Advice to young bloggers

[Update:  Since writing this post I've gotten a lot of feedback from people who think the earlier post was insulting, and lots from people that did not. That means I've failed as a blogger. If I did my job properly no one should have viewed as as insulting, as that was not my intention.  So apologies to Izabella Kaminska.]

Noah Smith recently left a rather perplexing comment at the end of a recent post:

Scott, the first paragraph of this post was distinctly un-civil.

Neither I nor the other commenters could figure out what he was getting at.  So he responded:

No, it’s pretty clear Scott is calling Izabella a phony.

This was in reference to the following paragraph:

One amusing sidelight of Nick Rowe’s recent post was all sorts of people agreeing that they can never understand what Izabella Kaminska is talking about (including Nick and I.)  The lazy way out would be to assume that Kaminska is a phony.  But lots of smart bloggers do find her interesting, as does the Financial Times, which publishes her columns.  So she probably has valuable things to say.

Now obviously the literal meaning of the paragraph is not at all what Noah Smith claims, I am criticizing those who would call her a phony.  I’m pointing out that lots of smart people do get what she says.  But let’s give Noah the benefit of the doubt.  Sometimes there really are hidden meanings.  Recall Mark Antony’s famous speech in Julius Caesar.

So how do we know that I wasn’t doing something similar?  By reading the rest of the post, which is full of paragraphs like the following:

So why is macro so fragmented?  Why can’t we talk to each other?  It’s not because macro issues are “bigger,” the global oil market is bigger than most GDPs, and economists do have a common language to discuss oil shocks.  It’s related to complexity, but even more to the very peculiar type of complexity that one observes in macro.  Macro issues can be examined on many different levels, which sort of overlay one another.  In that respect macro is like some of the “softer” social sciences, which can also have communications problems.

. . .

Is it any surprise that some people consider the labor market to be the essence of the business cycle? Or that others think it’s aggregate spending.  Or safe assets.  Or saving imbalances. Or money supply and demand.  Or fiscal policy.  Or the banking system.  Or productivity shocks.  They develop their own special language, which is incomprehensible to those with different macro frameworks.  In frustration, Nobel Prize winners start calling each other idiots.

My guess is that Noah Smith stopped reading after the first paragraph, as he could hardly have missed the meaning if he had read the entire post.

My advice to young bloggers is to avoid jumping to conclusions.  Don’t put a statement by another blogger in the worst possible light; interpret it under the assumption that they were well-intentioned.  I’ve been blogging for five years.  Thousands of posts.  If I was the sort of blogger who made personal insults against other bloggers I am pretty sure it would have showed up by now.  And I certainly would never insult someone who had never attacked me in any way.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of others.  What makes you think they are any less well-intentioned than you are?

Of course none of this applies to politicians, who are fair game.  But the blogosphere debate will be much more civil if we are at least polite to each other.

I was trying to say that the lack of communication came from vastly different macro frameworks, which used different languages.  If Ms. Kaminska happened to read the post and interpret it the way Noah Smith did, then my apologies.

PS.  Yes, I often attack people’s ideas, but that’s very different from attacking their character.  I don’t know of any “phony” economics bloggers, I’m pretty sure that 100% of them believe what they say.  And when I say it would be “lazy” to consider someone a “phony,” I mean it.

Update:  I regret not saying this:

“One amusing sidelight of Nick Rowe’s recent post was all sorts of people agreeing that they can never understand what Izabella Kaminska is talking about (including Nick and I.)  The lazy way out would be to assume that Kaminska is a phony.  But that would clearly be wrong. Lots of smart bloggers do find her interesting, as does the Financial Times, which publishes her columns. Even if you think she were faking it, what incentive do these other bright people have to play along?  Obviously that’s not what’s going on.  So she presumably has valuable things to say.”

I think even Noah Smith would agree that this improved paragraph is not in the slightest way insulting. But he’s convinced that what I actually wrote had a different meaning.  Even worse, a different intended meaning.  I guess he’s right that people are more likely to misinterpret what I actually wrote, but he’s wrong in assuming the intended meaning was different.  Not just wrong, but completely out of line.


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102 Responses to “Advice to young bloggers”

  1. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    8. December 2013 at 11:18

    What is the relevance of a blogger’s age here?

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 11:24

    Mark, Good question. Should it be “young” or “new?” I can see arguments both ways. They say “with age comes wisdom” but I’m not sure that’s true.

    I feel I’m less smart but more wise than I used to be, but perhaps I’m just fooling myself about the “more wise.”

  3. Gravatar of Geezer Geezer
    8. December 2013 at 11:27

    The lazy way out would be to assume you are a patronizing old codger.

  4. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 11:34

    Actually I am. But I’d rather be an old codger than an old geezer. :)

  5. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    8. December 2013 at 11:34

    I understood what you were saying. But lots of people misunderstood – not just Noah, but also (inter alia) Mark Sadowski, who took your remarks as an invitation to criticise Izabella, which I don’t think was what you intended. That is interesting, since your point was that lots of people find Izabella difficult to understand. I guess everyone has problems with communication at times.

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 11:37

    Frances, I’m not sure Mark misunderstood me. You’ll have to ask him. Who are the “lots of people” who misunderstood me?

    BTW, I don’t agree with Mark’s view that she is a phony.

  7. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    8. December 2013 at 11:38

    I understood what you were saying. But lots of people misunderstood – not just Noah, but also (inter alia) Mark Sadowski, who took your remarks as an invitation to criticise Izabella, which I don’t think was what you intended.

    I think that’s being charitable towards Noah, who is sadly doubling down by being a jackass on twitter, which is getting to be the defining characteristic of his (yes, young) academic career.

  8. Gravatar of Rajat Rajat
    8. December 2013 at 11:42

    I think some people choose to take offence when they needn’t. It’s like it’s part of some kind of tribalising process to give them a reason not to pay any attention to that person in future.

    I think this does tend to be a trait of younger people. It’s just that some people – and some professors in particular, for a variety of reasons relating to the academic personality style and the high returns to self-promotion – just never grow up.

  9. Gravatar of benjamin cole benjamin cole
    8. December 2013 at 11:45

    I will criticize economists—you guys don’t talk English good.

  10. Gravatar of CA CA
    8. December 2013 at 11:48

    “I think that’s being charitable towards Noah, who is sadly doubling down by being a jackass on twitter, which is getting to be the defining characteristic of his (yes, young) academic career.”

    I was thinking the exact same thing. He is, indeed, acting “young” on twitter right now.

  11. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    8. December 2013 at 11:54

    “What is the relevance of a blogger’s age here?”

    Good question and that struck me as the only real problem with this post. And, the answer is that it is not at all relevant (and, if it were in the sense here intended, I’m puzzled by the earlier comment here about Greenspan’s age, unless of course there is a sweet spot that is approximately the spot Scott is now at). In some sectors, the appeal to age is called “pulling rank”. In others, it is called the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority”. Perhaps we should create a new fallacy category called “appeal to age”.

    BTW, “Wisdom comes with age” is the saying, not “age comes with wisdom”, but that, alas, is not always the case.

    I actually prefer:

    —— Ζῆνα . . .
    τὸν ϕρονεῖν βροτοὺς ὁδώ—
    σαντα, τῷ πάθει μαθάν
    Θέντα κυρίως ἔχειν.
    Aeschylus, in Agamemnone.

    (“Zeus, who leads mortals to understanding, who has established as a fixed ordinance that wisdom comes by suffering”).

  12. Gravatar of Andrew Burton Andrew Burton
    8. December 2013 at 12:01

    I think when you use the word “probably” at the end of your first paragraph, it conveys one meaning to you and another meaning to a lot of your readers (including me).

    You may have intended “probably” to mean “given that a lot of smart people find her work useful, the chances that she’s a phony are very small.”

    However, I read “probably” as more along the lines of “the most likely explanation, but still a meaningful chance that she is a phony.”

    In other words, you may have intended to propose p(K = phony) = 2%, but many of us read p(K = phony) as anywhere from 30% to 50%. The tone of the first paragraph, and the fact that nowhere in the rest of the post do you make any other reference to Ms Kaminska’s writing, doesn’t (IMV) support the assertion that people reading the post are making an unfair assessment.

    If it helps, I’m 54 years old.

  13. Gravatar of Noah Smith Noah Smith
    8. December 2013 at 12:11

    This quasi-apology could have been more self-aware, but the world will take what it can get.

    Also, Mark A. Sadowski, whoever that is, your are one rude bwoy…please detonate your head.

  14. Gravatar of libertaer libertaer
    8. December 2013 at 12:14

    As I understand Kaminska, she is saying that the days of scarcity are nummbered (“Shit becomes free” Morgan Warstler would say), so the supply of safe assets becomes fixed…

    (Isn’t Larry Summers saying the same? He is a technological optimist while predicting negative interest rates forever… This sounds just like Kaminska.)

    QE takes away safe assets, making safe assets even more scarce.

    So NGDP targeting through the asset price channel won’t work. All it does, is to raise asset prices till people are ready to hold any amount of new base money central banks have created. The hot potatoe effect only produces asset price inflation.

    What you need to get NGDP up, is a hot potatoe effect which forces people to buy new goods. Since – for Kaminska- safe assets are in fixed supply, newly produced goods can only be very risky capital goods and/or consumption goods. But central banks can’t do QE by buying them.

    In a world with safe assets in fixed supply, it would be better to do NGDP targeting without taking away the remaining safe assets… Just do a helicopter drop…

  15. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    8. December 2013 at 12:16

    “Also, Mark A. Sadowski, whoever that is…”

    And, there is nothing more pathetic than an appeal to imagined authority.

  16. Gravatar of Vaidas Urba Vaidas Urba
    8. December 2013 at 12:19

    Scott,
    Here is Kaminska’s reaction:
    http://dizzynomics.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/the-market-monetarists-and-me/

  17. Gravatar of jknarr jknarr
    8. December 2013 at 12:20

    Krugman, I’m afraid, bears much responsibility for the slide in to us-and-them snark in the profession. Young bloggers, especially on the left, follow his example, likely due to ambition.

    Accusing others of what one does themselves is a powerful tactic. Perhaps he was feeling too close to the evil right wingers after the Williamson thing.

    The solution, IMHO, is to presume that those who wish to divide into us-and-them are operating in bad faith. Intentionally alienating your prospective audience suggests that you have no interest in reality, but only are interested in creating tribal divides, not analysis.

    Those guys who operate in a political snark mode reveal themselves to be apparatchiks, not analysts. They should be ignored, lest we encourage them.

  18. Gravatar of PR PR
    8. December 2013 at 12:25

    I interpreted your usage of “phony” differently when I first read your comment. Because you follow it up by noting that “smart” people find her “interesting” I thought you meant that she was a fraud who could only pretend to be smart and interesting. Nothing in your initial wording indicated that you meant phony as in insincere.

    Now my instinct is to assume that you are changing your meaning because of the backlash to your initial post. However, I’m willing to assume you are in fact well-intentioned.

    So, I offer this advice to a (5-year) old blogger: write more clearly.

  19. Gravatar of Noah Smith Noah Smith
    8. December 2013 at 12:26

    Vivian Darkbloom, I’m not sure if you should detonate your head or not, but you might as well, just as a precaution.

  20. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    8. December 2013 at 12:31

    Noah Smith, if this is the level of your intellect, there is nothing to detonate.

  21. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    8. December 2013 at 12:35

    Since when was Noah Smith the paragon of civility? That boy has no qualms letting loose with back-handed insults.

    Not that this is an insult by any stretch, it does provide us with evidence for his biased mentality (which leads to him being blind to his insults):

    “The fact that Ferguson turned out to be wrong about hyperinflation or the budget deficit is easy to explain: he didn’t know what he was talking about. Yet Krugman and others did know what they were talking about. And yet they were still wrong.”

    That’s gold, Jerry.

  22. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    8. December 2013 at 12:38

    Noah, it’d be nice if you responded to the people like Ryan Avent who point out that they don’t find anything remotely uncivil about the original statement, and indeed think it’s clear that the statement was quite explicitly saying she WASN’T a phony. It was attacking people who call her a phony as lazy. (I have never read anything by her, and have no idea whatsoever as to her level of phoniness.)

    Why you and Kaminska are going around saying that this is a “passive aggressive apology” is beyond me, when it’s an exceedingly gentle attempt to let you know that you’ve grossly misunderstood a fairly clear statement.

  23. Gravatar of jknarr jknarr
    8. December 2013 at 12:42

    Wow. I, for one, will assume that Noah’s 10 year old nephew is visiting and is logged on to his account. Someone needs to call Stony Brook University and confirm.

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 12:47

    Noah, I would have hoped that by now you would have apologized for implying I was a liar. And I find it interesting that you believe that you are more “aware” of what is going on inside my head than I am. I recall you were also able to read Garett Jones’s mind. Perhaps it’s someone else who lacks “self-awareness.”

    BTW, I think you misinterpreted my “apology.”

    Vivian, The Greenspan age comment was a joke, maybe a bad one. Coase wrote a book at age 100 that was excellent. And recall that Greenspan is a public figure, not a blogger.

    I probably should have said “inexperienced” rather than young. However I will say that the sort of behavior that Noah Smith is currently engaged in (basically calling me a liar) is something I would have been more likely to do when I was young, than I am today. I think I’m at least a tiny bit wiser now.

  25. Gravatar of John John
    8. December 2013 at 12:50

    If Scott isn’t civil, then what are Krugman (who frequently and explicitly calls half of the economics profession phonies) and DeLong (who recently called a new Nobel Laureate a “dumbass”)?

  26. Gravatar of Philippe Philippe
    8. December 2013 at 12:51

    Scott,

    we recently had a brief exchange regarding the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. I just read this paper on the subject which might be of interest to you:

    ‘Central Bank Quasi-fiscal Losses and High Inflation in Zimbabwe: A Note’ (2007)

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2007/wp0798.pdf

    Some relevant quotes from the paper:

    “Zimbabwe’s failure to address continuing central bank quasi-fiscal losses has interfered with both monetary management and the independence and credibility of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Realized quasi-fiscal losses are estimated to have amounted to about 75 percent of GDP in 2006.”

    “The aim of the paper is to identify and quantify the main sources of the quasi-fiscal activities (QFAs) by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) since 2004 as well as their macroeconomic and financial impact… Some sense of the macroeconomic impact of QFAs can be gleaned by reference to the size of central bank losses. While central bank losses in most countries have not exceeded 10 percent of GDP, Zimbabwe’s flow of realized central bank quasi-fiscal losses are estimated to have amounted to 75 percent of GDP in 2006… Quasi-fiscal losses of this sort, rather than conventional monetary or fiscal laxity, have been the mainly responsible for the surge in money supply in Zimbabwe during 2005-7.”

    “Most of the RBZ’s quasi-fiscal losses were incurred in connection with activities that go far beyond conventional central banking functions. There were four main sources of the losses:

    1.Subsidies in terms of free foreign exchange to public enterprises…

    2. Realized exchange losses stemming mainly from the purchase of foreign exchange from exporters and the public at higher prices than sales of foreign exchange to importers…

    3. Interest payments associated with open market operations to mop up liquidity…

    4. Unrealized exchange losses reflecting official devaluations because foreign liabilities exceeded foreign assets…”

    “In Zimbabwe soaring inflation is due more to the RBZ’s substantial quasi-fiscal activity than to conventional government budget deficits. The average central government fiscal deficit for 2003–2005 has been below 3 percent of GDP and since 2001 the primary balance has been in surplus in all years except 2004. However, as shown above, massive QFAs have been carried out outside the budget without adequate provisions for their financing. Therefore, a truer fiscal picture would include both the activity of the government and the QFAs of the RBZ in the fiscal balance.”

    “Sterilization of monetary expansion resulting from QFA financing has increased central bank quasi-fiscal losses as nominal interest payments have increased rapidly with rising inflation. Rising interest payments have also increased the financing requirement of the central government, creating further monetary expansion (ultimately weakening the effectiveness of sterilization).”

    “In January 2004 the RBZ started to issue its own bills at effective interest rates of over 900 percent per annum. These RBZ Financial treasury bills were naturally attractive to the market but too costly to the RBZ, so they were soon abandoned and replaced by Open Market Operation (OMO) bills, introduced in May 2004, and Special RBZ bills, introduced in June 2004. The OMO bills had the same interest rates as the existing government treasury bills but the accounting for them was clearly separated from holdings of government treasury bills since the interest cost was charged to the RBZ.”

    “The RBZ has accumulated substantial domestic interest-bearing liabilities through open market operations to absorb liquidity. The vicious circle of rising losses and rising remunerated liabilities has resulted in inflation and increases in the interest rates of the bills, further accelerating the interest cost for the central bank. By 2005 the net interest cost of sterilization equaled 40 percent of GDP.”

  27. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    8. December 2013 at 12:51

    @Frances Coppola,
    “But lots of people misunderstood – not just Noah, but also (inter alia) Mark Sadowski, who took your remarks as an invitation to criticise Izabella, which I don’t think was what you intended.”

    Scott wrote that post yesterday morning. My comment this morning was in response to your comment that you find her writing comprehensible. I personally do not and consequently said so.

    @Scott
    “BTW, I don’t agree with Mark’s view that she is a phony.”

    I have never used the word “phony” with respect to Izabella Kaminska. (In fact I don’t think I’ve ever called anybody a “phony”.)

    @Noah Smith (whoever that is)
    “Also, Mark A. Sadowski, whoever that is, your are one rude bwoy…please detonate your head.”

    Since this whole commotion seems to have been started by your twitter feed I think it is your head which evidently needs detonating. In fact I think you just earned the jackass of the year award (it’s that time of the season). Congratulations.

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 12:51

    Andrew and PR, Exactly the criticism that Noah Smith should have made. If he had, I would have disagreed, but I would not have been angry at him.

    Let me ask you this, however. How about the rest of the post? The post is clearly all focused on “miscommunication” due to different languages. People talking past each other. Why did you assume the first paragraph did not fit in with that general theme? I really don’t get it.

  29. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    8. December 2013 at 12:54

    “I probably should have said “inexperienced” rather than young”.

    Scott, I know you are sincere, and so am I when I say that you should just ignore the “age”, “experience” or whatever issue altogether and focus on the substance (or lack thereof) of arguments on the table.

    This reminds me of the old adage for writers that they should “show” not “tell”. So, if you think someone’s argument is off base, I suggest you concentrate on why that is so, other than merely resorting to the “inexperience” of the person proposing such argument or whatever other irrelevant criteria one might come up with.

  30. Gravatar of jknarr jknarr
    8. December 2013 at 13:00

    I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.

  31. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 13:10

    Mark, Sorry, I was relying on what I was told. I retract my statement.

  32. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 13:10

    Vivian, Yes, I guess you are right.

  33. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    8. December 2013 at 13:21

    Mark Sadowski,

    Your comment on Scott’s first post:

    “I find nearly everything Izabella Kaminska writes to be thoroughly incomprehensible, to such an extent I often find it irresistible to crack jokes about her writing.”

    So you find her writing ridiculous. That is much more than just “incomprehensible”, isn’t it?

    You then went on to give an example of how ridiculous you find her writing – your “Sokal hoax” clip. And in other comments you suggested that she was a hoax (though admittedly you borrowed that one from Nick Rowe) and her writing had “nothing of substance in it”. You even suggested that she was “disrespecting her readers” by deliberately confusing things, presumably as some sort of elaborate joke – indeed you then went on to add “if there is a joke, the joke’s on her”.

    Yet you now claim that you only said you didn’t understand her writing. Seems you not only have limited comprehension but a poor memory, too.

  34. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    8. December 2013 at 13:23

    And, Scott, don’t forget: If you’ve “suffered” from these exchanges, that’s where wisdom comes from. I hope Noah is taking note.

    BTW, the Greek quote about wisdom coming from suffering is not only from Agamemnon, but is also the prelude to a poem by English poet Thomas Gray called “Hymn to Adversity” (sometimes referred to as “Ode to Adversity”).

  35. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 13:23

    Everyone, I added an update. See if that helps.

  36. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 13:32

    Mark and Frances, I normally stay out of disputes between commenters. I should have done so here. I was probably a bit unfair to both of you as I had not examined all of the back and forth.

  37. Gravatar of 123 123
    8. December 2013 at 13:32

    Scott, it is possible to make an accusation that the first paragraph is not politically correct.

    Which may be the Kaminska’s reaction: “Anonymous, when I originally read that post I wasn’t offended and didn’t think too much of it, because I interpreted the same way as you did. But then I clicked on the link that he directed people to, which was unfortunately much more offensive, and I felt that his post was in a sense legitimising the idea that I could be a phoney. So all I wanted to do in this post was straighten out that I’ve never pretended to be anything other than what I am.” ( http://dizzynomics.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/the-market-monetarists-and-me/comment-page-1/#comment-949 )

    I have no idea or advice what to do when you write something that somebody may think is not politically correct.

  38. Gravatar of Andrew Burton Andrew Burton
    8. December 2013 at 13:34

    Scott at 12:51:

    When someone says “X will probably happen” or “there is a good chance Y will occur,” different people will give different quantitative probability assignments to the (non-quantitative) phrases “probably” and “there is a good chance.”

    I work in the field of decision analysis, and I also teach awareness and specialized classes in the subject. One thing we try to get across to managers and teams is that the general English language leads to all kinds of misapprehensions, so actually making decisions on large investments is best made with quantitative probability assignments, and careful conversations about those assignments (and the reasons they could be wrong).

    After the first paragraph, the rest of the blog post was a general (and interesting) discussion of the difficulty of communicating clearly among knowledgeable people. However, you didn’t mention Ms Kaminska after the first paragraph (for example, you might have written (“Z is a tricky subject to understand, but I’ve found Kaminska’s post on [date] helpful here”).

    So you think “huh, I didn’t write anything critical of Ms Kaminska after paragraph 1.” The rest of us think “because he didn’t write anything more supportive after paragraph 1, the chances he does think she’s a phony are higher, not lower.”

    And, as a general rule, when a number of people suggest you may have written something more clearly, a response along the lines of “oops, I could have been clearer” could help more than “how could I be so misunderstood.” But there’s an old line of J K Galbraith’s: “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, most people get started on the proof.”

  39. Gravatar of Colin Lewis Colin Lewis
    8. December 2013 at 13:43

    Please note Krugman once said “The always interesting Izabella Kaminska…” http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/britains-gap-trap/ and I totally agree

  40. Gravatar of Wimivo Wimivo
    8. December 2013 at 13:43

    How can someone possibly read “The lazy way out would be to assume that Kaminska is a phony.” and actually interpret this as an insult or accusation? Calling it “the lazy way out” is essentially calling it wrong.

    I am continually disappointed in how many econ people are drama queens.

  41. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 13:47

    123, It’s interesting that Ms. Kaminska didn’t think my post was insulting until she read something I linked to. That seems odd, as I was implicitly criticizing the link. I guess she thought I was agreeing with those who thought she was a phony. In any case, I’ll have to clear things up with her.

    Andrew, Those are fair points. But consider:

    1. At the time I wrote the rebuttal 100% of the reactions I had received disagreed with Noah Smith. Now I see there were others who agreed, and so I accept your point.

    2. Now we learn that Ms. Kaminska herself didn’t have any problem until she read a link, and (wrongly) though I was agreeing with the link. Surely that counts for something, as the paragraph itself did not bother her.

    3. I was (and am) extremely angry with Noah Smith. As I said I have no problem with being criticized in the way that you have done. But when I tell someone what I was trying to say and they basically call me a liar (by implication) I get really angry. So that explains the post–it was a response to Noah Smith.

  42. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    8. December 2013 at 13:47

    Frances Coppola,
    The point is that Scott had absolutely nothing to do with any of my comments on Izabella Kaminska’s writings in that thread. They were in direct response to comments by you.

    I gladly stand by all the things I said in that thread. Furthermore I am incredulous that FT thinks her economics writings add anything of value other than a chuckle.

    You can quote me on that as well.

  43. Gravatar of James in London James in London
    8. December 2013 at 13:47

    When you are in a hole, stop digging.

    I don’t understand IK either and gave up reading her a long while ago. She’s a bit like Durden.

    Would you say Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge is a phony, he (she?) doesn’t even use his (her) own name ;-)

  44. Gravatar of 123 123
    8. December 2013 at 13:52

    Scott,
    so basically she is saying you are defending her not in a politically-correct way, and that is bad, but at first she did not realize you were not politically-correct.

  45. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    8. December 2013 at 13:53

    Scott, sorry. Not all of the comments I quoted were addressed to me.

  46. Gravatar of Noah Smith Noah Smith
    8. December 2013 at 13:55

    *blasts psychic power in all directions, detonating heads left and right*

    BLAMMO!!! SPADOW!!! BOOSH!!!

  47. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    8. December 2013 at 13:58

    Mark,

    The point is that you claimed only to have said you did not understand her, when the truth is that you had made several comments ridiculing her. That, sir, is dishonest.

  48. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    8. December 2013 at 14:03

    I’ve never read Kaminska’s writings, but considering the style of rhetoric from many of the posters here, I am pretty sure she tends towards the “austerity/deflation/Austrian/free market” side of things…

  49. Gravatar of 123 123
    8. December 2013 at 14:03

    Scott,
    here is Kaminska’s recent tweet:

    “Agreed. But given Sumner’s follow up, am gonna give him benefit of doubt that it was just a bit of miscommunication.”
    https://twitter.com/izakaminska/status/409801654679003136

  50. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    8. December 2013 at 14:09

    Geoff, you couldn’t be more wrong!

  51. Gravatar of Mark A. Sadowski Mark A. Sadowski
    8. December 2013 at 14:25

    Francis Coppolia,
    “The point is that you claimed only to have said you did not understand her, when the truth is that you had made several comments ridiculing her. That, sir, is dishonest.”

    I don’t know her personally so I don’t know her well enough to ridicule her should I choose to. I know her writings and that is what I find truly ridiculous.

    My initial comment in this thread was not intended to be dishonest. I was trying to respond to three things said about me at once. I hope the record has been set straight and I encourage everyone to read what I have written on how I find Izabella Kaminska’s writings to be totally incomprehensible.

    P.S. For someone of which Noah Smith said “whoever that is” there seems to be an awful amount of concern on twitter and in the blogosphereabout what Mark A. Sadowski thinks about the writings of Izabella Kaminska. Awesome.

  52. Gravatar of Gordon Gordon
    8. December 2013 at 14:27

    Clearly expressing one’s meaning in written communication is much more difficult than most people realize. One problem is that people will write as if they’re speaking out loud to their audience. The tone of their voice is clear in their imagination when they write but that doesn’t mean it will be clear to those reading their words.

    Another problem is that people don’t express their underlying ideas and assumptions that led to the statements they make in their writing. If the audience is familiar with the mindset and beliefs of the writer then it’s not a problem. But, too often, writers forget that they are addressing an audience that knows very little about them or their beliefs.

    A third problem is that the audience can bring their own biases to how they interpret the meaning of the writers. The challenge to the writer then is to choose a set of sentences, words, and phrases that minimize the possibility for audience bias to lead to misinterpretation.

  53. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    8. December 2013 at 14:32

    Izzy DEFINITELY IS UNDERSTANDABLE.

    Izzy definitely is wrong. And she is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. And it is a hoot.

    Izzy won’t talk to me because I understand her and say directly to her face why she is wrong, and she literally responds that she doesn’t want my future../

    She doesn’t argue her can WIN, she just says she doesn’t like mine. So there.

    See DIZZY and I AGREE – we AGREE 95%, and the last 5% is all that matter.

    Her entire effort is REALLY LEISURE.

    Her blog was TOWARDS A LEISURE SOCIETY.

    And DIZZY, guess what??? That ain’t NEVER HAPPENING. And you saying so makes you sound silly.

    This is her today:

    “First I’d just like to say I feel much of the misunderstanding comes from the fact that market monetarists tend to ignore the influence of shadow banking and market plumbing in the monetary world. I also think (especially from my conversation with Lars Christensen) that they ignore technological disruption, and the influence this has on wealth distribution and purchasing decisions amongst the wealthy, banks and corporates. Also, as I outlined in the post, my view is slightly different to Williamson’s, it’s based mostly on the scarcity of safe assets and how this can magnify hoarding instincts and fragment store-of-value markets, in a Gresham’s law kind of way. Expectations obviously factor into it, and I think Williamson is absolutely right on that front. But personally I don’t think it’s anything to do with temporary or permanent money expansion expectations. IMO It’s much more about risk expectations, which can — if momentum builds — shift very very quickly, making something deflationary, inflationary very quickly. Though, that doesn’t mean I am worried about inflation (largely because I suspect we may have reached an important productivity inflection point ).”

    Yes Dizzy we HAVE reached that point….

    The top 20% are going to make MORE of the GDP

    The bottom 80% are going to make less.

    And the cost of digital things is going to zero.

    And the cost of atomic things is gong to $1 per pound.

    —-

    AND NONE OF IT means that the bottom 80% are going to get to sit on their asses, they are all going to be on the hook to work like the rest.

    AND IF DIZZY wasn’t so afraid, she’d go long ina debate with your truly on why that is….

    SHORT ANSWER, she’ll never refute:

    Because hegemony wants it that way.

    The quantitative answer is that making the bottom 80% keep working increases consumption amongst the bottom 80%

    DIZZY doesn’t get that the ghetto deserves yoga lessons and handymen they can afford with the GI we give them.

    That’s WHY we will always make people CHOOSE A BOSS.

    ——

    But know this, DIZZY HAS A GOAL, and all her Econ goes to that goal.

    And her goal is truly incomprehensible.

    Keynes was wrong. There will never be a leisure society.

    —–

    The thing is, DIZZY is intellectually able, and if she was told by god, “everybody will have to work for their fellow man in a private setting”

    Overnight DIZZY would adopt GI / CYB.

    As the guy who watches every mention of basic income, guaranteed income that occurs everywhere, the goal of most of them is to END WORK.

    And ending work is immoral.

  54. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    8. December 2013 at 14:44

    Morgan Warstler,

    Actually you don’t watch every mention of basic income, or you would know that the goal of most of them is to make work fulfilling and enjoyable, not to end it. It’s a dream.

    Izzy has been a supporter of basic income for some time now. But you don’t read her work any more, do you? or you would know that.

  55. Gravatar of Ram Ram
    8. December 2013 at 14:45

    I insult other people routinely in my personal life, as I’m sure everyone else does. There’s nothing outrageous about saying that you find Kaminska’s writing difficult to penetrate. On the other hand, what does saying that in a forum like this accomplish? You haven’t explained what it is that you have trouble understanding. And yet here your comment is, for the world to see, a world that includes Kaminska. There’s not much she can do in response, since you haven’t identified what’s unclear to you. She just learns that you think she’s incomprehensible, and if you wouldn’t be insulted to find out that someone you respect finds you incomprehensible, you’re an unusual sort. And of course, many people who read you will now spread the word that she has nothing useful to say (after all, it’s pretty hard to say something useful if no one can understand it).

    Seems to me you could just not say it, and if you actually feel like there’s some loss because you don’t understand her, point out what specifically you don’t understand, and maybe she’ll make some effort to bridge the divide. Otherwise, I don’t know that your comment serves any useful purpose in a forum like this (where the purpose, presumably, is to think out loud about monetary policy, etc.).

    A good test is to ask yourself whether the post would have the same intellectual content if you dropped that sentence. I think in this case it would have, your caveats that she’s not a phony notwithstanding.

  56. Gravatar of Ram Ram
    8. December 2013 at 14:51

    Easier said than done, to be sure. I’ve probably insulted people in comments past without thinking about it. But if I did, I regret that, so long as what was thought to be insulting was not constructive. You can’t please everyone all of the time, and we all are tempted to do in public from time to time what we regularly do in private, but if I substituted myself into your passage about Kaminska, I know I would be insulted and I wouldn’t know how to address your complaint. So this seems like a good opportunity to apologize, whether insult was intended or not. And if you want to stand by your view that her writing is unintelligible, maybe pick a specific section of a piece by her and explain why you can’t comprehend it.

  57. Gravatar of Mark_H Mark_H
    8. December 2013 at 14:59

    If a person’s medium of choice limits him to 140 characters, then trite buzzwordy responses are pretty much guaranteed by design.

    Perhaps too much time on Twitter makes people stop reading articles after 140 characters and head straight for the comment section?

  58. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 15:13

    Philippe, In your view what’s the key point there?

    Gordon. All good points.

    Morgan, Do you realize that by using idiotic terms like “Dizzy” you are putting your own ego ahead of your desire for meaningful political change. You will just turn off people you are trying to impress.

    Ram, Yes, in retrospect I should not have mentioned her name. I thought the context of the entire post would make my point clearer, that even some of my fellow monetarists weren’t able to understand the argument I was making. It seems like different people took the post in different ways. If I had known that I would have written it differently. Obviously I feel bad about any distress I caused Ms. Kaminska, I did not realize that fact when I wrote this post (which was directed in a fit of anger against Noah Smith.)

  59. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    8. December 2013 at 15:34

    @Gordon

    “One problem is that people will write as if they’re speaking out loud to their audience.”

    I would amend that to “people will write (or speak) as if they are speaking out loud to themselves.”

    The real problem of communication (assuming the speaker/writer actually understands what he or she is trying to convey, which is another matter) is a lack of empathy with the audience. The problem is precisely that they are speaking to themselves rather than the intended audience. They assume the audience has the same knowledge, shares the same definitions, etc, that the writer does in his or her own mind. Let’s call that an egocentric predicament.

    It is especially the job of a journalist such as Ms Kaminksa to avoid this fundamental problem. And, if I am advised, such as another commenter here ostensibly defending her on the prior post did, that to understand her one should speak to a Treasury Manager of an institutional investor, then this is as damning praise of a journalist as I could imagine. I find this to be a fundamental problem with writing about economics generally, and the problem is not limited to journalists, so we shouldn’t just be picking on her—it is a problem of the entire economics profession and is in fact an area that Scott Sumner has previously admitted he can improve on (as can we all).

    The problem with the original post, I think, is that Scott gave the unintended impression (to some) that this was solely about Ms Kaminska rather than those who write about economics generally; but, I think the post as a whole should probably have dissuaded that notion. Nevertheless, it is tragically a bit ironic that a post about miscommunication ends up mis-communicating.

  60. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    8. December 2013 at 15:41

    Frances:

    Well, there are always exceptions to every rule.

  61. Gravatar of Philippe Philippe
    8. December 2013 at 15:41

    Scott,

    “Philippe, In your view what’s the key point there?”

    The government was basically running a budget deficit equal to 78% of GDP, and the central bank was paying 900% interest on reserves .

  62. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    8. December 2013 at 15:52

    Scott, relax, she blogs as Dizzy:

    http://dizzynomics.wordpress.com/

    And I frankly think some of this all is sexist.

    If you had made same claim about another guy, Noah would have magically read it correctly.

    Frances,

    No I read ALL OF IT. And if you were more open minded, and more HONEST about the discussion, you’d simply respond to my real point.

    WORK IS REQUIRED. Hopefully fulfilling, not no matter what, REQUIRED.

    And on Izzy, I know exactly what her position is.

    Mine is:

    Work can be fulfilling.

    And more than any other, I max it out – I literally let people have their DREAM JOB if they can get ANYONE to pay them $40 per week.

    BUT Frances, WORKING FOR OTHER PEOPLE PRIVATELY IS REQUIRED.

    And since we’re so close together, you’d think the Basic Income people would LOVE me putting forward a plan.

    I got Scott, Waldman, Rorty, hell Kimball, along with a slew of other more conservatives.

    And you know what?

    The basic income guys by and large get very nervous about how “work requirement”

    So Frances, please let’s move the debate forward…

    IF TO GET GI DONE, WORKING “full time” for private citizens IS REQUIRED, will you come out and support it?

    It’s a very simple question, I will be very thankful if you give me an answer and a reason.

  63. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    8. December 2013 at 17:48

    Philippe. Yes, when you get into that sort of hyperinflation the root cause is often the monetization of deficit spending.

    The only exception I know of is a collapse of money demand due to a government losing power via war or revolution.

    James, I better not offer any more opinions today.

    Morgan, When I was young, calling someone a dizzy blonde was an insult. So once again I may have misinterpreted. I’m doing that a lot today.

  64. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    8. December 2013 at 17:59

    But you haven’t, Morgan. How do I know that? Because one of the people who has written – quite extensively, actually – about basic income and its relationship to work, is me. And by your own admission you don’t read what I write. So you really can’t claim to have read ALL the output on basic income.

    This is Scott’s site, and by trying to engage me in a discussion on something so completely off topic you are abusing his hospitality. So no, I’m not going to answer your question here. Email me via my website if you want an answer.

  65. Gravatar of Mike Sax Mike Sax
    8. December 2013 at 18:19

    The irony is Scott is while a number of things you’ve said I’ve found insulting I didn’t find your comment about Isabella Kaminska insulting-I thought it was clear that you were not insulting her but the opposite.

    So maybe in part what’s insulting is in the eye of the beholder.

    Now when you say that ‘you’re not entitled to your opinon’-that I Find insulting as I feel that’s entirely undemocratic.

  66. Gravatar of Philippe Philippe
    8. December 2013 at 18:45

    Scott,

    “Yes, when you get into that sort of hyperinflation the root cause is often the monetization of deficit spending.”

    You said before that that is what the US has been doing with QE – i.e. monetizing government deficits. Here’s you quoting me and then responding:

    “Philippe, You said;

    ‘If the [US] government increased its budget deficit by printing notes and spending them then the situation would be different.’

    That’s what they did. Except they printed reserves, not notes.”

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=25132#comment-299865

    If the US has been monetizing its deficits via QE, what is the difference with Zimbabwe?

  67. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    8. December 2013 at 18:52

    Frances, I’m sure Scott would like to see your reply, but I sent you email as you requested.

  68. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    8. December 2013 at 18:54

    Sax, you are right, no thinking person would misread it.

    AGAIN, is Scott had said same thing about Nick, or Williamson, or you or whoever…

    Noah wouldn’t get one his horse.

    Noah has a low opinion of women.

  69. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    8. December 2013 at 19:31

    Philippe:

    “If the US has been monetizing its deficits via QE, what is the difference with Zimbabwe?”

    Size of deficit and quantity of deficits monetized.

  70. Gravatar of Dustin Dustin
    8. December 2013 at 19:33

    ssumner,
    Kudos for the update apology. Very public and very clear. At first this post left me a little uneasy as the 2nd time in almost as many weeks wherein you basically asked readers to do a better job of understanding your meaning. I am confident (hopeful!) that your self critical buck-stops-here tone will resonate with those whom you hold a position of great intellectual influence.

  71. Gravatar of Noah Smith Noah Smith
    8. December 2013 at 20:17

    Scott – thanks.

    Everyone whose heads I detonated – sorry. I get carried away sometimes.

    *uses psychic powers to reassemble commenters’ heads*

  72. Gravatar of Dustin Dustin
    8. December 2013 at 20:24

    Noah Smith,

    “Also, Mark A. Sadowski, whoever that is, your are one rude bwoy…please detonate your head.”

    “Whoever that is”
    “Boy”

    This is all distinctly uncivil, demeaning language that I cannot reconcile with the ridicule you have directed toward Scott.

  73. Gravatar of kebko kebko
    8. December 2013 at 22:16

    I agree that Scott could have avoided Noah’s ire with a brief addendum to the original post. Something at the end that might help justify any seeming uncivility. Something like:
    “posted on December 8, 2013, by P. Krugman.”

  74. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    9. December 2013 at 02:03

    Why bother watching “As The World Turns” reruns…

  75. Gravatar of Jon Jon
    9. December 2013 at 03:56

    Maybe I’m off base here, but I tend to think that if you say “The lazy way out is to do X,” you’re saying people should *not* do X.

  76. Gravatar of emerich emerich
    9. December 2013 at 04:53

    One of the pleasures of reading Scott Sumner is that unlike so many other bloggers he doesn’t constantly resort to denigrating and bashing others. Actually, never.

  77. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    9. December 2013 at 05:17

    Wow, this debate. First a agree that the addendum would be better. I also did not understand the comment about phony exactly the same way – at least on my first reading and without going through Nick’s post.

    But putting un-civility aside, there is much more important matter here. Is Williamson right or wrong. Does QE cause inflation or deflation. This is immensely important. And it does not deserve to be turned into hurt feeling blame exchange. Plus I think Noah is not playing this one clean. And now what follows is pure speculation so I Noah is free to detonate my head or other body parts or whatever.

    The point being that reading Noah’s original post where he supports Williamson it does not seem to be about Noah supporting Williamson’s idea per se, Noah does not seemed to have particularly strong opinion on matters at hand which probably means he did not think those things through before. However there is this passage in the end:

    “Sure, I know that Williamson (2012) and Williamson (2013) have different sets of assumptions, and that’s why their conclusions are so opposite. But how does Williamson expect us to tell which set of assumptions corresponds to the real world, and which is just fantasy-fun-land? The papers, of course, offer no guidance, which is utterly normal for macroeconomics. A million thought experiments, and no way to tell which one to use. Is this science, or is this math-assisted daydreaming?”

    So am I the only one to be perplexed by Noah’s strong defense of Kaminska when here he all but said that the whole macro field is phony? Truth to be told after reading some unanswered Nick’s posts about New Keynesian models I tend to be sympathetic with this position, but I do not see Noah proposing anything else in return.

  78. Gravatar of Nick Rowe Nick Rowe
    9. December 2013 at 05:25

    What I find very ironic is that anybody should have failed to understand Scott’s very clear previous post.

    I read Izabella Kaminska’s post on QE twice, trying to understand it. I think that those who misread Scott’s post did not read it even once.

    Izabella says “Nick Rowe is particularly annoyed too.”

    I wasn’t, but I am now (though not at her). There is a double standard at work here, both in terms of reading comprehension and in terms of complaints about civility.

  79. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    9. December 2013 at 05:27

    PS: And I have to add that I also find Isabela Kaminska unintelligible. Let’s have this paragraph as an example where she says what Market Monetarists have wrong:

    “First I’d just like to say I feel much of the misunderstanding comes from the fact that market monetarists tend to ignore the influence of shadow banking and market plumbing in the monetary world. I also think (especially from my conversation with Lars Christensen) that they ignore technological disruption, and the influence this has on wealth distribution and purchasing decisions amongst the wealthy, banks and corporates. Also, as I outlined in the post, my view is slightly different to Williamson’s, it’s based mostly on the scarcity of safe assets and how this can magnify hoarding instincts and fragment store-of-value markets, in a Gresham’s law kind of way. Expectations obviously factor into it, and I think Williamson is absolutely right on that front. But personally I don’t think it’s anything to do with temporary or permanent money expansion expectations. IMO It’s much more about risk expectations, which can — if momentum builds — shift very very quickly, making something deflationary, inflationary very quickly. Though, that doesn’t mean I am worried about inflation (largely because I suspect we may have reached an important productivity inflection point ).”

    So what do we have here? Shadow banking, technological disruption, wealth redistribution, scarcity of safe assets all in one paragraph. And next paragraph contains additional keywords, the most hip being “secular stagnation” that cannot be solved by “NGDP targeting” and then we have something or other about “endogenous nature of money expansion”

    Wow, if anybody wanted to prove that he is well versed in reading all the recent debates by ability to put as many hip keywords into as little space as possible he would not make it better than Isabela Kaminska in these two paragraphs. Honestly I start to feel why the first idea that came to Nick’s mind was Sokal hoax. It is not that Kaminska is phony, she is more of a victim here. She may go about producing paragraphs with rate of fire of 600 keywords per paragraph and she will not only be fine, many people will find her as interesting – exactly because it will be like Roschach test and they will find what they like in the text.

  80. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    9. December 2013 at 05:43

    “it’s based mostly on the scarcity of safe assets and how this can magnify hoarding instincts and fragment store-of-value markets, in a Gresham’s law kind of way.”

    I also don’t know what that paragraph is talking about (well, other than it’s her view) but I really don’t see how Gresham’s law could be relevant in the absence of an official exchange rate. Then again, I don’t know what a “Gresham’s law kind of way” would be in almost any context.

    Might I suggest that there is a problem with expressing some very complex and distinctive theories in brief journalistic posts? The expression of any idea becomes unintelligible if it’s condensed too much.

  81. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    9. December 2013 at 06:15

    Scott, I have no reason for suspecting Kaminska is a phony, but you go too far in your retraction, because ‘un-phoniness’ does not imply that she “presumably has valuable things to say.” Note- I’m agnostic on the subject, but I do find her writing hard to follow.

    For the record, I like your edge- everybody in the debate should be rocking big boy pants.

    Also, when Noah calls Mark rude, and then, without missing a beat, suggests he detonates his head, well, this suggests to me a certain lack of self-awareness.

  82. Gravatar of dlr dlr
    9. December 2013 at 06:34

    Baffling episode. Unfortunately Noah’s (normally a smart, civil writer) wildly unfair moment of petulance towards Scott got in the way of a real conversation from happening here. It would actually be interesting to see a substantive dialogue trying to untangle and translate some of Kaminska’s macro-oriented pieces. I read her regularly, and find that she uncovers a lot of interesting angles in financial markets and does a really nice job presenting the gritty institutional details that are often hidden in the trenches of dealer and CB desks. They are not easy to write about, almost nobody does, and she does it well. But as someone with a pretty decent handle on this part of the world (ignorance of which is often argued to be the reason some people don’t understand her), I also find many of her macroeconomic ideas incoherent.

    This admittedly is maybe a little insulting. Who wants to be incoherent? But only a little; she’s still way better than average at what she does, and she’s not really a macroeconomist. And maybe I’m wrong, in which case she can do a better job communicating to some people, even people who do understand both tri-party repos and Michael Woodford, in this corner of her writing.

  83. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    9. December 2013 at 07:08

    You know, after people sell bonds to the Fed, can’t they just spend the money? Consumption? Increased demand?

  84. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. December 2013 at 07:10

    Philippe, Three differences with Zimbabwe.

    1. They did much more than we did.

    2. They did not pay IOR.

    3. Our QE is temporary, or else will be made permanent via higher IOR.

    Everyone, I’ve said all I am going to say on the Kaminska post. Time to move on.

  85. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    9. December 2013 at 08:03

    I know that you all would rather have this behind you, but I am angry right now. I went to Kaminska response to Market Monetarists, where she writes “Thank you” replys to most disgusting post full of hate on Scott, Nick and all market monetarists.

    Then there is a link to DeLong who runs a tirade how Kaminska is smart and how everybody he knows almost always know what she wants to say etc. Noah smith quickly seconds it in comments. Now I did not see one comment from Brad about how “everybody” understood what Kaminska wanted to say in this particular instance. To be honest what is happening right now is outright disgusting.

    PS: I am waiting for Smith and Delong to express their righteous fury when it will be John Cochrane who spurts nonsense next time and gets hammered by Krugman. Or is it all right to say nasty things to Cochrane because he is folower of evil Freshwater cult set to destroy the world while anybody on the “right side” spurting nonsense (like Stiglitz sometimes) is always smart and interesting and good person who just happens to be slightly incorrect in this particular topic while being stellar and worthy of praise in everything else?

    PPS: I left some comments on Kaminska and DeLong blogs still “awaiting moderation” – which may explain why there are only confirming comments there. Which is not particularly related but somehow fits the picture.

    PPPS: Interesting how DeLong jumps to defense of Kaminska while being completely silent on for instance what Nick Rowe says about New-Keynesian modelling. I understand that he is smart and all that, but if he has time for patronizing nonsense like this maybe he should find time to engage into honest discussion on how he thinks NK model works. I would immediately forget all anything else he may said against MM.

    And yes, I really am angry. Sorry for venting of here.

  86. Gravatar of jj jj
    9. December 2013 at 08:05

    I admire the clarity and restraint of Scott’s writing. I can barely get my point across in the occasional 1-paragraph comment.

    I wouldn’t know how to calibrate my writing to the wide audience of the internet. You have the young and old, thoughtful and rash, ornery and indulgent, “team players” on both sides, and there’s always a small group who are bound and determined to attack no matter what you say.

    I do find that Noah sometimes comes across as quick to judge, not just in this instance. (see how I couched my judgement in not one but three weasel terms? Does that make me a better or worse communicator?)

  87. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    9. December 2013 at 08:35

    Is this actually Noah Smith commenting on this thread?

    If so, the only rational way I can reconcile his behavior and his criticism is that he thinks civility itself is a sham and is pointing out that in his opinion Scott, like Noah himself, lives in a glass house.

    If Noah meant to say that civility was both desireable and attainable and that Scott was falling short, and if he even impulsively acted the way he apparently had on the thread, then I’m just baffled.

  88. Gravatar of Ronan Fitzgerald Ronan Fitzgerald
    9. December 2013 at 10:42

    I guess a few things to take from this episode:

    (1) of course the ‘phony’ comment was meant to be offensive. It’s mealy mouthed for sure (ie SS wouldnt explicitely say it, just imply that IK was phoney) But who cares? IK obvioulsy seems not to particularly, which brings us to two..

    (2)Noah Smith is a serious concern troll. Jesus Noah get a grip

    (3) Personally, I find IK a more interesting writer than SS, who obviously knows his stuff tehnically but outside of that small box of specialisation is quite meh.

    (4) Morgan W is losing it completly

  89. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    9. December 2013 at 12:19

    Jesus, have I had a day trying to chat with Frances. It’s like ten emails back and forth and NOTHING NEW came from it.

    I’m telling you, there is either nothing there, or she is outright opaque on purpose.

    From the get go, I keep trying to get down to a single question, I asked above:

    IF the only way to get GI done is with a work requirement – where work is defined as something another private citizen person will pay you for, will she support it to get us to a GI system?

    I learned in no particular order:

    1. She used to have to write her blog for free.

    2. She considers the time spent doing that work.

    3. There is no distinction in her mind between when someone else valued her writing enough to pay her their own money for it, and when no one would pay her for it.

    4. She REFUSES to answer a thought experiment, since she doesn’t believe the choice is binary. I keep trying to explain, thats what a thought experiment does, but she’s having none of it.

    5. She thinks the UK’s current wage subsidy system is somehow relevant to my GI / CYB plan.

    6. She’s not particularly concerned with how soon we actually get to a GI, at least as I understand it.

    7. She also says this: “But I accept that politically there may be a need to create some kind of “work requirement”. I can live with that as long as it doesn’t restrict people’s work choices.”

    But she defines work as “doing whatever you want” – meaning if someone decides they want to become a porn star, poker player, writer, they can practice at home on their own for years and years receiving GI, never having to work for anyone else’s benefit, if it feels like work to the “worker” it is work- as I understand it.

    All in all, after 20+ emails I still do not have the answer to the question I asked above.

    It’s very hard to take the Guaranteed Income movement seriously.

  90. Gravatar of Frances Coppola Frances Coppola
    9. December 2013 at 12:25

    Scott, my apologies. I did not expect Morgan to place that comment here. Clearly it has nothing whatsoever to do with you or your post.

  91. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    9. December 2013 at 12:42

    If you squint at it, I think it might be topical.

    Nick notes:

    “There is a double standard at work here, both in terms of reading comprehension and in terms of complaints about civility.”

    Agreed.

    Frances, I spent all day trying to COMPREHEND YOUR POSITION, you accused me of not reading it, and since I do read your stuff, and I STILL haven’t ever figured out, the question I asked:

    “IF TO GET GI DONE, WORKING “full time” for private citizens IS REQUIRED, will you come out and support it?

    It’s a very simple question, I will be very thankful if you give me an answer and a reason.”

    And you said email you, so I did, and I have a LONG email chain where you never answer the question.

    HOW CAN I COMPREHEND YOUR THINKING, IF YOU WON”T ANSWER QUESTION?

    It’s not a trick.

    I didn’t say “Have you stopped beating your wife, Senator”

    I asked, “hey Frances, “If to get GI passed, CYB was required, would you be in favor of it? would you judge it to be better than status quo?”

    And I still do not know that answer.

    It’s a fair question.

  92. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    9. December 2013 at 12:45

    Sorry to butt in here because it is really none of my business. But, I’m going to say it anyway.

    I was about to post a message that I felt I was reading someone else’s mail and it didn’t feel right to me unless Francis had authorized it (which I thought unlikely particularly since I recall she requested that discussion be taken offline). I had that on the back burner to think about it, but now that Frances has confirmed she didn’t authorize public disclosure, *I* feel the need to apologize,

    I’m sure Morgan intended no harm, but in this case, I think etiquette has been violated. Frances, sorry for opening the mail. It was an accident.

  93. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    9. December 2013 at 14:01

    Not me,

    She told me she’d answer, I spent a day pull hair trying to get an answer and at the end of it, she still pulled away the football.

    Imma definitely gonna call her out on it.

    She will not answer the simplest question and yet asks as if she’s totally understandable.

    And Vivian note, I quoted a sentence. And even then, you are right, I should have distilled it somehow into my own words.

  94. Gravatar of Vivian Darkbloom Vivian Darkbloom
    9. December 2013 at 14:13

    Morgan,

    I’ve noted that. But, I didn’t focus on the quote, but the extensive recap of your private discussions. I think it was inappropriate, among other reasons, because she specifically requested that the discussion be taken off line. You’ve not only not respected that, but have now put her in the position that if she wants to rebut your version or defend herself in this “audience” she’s got to come back here to do so.

    I don’t want to sound like Noah, but I’ve given this some serious thought and I’m comfortable with my take on the matter. Nevertheless, like I said, it’s none of my business, so I’ll let you deal with it as you see fit. I guess you’ve already done that.

    Cheers.

  95. Gravatar of TESC TESC
    9. December 2013 at 15:25

    Dr. Sumner,

    Your post is one of the greatest post highlighting the difficulties of intellectual exchange in economics. Macroeconomics is so vast that every macroeconomic school can develop an entire dialect independent of other macroeconomists. Assuming they talk the same dialect, when they interact they do not understand each other, so they end up calling each other names.

    It is sad that people did not get it, I guess it was easier to feel offended.

    Great post

  96. Gravatar of Daniel J Daniel J
    9. December 2013 at 15:33

    Take it easy guys, Ms. Kaminska and Scott cleared the air and Noah reassembled everyone’s heads. Let’s talk about wage subsidies now.

  97. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    9. December 2013 at 16:14

    Vivian, pause. Let’s note Frances passive aggressive squirrel language.

    She didn’t say she wanted to be “private” she wanted to say that it wasn’t the topic of the thread.

    She didn’t say I don’t like to discuss my thoughts on your GI / CYB in public, if she had ADMITTED her “I must hide my thoughts” she’d sound like a crazy woman. (and she may very well be)

    This is not her requesting a off the record discussion. I was hunting her, and she was using an excuse:

    “This is Scott’s site, and by trying to engage me in a discussion on something so completely off topic you are abusing his hospitality. So no, I’m not going to answer your question here. Email me via my website if you want an answer.”

    If she had said OUT LOUD, she was a precious little flower, THEN you would right, I should, and would have kept quiet.

    Frankly, I am at the point where I think she’s truly incomprehensible.

    She’s running around yelling about GI in the blogosphere, like she is informed on subject matter, I have clearly the most detailed plan, and I can’t get her to even say if she’d prefer it to what we have today – 30M unemployed.

    And I don’t know you personally, but I’m positive you’d have no problem talking to someone the way I have been asking her to talk to me.

  98. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. December 2013 at 18:08

    JV, Calm down, it’s a given DeLong will do things like that. Indeed he probably doesn’t even realize my post agrees with his view that lots of people understand Kaminska perfectly well. For instance Tyler Cowen, who is obviously no phony. This whole debate is beyond idiotic. I wonder if anyone actually understands what I was trying to say in the post (yes, it’s my fault they didn’t, I accept that.)

    Maybe Keynesians are bitter because they know that 2013 was a disaster for the Keynesian model. Krugman said it was going to be a test of MM, assuming we’d lose, and we won. That’s got to be a bitter pill to swallow if your whole life is devoted to Keynesianism

    Morgan, whenever I go away you seem to go wild. Can you try to be more POLITE. It’s not that hard. I already have too few female readers as it is. I have enough problems on my hand without have rogue commenters screwing things up.

    Other commenters, try to ignore Morgan’s language. He thinks he’s being funny, it’s not personal.

    Don’t have time to answer all comments today, sorry if I missed something important–bring it up later.

  99. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    9. December 2013 at 23:34

    For what it’s worth, Scott, had I not known your personality and style I would’ve assumed you were hitting her pretty hard. Imagine Krugman saying of a Republican economist, “The easy way out would be to assume he doesn’t really care about the welfare of black people, but let’s look at the logic of his case.” That would clearly be a swipe by Krugman, not an affirmation that the guy WASN’T a racist.

    You may remember that I totally misunderstood a similar move you made a couple of weeks ago about Noah Smith on the super-God. I thought you were being snarky and criticizing him, when (apparently) you were being serious.

    Not sure what the moral is here; maybe too many of us are sarcastic and so we attribute it to everyone? But, I’m surprised that you are surprised at the reaction you’re getting. It reminds me when Landsburg gets into trouble…

  100. Gravatar of jj jj
    10. December 2013 at 06:24

    Bob, I would not take your Krugman hypothetical as a swipe. Nor did I think Scott was taking a swipe.

    These kind of misunderstandings are simply inevitable due to the nature of writing to a varied audience. I put 90% of the burden on the reader to make sure they’re correctly understanding the writer before taking offense.

  101. Gravatar of JohnB JohnB
    10. December 2013 at 07:04

    Her writing is based on pop culture and trendy references with no grounding in economic theory. As exhibit A,

    http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2013/12/06/1715892/the-hubble-bubble-theory-of-the-continuous-expansion-of-the-financial-universe/

    She always wants to write something interesting or trendy or new without having any type of coherent framework for looking at the world. This isn’t unusual in journalism, in fact it’s the norm and you can make a pretty good living at it. See Thomas Friedman.

  102. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    10. December 2013 at 15:00

    Bob, I did a post. Regarding the Krugman hypothetical, I’d have to see the rest of the post for context, but I do understand there can be implied criticism when there is no literal criticism, as I mentioned in this post.

    JJ, I like that percentage!!

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