Today I would like to introduce a list of the blogs that investors can follow if they are interested in tracking the key debates on global macro in the financial markets. These are some of the blogs which shape the debates at morning meetings and investment committees throughout the financial system. To prepare for these meetings (and much else besides), follow these blogs.
I admit that I have only belatedly realised just how much essential economic information and discussion is freely available in the blogosphere. The internet has given everyone the chance to become a journalist, and many macro economists have taken full advantage.
How times have changed. When I started work as an economist in the financial markets in the 1970s, it was easy to prepare for client presentations or for the firm’s morning meetings (which even then had assumed great importance, though they normally started at the civilised hour of 9.30am). Essentially, I read three journalists in the papers on the way to work in the City: Samuel Brittan in the Financial Times, and Peter Jay and David Blake in The Times. With Martin Wolf still ensconced inside the four walls of the World Bank, that covered about 95 per cent of the questions I was likely to get at the time. Any other questions were easily dismissed as irrelevant to the markets.
There was some, but very little, economic research published by the US and UK investment firms (known, before the Big Bang in the City, as “stockbrokers”). Occasionally, there would be discussion about the work of Gordon Pepper at Greenwells, and Henry Kaufman at Solomon Brothers. Tim Congdon soon won a large and impassioned following.
There were never any questions about economies other than Britain and America. I do, however, remember being asked to explain the difference between the Bundesbank and Deutsche Bank, which seemed to confuse some investors at the time.
There were three television channels in the UK, none of which covered the financial markets. It was similar in the US. CNBC was only a distant twinkle in Tom Rogers’ eye.
Academic economists had very little following in the markets in those days. Paul Krugman was diligently working on New Trade Theory at MIT, which later changed our understanding of the reasons for international trade and won him a Nobel Prize. He and other academics had little or no outlet in the press. Actually, academics had not cultivated a means of communication that was readily understandable to investors and policy makers. They did not seem interested in doing so.
The big exception, obviously, was Milton Friedman, who was in the process of changing world opinion on the money supply, inflation and unemployment. John Kenneth Galbraith was also prominent, but he was viewed with deep suspicion by investors because of his liberal views. The central bankers of the day rarely made speeches and, when they did, they were wholly ignored. In the world of macro policy, politicians ruled the roost.
Enough of this economist’s version of the Antique Roadshow. Morning meetings nowadays are full of debate about macro-economic ideas, the speeches of central bankers, and the writings of academia. The blogs are pivotal. Diversity of opinion reigns. No one in the investment community is safe from the ideas of the macro thinkers. The economics teams of the large investment banks have celebrity status. And the blogosphere has allowed academics to communicate freely with policy makers and investors.
In the list below, I have selected only a small sample of the total universe of economics blogs, focusing exclusively on those that cover my particular subject, which is the intersection of global macro-economics, financial markets and macro-economic policy. I have tried not to choose personal favourites, but have selected blogs from all sides of the debate which will enable investors to understand the dominant macro issues in the shortest possible time. I have excluded many other great blogs for no reason other than the need for brevity. I will update the blogroll on the bottom right of this page whenever appropriate.
In no particular order (as they say on The X Factor), the current list is:
Economists View – Mark Thoma
Paul Krugman Conscience of a Liberal
Grumpy Economist – John Cochrane’s blog
Grabbing Reality With Both Hands – Brad DeLong
Economics One – John Taylor
Econbrowser – Jim Hamilton and Menzie Chinn
Fed Watch – Tim Duy
Confessions of a Supply Side Liberal – Miles Kimball
Noahpinion – Noah Smith
The Money Illusion – Scott Sumner
Uneasy Money – David Glasner
New Monetarist Economics – Stephen Williamson
VoxEU – Portal for the Centre for Economic Policy Research
China Financial Markets – Michael Pettis
Key Trends in Globalisation – John Ross
Not the Treasury View – Jonathan Portes
Mainly Macro – Simon Wren Lewis
Money Supply – FT
Alphaville – FT
Martin Wolf’s Exchange – FT
Free Exchange – The Economist