasis on the importance of ideas for economic growth, very well expressed in his TED talk “How Ideas Trump Crises.”

Mark Thoma: Economist’s View

Right before I started blogging, I remember Bob Hall telling me that Mark Thoma’s blog “Economist’s View” was his one-stop shop for blogs to read. In addition to writing his own posts, Mark Thoma is the premier aggregator of economics blog posts in the world. This is a wonderful public good.

Scott Sumner: The Money Illusion

When I was just about to start blogging, Noah Smith told me that Nominal GDP Level Targeting was very big in the blogosphere, and that I should write about it. I finally did in “Optimal Monetary Policy: Could the Next Big Idea Come from the Blogosphere?” Scott Sumner has changed a lot of minds with his advocacy of Nominal GDP Level Targeting. I have met many young and not-so-young economists, in and out of central banks, who have spoken enthusiastically of Nominal GDP Level targeting. That wouldn’t have happened without Scott. My emphasis is different from Scott’s (emphasizing negative interest rate policy), but we are in fundamental agreement on the substance, as you can see in “Miles Kimball and Scott Sumner: Monetary Policy, the Zero Lower Bound and Madison, Wisconsin.” In negative interest rate policy, Scott was an early proponent of a negative interest rate on reserves–a policy he ably defends in “The Media’s Blind Spot: Negative Interest on Reserves.” When he touches on topics outside of monetary policy, Scott is concerned about supply-side reform along the same lines I am.

JP Koning: Moneyness

JP Koning is a deep thinker about monetary policy and about the nature of money. He has been a full-scale supporter of my proposal to eliminate the zero lower bound since early on. Other than my coauthor Ruchir Agarwal for “Breaking Through the Zero Lower Bound,” I would trust JP to accurately represent my views on negative interest rate policy more than anyone else in the world. Anyone who wants to understand money or monetary poiicy should read Moneyness. I also especially enjoy JP’s Twitter presence

David Beckworth: Macro and Other Market Musings

David Beckworth is one of the few other full-scale supporters of my proposals for negative interest rate policy in the blogosphere–as well as of Scott Sumner’s proposals. A nice example of this is “David Beckworth: “Miles and Scott’s Excellent Adventure” David Beckworth recently interviewed me at length in his Podcast series. I love his written introduction to that podcast. He writes:

Miles is a well-known advocate of breaching the zero lower bound via the adoption of negative interest rates. Moreover, he has shown how to do it without getting rid of physical cash. Miles sat down with me to discuss his ideas on this topic as well as how the macroeconomics profession has changed over the past few decades. I had a great time discussing these issues with Miles. You will enjoy the conversation too.

I would like to make several points on this controversial topic. First, if you believe in allowing markets to clear via the adjustment of prices, then you should in principle be supportive of negative interest rates. For an interest rate is just an intertemporal price–a price that clears resources across time–and sometimes a severe enough demand shock may require nominal rates to go negative for markets to clear. This is a point I have written about myself.

Second, central banks that have lowered interest rates to zero and in some cases below zero are not necessarily “artificially” depressing interest rates. It could be that a central bank is simply following the market-clearing level of interest rates–or the natural interest rate–down to lower levels as the economy weakens. This, in my view, is what most central banks have been doing in recent years. Too many observes miss this point.

David and I had an interesting discussion a while back that I made into the post “David Beckworth and Miles Kimball: The Padding on Top of the Zero Lower Bound.” This discussion has become somewhat dated as central banks look for less and less padding on top of the zero lower bound–many going to a negative amount of padding!

Simon Wren-Lewis: Mainly Macro

I have only interacted with Simon Wren-Lewis, but I have greatly admired many of his posts. He is much more Keynesian than I am (I am a Neomonetarist who looks to monetary policy for economic stabilization), but his posts are full of incisive insights. I would be very glad for more substantial interaction between our blogs.

Roger Farmer’s Economic Window

I have mainly connected with Roger Farmer over our mutual advocacy of sovereign wealth funds as a tool of macroeconomic policy. On that, see “Roger Farmer and Miles Kimball on the Value of Sovereign Wealth Funds for Economic Stabilization.” Roger’s views are interesting because they are so unique. You definitely won’t get the “same old thing” reading his blog. Roger and I interact quite a bit on Twitter.

Though still writing in words with few equations, Nick’s posts lean toward the technical. In that vein, I like his post on monetary dominance, “Fewer Fiscal Multipliers and more Clarity from the Bank of Canada.” I use an argument from Nick’s post “Money is Always and Everywhere a Hot Potato” in “International Finance: A Primer.” Also, Nick gives his own relatively formal treatment of what I cover in “The Medium-Run Natural Interest Rate and the Short-Run Natural Interest Rate” and “On the Great Recession” in his post “Upward-sloping IS curves after Miles Kimball.”

Matthew Martin: Separating Hyperplanes

Matthew Martin was one of the earliest and best commenters on my blog. His blog is very innovative. I am delighted to see it gaining more recognition.

Bryan Caplan: Econlog

I really enjoyed meeting Bryan Caplan in person when I gave a seminar at George Mason University a little over a year ago. He is someone I could happily spend hours talking to. He is an extremely creative thinker, unafraid to go places that other people might disagree with if logic takes him there. He is a great fount of things you would be unlikely to think of on your own, but should be thinking about–with prompting from Bryan your only plausible path to considering them.

## Sparring Partners

Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

Paul Krugman is someone who floats in the air like a demigod, mostly untouchable by a mere mortal like me. As far as I know, he has never once responded to my repeated accusation that he treats the zero lower bound as if it were a law of nature, rather than the policy choice that it is. He has occasionally linked to one of my posts or columns when it suited his purposes. Paul Krugman ignored my discussion of breaking through the zero lower bound and of the power of national lines of credit in “How Italy and the UK Can Stimulate Their Economies Without Further Damaging Their Credit Ratings” and referenced the post (in “Another Attack of the 90% Zombie”) only to criticize my reliance on Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff’s claims about the effects of debt on growth. On his chosen field of combat, Paul Krugman bested me, and I atoned for my mistake with “An Economist’s Mea Culpa: I Relied on Reinhart and Rogoff,” “After Crunching Reinhart and Rogoff’s Data, We Found No Evidence High Debt Slows Growth” and “Examining the Entrails: Is There Any Evidence for an Effect of Debt on Growth in the Reinhart and Rogoff Data?” More evidence that Paul Krugman knows of my work on eliminating the zero lower bound, but is unwilling to talk directly about it can be found in his post “Switzerland and the Inflation Hawks.” On other topics, Paul Krugman linked to my column with Noah Smith on Minnesota Macro and picked up on a serious error by a Wall Street Journal columnist from one of my posts and picked up on my criticism of John Taylor in “Contra John Taylor.” Leaving aside my frustrations over the parameters of Paul Krugman’s interactions with me, I find that he has a very interesting blog. I am almost always entertained, I quite often agree with him, and I find him a model of rhetorical skill even when I think he is wrong.

John Cochrane: The Grumpy Economist

Unlike Paul Krugman, John Cochrane is happy to interact with me. Indeed, I have had some extended email discussions with John that he has agreed we can publish as soon as I have a spot of time to organize them into blog posts as I have volunteered to do. Sometimes John and I are on the same side of a question, as you can see from “Anat Admati, Martin Hellwig and John Cochrane on Bank Capital Requirements.” Other times we disagree, as you can see from our debate about whether things other than paper currency are likely to create an effective lower bound on interest rates. On that, see:

I have Twitter friends who think that John Cochrane has become a right-wing hack. But what I notice is that John Cochrane is regularly drawn by the internal logic of economic arguments to points of view and policy positions that have nothing to with the standard right-wing line. John Cochrane is not predictable in what he writes, unlike many other bloggers and columnists; and he is very very smart. So he is well worth reading.

In saying what I said in the last paragraph, I realize I have a double standard: I hold center-right, center-left and left-wing bloggers and columnists to the standard of getting everything correct, while my standard for right-wing and heterodox left-wing bloggers and columnists is an easier one to meet: I look for interesting, useful ideas, even if the wheat is mixed in with off-the-mark chaff. This is less of a bilateral double standard viewing politics from an international perspective, where in rich countries generally, the US center-left is the international political center. (Personally, I am probably closer to the political center in the US than I am to the international political center.)

Update on Female Bloggers: Anna Earl asks a great question on Twitter about female bloggers. None of them were on the list I was working from, but the female bloggers I interact with most are Frances Coppola, Izabella Kaminska and Claudia Sahm. I recommend all of them highly. Twitter is a great way to keep track of their online activities. Here is my tweet with links to their Twitter feedsFrances Coppola worries that banks will be hurt by negative interest rates, with deleterious effects on the economy. You can tap into that debate from our tweets to each other, with links. Izabella Kaminska is an advocate of electronic money. We share many common interests. Claudia Sahm is a very impressive former student and coauthor of mine who is one of the Fed’s top experts on consumption. Let me also recommend Bonnie Kavoussi, who wrote for the Huffington Post before coming to the University of Michigan as a student in our Masters of Applied Economics program. She has begun a career writing and editing economics books. I am hoping that Bonnie will help me write some books someday. Bonnie has a great Twitter feedHere is a link to Bonnie’s blog.

# Brio in Blog Posts

## First Words

Even among blog posts expressing an intriguing, insightful idea, some are meandering messes, while others pack a powerful punch. What is the difference? The answer matters. I have the students in my “Monetary and Financial Theory” class write 3 posts a week on an internal class blog, and host many of the best of those as guest posts on supplysideliberal.com. Of course I am looking for a good idea at the heart of the post, as I explained in “On Having a Thesis.”  But another quality is also crucial: what I will call brio.

## Middle Words

What is “brio”? The dictionary definition “vigor or vivacity of style or performance” is a good start. But all the other words I went through looking for just the right one are also helpful:

• drive

• forward motion

• momentum

• energy

• focus

• relentlessness

Above all, brio is knowing exactly where one is going, then going there by the shortest possible path

Someone who sets a good example of writing with brio is Noah Smith. I admire his blog writing style, and have benefitted from seeing his writing in action in pieces the two of us have coauthored (1, 2, 3, 4). I studied brio by studying the structure of Noah’s Bloomberg View columns and posts on his blog Noahpinion.  Here is what I learned.

First, a blog post should have one point. If two points can be treated separately, they should be made into two blog posts. There may be subpoints, but for a post to have brio, those subpoints have to feel like one point driven home in various ways.

The “five-paragraph essay” taught to students facing the AP English exam is not a good structure for a blog post. The trouble with the five-paragraph essay is that in between the introduction and the conclusion the three middle paragraphs have three different points often only distantly related to one another, though tied together somehow. If the same argument were made on a blog, it might be better made as three separate posts.

As is clear from Noah’s columns and posts, the rule of having a single point does not mean that the middle section of a blog post is necessarily short. It often takes a lot of explaining even to make one’s point clear, let alone back it up with half-decent arguments. In my own blog writing as well, many is the time I told myself “I’ll just write a quick blog post to make this point” only to see the post grow to a hefty size by the time I could adequately explain what I wanted to say. That is particularly true when writing in a technical field such as economics, where readers need to be given key background information in order to make sense of the main point.

In my analysis of Noah’s Bloomberg View columns, I was surprised by how often his thesis statement was not stated until the end of the middle section of his column–simply because many readers couldn’t have understood the thesis statement and why it might make sense until after a good deal of explanation. Thus, in many cases, the thesis statement came as a pulling-together of many ideas that Noah had systematically laid out in order to lead to that point. But in every case, once the point was made, it felt as if the structure of the whole column clicked into place.

Here is what I think of as the structure of a blog post with brio. There are three parts, which I will discuss in turn:

1. the hook

2. the point

3. the grand finale.

1. The Hook: The hook or introduction needs to answer the question readers implicitly come to a post with: “Why should I care about this?” or “What makes you think I would be at all interested in this.” The objective of a post’s title should be to get people to read the first few sentences–that is, to read the hook–while accurately reflecting the post’s contents. The objective of the hook is to get someone to read the rest of the post. Now that I have begun cross-posting many of my posts to Medium, it is humbling to see in Medium’s penetrating statistics how many people start reading, but do not finish. So getting someone to read on is a real issue.

2. The Point: The middle chunk of the post can be short or somewhat longer, but it has one primary objective: getting across the main point of the post. That is, it needs to answer the question “What is the point?” Beyond explaining the point, the second objective is to back it up–to answer the question “Why should I believe it?”

3. The Grand Finale: The last few sentences of a blog post should give the reader words worth remembering. They might be inspirational words, or thought-provoking words, or words that encapsulate the point one more time, but this time in a nutshell. But they should be memorable. The grand finale answers the question “What is the broader meaning of the point?” (Even the distillation of the point into a nutshell answers this question, since shorter statements inevitably become a bit more general and so connect with many other ideas.)

## Last Words

Although it can be tough on the ego, one of the easiest ways to add brio to a post is to subtract words from it. In the first pass, anything it takes to get the ideas down on the page is great. But then it pays to go through the draft a second time to see if there is any way to say things equally well or better in fewer words or simpler words. And take a good hard look at passages that lead off in an extraneous direction; they may need to chopped off and thrown into the pile of ideas for future posts.

“Less is more” can mean many things; among them is “Other things equal, using fewer words is better.”

Writing well is a source of power. It can be used for good or ill. For those who are good at heart and go to the strenuous effort needed to understand how the world works, writing well is a tool that can help to make the world a better place.

# Beacons

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:

1. A Year in the Life of a Supply-Side Liberal

2. Three Revolutions

3. Beacons

# Ezra Klein: Social Media is Threatening to Kill the Conversational Web →

In his post “What Andrew Sullivan’s exit says about the future of blogging,”
back in January, Ezra Klein has this interesting analysis of what is happening to blogging:

… at this moment in the media, scale means social traffic. Links from other bloggers — the original currency of the blogosphere, and the one that drove its collaborative, conversational nature — just don’t deliver the numbers that Facebook does. But blogging is a conversation, and conversations don’t go viral. People share things their friends will understand, not things that you need to have read six other posts to understand.
Blogging encourages interjections into conversations, and it thrives off of familiarity. Social media encourages content that can travel all on its own.

What Ezra says here makes me ponder how I deal with this issue. First, I think that conversation among bloggers is alive and well on Twitter. Second, for me, Quartz columns that each need to stand on their own are balanced out by blog posts that presume readers who are likely to have read more previous posts.

The place I feel I fall down is in not finding time to read all the other economics and non-economics blogs out there that I would like to. There are many, many conversations I would love to have, but don’t for lack of time.

# On Real and Fictional Economists

My own interactions with John Nash have been limited to invoking Nash equilibrium or Nash bargaining, and seeing the movie and reading the book A Beautiful Mind. But when I was at Princeton last week, I heard that John Nash still comes to economics seminars.

I also heard the story that when they were filming a part of the movie in his office, he was told along with everyone else that he needed to wait until they were done filming to go into that area, and he waited patiently, unrecognized.

The movie “A Beautiful Mind” is unusual in having an economist as the hero–and one who really sounds like an economist. Of course John Nash was also a mathematician. I think there are more mathematician heroes in film than economist heroes.

On TV, the most prominent economist character I can think of is President Jed Bartlett in “The West Wing,” who was played by Martin Sheen. Unfortunately, although Jed Bartlett is supposed to have a Nobel prize in economics, one doesn’t have to listen very long to realize that he doesn’t think like an economist. So while, depending on your politics, Jed Bartlett may be a good role model for US presidents, he is not a good role model for economists.

I suspect that the most influential fictional economist is actually Hari Seldon, from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. I think of Hari Seldon’s “psychohistory” as very much like macroeconomics at its best: using the law of averages to make aggregate predictions even where it is hard to predict the behavior of any one individual. Although other scientific disciplines beckoned me along the way, I credit reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series with doing a lot to dispose me toward becoming an economist. I am not the only one for whom this was a big influence. Paul Krugman also credits the Foundation series as an important influence. The current version of the Wikipedia article on Hari Seldon reports that link this way:

At the 67th World Science Fiction Convention in Montréal, QuébecCanadaPaul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate in Economics, mentioned Hari Seldon. According to Krugman, his interest in economics began with Asimov's Foundation novels, in which the social scientists of the future use “Psychohistory” to attempt to save civilization. Since “Psychohistory” in Asimov’s sense of the word does not exist, Krugman turned to economics, which he considered the next best thing.[3] In his column he considers Ibn Khaldun having done “a pretty good job” of setting himself up as the Hari Seldon of medieval Islam.[4]

I would love to hear about other fictional economists and the influence of fictional economists in the world. Overall, I think our discipline is represented fairly positively in popular culture, given the many controversial things we deal with.

In the real world, I think that for anyone wanting to build a better world, as Hari Seldon tried to make a better galaxy, making one’s case to young economists is one of the most promising ways to make it happen. That is a theme I have returned to often:

I have even tried to put together a bit of a strategy manual for trying to change the world in this way:

As I said in my post “Prioritization,” I would be glad for any helpful hints to improve on the kind of strategy I am pursuing beyond “do more."

# My Most Popular Storify Stories

Since soon after I started blogging, I have used Twitter extensively, and have put tweets from Twitter discussions together into “stories” using Storify. I have been surprised at how many views some of these stories have gotten. (A couple of my stories are popular enough that they could have made it into my list of most popular posts.) So I decided to systematically see which ones have been most popular (starting by leaving aside anything with less than 200 views). Here is the result. I cover a lot of topics in Tweets that I don’t have time to write full-scale blog posts on, so I think you will find something of interest in this list of my top 37 Storify stories. And many of my favorite stories didn’t manage to get 200  views yet in order to make this list. You can find all of my stories here.

Here is the list of my most popular sets of storified tweets with links, and the number of views as of August 5, 2014 next to each link:

# Paul Krugman: The Facebooking of Economics →

In this column, Paul Krugman contemplates the economics blogosphere (including online magazines and newspapers).

# Three Revolutions

Today it has been two years since my first post: “What is a Supply-Side Liberal?"  My first anniversary post, ”A Year in the Life of a Supply-Side Liberal,“ provides an introduction to this blog and tells of the exhilarating experience of my first year of blogging. Today, I wanted to talk about some of the pictures in my mind of possible futures that keep me going.

As for the blog itself, one of my standards of excellence for an independent economics blog is Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok's Marginal Revolution blog. Day after day, Tyler and Alex give people reason to come back and learn more. Their tagline to explain their title "Marginal Revolution” is “Small Steps Toward a Much Better World.” Although there would have to be many small steps along the way to each of these, I tend to think of the revolutions I want to see happen in a more discrete way. Let me talk about three revolutions I hope to see, in order of how fast I think they could happen.

1. The Electronic Money Revolution. The world’s attempts at economic stabilization since 2008 have left much to be desired. The main reason has been the partial crippling of monetary policy due to the difficulties of making interest rates negative when paper currency guarantees to all an interest rate of at last zero (minus storage costs). This difficulty is called the zero lower bound. Since I published “How Subordinating Paper Currency to Electronic Money Can End Recessions and End Inflation” in November 2012, I have been writing and traveling the world speaking to spread the word that the zero lower bound is a policy choice, not a law of nature. I argue that it is a bad policy choice. The benefits of economic stabilization without needing to have long-run inflation far outweigh the inconveniences of dealing with negative interest rates and an exchange rate between paper currency and electronic money that is sometimes away from 1-for-1.

I have collected links to everything I have written about eliminating the zero lower bound in my post “How and Why to Eliminate the Zero Lower Bound: A Reader’s Guide.” On why to eliminate the zero lower bound, let me recommend

On how to eliminate the zero lower bound, let me recommend this presentation that I have given in various versions at the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, Japan’s Ministry of Finance, Danmarks Nationalbank, the Banque de France, the Federal Reserve Board, and the US Treasury:

I have seminars scheduled in July at the ECB, the Bundesbank, the Banca D'Italia and the Swiss National Bank. In addition to the posts above, this presentation relies on what I say in these fairly technical posts:

I believe a transition to a monetary system based on electronic money that avoids creating a zero lower bound is almost inevitable. The electronic money revolution will happen. The question is when. The more people there are who understand the principles and reasoning involved, the quicker that day will come. Some countries may lag behind, but some country will lead the way.

2. The Supply-Side Liberal Revolution.  Posts about policies to foster economic growth, while taking care of the poor, are the heart of this blog, as you can see from looking down my list of most popular columns and posts. For economic growth, beyond the basics I wrote about in “The Government and the Mob,” the key policies are those I wrote about with Noah Smith in “One of the Biggest Threats to America’s Future Has the Easiest Fix” (followed up by “Capital Budgeting: The Powerpoint File”), the kind of individual effort Noah and I recommended in “There’s One Key Difference Between Kids Who Excel at Math and Those Who Don’t” and blocking attempts to squash the kind of disruptive innovation that Clay Christensen talks about. (See my post on Monday: “Saint Clay.”)  It also doesn’t hurt to understand the key role that knowledge plays in economic growth, something I talk about in my post “Two Types of Knowledge: Human Capital and Information."

For taking care of the poor, many of the key issues are political. First, as I argue in "Inequality Aversion Utility Functions: Would $1000 Mean More to a Poorer Family than$4000 to One Twice as Rich?” it is crucial not to be distracted by a fascination with the division of wealth and income between the middle class and the rich from the primary task of taking care of the poor. Besides a safety net focused on helping the poor rather than unsustainably trying to give large amounts of money to the middle class, key policies to help the poor are 1. more open immigration, 2. job freedom, and 3. school reform:

One key to sustainably getting resources for helping the poor is to do it in a way that causes the fewest economic distortions. In addition to focusing on the right kinds of taxes, to the extent that there must be taxes, I believe that there is great potential in the kind of public contribution system that I talk about in the links in my post “The Red Banker on Supply-Side Liberalism."  People often hate taxes, so they try to avoid them. Those efforts at tax avoidance are a social waste. So it makes sense to get many of the resources for helping the poor from public contributions that people won’t want to avoid as much as taxes, and that allow those contributing to be creative in making the world a better place. The creativity and flexibility fostered by a public contribution system are also bound to lead to technological progress in ways to help the poor.

3. The Heroic Revolution. By making the right choices, anyone can be a hero in the sense of making the world of the future a significantly better place than it otherwise would have been. For many, the objective of making the world a better place takes on a religious flavor, as it does for me (though for me in a resolutely non-supernaturalist way). See for example my sermons

and see Noah’s wonderful religion guest post

But regardless of one’s views on religion, hope and faith that one can make things better is the key to actually making things better. This is a principle I write about in

There are reasons to have hope that one can make the world a better place. The most basic is the argument that all it takes is to durably convince the younger generation that there is a better way:

But there also the power of gratitude, as I write of in

However, in the end, our success at making the world a better place will depend crucially on our ability to see clearly what is better and what is worse. Whatever its flaws, and despite all the ways it goes astray, religion has something to say about this. But so does the economics of happiness–in particular the work drawing on the intuitions of many people about what "better” means that I write of in

Summing Up. I believe in the potential of the blogosphere to change the world. I hope my view of the good of our noble species and the rest of the universe is clear enough that I am pushing in the right direction rather than in the wrong direction. My gut-level reaction to partisan politics in the United States is that enormous time and effort is wasted by Republicans and Democrats as they cancel each other out in opposition to one another. A key source of this wasted effort is that people are much too quick to assume they know the right direction to go. Many partisans assume they know the right direction to go, despite failing to undertake thoroughgoing discussions according to the principles of open, heated, but respectful discussion laid out by John Stuart Mill. (Those principles are familiar to those of you who follow my every-other-week series of posts on John’s book On Liberty, such as "John Stuart Mill’s Brief for Freedom of Speech.“) The blogosphere can help forward that kind of discussion, and get us a little closer to the truth.

# Top 52 All-Time Posts and All My Columns Ranked by Popularity, as of May 23, 2014

I keep my ranking of top columns updated along the way, but it is time to update the ranking of my top blog posts. You can see my explanation of the rankings and other musings after the lists.

## Explanation of the rankings:

The top 52 posts on supplysideliberal.com listed above are based on Google Analytics pageviews from June 3, 2012 through around 9 pm on May 22, 2014. The number of pageviews is shown by each post. Not counting Quartz pageviews and pageviews from some forms of subscription, Google Analytics counts 504,893 pageviews during this period but, for example, 135,805 homepage views could not be categorized by post.

I have to handle my Quartz columns separately because that pageview data is proprietary. My very most popular pieces have been Quartz columns, so I list them first. I have listed them all plus a few columns in other outlets, with the ones with no data (yet) listed at the bottom. (To avoid duplication, I have disqualified companion posts to Quartz columns from the top 40 blog post list, since they eventually get recombined with the Quartz columns when I repatriate the columns. For these columns, the ranking is by pageviews at a point where things have settled down. For later posts, that is standardized to pageviews during the first 30 days when Quartz has an exclusive.)

Going forward as in the past, I plan to update the list of columns as new columns appear, but the list of posts is locked in place until the next time I do a post like this.

You might also find other posts you like in this earlier list of top posts. If you want to compare all the shifts to the last time I did the list of top blog posts, here it is. Last time, October 14, 2013, I did the top 40. In just the top 40 above, there are 15 new entrants since that last time. Conversely, 6 out of last time’s top 40 didn’t even make it into the top 52 this time.

# Will Econ Blogging Hurt Your Career?

I ran across this very interesting youtube video by Noah Smith on “Will Econ Blogging Hurt Your Career?” I wanted to address that question as well. On balance, going forward, I think blogging is likely to be more of a help to your career than a hindrance–at least if you enjoy blogging.

One way in which my experience has been different from Noah’s is that I spend much more than an hour and a half per week blogging, if I include writing for Quartz. I have undertaken blogging as a serious career move, and so don’t mind spending some serious time at it. But that is something more appropriate for my career stage than it would be for a graduate student or untenured professor. And having grown children who are already off making their way in the world makes it easier.

As far as my own career goes, I feel the blogging has only been a plus. My colleagues in the Economics Department at the University of Michigan have been very supportive. Part of the reason is that I am not the only blogger here at Michigan. Noah has a list of other bloggers connected with the University of Michigan here. (Folks at the University of Michigan are blog readers, too. Interesing statistic: Ann Arbor edges out New York City as the city generating the most visits to my blog.)

As always, there are tradeoffs. Blogging might take time away from writing economics journal articles. But in my case I have found that blogging is fun enough and rewarding enough that I willingly do it at the expense of many leisure activities. And blogging builds human capital–contacts, writing skill and ideas (generated in important measure at the expense of non-blogging leisure)–that are valuable for research activities. So even the sign of the effect on traditional research productivity is, at this point, unclear. (Also, blogging should have some positive effect on citation accounts just by the inevitable publicizing of one’s own research, and is very helpful for one’s teaching.) Blogging creates additional temptations when one is avoiding hard but necessary tasks. But most of us face plenty of temptations in that regard anyway, and have had to develop techniques of self-discipline sufficient to get our work done.

I have a story to tell. Chris House’s office is right next to mine, with our doors one foot apart from each other. A couple of months ago, I walked into his office to talk as I often do, and he asked me how much time blogging took. I said “It depends on why you are asking; if you are asking so you can scold me for all the time I spend blogging …” Then it turned out he wanted to ask me if I thought it would be worth his while to start blogging. (I should say here that Chris is not the sort of person who would scold in any case; he would tease.)

Along the lines of what I said in my talk “On the Future of the Economics Blogosphere,” I said that I thought blogging was bound to grow in importance within economics–and that there is a first-mover advantage: for any given quality, those who start blogging earlier will gain more prominence and reap more rewards, as long as they remain continuously active.

Chris was persuaded; here is a link to Chris’s excellent blog. Among many other things he has accomplished with his blog, Chris caused Paul Krugman to write the sentences I think are most worthy of anything Paul Krugman has ever said of being included in a collection of famous quotations.

# David Beckworth: "Miles and Scott's Excellent Adventure"

Link to the post on David Beckworth’s blog

David Beckworth was kind enough to give me permission to mirror this post as a guest post on this blog. Here it is:

A journalist recently reminded me of how important the blogosphere has become for shaping conversations on macroeconomic policy. Everything from TARP to shadow banking to quantitative easing have been vetted in the blogosphere over the past few years. Often these conversations have influenced policymaking. Paul Krugman recently commented on this development:

[T]here has been a major erosion of the old norms. It used to be the case that to have a role in the economics discourse you had to have formal credentials and a position of authority; you had to be a tenured professor at a top school publishing in top journals, or a senior government official. Today the ongoing discourse, especially in macroeconomics, is much more free-form…at this point the real discussion in macro, and to a lesser extent in other fields, is taking place in the econoblogosphere…

Alex Tabarrok made a similar point at an AEA meeting when he said the blogosphere has become the “first place for policy debate and policy development.” There are many examples of this, but here I want to recognize two potential solutions to the zero lower bound (ZLB) problem that got a wide hearing because of the blogosphere. These solutions were not new, but because of blogging and the personalities behind them, they became more widely understood and influenced policy.

The two solutions are implementing negative policy interest rates via electronic money and nominal GDP level targeting (NGDPLT). Miles Kimball pushed the former while Scott Sumner was behind the latter. Both individuals first pushed these ideas in the blogosphere. Miles Kimball’s idea spread rapidly from his blog to other media outlets to central banks where he made multiple presentations to monetary authorities. Arguably, the Fed and ECB officials began talking more seriously about negative interest rates because of his efforts. Scott Sumner’s relentless efforts for NGDPLT also began on his blog and are considered by many to be the reason the Fed finally did QE3, a large scale-asset purchasing program tied to the state of the economy.  Miles and Scott’s success is a testament to their hard work, but also to disruptive technology that is the blogosphere.

I bring up their contributions, because they provide a nice conclusion to my previous two posts that looked at the ZLB. In those posts I looked at the claim that slump has persisted for so long because the nominal short-term natural interest rate has been negative while the actual short-term interest rate has been stuck near zero. It is stuck near zero because individuals would rather hold paper currency at zero percent than to invest their money at a negative interest rate. The ZLB is preventing short-term interest rates from reaching their output-market clearing level. The long slump is the result. Miles and Scott both have a solution for this problem. Unsurprisingly, both view the ZLB as a self-imposed constraint that can be easily fixed.

There are two key parts to Miles Kimball’s solution. The first part is to make electronic money or deposits the sole unit of account. Everything else would be priced in terms of electronic dollars, including paper dollars. The second part is that the fixed exchange rate that now exists between deposits and paper dollars would become variable. This crawling peg between deposits and paper currency would be based on the state of the economy. When the economy was in a slump and the central bank needed to set negative interest rates to restore full employment, the peg would adjust so that paper currency would lose value relative to electronic money. This would prevent folks from rushing to paper currency as interest rates turned negative. Once the economy started improving, the crawling peg would start adjusting toward parity. More details on his proposal can be found here.

There is much to like about his proposal. It is effectively how a free-banking, profit maximizing system would solve the ZLB, as shown by JP Koning. Holding risk constant, it would move all interest rates down and maintain spreads so that financial intermediation would not be disrupted. It would also eliminate the illusion that liquid short-term debt contracts are risk-free. Most importantly, it would allow short-tern nominal interest rates to better track their natural interest rate level. (1)

The figure below shows how how Miles Kimball’s solution would provide an escape route from the ZLB problem. It shows a situation where there is a negative output gap and anegative short-turn nominal natural interest rate. Miles would have the Fed would lower its policy interest rate down to the natural interest level at time t. The output gap would start to close and consequently, the natural interest rate would start to rise. The Fed would follow suit and start raising its policy interest rate in line with the natural rate. Eventually, the economy would return to full employment and the nominal interest rates would settle at their long-run values (which typically are positive). The escape from the ZLB would be complete. (2)

Scott Sumner’s solution to the ZLB provides another escape route from the ZLB. His approach is to “shock and awe” the economy with a regime change to monetary policy that would catalyze a sharp recovery. This recovery would pull the natural interest rate back into positive territory and eliminate the ZLB problem. Scott would implement his “shock and awe” program by having the Fed announce a NGDPLT (or total dollar spending target) and credibly committing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

This amounts to the Fed committing to a permanent expansion of the monetary base, if needed. That is, a NGDPLT creates the expectation that if the market itself does not self correct through a higher velocity of base money, then the Fed will raise theamount of monetary base as needed to hit higher level of NGDP. If credible, this becomes a self-fulfilling expectation with the market itself doing most of the heavy lifting. In other words, the regime changewould spark a major portfolio rebalancing away away from highly liquid, low-yielding assets towards less liquid, higher yielding assets. The portfolio rebalancing would raise asset prices, lower risk premiums, increase financial intermediation, spur more investment spending, and ultimately catalyze a robust recovery in aggregate demand. It would be similar in spirit to what monetary policy portion of Abenomics is now doing in Japan.

The figure below shows how Scott’s solution would provide an escape route from the ZLB. Like before, the figure shows a negative output gap and short-run nominal natural interest rate that is negative. At time t, Scott would have the Fed introduce NGDPLT. The output gap would begin shrinking and put upward pressure on the natural interest rate. Eventually the natural interest rate would broach zero and the Fed would have to start raising its policy rate in line with it. Finally the economy would return to full employment and the natural interest rate to its long-run positive value. The escape from the ZLB would be complete.

So these are the two solutions to the ZLB problem. They have received a wide hearing and to some extent influenced policymaking because of Miles and Scott’s efforts in the blogosphere. Thanks to this disruptive technology and the conversations it started the world is a better place.

1. Bill Woolsey has a similar proposal. He wouldtransfer paper currency production to private banks and allow them to determine whether they want to produce paper money. Private banks would then determine the exchange rate between deposits and paper currency.

2. To be clear, Scott Sumner would do away with interest rate targeting altogether and his push for NGDPLT is more than about escaping the ZLB. It is about setting up a credible and effective target for monetary policy. I too am a big proponent of NGDPLT for this reason.

# Making a Difference: Save-the-World Posts as of December 3, 2013

One of the reasons I blog is to do what I can to make the world a better place. In a useful hyperbole, I call this “saving the world.” This is my selection of posts that are in that vein. I have done posts with selections of “save-the-world” posts periodically since July 8, 2012, but it has been a long time since the last one on January 17, 2013.

I hope you will join me in trying to save the world–perhaps in a way very different from anything I have contemplated.

A word about the selection. My definition of “save-the-world posts” is the posts I most want you to read when I think of the objective of making the world a better place. Because of my view that the usual partisan debates are already well-discussed, for the most part, I am leaving aside posts that are about the current policy debates you would read about in regular news outlets. If you are interested in my contribution to those battles, take a look at my monetary policy sub-blog, the list of posts on taxation I give A Year in the Life of a Supply-Side Liberal, and the post I wrote immediately after watching Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for President: The Magic of Etch-a-Sketch: A Supply-Side Liberal Fantasy.

Let me try to categorize these save-the-world posts in a way that makes sense.

## It is Possible to Make a Difference

and

for which the full text is

May the best in the human spirit vanquish the worst in the human spirit.

# Top 40 All-Time Posts and All My Columns Ranked by Popularity, as of October 14, 2013

8 of my top 10 columns and 2 of my top 10 posts are totally new since the last time I made a list of my biggest hits, so it is time to make a new list. You can see my explanation of the rankings and other musings after the lists.

## All Quartz Columns So Far, in Order of Popularity

Top 40 Posts on supplysideliberal.com:

## Explanation of the rankings

The top 40 posts on supplysideliberal.com listed below are based on Google Analytics pageviews from June 3, 2012 through midday, October 13, 2013. The number of pageviews is shown by each post. Not counting Quartz pageviews and pageviews from some forms of subscription, Google Analytics counts 327,807 pageviews during this period but, for example, 101,669 homepage views could not be categorized by post.

I have to handle my Quartz columns separately because that pageview data is proprietary. My very most popular pieces have been Quartz columns, so I list them first. Since there are less than 40, I have listed them all, with the ones with no data (yet) listed at the bottom. (To avoid duplication, I have disqualified companion posts to Quartz columns from the top 40 blog post list, since they eventually get recombined with the Quartz columns when I repatriate the columns. For these columns, the ranking is by pageviews at a point where things have settled down. For later posts, that is standardized to pageviews during the first 30 days when Quartz has an exclusive.

I plan to update the list of columns as new columns appear, but the list of posts is locked in place until the next time I do a post like this.

You might also find other posts you like in this earlier list of top posts. This post and that one cover everything that has ever been on one of most popular lists so far.

Musings:

• Five of the top ten columns are coauthored: 1, 3 and 6 with Noah Smith, 5 and 10 with Yichuan Wang. It helps to have a top-notch coauthor.
• Three of the top ten are about Reinhart and Rogoff. Levels of interest for understanding Reinhart and Rogoff’s was extraordinary.
• Three of the top ten–2, 4 and 7–are relatively recent columns with a strong religious or moral tone to them. I am glad to see that my efforts to articulate religious and moral themes find an audience as well as what I have to say about economics.
• There is a clear time trend in the data. Later columns and posts have an advantage over earlier columns and posts of equal quality.
• "Contra John Taylor“  edged out ”Dr. Smith and the Asset Bubble“ for the top spot among the posts.
• The 2 new blog posts in the top 10 are ”The Medium-Run Natural Interest Rate and the Long-Run Natural Interest Rate“ in the 5th spot and ”Sticky Prices vs. Sticky Wages: A Debate Between Miles Kimball and Matthew Rognlie“ in the 9th spot. In general, posts that have something new to offer for undergraduate and graduate education (including self-education) are doing very well.
• The mini-bio for me on Quartz says I blog about "economics, politics and religion.” I am glad to see that my religion posts (collected in my Religion Humanities and Science sub-blog) are getting some attention. Religion is represented by four posts in the top forty, in spots 14, 18, 28 and 29. Since the presidential election, I actually haven’t written that much about politics–other than in very close connection to policy, so I am not surprised that politics doesn’t make much of an appearance in either of the lists above. The major exception is “That Baby Born in Bethlehem Should Inspire Society to Keep Redeeming Itself."

# My First Appearance in the Atlantic

This is another milestone for me, to have the column I wrote with Noah Smith, “The Complete Guide to Getting Into an Economics Ph.D. Program” appear in the Atlantic as well as on Quartz. (They are both owned by the Atlantic Co., but are different websites.) As you can see, the Atlantic layout and picture is different. For comparison, here is the layout and picture on Quartz:

# Why I Write

Link to the essay on Pieria–which has an ever-expanding list of links essays by other economics bloggers in the “Why I Write” series

On his Pieria website, Tomas Hirst has put together a series in which each Pieria experts answers the question “Why Do You Write?” Here is Tomas’s introduction:

In this series we aim to shed light on the motivations, inspirations and writing processes of some of the leading financial bloggers. Here, Miles Kimball, Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan and author of Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal, explains why he writes.

Tomas did a masterful job of posing questions and editing the email responses I sent him into this essay, which first appeared on Pieria on July 17, 2013.

“A year ago, I started a blog, “Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal” out of a mixture of raw ambition, desire for self-expression, duty, and hope. Sometimes duty keeps me up late at night, but it is raw ambition that makes me wake up too early in the morning so that I slip further and further behind in my sleep.”

The quote above come from my post “So You Want to Save the World”, which is about ethics for bloggers, as are my series of John Stuart Mill quotations (easy to find in my Religion, Humanities and Science sub-blog) focusing on taking alternative views seriously (even if they are very wrong – for reasons JS Mill lays out carefully – and even more if they just might be right). Some of the more recent John Stuart Mill quotations also express why I think blogs are so important in the media landscape.

Blogs (and Twitter) allow real discussion and debate about alternative views for the following reasons:

1. Blogs are one place that progressives and conservatives actually interact and wrestle with each other’s arguments.
2. Blogs and Twitter and comments point out alternative perspectives one wouldn’t have thought of.
3. The back-and-forth on blogs, Twitter and comments helps one clarify one’s own thinking.

Finally, in the HuffPost Live segment that I did with Umair Haque and others I give a view of blogs as the place people can really get the real deal that is not dumbed down.  One thing I mention is that breaking things down into the blog format of relatively short posts can give much more impact to an argument and make it much more understandable than if one expected someone to have the patience to sit down and read something very long and understand it. Even if I do some posts that are long, they alternate with shorter ones on the same topics.

One thing that may be a serious mistake is that I find myself wanting to resist anything like Krugman’s labeling the level of wonkishness on his posts. It is unrealistic, perhaps, but I hope people try the harder posts without expecting too much of themselves, and then get something from those posts even if they don’t fully understand them. Some of what is behind my attitude on this can be seen in today’s post on Deliberate Practice. Without trying to understand things that are a bit hard, how can people get smarter? If I have a range of different difficulties for posts, hopefully people can read both the ones that are easy for them and the ones that are a bit difficult, and let themselves off the hook for the ones that are over-the-top difficult. I am glad for the discipline of writing some of my pieces for a more general audience in Quartz. Although those columns are toned down relative to some of the posts on my blog, I am proud that they push the boundaries on difficulty level in pieces intended for a popular audience. I hope that even people who did not understand everything in the two columns I wrote with Yichuan Wang on what we found in the Reinhart and Rogoff dataset got a sense for what it means to be careful in analyzing data.

“I think I have a niche of daring to do relatively difficult posts. In addition to hoping that people will stretch, that accords with this strategy” - (from A Year in the Life of a Supply-Side Liberal)

My primary strategy for making the world a better place is not to influence politics in the short run, but to make my case on the merits for each issue to the cohort of young economists who will collectively have such a big influence on policy in decades to come, and to the economists who now staff government agencies (including the Federal Reserve System).

Collectively, I believe that economists are a group that can move the world. It it is not altogether Quixotic to hope to affect the ideas that will animate thinking of the rising generation of economists. And, as a bonus, many others will enjoy hearing, and may be affected by, arguments directed at that group.

## On the future of the economics blogosphere

The economics blogosphere is already vibrant, brimming with intellectual energy. The obvious next phase of its development is for more and more of the most academically respected economists to engage in blogging as the respectability of blogging grows in a virtuous cycle. Historically, the interesting thing is that this will constitute a full-scale revival of the literary economics that prevailed before the mathematization of economics in the early 20th century–this time, alongside mathematized economics. That emerging two-barrel, balanced approach to economics through both math and accessible writing in counterpoint is an important development that will make economics both more powerful at getting to the truth and more powerful as a social force.

Note: In the comments below, Isomorphisms mentions my idiosyncratic “Links I am Thinking About” aggregator blog. I have a link to it on my sidebar. I think many of my readers might find it of some interest.

# An Independent Blog

A recent picture of Miles

I was pleased that Brian Milner of the Globe and Mail found his way to my blog post “After Crunching Reinhart and Rogoff’s Data, We Found No Evidence That High Debt Slows Growth,” and in his article and in “Rogoff-Reinhart put cart before the horse” quotes my sentence:

What I find remarkable is that despite the likely negative effect of debt on growth from refinancing difficulties, we found no overall negative effect of debt on growth.

But Brian was inaccurate when he followed that quotation with the attribution

…Mr. Kimball wrote in a blog post at Quartz.

Brian didn’t realize that supplysideliberal.com is an independent blog.

Though I love my editors at Quartz, I have fiercely guarded the principle of the independence of supplysideliberal.com itself. As I said in my anniversary post

“A Year in the Life of a Supply-Side Liberal,”

it means a lot to me that I can say here anything that I think needs to be said on my own account without asking anyone’s permission.