When baseball sluggers are slumping, they re-evaluate their swing. When the economy is going bad, generally there’s increased interest in the field of economics.
At least that’s what two Oregon economists think is happening, spurred by a daily dose of economic bad news.
“You see it on the front pages every day,” says Patrick Emerson, an assistant professor of economics at OSU and creator of the Oregon Economics Blog (oregonecon.blogspot.com). More students are eager to participate in class discussions now, Emerson says.
If the goal, though, is to become a self-styled economist, blogs can be a useful alternative to major news outlets for information. Some are offshoots of business newspapers and their reporters, some are by academics and professionals, and others are by hacks knowing nothing about economics.
“It’s kind of what you are looking for,” says Mark Thoma, professor of economics at the University of Oregon. In March 2005 Thoma started what has become one of the more popular economic blogs, the Economist’s View. The blog attracts about 12,000 hits per day. But when the Federal Reserve held unscheduled meetings during last summer’s financial crisis, the blog suddenly received about 2,000 more hits per day, says Thoma.
The good and not-so-good economic blogs are separated by a natural, self-governing system on the Internet, by which credible and well-established sites recommend and post links to other economic blogs, Thoma says.
Many are specialized, too. Some are fact-based, and others are fiery commentary on major economic stories of the day. The best even break stories not appearing in the mainstream media.
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