Winner of the New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy 2016

Friday 16 March 2012

Time for Europe to enter the Econ blogosphere

                The new Bruegel blog has a provocative post entitled ‘Europeans can’t blog’. What they mean is that there is no equivalent in Europe to the US economics blogosphere. To quote: “It is striking to note that the online debate about European economic issues mostly takes place on American blogs.” European blogs exist, but Bruegel suggest that they tend not to link to each other, so debate is not encouraged. This is partly a language issue of course, with many blogs directed at a national audience written in their own language. But the language of economics is English, and there are already some good European blogs written partly or totally in English.
                Bruegel thinks it would be good if there was a more interactive European economics blogosphere, and I very much agree.  I know I’m not the only person who wants to understand more about the economic debate in other European economies, particularly at the moment. Discussion through blogs might even improve the quality of national economic debate. But what I really wanted to say is that it need not take long to achieve this. At the end of their post Bruegel kindly say that the “UK already has an impressive blogosphere that is tightly integrated with the American one”. The Palgrave Econolog ranks economics blogs mainly by the number of incoming links from other indexed economics blogs i.e. a bit like Google. Of their current top 20, 15 are US based, one is Canadian, one is the IMF, and 3 are from the UK. But of these three UK blogs, only Chris Dillow’s Stumbling and Mumbling was around six months ago. When I and Jonathan started blogging, Chris linked to some of our posts, which meant Mark Thoma read them etc. 
                Bruegel shows one way a new and interesting blog can be created, based around an internationally orientated economics think tank, research center or academic department. Alternatively, I’m sure I’m not the only economics professor who would find they had things to say. There are some really good US blogs by current or recent grad students, like Noahpinion for example. Once the critical mass is there, Bruegel's post and my own experience emphasise the importance of interacting with other blogs.


  1. I'd be interested in seeing what German economists talk about (see your post on German resistance to Keynes). I'd like to test my personal theory: American economists are obsessed with avoiding depressions as the '30s depression is seen in the US, rightly or wrongly, as the most important/interesting economic event ever, while German economists see hyperinflation as the most important economic event ever, so are obsessed with that.

    I suspect British economists lean towards the former because they read US economic books/journals/blogs for language reasons, and because they are secretly proud that the theories of a British economist are such a central part of the debate about depressions.

    Krugman and Bernanke, for example, have studied/written about the recent Japanese economy - are German economists interested in it, or do they focus on Zimbabwe?

    1. Dear Luke,

      as a German economist, I have the impression that this presumed pre-occupation of German economists or the German public with (hyper-) inflation has become a myth among economists by now. There are simply not so many people alive who have actively lived through and lost their wealth during the 1923 hyperinflation. If there once was a majority of a strong distain of inflation in Germany, it has probably died out. Of course, you could argue that the dislike of inflation and the fear of hyperinflation is somehow imbedded in the German culture. However, hyperinflaton does not play much of a role in public discussions. If I compare it with the Nazi time which - rightly so - is still quite a topic in German newspapers and on TV, hyperinflation is quasi a non-issue.

      Deriving national welfare/perference functions is an interesting but also a cumbersome enterprise. I do not think you have to be American to be "obsessesd" with avoiding depressions of the 1930s style or the Japanese experience.

    2. Carsten, thank you. I agree "obsessed" is not a good choice of words - "pre-occupied"?

      It's just that Anglo-American economists (I am including journalists here) seem convinced that German economists are over-worried about inflation. As you can see, they had convinced at least one non-German speaking, non-economist (me). I will be more cautious in future. But I'd still be curious to know what non Anglo American economists worry about...

  2. I thaught it was a Spanish desease, but I see now it is european. That congratulate myself a lot, we don´t differ so much from the rest!
    Perhaps the reason is that there is no European original schools in economics (except for UK). If you take account of Nobel prize...
    I have my own blog in Spanish through which I try to explain the desease of the Euro to my compatriot.

  3. Simon,

    There is the excellent Irish economy blog:

    Also Edward Hugh - an adoptive Catalan with British roots who is a prolific analyser of European economies.

    Although EconoMonitor might be considered American it has a very impressive Europe Channel:

    Then there is Kantoos from Germany. Posts in German and sometimes in English. As he says google translate is pretty good aid for those of us who are non German speakers.

    Wolfgang Munchau posts daily on Eurointelligence. Warning for those outside academia there is a very hefty paywall - but the archive and guest posts are free.

    Sebastian Dullien and Daniela Schwarzer used to run the excellent euro watch but that is sadly defunct now.

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