Economics Blogging Tips From John H. Cochrane
Responding to the success of our blogging article in this year’s INOMICS Handbook – for those of you unacquainted, click here – the economists are back, answering more blog-oriented questions. This time around, we’ve taken a bit of a personal turn, quizzing our participants about their blogging successes; the concepts behind their writings; and their preferred reads. For those setting out on their economic journey, the following makes for essential reading.
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Introducing the esteemed Mr John Cochrane….
If forced to pick, which blog article would you say you are most proud of? And, in addition to that, which has created the most ‘buzz’, not necessarily just in terms of reads, but in the conversations it started?
The ones I am most proud of are the longer form essays that introduce some relatively new ideas, or explain research in (I hope) an accessible way. The series on neo-Fisherism is perhaps the best example. It was great as a two-way conversation. I wrote the blog posts as I was wrestling with the ideas -- theory and fact took me far beyond my own comfort zone -- and the back and forth is provided with commenters, other blogs, and even academic papers clarified the ideas for all of us. (I now actually have citations to the blog from academic papers!) The "stock gyrations" is a recent example of this kind of writing, though in this case an old idea rather than a new one. The series on the Fama vs Shiller Nobel prizes was pretty good, and I learned a lot about basic philosophy of science differences in writing it.
The blog gives, I think, far more widespread readership of essays I write that might otherwise get buried by being published in somewhat small circulation outlets. "Rule of law in the regulatory state" "Towards a run-free financial system" "how and why we care about inequality" "trade and immigration" and so forth.
As for buzz, I'm happiest when I see the blog cited in academic articles, or when a serious blog discussion happens, say between myself, Steve Williamson, Dave Henderson, Alex Tabarrok, Tyler Cowen, Miles Kimball and so forth. I must admit though I got a lot of initial buzz back when Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong had a habit of writing that I am stupid, corrupt, an idiot, and so forth, at least when Paul finally started actually putting links into the things he was making fun of. They seem to ignore me these days, but being in the Paul-Krugman-writes-you're-an-idiot club actually gave me a lot of credibility. However, a blog post lasts about two weeks. A tweet lasts 5 minutes, an op-ed lasts a week, an essay lasts maybe 6 months, an average academic article lasts a few years, and a really good academic article lasts 10 years.
This one is for the economic-blog enthusiasts out there. Which fellow (rival?!) bloggers are you currently reading? And whose blogs would you recommend as essential for our readers to follow?
I read marginal revolution every day, the links are great. Economists view (Mark Thomas) has a comprehensive set of daily links, even to blogs that annoy the heck out of me. Econlog (Bryan Caplan, David Henderson, Alberto Mingardi, and Scott Sumner), Supply-side liberal (Miles Kimball), and Econbrowser (James Hamilton) are all good. But…. my advice to young academics, is ration yourself! Don't spend the whole day on the internet. Once you've read a few blogs, and the WSJ, NYT, or FT editorial page, get to work!
And lastly, can you give, in under 100 words, a description of your blog, and tell the people why they should visit it?
This is a blog of news, views, and commentary, from a humorous free-market point of view. After one too many rants at the dinner table, my kids called me "the grumpy economist," and hence this blog and its title. I'm not really grumpy by the way.