Hi. I’m Robe. Obviously my real name isn’t Robe, it’s Robert. But most people have been calling me Robe for the last 10 years and I think Robe is a pretty good name for a blogger. I’m a PhD student in Economics at the University of Maryland at College Park. Before that, I worked for 5 years as an economic consultant and as anyone who knows me as Robe knows well I love economics. I’m starting this blog for a few reasons. First of all, at this point in my life I’ve actually met a few people who are genuinely interested in learning more about economics. I tend to abuse these poor people by inundating them with articles and links on economic topics I find interesting. So by putting the articles and links I find interesting in a central location I’ll have to click send fewer times a day on my gmail which will increase my utility while allowing people to pretend to read the articles without feeling obligated to e-mail me or respond in some way.
Everyone, well, about 5 people are better off and no one is worse off–Pareto Efficiency in action! Another purpose in creating this blog is that I constantly read the big econ blogs and have questions, thoughts and comments about them. The blogs I focus on are John Taylor’s, Scott Sumner’s, Greg Mankiw’s, Paul Krugman’s, Brad Delong’s, and the Becker-Posner Blog. I follow these blogs in particular because these people are constantly arguing both directly and indirectly with each other and they’re all brilliant economists. What’s clear from these blogs is that currently the tone of debate between academic economists is surprisingly bitter and I’d like to explore the reasons for that.
Finally by having an economics blog, I’ll be forced to read even more economic material. This motivation is self-serving, and definitely not Pareto Efficient because my girl friend, who has no interest in economics, will suffer having even more economics in her life. She might even have to read my blog occasionally.
At this point, I should make some necessary disclosures and discuss my goal in assessing the debates in the economics blogosphere. Politically I tend towards mild libertarianism and fiscal conservatism. I say mild because I don’t read Reason magazine, I don’t believe in the gold standard, and I do think that markets sometimes fail. On the other hand, I think government tends to fail more often than markets. However, since I do believe that when empirical data indicates a clear market failure government intervention maybe in order. Many hardcore libertarians will obviously be appalled by this and in fairness to those libertarians, describing myself as a libertarian might not be fair. Unfortunately there’s no better term out there to describe my beliefs, so for the moment that’s the term I’ll use.
However, first and foremost, at this point in time I am a student of economics. My goal in this blog is not to push my agenda, since I’m still pretty flexible on what that is, but rather to understand the nuances of the economic debates of our time so as to help myself and others understand what’s going on. If people as brilliant as Paul Krugman and Robert Lucas can disagree so strongly, I figure it behooves us to dig deep and really understand where the points of disagreement lie and whether empirical evidence can help resolve these debates.