2001: A blogging odyssey

That’s right, this is my 2001st post.  Many of the early posts were quite long, and hence there are over 3000 pages of single-spaced material in my Microsoft Word file.  That’s got to be longer than In Search of Lost Time!

A former student of mine named Garrett MacDonald read my entire blog over the winter break between semesters.  And he actually wrote summaries of about 300 posts.  I include the link here, an case anyone wants to skim them in search of a particular post.  I hope to better organize my blog this summer.

I only recently found out about his marathon reading session, and asked him if he noticed any pattern.  In my view the blog has gotten worse over time; when I go back and look at the earlier posts I feel like I’ve lost a step.  The earlier ones seem more thoughtful.  Baseball players max out at age 27.  I’m not sure about bloggers, but it’s clearly younger than 57 (my current age.)

Garrett had a much higher opinion of my blog than I do—he didn’t see any deterioration.  Since he was so positive, I thought I’d include his overall appraisal, even though I think he’s being too kind:

You asked me what I thought of your blog on the whole, so I decided to go through the notes I took over winter break while reading through your posts and here are my main conclusions:

1.       The best thing about your blog is that when you make an argument you back it up in several different ways. You explain the economic theory behind what you’re saying, show how your point is logically consistent, use thought experiments and metaphors to illustrate your ideas, and finally, connect your argument to events in economic history. This last step is the most important to me. You’ve made several posts over the years connecting 2008 to 1929 and 1937 and showing how similar policy mistakes led to similar economic results. Nuanced analysis of economic history with applications to the present is sorely lacking in many sources of opinion on the internet.

2.       I think you’ve really benefited from the diversity of commentary you’ve received over the years. I’m sure it’s been tiring to dismantle the same arguments again and again but by defending your views from so many attacks it really drives the points you’re trying to make home. It also helps to flesh out your posts as people who disagree try to poke holes in your arguments.

3.       Finally, the thing I respect most about you as an intellectual is your consistency. All your ideas and positions on issues are congruent with one another. From your affection for Richard Rorty, to your thoughts on economic development, to what you think fairness in taxation would look like, to politics, to monetary economics, your blog is cohesive in a way that many others in the blogosphere cannot hope to match.

PS. You’ve done a pretty good job over the years of making Krugman, DeLong and a few other bloggers look pretty bad at times. I’m sure this was never really your intention but their posts always felt sloppy to me after reading your stuff. This is especially true during the little skirmishes you all have had. Your position came out looking like the best researched and articulated every time.

BTW, totally unrelated to Garrett’s views on my blog, in my 32 years of teaching he is probably the student who is best qualified to be an investment manager.  Whenever I try to defend the EMH with him, he always blows me out of the water with counterexamples.  He has an uncanny ability to see the bias in other investors.  And yet he also has a healthy respect for market efficiency.  That’s the right balance.

PS.  Now let’s balance this post with some negative overall appraisals in the comment section.  Geoff?


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65 Responses to “2001: A blogging odyssey”

  1. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    9. May 2013 at 11:23

    Awesome sauce!

    Now if we could just get you on a few TV shows where you dismantle arguments against free markets.

  2. Gravatar of Ashok Rao Ashok Rao
    9. May 2013 at 11:42

    For one, no other blog I frequent has quite the same charm of the “Scott-Geoff Kerfuffle”… 😉

  3. Gravatar of John Hall John Hall
    9. May 2013 at 11:42

    I wouldn’t worry too much about your own opinion of your blog’s quality. It’s more important if people who read your blog still get a lot out of it. I do, even when I disagree with you. Nevertheless, you should weigh how much people are influenced by the blog with how much time you spend on it.

  4. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    9. May 2013 at 12:03

    “Now let’s balance this post with some negative overall appraisals in the comment section. Geoff?”

    All I will say is that Rorty’s philosophy is intellectual poison. In his magnum opus, “Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature”, he writes:

    “Hermeneutics sees the relations between various discourses as those of strands in a possible conversation, a conversation which presupposes no disciplinary matrix which unites the speakers, but where the hope of agreement is never lost so long as the conversation lasts. This hope is not a hope for the discovery of antecedently existing common ground, but simply hope for agreement, or, at least, exciting and fruitful disagreement. Epistemology sees the hope of agreement as a token of the existence of common ground which, perhaps unbeknown to the speakers, unites them in common rationality. For hermeneutics, to be rational is to be willing to refrain from epistemology””from thinking that there is a special set of terms in which all contributions to the conversation should be put””and to be willing to pick up the jargon of the interlocutor rather than translating it into one’s own. For epistemology, to be rational is to find the proper set of terms into which all contributions should be translated if agreement is to become possible. For epistemology, conversation is implicit inquiry. For hermeneutics, inquiry is routine conversation…” – pg 318.

    The problem with this view immediately (at least for me) jumps out, when one asks the simple question, “OK, but what then of Rorty’s own pronouncements themselves?”

    If there is nothing like truth based on a common objective ground between Rorty and myself, indeed between all of us humans, then taking his own advice would obligate me to conclude that Rorty isn’t saying anything true.

    Henry Veatch wrote an essay “Deconstruction in Philosophy:
    Has Rorty Made it the Denouement of Contemporary Analytical Philosophy?”, and in it he uses the apt phrase “intellectual permissiveness” to describe Rorty’s philosophy. That about sums up Rortians in a nutshell.

    Rorty reintroduced the age old relativism and skepticism views of the world, this time in the form of denying the hierarchy of concepts, stripping concepts that are actually dependent on each other, away from each other as if they are not, and treating them as abstract verbal units to be arbitrarily manipulated and moved around in an unsystematic, literally chaotic way. That’s what they busy themselves with.

    Rortyism is historically grounded on biblical interpretation by crazy mystics muddled with Hericlitean kaleidoscopic eyes and minds.

    Parasitism feeds in this environment, even of it unintentional by the Rortians. That’s why it is so offputting. Rortianism is useless for not only learning about the world, but also the normative goal of achieving less violence and greater prosperity.

    Just thinking about the fact that his philosophy has been influential, almost makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

  5. Gravatar of jknarr jknarr
    9. May 2013 at 12:04

    I’d suggest that you’ve become more risk-adverse in your views after taking those early blog risks and receiving success. Get back on the intellectual tightrope, stretch beyond first-order NGDP targeting exposition and sundry reactions (to bad-faith pundits), and you’ll feel better about the quality.

  6. Gravatar of Daniel Daniel
    9. May 2013 at 12:09

    Meanwhile in Plosserland…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-09/u-s-stock-futures-little-changed-as-s-p-500-sets-record.html

  7. Gravatar of 123 123
    9. May 2013 at 12:25

    Scott,
    I’m a reader from day one (actually I have started reading when Cowen first linked it, but I immediately read all the preceding posts), and the blog is certainly getting better and better as these days I almost never have a chance to disagree about something in the comments.

  8. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    9. May 2013 at 12:27

    In your blog there’s a lot of repetition over the years, but still, remarkably, there seem to be fresh insights every week. Because of its novelty (to me and, I’m sure, to many of your readers) the earlier stuff had more impact, but the later stuff is very good, too: your fecundity is amazing!

    As for *In Search of Lost Time*: I never got beyond *Swann’s Way*, but I’ve read your whole blog (though not in such a concentrated dose as MacDonald imbibed). My vote has been cast: Sumner over Proust!

  9. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    9. May 2013 at 13:05

    Scott,

    Congratulations! I don’t see any deterioration in quality: your earlier posts were more exciting for me at the time because of how new it all was to me, but I find your later posts easier to follow. In both cases, I suspect it’s more that I’m changing than the effects of your changes in posting style or content.

    Before your blog, I would have never spent an evening like this, looking up whether or not Keynes conceded to the Sumner Critique in 1937. I haven’t got a direct quote from him yet, but it looks like he did on the basis of the secondary literature: in his correspondence with Dennis Robertson after the GT, he concedes to Phillips’s 1933 critique that the bringing into circulation of cash balances by bond-financed deficit spending would result in an increase in interest rates. In other words, if the central bank doesn’t expand the money supply to accomodate the fiscal stimulus, then the fiscal stimulus won’t expand demand; the Treasury View becomes true if the central bank doesn’t accomodate fiscal stimulus with an increase in the money supply.

    In one of the volumes I looked at, Roger Middleton (a British economic historian/historian of economics) makes the point that there are at least two ways you can get to the Treasury View conclusion:

    (1) an argument that assumes full-employment and a fixed money supply, where debt-financed fiscal stimulus is offset by an increase in liquidity preference by the private sector.

    (2) An argument that just assumes a fixed money stock, where the offset comes through a disequilibrium in the supply/demand for cash due to the debt sales and so interest rates have to rise to entice the public to buy bonds. As a result of this rise in interest rates, the stimulus is offset. (To prevent this, the central bank would have to offset the disequilibrium in cash by issuing more cash, but that violates the fixed money stock assumption.)

    The real Treasury believed in (2), so the Treasury View is utterly indifferent to whether or not the economy is at any particular rate of employment. In fact, would it be correct to say that the Sumner Critique is the Treasury View + a variable rate of velocity & the assumption that the central bank will offset such variations?

    Geoff,

    On this, I’m in full agreement with you. I have the dislike for Pragmatism that only an apostate can have.

  10. Gravatar of Bonnie Bonnie
    9. May 2013 at 13:54

    I’ve been reading since Feb. 2009 when I found your blog with a search for “money illusion” while trying to self-educate. You have been the most amazing educator I’ve ever had. 3000 single-spaced pages is quite a a lot, but at the risk of being entirely self-serving, I hope you will continue to feed my Sumner addiction well into the future. 🙂

  11. Gravatar of TravisV TravisV
    9. May 2013 at 14:12

    This video of horror-show muddled reasoning is Exhibit A for why everyone needs to learn the basics of Market Monetarism:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-09/jeff-gundlach-corrects-bonds-bad-stocks-good-meme

  12. Gravatar of TravisV TravisV
    9. May 2013 at 14:15

    By the way, what the hell is Zero Hedge and Tyler Durden’s position? Are bonds a great investment or a terrible investment?

    Within the same week, the website suggests bonds are terrible:
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-04/bartiromo-vs-schiff-soft-money-honey-against-golden-boy

    And that bonds are great:
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-09/jeff-gundlach-corrects-bonds-bad-stocks-good-meme

    ????????

  13. Gravatar of Randomize Randomize
    9. May 2013 at 14:32

    Your blog has made me night-and-day more informed and thoughtful on the strengths, weaknessses, and interactions of monetary and fiscal tools. My only suggestion would be a key in the margin (near the FAQ button?) for all of the acronyms!

  14. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    9. May 2013 at 14:33

    This is definitely right;

    ‘You’ve done a pretty good job over the years of making Krugman, DeLong and a few other bloggers look pretty bad at times.’

  15. Gravatar of Randomize Randomize
    9. May 2013 at 14:34

    Also, you should consider teaching a course through Coursera or some similar platform. Decent macro professors are about as common as an Alabama Democrat.

  16. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. May 2013 at 16:38

    Everyone, Thanks for the support.

    Geoff, You said;

    “If there is nothing like truth based on a common objective ground between Rorty and myself, indeed between all of us humans, then taking his own advice would obligate me to conclude that Rorty isn’t saying anything true.”

    Oh come on, you can do better than that! Rorty wants you to regard his statements as true, which makes him a lot like you.

    W. Peden, But if you run fiscal stimulus, and interest rates rise, then V rises, and so does NGDP.

    Randomize, I’m working on an online course.

  17. Gravatar of Nick Nick
    9. May 2013 at 16:39

    I’ve been reading since Marginal Revolution first linked to you. Your blogging has been essential for developing my understanding beyond the sort of Austrian economics that tends to be most superficially attractive to philosophy students.

  18. Gravatar of Michael Michael
    9. May 2013 at 17:01

    Here’s one I really liked:

    https://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=12362

    “With the exception of the 1959 steel strike, there are no mini-recessions in the US. The smallest recession occurred in 1980, when the unemployment rate rose 2.2% above the Carter expansion lows. That’s a huge gap, almost nothing between 0.6% and 2.2%.

    It’s often said that nature abhors a vacuum. I’d add that nature abhors a huge donut hole in the distribution of “shocks.” “

  19. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    9. May 2013 at 18:55

    I echo Garrett’s sentiments about logical consistency in Sumner’s blog.

    One thing I liked about Milton Friedman (when he was alive), is that I always knew what he was going to say. And it would not be what the GOP wanted or the Dems, but a logical extension of his free-market beliefs.

    For example, Friedman believed in taxing pollution. Perfect example.

    Sumner is the same way. He has eschewed the PC, the dogma, and created a logical framework for economic analysis and discourse.

    All that said, I still do not understand why Sumner thinks payroll taxes are consumption taxes. But some things require faith.

  20. Gravatar of 123 123
    9. May 2013 at 19:11

    Scott,
    my comments have here usually have one of these three forms:

    1. Sumner critique is applicable to IOR
    2. Expected risk-adjusted return on NGDP futures are in equilibrium with other markets.
    3. EMH is false

    I don’t believe I have commented much about anything else here.

    The first two topics are rarely mentioned on this blog these days. The third one is quite frequent, but when you say EMH is true, these days you do it in a ballanced way..

    I’ve never seen the 2001 Odyssey, but I guess you have acomplished more with this blog than the heroes have inside it.

  21. Gravatar of The Window Washer The Window Washer
    9. May 2013 at 19:28

    Scott
    Thank you for your time and knowledge.
    It’s been a great ride. I still wish you’d do more movie post though.

    Tell Garett to apply at Fusion IQ Barry Ritholtz shop. If he read’s Barry’s whole blog I’m sure he’ll be ready for an interview.

  22. Gravatar of Mike Sax Mike Sax
    9. May 2013 at 19:58

    On the positive side, I honestly do like and enjoy your blog and have learnt a lot from it. Monetary policy was barely in my consciousness prior to running across Money Illusion in 2011.

    You don’t seem to much enjoy my visiting your blog but still even if you’re not a fan of mine I want to give credit where credit is due.

    As to whether the quality of your blog has gone down over time, I’d say on content no. I learnt a lot from your money intro stuff last month, for instance.

    It does seem to me that you have gotten a lot more hypersensitive to criticism or those commentators who disagree with you. That’s just my perception to be sure.

    I’d say you do a lot of things well but responding judiciously to those who make arguments you’re not fond of isn’t one of them.

    In any case I look forward to reading the next 2001.

  23. Gravatar of mbk mbk
    9. May 2013 at 20:34

    Scott,

    I agree with all of Garrett’s points and I’d like to add a huge one that no one has mentioned. Your blog is the ONLY blog, probably anywhere on any subject, where ALL comments are being answered, if only in a word (“no” 😉 ). It makes a huge difference to me and it makes you hugely more credible than others. It also produces a vastly better comment section than anywhere else because thoughtless commenters will be shot and they know it. Try commenting on Econlog or Marginal Revolution, your comment will fall into a black hole or find inane Kindergarten style replies by some other commenter.

    I’m often amazed that you seem to think very similarly to myself in basic attitude, just with much better foundations in economics. You have an incredible range of reading and life experience to inform your opinions. Many commenters are lost on this, that your conclusions don’t come from just one single data stream/theory/experience.

    On to the criticisms, you asked for it. I agree with above comment that you have become more testy with commenters over time and have now more angry outbursts. Also I cannot help but noticing that you have a smart way of quietly ignoring elements of comments that you disagree with but which you cannot disprove. I can’t hold this against you of course, especially since you seem to mull the subject over and then just as quietly adjust your position over time to reflect these elements or on occasion, find a killer argument against them. But it does make me chuckle sometimes.

    Finally, Rorty. I haven’t read Rorty at all and I am not too friendly with pragmatism and utilitarianism, I prefer usually principle over outcome (that means, not always, but most often). However, and this is where I interpret Geoff’s Rorty quote differently from say, W. Peden. Rorty sounds as if he was expressing what I would formulate as follows: People have different thought models and whatever “truth” is, only exists within your thought model. Communication should be able to acknowledge at least the existence of different thought models and their competing truths. I would not even call this relativism or pragmatism – this is just an acknowledgment that the world is more complex that any single one of our thought models of it and that we should therefore be careful with statements about “truth”. Formulated thusly I’d say Hayek for once would surely agree with that, and Hayek is all about principle.

    And this is how I read your fundamental philosophical position too, after all is said and done you concede that there are still always other ways to look at the situation.

  24. Gravatar of ChargerCarl ChargerCarl
    9. May 2013 at 21:12

    Michael, that is my favorite Sumner post too.

  25. Gravatar of libertaer libertaer
    9. May 2013 at 22:35

    Congrats Scott!

    From a European perspective Sumner is the most important person living today!

    What is happening in Europe is a economic catastrophy! Greek youth unemployemnt is now 64%! A replay of the same old fallacy that in Germany brought us Hitler! And the saddest part is we could stop this in a minute.

    Now, this message is delivered also by Krugman and co. What makes Sumner so much more important, especially for Europe, is that we can’t do fiscal, we don’t have the political unity to do it. So Krugman’s message is useless for Europe!

    Even worse, his message is as dangerous as the austerian one. Because of Krugman and friends good willing people believe that only fiscal can save us, since we can’t do fiscal, nothing can be done. So we are left with the austerians and their madness.

    Here come Sumner and saves the day! His most important point for us is this: don’t worry about fiscal, cause fiscal won’t work anyway. Look at Japan! Fiscal didn’t work for them.

    Listen, the only pan-european institution you need is a central bank. And you have a central bank already. So this could be all over in a minute, if Draghi wants it to be over.

    Monetary policy is the only game in town and the only game you need and the only game that works!

    Thanks Scott!

  26. Gravatar of ChrisA ChrisA
    9. May 2013 at 22:36

    How about sharing some of these examples of where EMH has been shown to be false? I would like to become as rich as your student Garrett must have done.

  27. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    9. May 2013 at 23:16

    Dr. Sumner:

    “Oh come on, you can do better than that! Rorty wants you to regard his statements as true, which makes him a lot like you.”

    That’s precisely why his philosophy is a self-contradiction!

    If he wants me and others to regard his statements as true in accordance with antecedently existing common ground, then that would contradict his own philosophy that no such truth can be known! For Rorty:

    “This hope is not a hope for the discovery of antecedently existing common ground, but simply hope for agreement, or, at least, exciting and fruitful disagreement.”

    Rorty’s philosophy turned in on itself leads to the conclusion that his own statements can only ever be agreed and disagreed with. They cannot be true on the basis of any antecedently existing common ground.

    You’re agreeing with me and you don’t seem to even realize it.

    If Rorty is right that there is no such thing as truth based on common, objective ground, then all of Rorty’s statements cannot claim to say anything true either. It would be self-defeating for him to do what you say he did do: denying that an objective case can be made for any statement, while at the same time claiming this to be the case for his own statements. Rorty falsified the content of his own statements.

  28. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    9. May 2013 at 23:55

    Quite a number of other (widely accepted) philosophies can be exposed as self-contradictory using this rather basic technique of self-referential analysis.

    Take the case of positivist-empiricism. This philosophy purports to hold that all statements are either analytical, in which case they say nothing of the real world, and are only verbal conventions and arbitrary rules of manipulating certain terms, or they are empirical, in which case they are hypothetical statements subject to falsification and are potentially capable of saying something true about the world. As a corollary, empiricist-positivism denies that a priori statements can say anything true about the world. At best, they can only be arbitrary analytical statements.

    In short, empiricist-positivism holds that all statements are either analytical/verbal or hypothetical/empirical.

    OK, let’s use a little self-referential analysis: The question we can ask is “OK, then what kind of statement is the empiricist-positivist statement itself?

    Surely if empiricist-positivism is right, then either it is analytical/verbal, or hypothetical/empirical. If it’s merely analytical, then it cannot be regarded as saying anything true about the world, which is of course in accordance with the standards of empiricist-positivism.

    However if it is hypothetical/empirical, then it would be a hypothesis, which could be wrong, and so one would be entitled to hear on the basis of what criterion one would have to decide whether or not it was indeed wrong. It could only tell us historical facts, such as “All statements ever made up until now have indeed fallen into one of the two categories.” But it could not answer the challenge of whether true a priori yet empirical statements exist. It would not even qualify as an epistemology.

    The essence of empiricist-positivism is a denial of the cognitive (truth) value of a priori knowledge by claiming that all a priori statements are merely analytic. That they provide us with no new information about the world, but are merely verbal or tautological, asserting what has already been implied in the definitions. Only experience can lead to synthetic propositions.

    Yet this proposition (that there are no synthetic a priori propositions) is in itself a (false) synthetic a priori proposition, for it cannot be established by experience.

    There an even further problem with positivism. The very method of using positivism, contradicts the tenets of positivism itself. Recall, positivism asserts that there are no a priori statements that can say anything true about the world. Only falsifiable statements can do that.

    OK, but then if we look closer at the method in action, one cannot help but notice that there is an implicit a priori assumption made about reality that is not borne out of positivism itself, namely, that the truths of things does not change over the course of time. That if a proposition is regarded as true, that it is regarded as true not just this moment, but all moments. MM for example holds that there is a causal relationship between NGDP and wage payments, as well as the extent of movements of wage prices, that are not just considered as true in the past, but also true going forward.

    Well, that implicit constancy assumption cannot be confirmed or falsified by the positivist method, because the positivist method itself presupposes only constancy. The very meanings of “confirm” and “falsify” would make no sense otherwise. A theory proposed in the past cannot be regarded as falsfied or confirmed in the present, unless we assume that what was true and false then, is still true and false in the present.

    So positivism assumes what it explicitly denies as possible.

  29. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    10. May 2013 at 00:05

    The township of Buena Vista, in Michigan, obviously needs their own central bank:

    http://news.msn.com/us/michigan-school-district-goes-broke-lays-off-all-teachers

    NGDP is plunging there.

    You pseudo-gold standard market monetarists are killing the economy, with your rejection of township level NGDP targeting.

    Obviously if they had NGDP targeting there, there would be no more employment destroying plunges in NGDP.

    I assert that this township is an optimal currency area using the exact same arbitrary reasoning that views the US as an OCA.

    Do any of you know that it costs money to move from one part of town to the other?

  30. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    10. May 2013 at 02:00

    I don’t have much to add other than what was already said. I do not think your blogging is worse, it may be more that many important points that need to be said are not so novel now. It is the same thing as teaching I think.

    I also agree that one of the most important things is the way you approach the comment section. This was very humiliating experience for me too – if Scott Sumner can find the time to answer the likes of Major Freedom maybe I should think less of myself and start paying more attention too. And to the contrary I do not think that much about occasional outbursts – you cannot be pussy when discussing over the internet – however I am more concerned about occasional sloppiness when you present your arguments. I don’t mind it that much in terms of personal feelings like feeling offended or horrified or whatever, I just feel it is an opportunity missed (for me) to learn something. But don’t mind it that much, overall your blogging is awesome.

    mbk: “People have different thought models and whatever “truth” is, only exists within your thought model”

    This is simply not true (heh). Or to be more precise, everything is “thought model”. For instance we know that everything around us is soup of force fields, elementary particles and other weird things. However you can still say things like “this apple is red” where concepts of “apple” and “red” are just products of thought model run by your brain that sifted these “concepts” things from reality around you.

    So truth is something that corresponds to reality. And reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. So yes, you may use some kind of a map (thought model) to navigate the complex territory of reality (all that myriads of particles, forcefields and whatnot), but we can still judge if map correctly reflects the territory or not.

  31. Gravatar of mbk mbk
    10. May 2013 at 02:34

    J.V.,

    “we can still judge if map correctly reflects the territory or not.”

    As Korzybski famously said, the map is not the territory. The point is in “the map correctly reflects” does not equal “the map describes everything about” the territory. So all maps have their limitations, in that they don’t give you a complete “truth”. They give you whatever truth is available within their limitations. That is not to say that maps should be tossed out or that any map will do. Some do vastly better than others. But none are “true”. In the vein of Goedel and more appropriately, Tarski, it has been proven that there must always be certain truths can not be assessed from within a model.

  32. Gravatar of Bill Woolsey Bill Woolsey
    10. May 2013 at 03:25

    Geoff:

    Local nominal GDP targeting would have some advantages.

    The alternative is for some workers to move from where nominal GDP is shrinking to where it is growing. Sometimes it just requires less immigration rather than emigration of young new entrants to the labor force and others who have separated from jobs.

    In my view, the key criterion for a common currency area is labor mobility.

    If unemployed Greek workers could move to Germany and get jobs there, then the EU might work just fine. At least if the ECB would targeting nominal European nominal GDP.

    If legal labor mobility in Europe is trumped by the fact that no sensible Greek person would want to leave the sun and fun and live amongst Germans……

    Since no South Carolinian in their right mind wants to move off, we might benefit from having our own money and target SC nominal GDP. (That’s a joke.)

    Scott:

    Congratulations. Great blog. Read it all the time.

  33. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    10. May 2013 at 03:38

    MBK: The maps will either give you the truth or they don’t. There are no “degrees” of truth in there.

    For instance you may wonder what happens if you jump off the cliff. There are myriads of possible thought processes that can invent equal number of scenarios. Maybe you will sprout wings and fly off. Or maybe you will fall in death. You may play all these scenarios in your head and they may look equally plausible. There is no way to find which one is “true” unless you let reality root out all the false ones.

    So there may be many maps that may be useful to answer various questions. Like for instance, there may be a question “is there a red apple lying on the table”? Or there may be a question “Is there a blob of molecules of water, various sacharids etc. with surface predominately emiting EM radiation of 620-740 nm wavelength lying on the table”?

    The point is that there is a thing called reality which decides what is truth. Maybe you don’t need to know underlying quantum physics to decide if an object is red. But the fact that your “map” is no good in explaining processes on the microscale does not necessary make it useless in indentifying redness.

  34. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    10. May 2013 at 04:55

    Scott,

    I like this blog. It does get very technical at times and can be repetitive. However it brings a point of view that is not widely shared in the mainstream (I loathe to use that word) discourse on economics. Everyone is a Keynsenian or ABC. Many well informed people are wholly ignorant of this view. While I am not completely sold on it I couldn’t help but recall, during a friendly discussion, your post dismantling the idea of pushing against a string. Maybe you could put a best of links on the sidebar so people can easily access some of your most insightful critiques. For example the post that showed that the 1937 recession was purposely created by the Reserve was shocking to say the least. I think a handful of those posts could convert Keynsenians. You’ll have better luck with them than ABCers.

    I stumbled upon this blog because of a post about how oil prices seem to cramping the recovery and if gas went down a buck a gallon that would put a lot of money into households. I think a lot about commodities, especially oil (not a peak oil person but respect their views) and how it affects growth. Maybe not as exotic as money but you know I am old school.

  35. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    10. May 2013 at 05:19

    Nick and Ben and WindowWasher, Thanks for the support.

    Michael and ChargerCarl, Interesting that so may like that post. I should do a follow up.

    123, The “Sumner critique” would be applicable to IOR if Congress arbitrarily took away the ability of the Fed to pay interest on reserves. However the Fed itself can decide to use lower IOR as a tool, if it wishes to. I believe stocks would rally if the Fed suddenly announced a cut in the IOR rate.

    Thanks libertaer.

    Mike Sax, Yes, I’ve gotten more frustrated and testy over time. Partly due to seeing the same comments over and over again, and partly because I’m increasingly busy–too busy. But I agree that is a fault on my part.

    mbk, You should point out when I fail to answer good criticism. I actually try to answer all the criticism that seems persuasive, and skip over that which I’ve addressed before. If I’m ignoring good criticism I should be called on it.

    I’ve stopped reading some commenters (like Geoff) due to lack of time.

    ChrisA, Past performance is no guarantee of future success.

    Geoff, You said;

    The township of Buena Vista, in Michigan, obviously needs their own central bank:”

    It’s this sort of statement that makes me wonder whether you are a moron, or just have a very bad sense of humor.

    You are right about one thing–Rorty rejected the bright line distinction between objective and subjective.

    JV, You said;

    So truth is something that corresponds to reality. And reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

    All this really means is that “truth” is “that which I predict will be regarded as true in the future.”

    After all, the sun going around the Earth was once regarded as a “reality” that would not go away because we stopped believing it.

    You said;

    “MBK: The maps will either give you the truth or they don’t. There are no “degrees” of truth in there.”

    I could not disagree more strongly. Lots of very useful maps leave some things out. The only perfectly accurate map of America is . . . America.

    And don’t forget that maps are flat and the world isn’t, so every map “cheats” a bit in trying to flatten a sphere. The only question is how do they make it wrong, not whether it’s wrong.

    Thanks Bill.

  36. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    10. May 2013 at 05:21

    Thanks Benny, I do have a “link to key blog posts” in the right margin.

  37. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    10. May 2013 at 06:26

    Scott: “All this really means is that “truth” is “that which I predict will be regarded as true in the future.””

    Maybe I misunderstood, but this is obviously wrong. Truth is not what is regarded as true. Truth is what is real. If everybody regards Earth as flat it will not make Earth to be flat. There is a blob of atoms in reality that some people say is corresponds to concept of “Earth” and it happens to have round shape.

    Also about map and territory and all that – you and MBK seem to be confused. I never claimed that map IS the territory – that my view of reality IS reality. On the contrary. I will try to explain.

    For instance, we know that all things in reality are made of “fundamentals” – things like quarks, atoms, molecules etc.. So does it make sense to ask if apple is on the table? Can we say if it is true or false, or is it truly meaningless? We know that “apples” are not fundamental to physics, right?

    But it does not matter. We use the world “apple” to differentiate set of true conditions of states of physical fundamentals where we can claim that something is an apple. If those conditions are not met, then an object is not an apple. For instance we may consider fresh apple and rotten apple to still be an apple. Surely these two different apples correspond to different configurations of physical fundamentals in reality. But they still correspond to reality.

    The word “apple” is a category, or if you like a “map” that we connect to reality by correspondence. All those physical fundamental have to be connected to produce shape, color, smell, taste (which in itself are not physical fundamentals, but also correspond to some states of reality) etc that is associated with an object called “apple”. And that is why for instance under some occasions we may meaningfully say “There is an apple on the table” is true and the sentence “There is a pear on the table” is false. Because “pear” is a concept that correspond to different possible state of reality, where fundamentals are configured in a way that produce different shape, color, taste etc.

    This all seems trivial, but it is not. It has profound philosophical implications cutting through thousands of years of philosophical disputes. For instance one implication is that reductionism has it right, whatever you are talking about reduction is always possibility.

    So it also means that inevitably, for practical reasons many of our models will as Scott says “leave something out” – like if we are talking about apples we implicitly leave things like quarks, atoms etc “out” and talk about taste, color and things that are sufficient for our purpose. But we can still meaningfully talk about some stuff in a way if it is true or false.

    But rest assured that those things “left out” are always implicitly there. If you are talking about typical apple smell, you may also talk about it in reductionist way, like describing how neurons fire when cells in nose interact with apple molecules dissipated in air. Or you can go deeper, reduce it all even more and talk about how electric current is created in the brain as part of the whole process of smelling apple, how atom, electrons and quark move etc. But the point is that you don’t have to go that deep to say if something is apple. You do not say that “you cannot say if you see an apple because we do not see the “whole picture”, quarks, atoms and all that at once”.

  38. Gravatar of BobGillette BobGillette
    10. May 2013 at 07:05

    I don’t generally post comments, but I wanted to thank you for presenting what, to a microeconomist, is the most logically coherent macroeconomic argument I’ve heard since graduate school. I also enjoy your fondness for both Rorty and economic history. Regarding the latter, may I ask about the status of your work on the 1930’s? I’ve been looking forward to reading it.

  39. Gravatar of BobGillette BobGillette
    10. May 2013 at 07:09

    Sorry to double-post. But I also thought that I’d ask if you had ever considered the relationship of the Keynes of “A Treatise on Probability” and Rorty.

    Bob

  40. Gravatar of Don Geddis Don Geddis
    10. May 2013 at 08:37

    I’m also one of those who found your blog from Tyler Cowen’s original link. And never looked back. I’m someone who thought he understood microeconomics pretty well, but never really grasped macro. Because I was confused by everything I read in the mainstream media about what was going on in macro, and “why”. None of it made sense to me.

    I had always assumed that I was just uneducated about macro, and if only I learned more, all those reports would start to make sense. But then your blog became my online education course in macro. And now, from this new perspective, I read mainstream media on macro … and realize that it wasn’t that I didn’t understand; it’s that the people writing them and being quoted, don’t understand themselves! (It’s quite a step, to think that a non-economist like me would criticize the macro thoughts of John Taylor and Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman … but damn it, those guys are just wrong!)

    As for criticism: throughout your blog, your writing has tended to be too wordy. I’ve now had years of debates with friends who admire Krugman. It’s unfortunate that, while your ideas are vastly more insightful than his, Krugman has some skill with the short, pithy, clear communication. (It’s too bad that he often uses his skill solely for partisan advocacy and snark.) Friends would point out: “here something Krugman wrote; what is Sumner’s counter?”, and I had to struggle to find something short enough and clear enough and precise enough to respond with. I’ve read all of your words on this blog; but many many others don’t have the patience, and so they miss the insights.

    All that said, you’ve had some brilliant snippets of writing. Some of my favorites:


    Go to Japan and ask people how they’ve enjoyed the steadily falling cost of living since 1995, and I’ll bet you get a lot of blank stares (mostly because the Japanese don’t speak English).

    Our current monetary regime is roughly like a car with a steering wheel that works fine — except when driving on twisting mountain roads with no guard rail.

    I’m not a big fan of physics vs. economics debates … Applied physics does horribly when asked to predict the weather, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other complex events. That’s the sort of applied physics that would be valuable — going to the moon was a waste of money.

    If the author had used no commas at all, his use of commas would have been more nearly correct.

    India is sometimes referred to as a “subcontinent.” But who cares how big India is, isn’t Greenland almost as large? (Well on my map it is!)

  41. Gravatar of 123 123
    10. May 2013 at 09:18

    Scott: “123, The “Sumner critique” would be applicable to IOR if Congress arbitrarily took away the ability of the Fed to pay interest on reserves. However the Fed itself can decide to use lower IOR as a tool, if it wishes to. I believe stocks would rally if the Fed suddenly announced a cut in the IOR rate.”

    Scott, yes, stocks would rally if the Fed cut the FFR target to zero from the current zero..25bps interval. No disagreement here.

    Suppose the congress did not grant the ability to pay IOR in September 2008. There would be a crash on the day it happened, as the Fed would have no good tools to bring the FFR rate down to the FOMC target.

  42. Gravatar of colin colin
    10. May 2013 at 09:27

    The thing (sadly) I’m best positioned to judge re: tMI is the writing/rhetorical stance of the blog. As far as that goes, I agree with Don Geddis that it usually takes a few fairly long posts to conjure up a reply to someone with a Krugmanesque take on things.

    That said, for me that’s part of the attraction? You hit this really nice sweet spot for an open-minded interested party who’s often exhausted by certain aspects of the rest of the econ blogosphere thanks to this amalgam of self-deprecation, intense desire to explain, moral indignation and irreverence. You take the piss out of everyone, yourself included and from my non-expert perspective most/all of what you write seems to be in good faith.

    …Then again I think I can imagine Morgan writing the exact opposite comment so perhaps I shouldn’t be taken as the last word.

  43. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    10. May 2013 at 11:49

    It would be even more impressive if MacDonald had also read all the comments, along with your replies thereto. Or perhaps he did?

  44. Gravatar of John John
    10. May 2013 at 11:56

    Scott,

    EMH is bunk!!

    It’s not that you can predict markets because the EMH doesn’t work, I’d argue that markets are even less predictable than the EMH would lead you to believe.

    I’ve recently read Mandelbrot’s “The (mis)Behavior of Markets” as well as all of Taleb’s books. It’s really clear that the EMH has a serious flaw. If markets accurately priced all information, their prices would go on a random walk as new information comes out because the future is basically random and unpredictable. The random walk would imply a bell curve distribution of price movements. However, what we really observe is a very fat-tailed distribution where movements over 5 standard deviations happen with much greater than expected regularity (Mandelbrot 94).

    The plotted distribution of price movements from the center looks more like a forest, with some huge trees among mostly smaller trees of varied size. A distribution based on a random walk as EMH implies looks more like blades of grass in your front yard where every blade is pretty close to the same size (Mandelbrot 93).

    Also, if you compare a chart of random movements with an uptrend (the stock market will tend to have an uptrend as corporate earnings growth and dividends tend to cause price increases over the long run) against what actually happened, the random walk holds up well except in cases where there are really big falls like 1987 or 1929. Those kinds of crashes simply don’t happen in the Brownian Motion model based on the bell curve. They’d be once in a 20 billion year event.

  45. Gravatar of Geoff Geoff
    10. May 2013 at 12:15

    Dr. Sumner:

    The township of Buena Vista, in Michigan, obviously needs their own central bank:

    “It’s this sort of statement that makes me wonder whether you are a moron, or just have a very bad sense of humor.”

    Secret answer number three: Very good, ascerbic sense of humor. I was laughing.

    “You are right about one thing-Rorty rejected the bright line distinction between objective and subjective.”

    Yeah, by throwing complete darkness over the objective.

    What you said would be just another proposition that by Rorty’s own account I should take as nothing but talk, to be agreed with or disagreed with, rather than saying anything true about the world, including Rorty’s own philosophy.

    And then, once I convince myself that I agree or disagree with it, Rorty’s account applied again would have me not able to know the truth of whether or not I really did agree or disagree with his talk, and even then I would not be able to know any truth about either my statements, or his statements, or our responses to each other’s statements.

    Rorty didn’t just reject the bright line between objective and subjective, he made everything subjective and in so doing disarmed his entire worldview and presented it as nothing but subjective prattle.

  46. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    10. May 2013 at 16:09

    Ahhh! I lost all my replies . . . . shorter version:

    JV, It’s not just that our models “leave something out,” they are often flat out wrong. Which one’s will be revised in the future?

    Thanks BobGillette, The book should be out this year. I haven’t read the Treatise on Probability.

    Don, Thanks for the memories.

    123, Stocks would rally if they cut IOR w/o cutting the ffr target.

    Thanks Colin.

    Philo, He actually seemed to read a lot of comments too, as he made some observations about the comments.

    John, I don’t see the fat tails as being related to the EMH. Fat tails can occur if the shocks have fat tails. For instance, there are no minirecessions in the US. Just expansions and full-fledged recessions. But yes, 1987 does seem to violate the EMH.

    Geoff, I see that philosophy is also not your forte. What is?

  47. Gravatar of Becky Hargrove Becky Hargrove
    10. May 2013 at 16:35

    Scott,
    Again, thanks, and I too am looking forward to the next 2001 posts. Nominal targeting has given a framework to my own thought processes which has helped me tremendously…indeed, that feels like an understatement.

  48. Gravatar of 123 123
    10. May 2013 at 16:57

    Scott:
    “Stocks would rally if they cut IOR w/o cutting the ffr target.”

    Some time ago you argued that quantity of money is important, and IOR just controls the base/gdp ratio. Suppose they keep the ffr at the exactly the current value ( say 5 bps ), keep the Evans rule, and cut ior to negative 25bps. Fed will shrink the base to hit the ffr target. This is a little bit contractionary.

  49. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    10. May 2013 at 18:57

    Your style and sincerity are outstanding, and your interaction with comments is the best in the econ-blogosphere. You’re the best comment – replier, BY FAR, of any good serious blog I read. (Anybody know others? Beckworth maybe? but I don’t read him as much)

    I still disagree with your analytic conclusion that it was Fed tightening in 2008, rather than the house price bust in 2006, which was the most important driver for this recession / slow growth. Perhaps I missed it, but don’t recall any serious treatment of house equity Net Worth as part of the money supply. A recent Instapundit letter noted that a huge percentage of past start-ups used house equity to get started, with the successful ones then able to get commercial loans after a year or two of successful ops — and the lack of house equity is a big contributor to a lack of start ups.

    Your own emphasis on supporting NGDP as the right Fed target has convinced me it is a better policy than any other which I believe is realistic as a policy option within a few years.

    I expect that the probability of NGDP targeting will continue to rise as long as were are below pre-2006 trends — or until they actually do it. I hope you’re nominated to the Fed.

    I am disappointed that you have not yet discussed the idea, which you were going to think about, of Greece, or Germany, issuing their own Bearer Bonds, 1 yr, 0% interest, issued to pay salaries and obligations of the gov’t. With the gov’t willing to accept than as tax payments at 100% par value. Not quite money, but pretty close. Outside of the ECB.

    I always like your discussions of Krugman/ DeLong, and how I haven’t yet thought they were right instead of you.

  50. Gravatar of John John
    10. May 2013 at 20:03

    Scott,

    The EMH in general implies much smaller price changes then you actually see in any type of security or commodity. You don’t have to site specific instances; you can just look at the data. How would the EMH model account for fat tails? A random walk expressly means a bell curve. I’d be very interested if you could point me to a post about this or do one in the future.

  51. Gravatar of Emerich Emerich
    11. May 2013 at 01:21

    Scott is also fair and courteous. That’s notable when you consider how often he’s earned the right to say “I told you so,” and how quick many others are to resort to nastiness.

  52. Gravatar of mbk mbk
    11. May 2013 at 07:47

    John,

    Fama in: Efficient capital markets: A review of theory and empirical work (1970) p. 386 heading C, explicitly says that the EMH does not require a specific kind of distribution over prices, although he concedes that the first models did assume a random walk. But as early as 1970 he regarded random walk as a special condition. The more general expression he uses is “expected returns” or “fair game”.

    All the EMH requires is that there is no “hidden” information out there that someone can consistently make money out of over the long run. The basic idea is that if expected returns by investors change, then stock buying behavior also changes, and prices change, until the new information is reflected in prices. How these expectations were distributed is irrelevant. Whether these expectations came true or not is irrelevant. Whether these expectations were based in rumour or calculation is irrelevant. Whether information flow in the market was free or somehow impeded is also irrelevant. And whether all investors had the same information (or opinion) is also irrelevant.

    I have read Taleb and from memory in many places I find his logic to be seriously wanting.

  53. Gravatar of Prakash Prakash
    11. May 2013 at 09:20

    Hi Scott,

    Congratulations on completing the milestone. I would like to add everyone pointing out that you actually reply to comments. This is a huge positive in this blog. You actually care about the topic (And god knows, its important).

    Criticisms

    Not much, but I have expressed this opinion before. I believe that someday, a government that follows Market monetarism will face a zero lower bound of its own in which the central bank would not have hits its target, but still have run out of government bonds to buy (Because the overall fiscal scene had been well managed, so there wouldn’t be that many bonds out there). At that point, either the central bank
    a – acts arbitrarily by buying certain corporate bonds OR
    b – the central bank already has rules defined about the kind of assets it is going to buy after government bonds, as befits a rule following government. OR
    c – continues to buy government bonds, only this time, the government passes on these as tax cuts. (government runs deficits)

    a is the scenario we have today of arbitrary bailouts.

    b sets up a privileged class of private sector assets which, if history teaches us correctly, will be used by the private sector to leverage indiscriminately and play all sorts of games, like trying to get into the AAA list through crooked means.

    c implies that the MMT’ers are partly right, in the long run, you need the government to run deficits.

    I know my described scenario has not been tested with a government following fiscal discipline and a central bank following a market monetarist policy, but am not very confident that it will not happen.

  54. Gravatar of Negation of Ideology Negation of Ideology
    11. May 2013 at 09:36

    I came to this blog after reading a column by Ramesh Ponurru over at National Review online. I read for quite a while before I first commented. Now I read this blog more often than I read National Review. Unlike many others, I discovered Tyler, later, from this blog.

    Prior to that, I was very concerned about the lack of understanding of monetary economics on the right, much of which bordered on nuttiness. There were actually people who thought Bernanke was being too loose? Some of them calling for a return to the gold standard? Aren’t conservatives supposed to be the ones who learn from history? Did they forget Milton Friedman already? Had any of them read the Great Contraction? I disagreed with the left on fiscal stimulus, of course, but at least they didn’t seem to be losing their marbles.

    So hopefully, you can help rescue the right from the crazies like Friedman and Buckley did.

  55. Gravatar of Matt Matt
    11. May 2013 at 15:06

    Scott, I am not an academic or really an intellectual. I just like reading about economics and you are the only macro blogger that doesn’t make my head hurt. Still, I wish you or someone else would break down macro concepts that make them easier to digest or intuitive. Someone else suggested a key for terms. That would be a good start.

  56. Gravatar of John John
    11. May 2013 at 21:38

    MBK,

    What’s funny about Fama is that he’s spent the second half of his career arguing against the EMH. In any case, besides the bell curve, prices in a market have shown momentum and dependence. For instance volatility tends to cluster and uptrends or downtrends tend to continue farther than if one day’s changes were independent of the previous day’s changes. The EMH assumes price independence which is a condition you don’t actually get in the real world.

    It’s funny how whenever I attack this damn thing people keep redefining it. I get that it’s hard to prove or disprove but stop claiming to be in any way objective. I like the EMH from a practical point of view. It’s a useful lens for both investing and following the news. However it’s not useful for constructing portfolio models as 40 years of academic finance have tried to do.

  57. Gravatar of J.V. Dubois J.V. Dubois
    13. May 2013 at 01:10

    Scott: “JV, It’s not just that our models “leave something out,” they are often flat out wrong. Which one’s will be revised in the future?”

    That is an honest question to ask. And we hope that we will find out a way to differentiate wrong models (or their use) from correct ones by letting reality to test them.

    But we are now a long way from what MBK said:

    “People have different thought models and whatever “truth” is, only exists within your thought model. Communication should be able to acknowledge at least the existence of different thought models and their competing truths.”

    There is only one truth and it is commanded by reality. Unfortunately we see truth of reality through our brains that construct various “models” based on what they see. Sometimes these models may be quite wrong. We do not posses some unique truth detector. If you write the sentence “Earth is flat” on a piece of paper it will not burn because it defies “truth”. You can imagine Earth being flat in a vivid way that seems so real.

    But it is still important to note that while there may be different models competing to explain reality, they are never competing “truths”. The models are either true or they are false [and some are meaningless – the famous “not even wrong” category of models and/or their application]. We may never live to see some of the wrong ones to be proven so, but they are still false – even now.

  58. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    13. May 2013 at 05:36

    John, if you’re right, does that mean you should be able to make money by betting against fat-tailed price moves? Does anybody have a fund that is doing that, and how are they doing?

  59. Gravatar of John John
    14. May 2013 at 10:15

    J Mann,

    No. The reason the EMH, the random walk, and bell curve based options pricing (Black-Scholes) survives is that there is no easy way to make money off of the ideas of Mandelbrot. His ideas about power laws and fat-tailed distributions are a more accurate description of markets (and many other things like income distributions, floods, and turbulence) but involve much more complicated math and don’t offer easy answers the way the EMH does. I think research into that field is ongoing and promising but there aren’t any good answers yet.

    Most importantly you gotta remember that it’s impossible for everyone to beat the market. It seems obvious but I think a lot of people forget that. In the long run, stock investment returns come down to corporate earnings growth and dividends. Over short periods of time, changes in P/E ratios cause large swings around the upward trend.

    Better investing knowledge in the aggregate promises to lessen swings caused by changes in valuation.

  60. Gravatar of J Mann J Mann
    15. May 2013 at 07:18

    Thanks John. I always summarize the weak form EMH as “you can’t beat the market without inside information” but I’m certainly oversimplifying things.

  61. Gravatar of Doug M Doug M
    15. May 2013 at 07:29

    John,

    The EMH says nothing about normal or log-normal distributions, or indentically and independently distributed.

    The Black-Scholes options pricing model makes all of those assumptions. And that is what makes Black Scholes so easy to pick apart. The market does things that Black Scholes says that it is not supposed to do.

    However, just because Black Scholes is frequently wrong, it says nothing about the EMH, in general.

    The EMH says that the efficent markets quickly absorbes new information. Prices reflect all available information. Analysis of historical data will not give insight on future price movements. And it its ulitmate distillation, the market is hard to beat.

    In the strict from of the EMH, the market is hard to beat even with inside information.

  62. Gravatar of Tyler Joyner Tyler Joyner
    17. May 2013 at 09:34

    Scott,

    I’ve learned an awful lot from reading this blog, and have enjoyed the comment debates as well. It’s definitely a great resource. I particularly enjoy the blog format because it gives the commenters plenty of time to think through what was said and process it before responding. Textbooks are not generally conversational, nor do they write back to you. Classes have the benefit of two-way interaction, but it often takes longer than a few seconds for a student to process the argument and then raise further questions, if they have any.

    My only constructive criticism would be to insult the commenters less, and keep in mind the value the blog derives from people disagreeing, as Garrett said in #2. You do okay with this, and certainly Krugman is an easy standard to beat when it comes to civil blogging. But when Geoff or whoever writes out what, to me, seems like a reasonable argument, and you blow it off with an insult rather than responding, the inevitable conclusion is “well, I guess he has no response”.

    Certainly people who already understand both sides of the argument and who agree with you might feel you’re justified in blowing off a comment, and you’ve got several sycophants here who would never think of questioning you, but to undecided readers it’s a bit of a letdown when the debate ends as soon as it starts to get heavy.

    That being said, I think this blog is amazing and it’s made economics very interesting and accessible to me. Keep it up.

  63. Gravatar of Bill Ellis Bill Ellis
    17. May 2013 at 10:31

    Tyler Joyner says… “My only constructive criticism would be to insult the commenters less,…”

    Aww, that is part of Scott’s charm. 🙂

    I think that the atmosphere around here can be harsh, but at the same time there is more “space” for people to express themselves passionately than many other blogs. It’s a double edged sword.

    ‘Course the cool thing about the internt is that their are so many flavors to choose from. I love vanilla, but I don’t want vanilla everyday.

  64. Gravatar of rob rob
    21. May 2013 at 00:36

    I love your blog, to be honest my macroeconomics used to be a lot more “real” before being exposed to your ideas. I think I have learned more practical macroeconomics from your blog than I did from either of my PhD macro classes. Your blog eloquently demonstrates the advantage stories can sometimes have over mathematical modeling. I also think you are one of the few economists that really “gets” China(Coase being another one).

  65. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Has Now Written 2001 Posts | Last Men and OverMen Scott Sumner Has Now Written 2001 Posts | Last Men and OverMen
    21. March 2017 at 02:05

    […] about bloggers, but it’s clearly younger than 57 (my current age.)”      https://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=21140#comment-247360      I’ve been quite tired of Sumner’s triumphalism lately. Here was […]

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