I notice that other bloggers are discussing the big events of 2012, or predicting the big events of 2013. I don’t do predictions, other than to echo market predictions. (Yes I know; how boring! And yes, that does mean I’m not an alpha male.)
I suppose this means I think Chinese growth will keep plugging along at 8% plus, as that number seems to be embedded in market forecasts. So if the markets are wrong then I will have also been wrong. Ditto for any previous errors made by the market consensus. This puts me at odds with people like Michael Pettis (he predicts a sharp slowdown in Chinese growth.) I think Chinese growth will slow, but gradually.
This is also a time for New Year’s resolutions, but I’m too unselfish (or too much a realist) to think that I’d ever actually fulfill promises to myself.
As I look back over the past 4 years I see a steady deterioration in this blog. The posts are increasingly simplistic, repetitive, grouchy and snarky. Bill James says that baseball players peak at age 27. I don’t know when “peak blogging” occurs, I’d guess somewhere between Evan Soltas’s 19 and my 57. Probably somewhere in Ezra Klein/Matt Yglesias/Ryan Avent/Bryan Caplan territory. I’m over the hill.
When I reread my posts from the first year it sometimes seems like they were written by a completely different (and better) person. Slightly more naive, but also more idealistic and less cyclical. It would be nice to blame others for my decline—perhaps I’ve gotten worn down by interacting with those commenters who are both insulting and moronic. On the other hand my many brilliant commenters have probably raised my game a bit.
If 2012 was a bad year for TheMoneyIllusion.com in terms of style and sophistication, it was a good year for the ideas I am promoting. Market monetarist themes (especially NGDPLT, but also the importance of aggressive monetary stimulus at the zero bound) are increasingly influential. The zeitgeist is slowly moving in our direction.
Another “excuse” (or is it “explanation” I’ve never been clear on the distinction) is that I was overworked in 2012. In the fall semester I taught an overload, and had to deal with a lot of travel and other outside obligations. I suppose many people would be able to handle my workload with no problem, but I’ve lived for decades with a certain lifestyle, and then suddenly added in 40 or 50 extra hours a week of writing posts, answering comments and reading other posts and articles. And I type everything with two fingers.
I hate the feeling of always being busy. And since I’m not good at saying no, the work keeps piling up. The good news is that I don’t have to teach in 2013 and thus will be less overworked. My Depression book is scheduled to (finally!) be released later in the year, and I plan to use my sabbatical to turn my blog into a book.
PS. One comment on prediction. If it’s prestige you seek, then the key is not to be right, but rather to be perceived as being right. Contrast Fukuyama’s 1989 prediction of a global move toward democracy and market economies, with Shiller’s 1996 prediction that stocks were overvalued. Fukuyama was right and Shiller was wrong, but almost everyone thinks exactly the opposite.
If you seek success in the stock market, then you need to be correct (Keynes was wrong; it’s not a “beauty contest.”) But if it’s social success you seek then the key is to feed the prejudices of your audience. Each year you need to keep predicting the Chinese “bubble” will collapse. Then when China eventually has a mild recession, everyone will forget your previous misses and hail you as a genius.
And always be a pessimist, as pessimism is the intellectually fashionable pose. Being an optimist in an intellectual milieu is as jarring as wearing Doris Day pinks to an art show in Chelsea.
PPS. Grouchy? Wait until you see me discuss the fiscal cliff deal.