Welcome to New Readers

We’ve had a big surge of first-time visitors since Simon’s interview with Bill Moyers started broadcasting last night. We hope you enjoy the site and return often. You can also get free updates using an RSS reader or via email.

On the chance that some of you are new to the economics blogs, I wanted to suggest a few other sites you might also want to check out (in addition to our Financial Crisis for Beginners section). We are nowhere close to the be-all and end-all of information about the global economy, and in any case the more perspectives you get, the better.

  • Planet Money is an excellent, excellent podcast for people who are relatively new to the world of economics and the financial crisis, and for people who commute and can listen to it in their cars. I listen to it for fun.
  • Calculated Risk and naked capitalism are good sources for near-real-time news about the crisis and the economy in general. Calculated Risk has a particular focus on housing and mortgages; naked capitalism has incisive commentary from one side of the political spectrum.
  • Econbrowser is more technical and data-oriented; more advanced readers will like this one.
  • Economist’s View and Marginal Revolution provide in-depth articles applying economics to broad range of phenomena.
  • RGE Monitor is the home of Nouriel Roubini and also aggregates articles from all over the Internet.

Of course, we would love to see you again here.

(Feel free to add other suggestions in the comments.)

34 thoughts on “Welcome to New Readers

  1. you mentioned on BMJ that you are not opposed to having Geithner–I liked but forgot the metaphor — and I am a very strong backer Obama,but damn,the Wall Street people are not getting the message, take for instance the Wells Fargo ad in the NYT explaining why traveland other perks are a good idea.

    I am also a CEO of a successful company and DO NOT get bonus’ when there are no profits —— PERIOD! These guys are caught in a culture that is simply wrong for America. Bank Oligarchs they are and the are unredeemable. Not even bad people in many cases just not understanding of the situation

  2. Thank you for the kind welcome. I have you bookmarked and will check out the other links you posted.

    I’m kinda hoping to find you similar to Juan Cole’s blog on the middle east. Detailed expert opinion once a day.

  3. Prof. Johnson is right: Our leadership is making decisions right now with extremely long-ranging consequences.

    I am not sure how the authors of the Baseline Scenario feel about moving between analysis and advocacy. But I (for one) want to know, what can I do as an ordinary citizen? Should I write my Representatives and Senators and say… Well, what would I say?

    If I agree strongly with Prof. Johnson that “FDIC on steroids” is the right approach, what (if anything) can I do to encourage it to happen?

  4. Leaving out R v.D Politics with a capital P, can anybody explain to this novice in the financial world why Republicans are against the “stimulus Plan” and what they recommend that is different that will solve the problem,or am I stuck getting all my best input on the subject from Jon Stewart.

  5. I am in favor of the stimulus, but I can outline the plausible reasons to be against it.

    1. You can argue about some of the components of the stimulus. The theory behind a stimulus package is to get money into the economy quickly to compensate for the fall in private-sector demand. However, some of the elements of the stimulus package will take a while (several quarters) to spend, and therefore will not provide a short-term boost. They tend to be things that many people think are good things to do in general (alternative energy, electronic medical records, etc.). However, some Republicans argue that they are just liberal spending programs dressed up as stimulus.

    2. There is this idea of crowding out: that if the government borrows money to spend on stimulus measures, it is sucking up savings that otherwise would have gone to the private sector for investment. On this theory, the stimulus doesn’t add anything to aggregate demand; it just shifts decision-making from the private to the public sector. I don’t think this argument is correct, because in the current situation it’s not as if the private sector is investing, but there it is.

    3. Then there is the old idea that tax cuts are better than government spending. So, if you agree the economy needs an $800 billion boost, you may argue that all of it should be tax cuts instead of government spending. The theory here is that individuals will spend the money in ways that are better for the economy than the government (because free markets in general are good). I think this overlooks two things: first, individuals today are more likely to save than spend (however, people who hold this theory also think that the savings translate immediately and necessarily into business investment); second, there are many reasons why free markets fail and you government spending is justified (externalities, for example).

    But these are at least three plausibly reasonable arguments.

    In general, for smart, non-liberal (in the American sense) economists, try Googling Tyler Cowen and Arnold Kling. They may be too moderate for many Republicans, but they provide a counterpoint to Paul Krugman, Brad Delong, etc.

  6. James, one suggestion.

    As a long time reader of this excellent blog, I’ve always felt that you should consider expanding the service to provide some form of a community feedback system.

    Personally, I enjoy MarketWatch’s comment system, but as a web developer, I realize that it’s a very complex system to put into place. However, I’d be willing to bet that even a basic comment ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ plugin — assuming an inexpensive one exists — could increase the number of recurring readers of this blog. After all, knowing that a comment will be peer reviewed, tangibly, encourages users not only to be more thoughtful in their comment, but to read others’ comments more carefully.

    Just my 2 cents. Keep up the good work!

  7. I watched Moyers’ program with Simon last nite; like “Nemo” above, I want to know what I, as a citizen, can do FAST to let the right people know that I’m mad as hell, etc. and that other citizens like myself are NOT flimflammed by the oligarchs, lobbyists, and are furious that our leaders are such sell-outs and are destroying the way of life we have cherished, fought for, and died for since America was settled. WHAT CAN WE DO?? History Buff

  8. Thank you for warm welcome. It’s nice to be appreciated and of value, especially today when we feel we have no voice to impact decisions made.

    What will it take to get the decision makers to realize when enough is enough as far as failed banks being rescued.

    Why can’t be create new bank which will then lend to local well run banks who in turn will lend to local people and hold the debt or be responsible for it to encourage good fiduciary habits. I’m sure investors would be happy to have a sound place to put their money.

  9. During the 1980’s the CPI number was altered to reduce the cost of government benefits (primarily Social Security and Medicare). This has several other effects including:

    1. Understatement of inflation.
    2. Overstatement of GDP.
    3. Artificial reduction in the Fed rates giving rise to “cheap money” fueling the financial bubble.
    4. Reduction of increases in wages and salaries.

    There is a significant difference between inflation calculated using the 1980 method and the current method (which is intentionally artificial). Is this inconsequential to economists?

  10. I have found this site fairly exhaustive and whets my appetite about understanding the current crisis better.

    I hope to learn more as I continue reading this space.

  11. I’m a big fan of this blog and the Planet Money podcast – in addition to the related ‘This American Life’ episodes that focus on the global economy.

    To add to the other suggestions, I would also recommend the EconTalk.org podcast. I don’t always agree with host Russ Roberts own philosophical position, but do enjoy the approachable depth of content in his weekly interviews (usually just over an hour in length) and the diversity of perspectives offered by the various guests.

  12. I too would like to thank you for your warm welcome as I begin to read your blog.. I have bookmarked your page and look forward to in depth discussion about the current economic downturn without the usual political slant.. I hope you remain honest and forthcoming with your information..

  13. I have watched Simon Johnson’s interview twice. Then I wandered off to his web site and read and read and read. I also took the suggestion of a commentor to view the UTube production “Money is Debt”. I thought I had a handle on this financial situation before all of this but….”What a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive”. As the lowly taxpayer in all of this, I am the one who will be paying for everyone else’s deception, hubris,mistakes, and fraud. I don’t have much left over.

  14. Can anybody just post here w/o registering? This is mainly a test post, i suppose.

    But for now, let me discuss Simon Johnson’s appearance on Moyers, this morning. Personality-wise, i found Simon to be rather milktoasty (sorry, sir, i mean no offense), evasive and undecided. He seemed to be led by Moyers rather than thinking for himself. Also, oh i dunno, i’d appreciate somebody who could come out and actually call a spade a spade, and that is NOT to imply, that when he used the word ‘oligarchy’ over and over, that he was weak in that sense, just it was a feeling i had.

    And that’s okay, i suppose. I mean, thank goodness he’s not some sean hannity nazi expounding w/cocky self-righteous his assurredness of all that is right and all that is well. Of that i was appreciative. Matter of fact his style was at least not offensive, but i just felt he lacked a firm commitment to what he was saying. Somewhere in the back of my mind i kept thinking, “this is a guy who’s got some stock shares and connections at Wall Street who he really doesn’t want to offend long term”. I know, cynical, i know. SIGH…these are bad times…they have been for 30 years (another chronological observation Simon made that i admired) but i would really like to see somebody be honest, and i felt he was telling the truth, and even maybe the WHOLE truth, but he just was not telling NOTHING BUT the truth! Well, i’ll copy this to my clpd, an’ see if it posts w/o registering and send.

  15. It is VERY encouraging to see a former member of the ‘establishment’ take the brave decision to take a position against it and start trying to affect meaningful change. We need more like him and Paul Moore, who blew the whistle against Sir James Crosby in the UK recently.

    The efforts of people like Simon who carry clout through their establishment credentials is absolutely critical to the fight against these latter day royalists.

    I’ll add http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/ to the roll call of useful sites. Mish’s blog is useful both for his presiecent analysis of the ongoing crisis but also for the insights of the many very knowledgeabl e and prolific posters there.

  16. Hello Baseline Scenario,

    I too visited your site after watching Johnson’s interview. It was interesting, and after a quick look around your site, I’m sure come back to it regularly.

    I have one comment about the interview. It concerns Johnson’s comment about the “fine upstanding citizens” who are currently in charge. On the one hand, I’m very glad to hear this expressed, in the context of the interview. I think it is important to understand that many of the folks we’ve put in charge see themselves as doing good, and looking out for what’s best. So it’s very important for those of us hoping to do something to protect ourselves and other non-banker, lower income bracket, people that we don’t focus on the personalities of the decision makers. Instead we need to recognize that we have allowed a system of finance to emerge that makes it possible for “fine upstanding citizens” to force other people to suffer all the risk or their schemes and money making ideas. The people Johnson referred to surely see themselves as fine and upstanding, yet the question for everyone else is: despite their good intentions, what are the costs everyone else has to pay for their actions, and is this something we want?

    On the other hand, I’m not so sure if the people Johnson referred to are, objectively speaking, fine upstanding citizens. Let me explain by making reference to Sudhir Venkatesh’s book about his time studying and living with a drug dealing gang in Chicago. According to his book, the drug dealers, especially the leaders, hardly thought of themselves as being bad people. & They were, in some respects, fine up standing citizens. The book contains examples of the gang’s involvement in policing the decrepit building in and around which they operated, settling disputes between tenants, throwing parties for the residents, creating a basketball league designed to cut down on youth violence, and so on. The leaders of the gang thought of themselves as important and beneficial members of the community (drug users after all would always be there, so they were just meeting market demand), and in fact they did things that were beneficial for the community.

    Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I think most of us, even hearing about and acknowledging the good intentions and actual good deeds of these drug dealers, would not be so quick to call them “fine upstanding citizens.”

    In any case, thanks for giving an interesting interview. Hopefully we’ll see more!

  17. Further to Pebble11216: I recall one of the best scenes in Sopranos is Tony getting stopped for a minor traffic violation with Carmella in the passenger seat. Tony is Mr. Yes-sir-no-sir to the cop because he knows what could happen. Carmella, on the other hand, yells at the cop something like, “Why don’t you people go after the real criminals,” oblivious to what and who she is and to why Tony won’t “stand up like a man” as she puts it to him after the cop leaves.

    Who are the TONYs, who are the CARMELLAs and who are the COPS in this melt down situation??? I think I am the POOR MOOK about 5 cars back wondering who’s holding up traffic as I try to get my kid to soccer practice.

  18. Much economic analysis in this site is money centric and assumes good finance to be almost an end in its self , going no further than looking to ensure that credit is only extended when repayment can be made, when in fact money is a simple tool and needs putting in its place, what is important is the health of society at large and it is the misuse of credit that is the problem for example simply ensuring that credit is only extended to those likely to repay it would not ensure that totally destructive but otherwise profitable organizations do not prevail,

    Stress testing banks and reorganizing those that fail may appear to be an answer to some economists but will not resolve deep underling problems of the real world,

    Domination of markets by credit and invisible taxation through government fiat can probably only be broken by a return to the intrinsic disciplines of the gold standard,

    quit simply we would have arrived at this same financial halt if all people had issued their own unrestricted credit and bankers had not existed,

  19. James, Simon, et al…

    It seems URGENT to me (and to many of the others who have commented above) to know WHAT THE HELL CAN WE DO about all this?

    I know MORE than a little about how to bring a rain of phone calls to the DC offices of Senators and Congressmen, but I need YOU (James, Simon, et al) to TELL ME WHAT I WANT THEM TO DO OR NOT TO DO.

    PLEASE post an article that spells out 3 to 5 concise action items that I and my allies can demand of them, and watch us make the phones ring.


  20. The revolution will not occur until the people stand up for their rights, and take back the vote and the right to be heard. You are doing a great service in regard to the people being heard, one to another, but the people must take action, and not be satisfied with everything that is being told to them. Why, for instance, is there so much focus, in the past few days, on the plane crash in Buffalo, while the country’s financial system is, indeed, in a continuing spiral downward?

  21. Thanks for welcoming and for the links too. As one of those new readers I am glad to be able to find a non-speculative up-to-date economics blog with loads of ideas and data.

  22. Hi, First time visitor. Seems like a good Blog, I will check back later to read more.

    One thing that struck me right away was these crazy “SNAP Preview” windows that pop up when you happen to mouse over a link. This is extremely, and I mean EXTREMELY annoying, and, by itself, could be a great reason for a visitor to never return. I would highly recommend you lose this “feature”, it just another idiotic ‘Web 2.0’ nightmare.

    That aside, links to this Blog have been posted in the comments at some of the Economics Blog I usually read, like Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis, (recently rated #1 Economics Blog by TIME and 24/7 Wall St.) and <a href=”http://market-ticker.denninger.net/”Market Ticker Blog & Forums which drew me over here.

    Mish is a strict Austrian deflationist, which makes him directly opposed to the vast majority of MSM Keyensians and their supporters. But he has called almost every twist of this crisis years in advance, the main reason I have come to agree with him on most issues. So has Karl at Market Ticker, though I have to issue a ‘strong language’ warning over there, they pull no punches.

    For a very interesting take on the current economic policies now in favor in most political circles, the Australian “radical” economist Steve Keen has recently posted a very insightful analysis on his Debt Deflation Blog, The Roving Cavaliers of Credit which is very thought provoking analysis of the failure of Keynesianism as practised today. Also discussed nicely on Naked Capitalism – Why Ben’s Helicopter’s Will Fail”

    I prefer analysts and economists who tell you what it is, not what they wish it to be.

    If enough people board the reality train, sanity will prevail. The right solutions will be implemented, one day, maybe, after all other alternatives fail.

    Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

  23. I killed the preview feature. I find it annoying too, but I only notice it when I use IE as opposed to Firefox.

  24. Welcome tot he internet, you know have your first troll.

    Deep Capture is one of the “best investigative reporting on the financial meltdown?”

    That’s a laugh — its a crank site affiliated with Patrick Byrne of Overtstock.com — you know, the Sith Lord guy who believe that all the troubles in the world are attributable to short sellers.

    You’ve been punk’d

  25. A conspiracy theory alleges a coordinated group is, or was, secretly working to commit illegal or wrongful actions, including attempting to hide the existence of the group and its activities. – wiki

    Isn’t that what JP Morgan and others were doing in the Teddy Roosevelt era?

    Isn’t that what is happening in the US financial center today?

    There can be a real “Conspiracy” even if most “conspiracy theories” are nonsense.

  26. On other blogs as sources of information:

    I think Naked Capitalism is extremely astute, well written, insightful, and not politically biased. I suppose digging deep for facts, connecting dots, thinking independently, and similar traits can be argued to belong to the political persuasion that does not think of Joe the plumber as a role model — but you can only go so far to humor the kind of people who (e.g.) call Toxic Waste “Legacy Assets.”

    Does being anti-corruption make you a liberal? Why not just say Naked capitalism is hard on the kind of deception that only gets past those not paying as much attention.

    Oh, and shadowstats.com is interesting, too. If, for instance, you want to know what the government’s numbers and graphs would look like without the extensive fudging.

  27. Pat A — In addition to “money is Debt” there are some really good explanations (even some easy to understand videos) that help you understand what things like CDOs, CDSs and tranches are. any interest? I can look them up.

    Once you get past the Fractional Reserve* banking system, the next thing to understand is the Derivatives Bubble: what it is made of, how it got there, how incredibly big it is, and why it’s responsible for the deleveraging that’s sucking up all the cash thrown at it.

    *( I like to call it the Fictional Reserve system…)

  28. Blue — I think you’ve been bludgeoned by too many windbags. I find Simon Johnson’s British restraint charming; he leaves the ideas to speak for themselves. His logic and clarity substitute for the kind of bluster that goes with stupidity and lies.

    What he’s saying is actually quite damning. He’s trying to put it diplomatically.

    I value his clear thinking so much that I’m sharing the video with several friends; I pick and chose what I share with them because they’re not as driven as I am to investigate this topic.

    I find it easier to understand people who are not shouting.

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