By James Kwak
The Internet has made possible a golden age of commentary. Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can create a blog and comment to her heart’s content.
Yet as one of those commenters with a free blog, I am painfully aware that this hypertrophy of analysis has not been matched by corresponding growth in the stuff that we analyze: facts. There is no way we could have written White House Burning, with its one hundred pages of endnotes, without someone else to do the primary research: either the journalistic kind, calling around to sources in Washington to figure out what’s going on, or the data-gathering kind, visiting grocery stores in Brooklyn to track prices and calculate the inflation rate.
So I would just like to second what Menzie Chinn said about the importance of government statistical organizations, which are (along with most of the rest of the government) under attack from Paul Ryan and his troops. Even if you don’t agree with what I say, if you like reading economics blogs, you should realize that they couldn’t really exist without the BEA, BLS, Census Bureau, etc.
Of course, if your economic policy prescriptions are based entirely on pure theory, then I guess you can do without data.