Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

Wall Street Journal’s Top 25 Economics Blogs

July 17, 2009

The Wall Street Journal lists their top 25 economics blogs. Jim Hamilton’s Econbrowser is among them:

Originality: 5 light bulbs
Geekiness: 5 calculators
Readability: 3 reading glasses
For his day job at the University of Calif.-San Diego, economist James Hamilton works on the sorts of statistical problems that can leave even other trained economists confused. On Econbrowser, the blog he started in 2005, he (mostly) puts his insights on the economy into plain English. With a keen interest in energy markets, he was early with analysis of how a rapidly developing world and slowing oil production was pushing energy prices higher, and how those prices were affecting the economy. With his co-blogger, University of Wisconsin economist Menzie Chinn, he’s been delving into thorny macroeconomic questions and offering detailed, but understandable, explanations of how the Federal Reserve’s unconventional policy shifts work.
Quibble: Usually Messrs. Hamilton and Chin keep the wonk factor down, but not always. One recent post made the point that “dY = (1/Ä){[((Yññi+Yi))m/Di )+YññR]dR + YññZdZ}.”

Among others are Freakonomics, Paul Krugman’s blog, and Matt Kahn’s Environmental and Urban Economics blog.

Hat-tip: Env-Econ


Iceland in Crisis

March 9, 2009

Since Iceland is one of Norway’s neighbors and since my supervisor is Icelandic, I found this article about the financial mess on Iceland quite interesting. It’s called ‘Wall Street on the Tundra’ (another title I don’t quite understand; to call Iceland Wall Street is, well, strange, I think, and while tundra may be exotic, what does it have to do with the financial trouble?), and the introductory paragraph goes like this:

Iceland’s de facto bankruptcy—its currency (the krona) is kaput, its debt is 850 percent of G.D.P., its people are hoarding food and cash and blowing up their new Range Rovers for the insurance—resulted from a stunning collective madness. What led a tiny fishing nation, population 300,000, to decide, around 2003, to re-invent itself as a global financial power? In Reykjavík, where men are men, and the women seem to have completely given up on them, the author follows the peculiarly Icelandic logic behind the meltdown.

Among the more amusing paragraphs, you’ll find the following caricature of how Icelandic banks operated:

You have a dog, and I have a cat. We agree that they are each worth a billion dollars. You sell me the dog for a billion, and I sell you the cat for a billion. Now we are no longer pet owners, but Icelandic banks, with a billion dollars in new assets.

The author (Michael Lewis) also comes up with an interesting theory of why so few seemed to foresee the global economic downturn:

One of the hidden causes of the current global financial crisis is that the people who saw it coming had more to gain from it by taking short positions than they did by trying to publicize the problem.

Hat-tip: Freakonomics

UPDATE: My Icelandic supervisor made me aware of a more informative and analytic story on the Iceland crisis from the Wall Street Journal.