Arnold Kling  

Kansas City BBQ and Blogfest

Obama's Gall... Macroeconomic Identity Politic...

Tyler Cowen reports on the barbecue competition. He and I, along with a Princeton University Press person, Seth Ditchick (sp?) arrived in time to go to lunch at Oklahoma Joe's. It was the best BBQ I can remember ever having. It was also the only BBQ I can remember ever having. Tyler is the foody, not me.

The blogfest starts today. It is a conference to which I was invited as an economics blogger.

I have been telling Tyler and others that my intention is to dial back my discussions of current events and return to the "roots" of my blogging. That means trying to point economists and economics students toward interesting material, while expressing my point of view. For the last six months, the current events goal and the interesting material goal have been compatible, but I see diminishing returns starting to set in on the current events stuff.

Don Boudreaux says he enjoys my occasional expressions of anger. But that's not who I am. At some level, all the nonsense going on in financial markets and government has no more effect on me than C.C. Sabathia's horrible month last April (only fantasy baseball nerds will get that analogy). Since I owned C.C., and my other starters were all having injury issues, my team was near the bottom of the standings for quite a while, which cost me a lot of sleep. It would have cost me moresleep, but I decided to just ignore it until it got better. It did.

I think I am on a panel talking about the financial crisis, but nobody gave me any indications of what to prepare. In my mind, there were going to be a dozen attendees, mostly Ph.D's, so I had in mind a talk with a lot of nerdy inside lingo, focusing on how the crisis has affected my views on macro.

Instead, there are many more people here than I expected, including some real luminaries, but very few economist bloggers. Mark Thoma, Don Boudreaux, Tyler and myself are the ones I can think of off-hand.

Non-economist bloggers include Tim Kane who organized the conference. [UPDATE--correction: Kane has a Ph.D from UCSD. He also points out that other PhD's in attendance inclded Bob Litan, Michael Mandel, Jeff Cornwall, Mark Perry, Alison Schrager, and Lynne Kiesling. However, most of them were not at the BBQ dinner.] Also Steven Malanga (the link goes to a post he wrote on California's budget problems, I recommend reading it), Virginia Postrel, whose blog was in some ways a precursor/inspiration for my first economics blog, David Warsh, the only journalist who could pass my test for being a certified macroeconomist (which consists of going through the list of Nobel laureates and correctly identifying the ones cited for their contributions to macro), and Robert X. Cringely (a pseudonym--more here , who I think of as the author of Accidental Empires, which I have very fond memories of reading.

Non-economist, non-bloggers include Amity Shlaes, of The Forgotten Man fame (or infamy, depending on your point of view. I'm a fan, Brad DeLong not so much.) Also other folks,who I am forgetting. A lot of the people here don't know me or econlog, which is another thing I hadn't counted on in thinking about what I might say (I was not planning on repeating any of my oft-repeated views on the financial crisis).

COMMENTS (12 to date)
Zachary Skaggs writes:

Maybe it's better for your psyche not to write on current events, but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: I hope you reconsider! Your take on the ongoing, massive increases in government has been must-read material for months now. I read the NYT account of some new happening, and then immediately go to Econlog to see what it *really* means. It's rare to find a (1) terrific communicator (2) with an MIT-level-grasp of the issues (3) who is unaffiliated and strives to avoid bias (4) commenting on massively important issues facing the nation. This is not fantasy baseball--America's fiscal future is being ravaged, and that's not going to change if you ignore it! So, here's to hoping you don't!

Andrew Maier writes:

I disagree with Boudreaux about your expressions of anger. While I think you're absolutely entitled to them and to their expression, I've always been refreshed with the more calm way you go about your analysis, steering clear of rhetorical anger and self-righteousness than most of your fellow economist bloggers (Tyler Cowen is another that I respect for his analytical cool). While the financial crisis is frustrating for everyone (Pro-stimulus people are frustrated there isn't enough in the package, anti-stimulus people are frustrated that there's too much, and everyone in between can get frustrated about the ridiculous political posturing that's going on), your tendency to take things on a logical level makes you stand out as a person who can be trusted not to let their analysis be carried away by emotions. Just thought I'd add my two cents as someone who reads Econlog mainly for your own contributions.

Dan writes:


Good to see you getting back to your roots. I always thought your easy-going temperament made you more convincing. Of course, it won't grab as much attention or fire up like-minded supporters in the same way.

Also, for a fellow fantasy baseballer, the CC analogy is hilarious. To extend it, does this mean the Obama administration are the ones who would drop CC in May and miss out on the stats he put up in Milwaukee?

Greg Ransom writes:

"At some level, all the nonsense going on in financial markets and government has no more effect on me than C.C. Sabathia's horrible month last April"

I wish I could say the same.

This thing has put friends out of work, cost others their home, put prostitutes on my block via a mortgage scam, is costing my next door neighbor his home, has skyrocketed then cratered the value of our home, and is sending taxes we have trouble paying through the roof here in California (car tax, sales tax, income tax all up).

And I can't stop thinking about where this is taking the country for my family and my kids.

What will the tax rates be in 2030?

Greg Ransom writes:

This may tell us something.

If we tied economics professor salaries to the actual economy, maybe their would care more about understanding it -- rather than achieving status and income in the reputation and publishing game of math jock "economics".

It goes without saying, this is a comment about the economics profession, and not about Arnold.

This is probably true of most economists. Arnold wrote: "At some level, all the nonsense going on in financial markets and government has no more effect on me than C.C. Sabathia's horrible month last April."

John Turner writes:


Amity Shlaes does blog, over at the Council on Foreign Relations.

guthrie writes:

I second Zach! Three cheers for current events!

And while I don't play fantasy baseball, I live in Milwaukee, so your mention of CC made me smile as I recalled the ride we had at the end of last season! A nice diversion considering everything's coated in ice at the moment!

aez writes:

Mr. Kling:

Follow your convictions. Thank you for all the information, analysis, and opinion--past, present, and future. (That goes for the entire cohort on this blog!)


cvd writes:

I'll third Zach

jsalvati writes:

I agree 100% with what Andrew Maier says. I very much like that you don't express anger very often.

rhhardin writes:

Calvin Trillin did a review of an unfavorable NYT review of a Kansas City barbeque joint.

His conclusion was that the NYT reviewer was such an impressive and august personage that the counterman made an exception and used silver tongs to serve the dish to him, and _the flavor is in the counterman's hands_.

rea writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the to request restoring your comment privileges. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

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