World Bank endorses MB

Many readers have noted the largish impact that MB has had on the reporting of the national media on certain topics. Indeed, one reader coined the term “”Macrobation” to describe the phenomenon.

Now the World Bank is out with fascinating new research into the effect economics blogs (h/t Adrian). And it’s a ringing endorsement:

Economic blogs are doing more than providing a new source of procrastination for writers and readers. Using a variety of empirical approaches, we have provided the first quantitative evidence that they are having impacts. There are large impacts on dissemination of research – a link on a popular blog results in a substantial increase in abstract views and downloads, while a majority of economics blog readers say they have read a new paper in the past month as a result of a blog. There also appear to be benefits in terms of the bloggers becoming better known and more respected within the profession – bloggers are over-represented relative to their academic publication records in a poll of favorite economists, and readers of a new blog have become more aware of the researchers writing it. Finally, we find some evidence from our experiment that blogs influence attitudes and knowledge: readers of the new Development Impact blog think more highly of World Bank research and are more interested in working in this institution, and the average reader may have gained knowledge about the contents of recent research papers as a result of reading this blog.

The fact that blog posts are available worldwide immediately after posting poses challenges for evaluating their impact. A further contribution of this paper is therefore in illustrating a variety of methods that can be used to assess the impacts of a blog. These methods can therefore be readily adapted in future work to consider the impact of other economics blogs not considered here, as well as blogs in other academic disciplines.

One natural response to our results is to ask why, given these benefits, more economists don‟t blog? Tyler Cowen has argued that the answer to this question is “because they can‟t, at least not without embarrassing themselves rather quickly, even if they are smart and very good economists. It‟s simply a different set of skills”.

However, our results show that there are a number of positive externalities from economics blogs that are unlikely to be captured by the blogger him or herself: bloggers increase the dissemination of other people‟s research (in addition to their own work), and can have positive effects on the reputation of their institutions. The presence of these externalities, coupled with costs to blogging (such as the time cost), suggest that there may be an undersupply of good economics blogs.

Not that MB is interested in endorsements from the system. But, to all of those readers that fight off the more innovative ideas expressed at MB with defeatist statements like “it’ll never happen”, in your face!

Wps 5783

Houses and Holes
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  1. Yes, the work of MB is nothing short of revolutionary.

    I cannot tell enough people about MB. I use to get laughed at for being an avid blogger – now these people are asking for the links to be sent to them.

    When you are three days ahead of the news cycle…people notice.

    When you think outside the square and question people like Gitten!, pople notice.

    Keep fighting the good fight bloggers. Not just the MB authors, who are excellent, but the contributors are just as important.

    It is the ability of the readers to engage and the authors to respond, that makes MB so powerful!

    • When you are three days ahead of the news cycle…people notice.
      In some cases, I think MB was 6+ months ahead of the news cycle.

    • Long time listener, first time caller here. Couldn’t agree more with how refreshing it is to read MB. Depite my meek and miniscule knowledge (and education) on the matters MB traverses, its superiority is plain to see and I look forward to the daily updates.

      • Indeed, noticed a couple myself. Then again, it’s fun to see one-time bullish posters immediately ceasing their attempt after being blown out of the water by well argued counter comments.

        Guess they still have to make the switch from broadcasting to discussion. 😛

  2. MB has taught me a lot for a start so I thank you for that. Also, having MB articles in MSM gets the message out to the average Joe, and that is vitally important IMO. The RBA, and Treasury can be political so I’m not convinced they serve us well so having MB provides a rational macro view IMO is brilliant. I believe if you have a good macro view to invest better, and that’s what I try to achieve before I invest anything.

    I just don’t read the likes of Pascoe, Joye etc., and even when I did pre MB for me, I always thought they were talking crap.

    MB rocks!

  3. MB is a revelation but is its relatively late arrival on the blogosphere a reflection of the disinterest in alternative economic perspective among Australians? For example, across the ditch, has provided where the mainstream media hasn’t for quite some time. Perhaps its the ethnic make-up of NZers (Scottish Presbyterian influence) that makes them more circumspect amongst the cacophony of media hype. One thing that separates MB from is that the comments here can be intelligently supportive or provocative. has had less luck and the quality of the readers views has sunk to the level of a mud fight, usually about the future direction of residential property (what else).

  4. For me, MB is one of the best Econoblogs around, and I’d encourage all at MB to keep it up.

    However, I have to note that MB was not mentioned in the World Bank Report, nor is it even listed on

    That doesn’t mean that MB stuff isn’t good – sometimes it is exceptional, and I’ve often sent MB links to other Econobloggers.

    WRT influencing policy, in Oz policy formation seems to be a mixture of arcane bureaucratic mumbling, back-room power politics, MSM dogma and Pollies penchants. Hardly influenced by public debate, regardless of how well informed. That has to change, and is changing, and MB can play a big part in that, if it can avoid some of the traps of Blogs, such as the formation of cliques that adhere to the penchants of the lead Blogger(s), rejecting all other perspectives.

  5. Simon the likeable

    Well done guys, a superb site.
    I’d like to add a big thank you from those (like myself) who have been saved from making very costly financial mistakes because of the clear concise and absolutely impartial information you all provide each day. You give real help to real people for no gain to yourselves. Kudos to you all, if only there were more like you.

  6. Walt Disney's Frozen Head

    Many of the top blogs provide analysis that you just can’t get in the business media — including commercial business blogs. In the commercial sphere there seems to be a tension between endless content and solid analysis. In the end quantity wins out of quality.

    Blogs don’t suffer from the same constraints and generally provide a wealth of data to support analysis that is being presented (i.e. the sort of stuff that would be edited out in a commercial article).

    But innovative ideas, if they are to be accepted as innovative, need to be robust and supported with data. (A perpetual motion machine is an innovative idea but show me the data to demonstrate how it will work).

    You don’t get this in MSM whereas blogs can be a forum for this stuff.

  7. I love MB but the headline of this post is more like something channel 9 or murdoch press would pull. You guys don’t need to stretch this way in the name of self-promotion.

  8. I can’t quite remember how I stumbled across MB, but it has quickly become my daily go to site for macro related information. It’s a contrarians dream 🙂

    Hat tip to the bloggers and contributors, keep up the great work

  9. Many readers have noted the largish impact that MB has had on the reporting of the national media on certain topics. Indeed, one reader coined the term “”Macrobation” to describe the phenomenon.

    Well I think you might be over-estimating your impact just a tad. I think you guys have definitely had an impact on the mainstream media view of the deflating housing bubble and Dutch Disease, but I really doubt that Glenn gets up at 7am and jumps straight onto MacroBusiness (like I do).

    Perhaps he should, but I don’t think he does. As Chris Joye will be quick to tell you, he gets lots of hits from the RBA!

  10. Discovered MB a couple of weeks ago – fantastic site. Two things stand out in particular.

    First, the articles are as long as they need to be. If 6 lines is all that it takes to describe a graph, then that’s all that the writers write. There is no perceived need to write another 1500 words of crap to grant the graph its appropriate importance.

    Secondly – intelligent comments from well-informed bloggers. Fantastic! I have not once read “that red-head bitch is so out of touch” or “we could save money by sinking the boats”, or any of the usual bogan garbage that you read on blog sites. The discussion about statistical analysis a couple of days ago was solid gold.


    • Tom,

      This is an excellent point. I used to work for a commercial broadcast new service (one of the big 3 networks in Oz) and it always annoyed me that the news had to be 30 minutes.

      I actually proposed that the news should be as long as it needs to be, no more and no less. Of course that little idea got nowhere.

      Some days are definately bigger news days than others and it used to annoy me to no end that we would rush are really important story as there wasn’t much space for it in the ‘News’ segment whilst in the same program the sports section would be featuring a surfing dog as a filler.

      Crazy. Much happier not working in broadcast news these days 🙂

    • Oh yeah, and the comments often add much value to the original post. Honestly guys, I have been with you from Day 1 and the quality has been consistent and outstanding. Absolutely top effort by all the posters.

    • Although I don’t comment as much these days I do try to read them all as its definitely a two way learning process.

      The level of value added is far above any of the main economic/financial fora out there, although I’m still on TalkFinance from time to time.

  11. I have been reading US based econo-blogs for quite a few years and not so long ago made a comment to one of my friends that we didn’t have anything like that in Australia. Although it came late, I think that MB is of better quality and more vibrant than many of the US blogs that I used to read.

  12. Good job, MB, you are the best. I am addicted to MB and it is my daily routine to read and to send the links to friends.

  13. Out of interest… I’d be very interested in a MB weekly podcast where you guys chew the fat for a couple of hours.

    We could also have some “Skype” call-ins, chat show style 😉

  14. Build it and they will come!!!!!
    I hate you guys, I have had to give up tv,oh well masterchef and the block are over!
    It feels like I’m studying again but this time I’m actually learning something
    BTW my first degree was economics!!!
    So glad a work collegue got me onto this site !!!
    It would be interesting to know what sort of traffic you guys get!!! I’m sure iit is growing exponentially

    • +1

      My husband feels neglected, but I would much rather read MB than continue anything else from my previous night time screen time.

      The economics news and views (most definitely including the readers comments) feel the most “real” of any “news” I am exposed to in my day.

      Keep up the good work.