Bravo for Scott Sumner
By David Henderson
Now my biggest problem is time–I spend 6 to 10 hours a day on the blog, seven days a week.
Wow! Now I understand why the quality of his posts and his responses to commenters is so incredibly high.
So that’s the goal of my blog, to constantly use theoretical arguments, empirical data, clever metaphors, and historical analogies that make people see the current situation in a new way. Whatever works, as long as it is not dishonest.
That one’s beautiful. There’s a true teacher.
In the real world I am not nearly as successful as it may appear from my blog. I got turned down by the AEA convention. In 2008 and 2009 I sent papers on the economic crisis out to journals like the JMCB and the JPE, journals that I have published at in the past. But now for the first time in my life the articles come back without even being sent out to a referee. “It’s not the sort of thing we publish” they’d say. I gather this means they don’t see enough equations. I hope it doesn’t mean “because it addresses the most important macroeconomic problem since the 1930s.” If you look at macro journals from the early 1930s they were actually discussing the current problems with the economy. Indeed as recently as the 1990s I often published non-technical papers in the JMCB. But those days are gone. They are looking for more VAR studies, more DSGE models. So at the higher levels of economics I am pretty much a dinosaur.
“It’s not the sort of thing we publish” with no explanation? That one’s troubling. It does raise the question (no, it doesn’t beg the question–look at a logic text), though, about who is the dinosaur. After all, what motivates us to publish in high-ranked refereed journals? Sure, we get tenure, we get promoted, we get raises, and those are all good motivators. But if you’re an economist, think back to why you wanted in the game in the first place. (Jerry McGuire moment talking to Rod Tidwell in the Arizona Cardinals’ locker room.) Wasn’t it because you wanted to influence how people thought? Wasn’t it that you had important things you had learned or planned to learn and that you wanted other people to understand those things? So is the dinosaur Scott Sumner using the latest tools for communication and getting serious economists, academics, and, I would bet, some central bankers, around the world reading him? Or is the dinosaur the journal that says, without apparent explanation, “It’s not the sort of thing we publish”?