Wednesday, 21 January 2009

getting started

I decided I’d start a blog for all the usual reasons – self-indulgence, vanity, ego, frustration at my mediocre lot in life, a selfish desire to spleen-vent and the deeply self-deluded belief I've something interesting to say. Even better I figured I’d focus, fixate even on the credit crunch because its so much a part of my actual day job. So in the spirit of all that I figured I’d start with my Anglo-centric reading list for keeping up to date with what’s happening.

So first off who do I read?

Willem Buiter: Very pithy, insightful and to the point, but can also be very, very technical for those of us without postgraduate degrees in financial economics. Nevertheless the argument he’s been developing in recent blogs, as I understand it, that the scale of the British problem is potentially too big for the economy to handle, is frighteningly pertinent.

Robert Peston: Compulsory reading really. Poor Evan Davies he really missed the boat focusing on becoming a presenter just as things changed. Poor Peston he really is getting ideas above his station writing that PDF on the economy of the future. Stick to the journalism I say or is the (self?) censorship being practised over the collapse in RBS and Lloyds share prices getting in the way allova sudden?

Samuel Brittain: There’s something wonderfully Yoda-like about his articles and I mean that in a good way. Gordon Brown scolds banks? Samuel scolds Bishops. The Treasury look to the Swedish bank bail-out? Samuel looks to the New Deal between the wars. Now that’s perspective!

Finally, an honourable mention for John Kay because when he does comment on actual events he usually has something very interesting to say and does it so eloquently. And like Samuel Brittain he has that certain Yoda quality.

Who to avoid?

Martin Wolf: Maintaining a dotty professor persona is all very well, endearing even, but when you’re constantly catching up with actual events who cares?

Roger Bootle: The man, the legend, the Bootle. In fact bootle is a new verb, it means to spraff on endlessly trotting out what sounds like insightful jargon to the uninitiated when your understanding of actual events is little better than a first year economics student. I’ve lost count of how many years he’s been consistently saying the housing market is doomed, but hey ho a stopped clock is right twice a day I suppose (unless its digital and on 24 hour mode).

Every bank, financial institution, hedge fund, mortgage association, etc., etc., head, president, director, vice-president, Tsar of global, country, universal whatchamacallit economic research. I do not consult the Catholic Church when I want an objective view of abortion so why the dickens should I listen to what people in the pay of the (were) great and good that caused this mess have to say about the credit crunch?

Pretty much every academic: The tragedy of the academics is that for all the wonderful impartiality they could potentially have brought to bear (if we ignore the debates between the neo-classical/neo-keynesian tribes and so on) they live for the most part in such splendid, mathematical isolation, they have nothing to say about the real world other than what they read in the Guardian last Tuesday (although I understand the THES is doing a supplement next month). There is that Freakconomics bloke or was his fixation with using odd real examples to prove how clever he was simply more of the same only quirkier?

Finally there is the Wall Street Journal. I’m not sure where to place this. The last piece I read on the money being thrown at a US bank by the government was so wonderfully anti-government/pro-bank it provided a fascinating insight into the Wall Street mentality. Have they no shame? Nope.

Right next time I'll try and say something wonderfully insightful.

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