Sunday, December 7, 2008

Another Positive View of the Econobloggers

This time from the Boston Globe:
A fast-moving, highly informed economics blogosphere now tracks and critiques their every move. The result is that this may be the first national crisis to be hashed out by experts in full public view.

The blogs offer a rolling crash course in economics as authoritative as any textbook, but far more accessible. It's a conversation that's simultaneously esoteric and irreverent, combining technical discussions of liquidity traps and yield curves with profane putdowns and heckling headlines. In the process, the bloggers have helped to democratize policy making, throwing open the doors on the messy business of everything from declaring a recession to structuring the most expensive government bailout in history.

Late last month, Barry Ritholtz, who runs the financial blog The Big Picture, tried to convey to his readers the cost of the ongoing bailout of the financial system. Using inflation-adjusted numbers put together by a research group, he showed that the money spent (or pledged) thus far was larger than the combined cost of the Louisiana Purchase, the Marshall Plan, the New Deal, the Vietnam War, and the nation's entire space program. Within a week, readers of his blog had converted the data into pie charts and graphs. By then, his analysis had become part of the national conversation on the bailout, cited by everyone from conservative columnist David Brooks to liberal talk-show host Rachel Maddow.

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