Why I write for Bloomberg View

A while ago I promised you my take on Bloomberg View [BV], and why I decided to work for them.  They don’t know I am doing this post, I don’t in any official or even unofficial way speak for Bloomberg View or for the broader company, and I hope they don’t get mad at me for attempting this brief capsule treatment.  And it is fine if you wish to dismiss this as biased pleading, because it is.

One of the most striking features of BV, from my personal point of view, is how many of the writers I was actively reading and following before they started with BV.  For instance:

1. A few years ago I tracked down Adam Minter for a Sichuan lunch in Shanghai, to talk with him about recycling, China, the metals trade and used goods, and his general take on things.  Adam is one of the very best writers for mastering small, apparently obscure details, based on years of personal travel and research, and then showing how they reflect broader and more important truths.  Adam later started writing for Bloomberg.

2. Megan McArdle and I have had periodic lunches and chats since I first met her in 2004 (?), when I was presenting an early version of Stubborn Attachments to Victor Niederhoffer’s Junto seminar in New York City.  She was one of the very first economics bloggers, along with John Irons and Brad DeLong.  The next time I see her we will again debate when and whether the world is going to end, and whether Panda Gourmet really does have the best cold noodles in Washington, D.C. (yes).

3. I met up with Christopher Balding for a lunch in Hong Kong, as he came over from Shenzhen.  I was a fan of his China blog and research, and lo and behold Christopher ended up writing for Bloomberg.  Here are his New Year’s resolutions.

4. Cass Sunstein is one of the polymaths of our time, and the #1 cited legal scholar, not to mention a Star Wars fan, and I interviewed him for Conversations with Tyler.  I don’t have to tell you where he writes now, or that his favorite musician is Bob Dylan.

5. I’ve had periodic email contact with Stephen R. Carter, of Yale Law School, as the two of us share many common interests and reading habits.  He’s now with Bloomberg View.

6. Virginia Postrel is a “dynamist” thinker of major significance, and I’ve been following her work for more than twenty years.  I hope she does more with the topic of textiles.  Here is a 2014 video she and I did together (mostly her) on the topic of glamour.

7. A few years ago, Noah Smith and I decided to get together at the AEA meetings, most of all to talk about Japan (Noah is fluent in Japanese and lived there for a good while).  He was then still a professor before he made the decision to work for Bloomberg full-time.  Last year, I took a long Uber ride to meet Noah for Thai food in Berkeley.

8. Conor Sen started blogging, and I thought: “This guy is awesome and has unique perspectives rooted in finance and housing and demographics and Atlanta.”  Soon enough, Bloomberg hired him.  Conor deservedly made this list of the year’s most interesting people.

8. I was a fan of Stephen Mihm’s work on history and economic history, before he started with BV.

9. And now we have Ramesh Ponnuru and Michael Strain, two of the very best market-oriented, right of center yet also eclectic columnists.

I don’t mean to neglect all the other people who write for Bloomberg View, as this list is determined by whom I knew before there was any Bloomberg connection.  As for some of the others, Leonid Bershidsky is an amazing polymath, the “every column is full of information” Noah Feldman has a new and wonderful book on James Madison, there is Joe Nocera and Justin Fox and Barry Ritholz, and I am trying to schedule a Conversation with the great Matt Levine, who always knows more than you think he does, even after taking this clause into account.  When I met Matt I simply uttered: “Matt Levine, only you can do what you do!”  Is any other greeting required?

One day I woke up and realized these people write for Bloomberg View, or that people like them were going to, and then it occurred to me that maybe I should too.  And there are still Bloomberg View writers I haven’t really discovered yet.  (By the way, one reason all these people are so good is because of the consistently excellent editors.)

What is the common element behind all of these writers?  I would say that Bloomberg View tends to hire reading-loving, eclectic polymaths, with both academic knowledge and real world experience, and whose views cannot always be predicted from their other, previous writings.

Over the last year, I think I would nominate Ross Douthat as The Best Columnist.  But overall I think Bloomberg View has assembled the most talented and diverse group of opinion contributors out there, bar none.

On top of all that, BV is perhaps the least gated major opinion website.

In addition to the writing, I also very much enjoy working for a great company.  Not all media outlets can offer that.

Anyway, forgive the biased rant, that is my take for today!  They also serve nice snacks and have an amazing art collection in the NYC building.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.


kiss kiss pucker pucker.

Nope, the letters representing what is involved are S, E, and O.

Along with the ever so quaintly misspelled referer info obviously being in play too.

No kidding. Apparently he's been insufficiently harsh on Trump and is worried about job security there?

Both true and false.

Indeed true that mayor Bloomberg requires his writers to be critical of the administration at all times. Related: Is an investigation into all of bloomber’s holding required? Yes. Do we need to break up Bloomberg for violating anti trust? Yes.

But false that Tyler hasn’t been meeting his quota. Tyler never passes up an opportunity to slander trump.

The only editorial line I've noted that Bloomberg View authors must have is not being pro-gun

The editorial line is expressed in unsigned editorials. Columnists write what they think, free of such constraints. Ramesh Ponnuru has written against gun control.

You guys are such cynical, miserable people.

That is what happens when you are not elite, and read a 'biased rant' like this.

Well, not misery - scrolling through such a dedicated listing of fellow paid employees was interesting, in a product manager sort of way.

Still waiting for the excellently on tap Kevin Lewis to be mentioned today, though - that is always such a reliable treat.

Buncha haters. Do they spam blogs of other people they despise?

So, trolling has been replaced with spamming as the nouvelle vague insult?

In which case, seems like high time to learn how to spam from a pro before returning to 'your regularly scheduled programming.'

And one hopes you aren't one of those last word freaks - OK, who am I kidding.

Nice piece. You and Jane Galt are wax from the same hive. I am also impressed that BG himself, a very controlling prude (that is being polite) took you and Jane Galt on as well as others. Or is he just the Trumpster of op marketing? No salt, no sugar, and what else is next. I like to think he understands the market for seeming tolerant and authoritarian at the same time. Not an unusual combination for successful power player running a salon for intellectuals, but despising the little people who don't have the power to match his dangerous power. Lots of others out there, and no less dangerous. Let them be benificent but watch what they put in your cup.

I took at job at Bloomberg last year, and one of the things that swung it for me was that Tyler and a bunch of other people I respect write for the company (even though my area is a long way from the news division).

Prof. Cowen's job is also a long way from the news division.

@Oliver - Sample bias. Try an out-of-sample datapoint and see if your viewpoint changes. For instance, I don't write for Bloomberg and as a member of the US 1%, I have no need to impress anybody.

Good thing, that.

I worked at Bloomberg in several bureaus and found the culture suffocating and authoritarian, even a bit creepy.

I recall one meeting when a company lawyer was crowing about Bloomberg's defence of free speech during a spat between the Singapore government and a columnist. “We were going to fly the entire bureau out of the country!”

When I noted that the writer was let go, he called me a “weasel” and moved on to the next achievement of our great leader. My cynicism about the media and it’s groupthink began at BBG.

Tyler: "(Noah is fluent in Japanese and lived there for a good while)"

Noah Smith lived in Japan two and a half years and then visited for a total of about three according to what he he wrote. He is not fluent in Japanese.

2,5 years is a great improvement over 1 week and 1 conversation with a taxi driver.

Mr. Smith is not fit for ambassador, but quite high above the average journalist.......don't kill the good in the name of perfect.

I'm just stating a fact - he isn't fluent. If he lived in Spain three years, of course he would be perfect but Japanese simply takes far longer to become fluent. Reverse it: If you were told a Japanese was fluent in English but couldn't understand CNN or couldn't read the NY Times without looking up a lot of words, is he fluent? It isn't a criticism but just a fact about what you can do in Japanese if you work hard at the language for three years.

I probably would call that particular Japanese fluent, yes, of his main issue was that he had to look up words. There are various levels of fluency, of course, but I think the bar to clear is that you can get along in a language independently of translators or people who speak other languages, using native resources (like a dictionary, contextual clues, or explanations from other speakers in the same language) when necessary to supplement your understanding.

Set the bar any higher and you begin to exclude native speakers who simply aren’t all that bright from your definition of ‘fluent.’

I knew a guy at the State Department who became (apparently) fluent in Mandarin in two years. He just had an amazing knack for languages... scored 79 out of 80 on the MLAT. Some people are way, way out at the long end of the tail. Not saying that Noah is one of those people -- just saying that it is *possible*, especially since we are talking about highly gifted people in the first place.

I don't know that test but with Japanese, they don't test fluency well. I know a translator who was a Japanese major, studied another year intensely and lived in Japan for 5 years but still couldn't understand any news nor could speak more than basics. (He is pretty introverted.) Yet he scored a high 85% on the hardest proficiency test then, 1 kyuu - now N1. It takes all kinds.

Oh, I assume Noah is in the top 5% for everything needed to learn Japanese well including motivarion. The only hinderence would be if he was studying a lot of economics at the same time. (He was living in Japan around 2005/2006.) Serious econ obviously cuts into time for Japanese.

I don't think having to look up words is a relevant factor at all. You are confounding vocabulary and education with fluency.

For example I grew up in a poor exurban/rural area with a lot of low socioeconomic status / poorly educated people. My family, hill-billies through-and-through, very much fit in that group. Many of them couldn't read an article and know the definition of every word, if they were interested in fully understanding every word they would have to have a dictionary handy.

My wife on the other hand, we met in graduate school in a USA/English-speaking university, has been in the us for 4 years, has a graduate degree from an english language university, has been married to a native english speaker for 3 years (only speak english to eachother), and has 2 years of professional employment in the US. She can generally read news fine, perhaps asking for a few words explained, however when she reads books she will have her phone with her to look up words (probably an average of one per page).

By your definition both my family of native english speakers and my foreign-born wife are not fluent, but my wife is closer to fluency than my family. It seems like some stupid signalling or divvying up of people into hierarchy's based on a very specific and odd definition of fluent. There's a big difference between flawless speaking of a language and fluency. By the standard of "fluency" being put forward for Japanese, I would say I've never met a foreign born Chinese, Japanese or Korean person that can speak flawless english.

If still reading...

Vocabulary is critical for fluency. This is my point about living in Japan only three years with little or now prior study. It isn't enough time to get the major chunk of vocabulary to understand the news and discuss it in any detail. I do not mean flawless, and I have met Japanese with fluent English, and they have lived in English speaking countries a long time.

The word "fluency" *does* signal and sometimes in a misleading way. If you want a fluent American to help with business in Japan, you want someone who can handle meetings, office situations, etc. Not someone where half the conversation is zooming over the guy's head.

There is no broadly shared definition for "fluency." If you mean to function more or less at the level of a native speaker, as in one can work in a somewhat technical field and write in the language, that is a fairly high bar and few learners are harder languages get to that level. That is not the level that say foreign service officers are expected to obtain, because it's not feasible.

However, if Smith studied Japanese for a long time before living there, he may be close to that level. Do you happen to know the details? If not, who gives a shit?

No, I don't mean function at a level of a native speaker since that is both fluent and "near native." I know many Americans who are fluent in Japanese and in all cases it took much longer than three years. The fastest I know started at 16, majored in it in a top program (and was the top student) , lived with a Japanese family a summer, worked in a Japanese office for two years and then worked in another office for a year. That is around 8 years with three in a Japanese office. He later told me it took two more years at that office, so 10 years, but most would say 8 or 9 years since he was getting much of the news then.

Does it matter? Not really, but it is like Tyler calling an excellent junior econ major an economist.

I think it is interesting in the sense that Japanese and Korean are outliers in how long it takes to get fluent and how people's impressions of Japan shift as they get closer to fluency.

That is far different from living there. A 'program' and part time in a language would take 10 years.

See my comment below. Both were at extremely demanding university programs in the U.S., started at 16, lived with a Japanese family for a summer and also spoke to TAs all the time for years and then returned to Japan.

I consider myself to be fluent in Japanese, although my skills are rapidly depreciating since I no longer have much use for the language aside from a hobby.

I lived in Japan for two years as a Mormon missionary. It took me 18 months of living there and speaking with natives on a daily basis to get to a point where I knew what was going on. Even then, I couldn’t read a newspaper (nor can many 6th graders). I then took advanced classes at university, one of which was a newspaper translation class. That was by far the most challenging of the Japanese classes I took.

I would not believe anyone to be “fluent” by any reasonable definition of that word if they have not lived in the country for at least 18 months, and even then, it depends on who that person is living with, who they spend time with, etc.

I don’t know Noah personally, but it’s not implausible to say that he is fluent.

We definately have a different sense of what fluency means.

I do know an American who teaches Japanese at the university level and was in my one year intensive Japanese program in Japan. He was the best out of the 50, and I was stunned when he told me he had lived in Japan only a summer. Then he went into detail: He started studying Japanese at 16 and lived with a family in Kyoto for a summer and also worked at a hotel those three months where he learned polite Japanese. He majored in Japanese in a top program and was in the middle of grad school at another top Japanese program. He told me during those 6 years in university that he spent most of his time speaking with TAs in Japanese. The sad thing is that a teacher told our class: "You know, he's good but not fluent." Great. That means the rest of us suck...

I went to Japan with seven weeks of Japanese and after three years was "fluent" in the sense Tyler seems to think. I spoke fast since I do in English, struggled to read novels with a dictionary but still got very little NHK news. Ergo, no way was I fluent. In contrast, a friend at that time studied Japanese four years in a good program, worked for Honda in the U.S using Japanese for a year, then worked in Japanese at an international center in Japan for two years. That is 7 years, and he could shadow some of the news at the very end. When I saw him do that, I thought that was fluency - and it was - but he said he needed maybe two more years. Still, 7 years and 3 years are not the same thing. (He has been a *Spanish*(!) lecturer for 20 years)

@Todd K - Oh stop. They say it takes twenty years to become fluent in Greek, and even though by that standard I'm not fluent, I consider myself fluent in Greek since I can speak to people in the street, read a newspaper that's not too technical, and impress foreigners who don't know Greek. That's fluent. Plus I'm a citizen of Greece, that should count as something.

How do Greek teenagers manage?

You don't count.

An American who can understand details of news in Greek is fluent in Greek. Not surprisingly, if you understand the details of TV news in Japanese you are fluent in Japanese. How hard is this?

"How do Greek teenagers manage?"

Signs language or French.

I have a long response to this, but can't get it to post (perhaps is undergoing moderation?). I'll try to re-post it.

This is a very interesting question. I have learned several languages, and for one, Indonesian, I would say I was "fluent" based on ability to read newspaper, understand news, and write an academic undergrad essay. I also could read a novel. (Not so easy, though.) I also could speak to a native speaker, and if they didn't see my face, they would assume I was a local. (I had a few very surprised people before, so I know this.) Indonesian is pretty easy though, and I was a university student there for 18 months.

I also speak Chinese pretty well, but only some TV news, and no newspaper. I could pass for local sometimes on the phone for basic stuff. Many people would say I was "fluent" but I also would not consider myself fluent unless I could do newspaper and TV news. Part of the problem is Chinese has a literary style and a spoken style. This took far longer than 18 months, although, I wasn't a full time student. I also do know some very specialized vocabulary for work, which complicates "fluency." Let's say I used the term "injection molding" in English...am I not fluent if I don't know what that means?

Final question: legal documents. Ultimate fluency would be a legal document. Agree?

As you wrote, it seems you are fluent in Indonesian and intermediate in Chinese.

I wouldn't say very specialized words including legal jargon is needed for fluency. Here is about what you need for fluency: contract (sign a, break a), guilty, innocent, crime, murder, trial, jury, judge, lawyer, witness, testimony, verdict and the verbs that are used often like "be sentenced", etc. Words like bailiff and "recuse yourself" - no. I have heard of American translators with legal backgrounds who work on contracts in Japanese and are not fluent but of course many if not most are.

Interesting anecdotes, Todd---thanks for sharing. The crazy thing about Japanese is that it is impossible for a foreigner to ever be accepted as a native speaker (or, technically, the probability is something like 1 in 1 million). There is such a strong emphasis on whether one is "in" or "out" of the group (i.e. fully accepted in society), and language proficiency is a big criterion for membership. Thus, foreigners who are very good at the language will always be "fluent ... for a foreigner" [similar to your "good but not fluent" quote] and the only foreigners who will truly be accepted are half-Japanese who were raised speaking the language at home from birth. One time I was at a group dinner gathering and one of the attendees was one of those who was raised speaking from birth (and who had a white complexion and an American surname but who had lived most of his life in Japan). Another attendee commented, "Dude, your Japanese is perfect!" And the half-Japanese guy replied, "Yeah, I was born here." It's *that* difficult to be fully accepted in Japanese society. As a side note, I was once talking with a native who was questioning the nativity of another native. The other native apparently had a rare surname and had an odd way of speaking. The first native thought that he was Korean. This constant judging of who is "in" and who is "out" is a culture I consider to be uniquely Japanese.

I share all of this to make a point that if the standard for "fluency" is "a native will fully accept you in society," then no foreigner will ever be fluent. And, from my conversations with natives about what constitutes "fluency" (call it "perfection"?), it comes down more to word usage like idioms and figures of speech (including all of the onomatopoeia), and not vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation/accent. To drive home what I mean: I was talking with a native one time about the proficiency of two different foreigners who we both knew. One had lived in Japan for 20+ years and was married to a native; the other was an American who had lived there for 6 years and was married to an American. The native told me, "Whenever I speak with [the 20+ year guy], I can immediately tell that he isn't a native. But [the 6 year guy] has perfect syntax in every situation. He's definitely fluent." I'm pretty sure that if I were to live in Japan for another 18 years, I'd be like that 20+ year guy: great, but not "fluent." Nonetheless, I still consider myself to be "fluent" since I can read most of the elementary school kanji and frequently talk with natives. But put me in an office setting, a hospital, or a college classroom? I'd be lost, since I haven't had occasion to learn the context-specific vocabulary.

Finally, it's interesting to note that the word for "fluent" in Japanese is *perapera*, which is an onomatopoeia evoking a sense of continuous or fluid speech. When I've heard natives who are really impressed with a foreigner's proficiency, they use the word *kanpeki*, meaning "flawless."

If Noah Smith is fluent in Japanese, all he needs to do is have a Japanese economist that he has never met before interview him for 30 minutes on Japan's economy and put the interview on youtube, linked to his blog.

I highly doubt he will do this.

> Over the last year, I think I would nominate Ross Douthat as The Best Columnist.


Is the rest of this blogpost a Straussian cover to be able to write that without drawing too much attention?

It's not Straussian, it's not even subtle. These are the people Tyler likes, and not (as a significant section of his commenters believe) the people he pretends to like, in order to go to those infamous cocktail parties.

...an odd, milquetoast post from Tyler that he somehow perceives/presents as a bold "rant" that might even anger the suits at Bloomberg.

Apparently he likes BV and many of the folks contributing there... and wanted to join them. Very nice. yawn

Maybe we should have seen the first draft!

'that he somehow perceives/presents as a bold “rant” that might even anger the suits at Bloomberg'

Really makes one wonder what it is like being the head of a public policy institute in that case, doesn't it? (Or not, depending on one's experience, of couse.)

Douthat the best columnist? I don't agree.

His column is too often a ponderous discussion of some topic, ending with the conclusion that the current conservative orthodoxy is correct. See his latest, for example.

> His column is too often a ponderous discussion of some topic, ending with the conclusion that the current conservative orthodoxy is correct.

Yes, he writes as if liberals might actually consider reasoned arguments for conservative positions.

Was there a conservative position in this column? ;-)

Ross is an overeducated buffoon. No one should take him seriously about any economics related question.

He’s wrong about contraception, abortion, and marriage equality.

He’s also wrong about anything math related. Global warming is happening, the debate should be cost benefit analysis and R&D budgets. Deficits aren’t countercyclical, it’s based on federal reserve targets. Liberals need to change to technocratic solutions on this.

However he is right on this: government policy should incentivize two parent married families.

I guess we have different approaches. There are a lot of Douthat columns that don't interest me, and I don't comment on them. This one wasn't about contraception, abortion, or marriage.

I often find that Dougthat's writing is ponderous. But to your point, his posts are based upon reason and logic, so someone that primarily relies on emotion will not be swayed.

If this article contains a cheat, I think it is my moving the emphasis. I still agree with this paragraph:

Instead, in the spirit of the longer view, I want to use this confessional column to reach back to the early Obama years, and the arguments I made then that assumed the urgency of deficit reduction, the pressing need for honest liberals to champion major tax increases and for honest conservatives to go all-in for major entitlement reform.

I think Ross still does too. He just chooses not to emphasize the need to balance tax with justified spending, to talk about .. how the world didn't come crashing down with higher debt over the last 10 years.

Sure that's true, but many of us didn't expect that crash.

grr. "by moving the emphasis"

Maybe I am being too generous. If Ross was really for increased tax and reduced spending *early* in the Obama years, that would have been disastrous.

Counter-cyclical fiscal policy requited deficits then, just as it (ideally) requires surpluses today.

If only we had some example of cutting spending during hard times.

Say, after a major war.

Or maybe some weird deal called Sequester.

Look, I understand that Keynes seems to make sense. But it predicted DOOM after WW II and DOOM with sequester and those didn't happen.

You need to look at the evidence.

To be fair, it was a harder time for the Germans, Soviets, Poles and assorted Europeans, with their capital stock being destroyed and/or a Communist dictatorship being imposed on them. And GPD skyrocked under the New Deal, almost as fast as it collapsed under Hoover (except for when spending was curtailed).

I, for one, am still waiting the hyperinflation I was promissed between 2008 and 2016. I am also expecting since 1980 Repunlicans to cut the deficit.

If you look at yearly spending sequester was not much of a cliff, or that badly timed.

It's not like anyone tried it in 2008 or 2009.

The best criticism still is, imo, that it was not careful, did not dig into ROI.

"Cass Sunstein is one of the polymaths of our time, and the #1 cited legal scholar, not to mention a Star Wars fan, and I interviewed him for Conversations with Tyler."

They are kids' movies. Grow up, freaks.

Anger at someone else's taste in entertainment is the real thing people ought to mature out of.

It is not anger. It is a plea. Grow up, freaks.

Have some fun, old man!

I have lots of mature, dignified fun, thank you very much. I don't need to play with lightsabers and dolls to endure, even stave the awareness of my own mortality.

Well, since yours is obviously imminent, you won't have to worry about Star Wars fans much longer.

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.“ — C.S. Lewis

So it is a descriptive term. Descriptive of what? Just having a nice pair of breasts or a glorious Adam's apple? No, evidently not. It describes psychologically as well as anatomically. Some behavious are adult, some behavious are not.

So, how would a noted Christian apologist think about 50 year olds reading Harry Potter?

Charbes A.'s response: Aargh!!! C.S. Lewis needs to grow up! *Goes back to commenting on news websites and blogs with Fox News running in the background*

Maybe Mr. Lewis was wrong (I know, it is unheard of!!) or being somewhat excentric. But what I know? Maybe he used to join his Anglocatholic friends and challenge his atheist rivals for lightsaber duels to death. Then, their mothers call then to eat cookies and drink milk.

Thiago alert...this "Charbes" guy....

Because we all know Brazilians, fake or otherwise, don't play with dolls and light sabers.

Charbes overstates, but it is ok to be not that into Star Wars (or Trek), and perhaps even to think that the various reboots have diminished the founding vision they once had.

Sure, the original SW had a Joseph Campbell purity, but that is long gone. Similarly the Roddenberry ST had moral simplicity that was more often lost than found in "later episodes."

Now they are rolling commercial ventures, at least as much shaped by international sales as continuity.

Is Alice in Wonderland a kids' book?

Actually I've never seen a kid reading it. For some reason, English professors and Mathematicians seem to be its public nowadays. I myself only read Through the Looking-Glass.

My father read it to me as a child, and we worked out the logic puzzles together.

I have a hard time reconciling Sunstein’s supposed genius with the work he and his wife - Samantha Power - did in the last administration. She was involved in daily unmasking of Americans under surveillance in the run up to the election.

And her tweet today about Iran is appalling:

“We stand with the Iranian people so much that we won’t let them come here. ”

Think about that for a second. She supported a murderous regime with literally pallets of cash that inevitably was passed on to the likes of Hezbollah (Iran’s funding of the terror outfit quadrupled after the deal with the US), but all she has to say while this same regime is murdering young Iranians in the street is that Trump is bad.

Arrogance, ignorance or a toxic mix of both?

Besides the ass kissing, I kind of have to agree with Tyler on this one. BV has very good columnists compared to other major mainstream US journals. I think a major strong point is that it is not too ideological, which is really a breadth of fresh air compared to WP, NYT, Atlantic, et al.

BTW, it would be nice if MR could make a list of best journal/magazines in terms of opinion and long reads (along with best music or best movies that sometimes appear in this blog). Not sure about Ross Douthat though...

Maybe it seemed non-ideological a few years ago as it joined in the fevered pitch Obama worship. However, today we can see that it is, indeed, nakedly partisan.

There are a vanishingly few writers who can obstain from crtizing the administration within each paragraph: McCardle and maybe Levine (Levine doesn’t really write about politics, he writes about the fun internal stories of finance. When he does brush up against politics you can see that he plays ball with Bloomberg policies). Even McCardle isn’t immune, when she references Trump directly she needs to bend the knee.

The administration has much to criticize, doing so does not = blind partisan.

I appreciate all the authors cited, but perhaps feel the most kinship with Smith, the moralist.


To each, his or her own.

I find Bershidsky eye-opening, Levine quirky smart and funny, Lake informative, McCardle thoughtful. And Smith less so.

Most of them are predictably toeing the anti Trump line. If that’s the price I have to pay to learn from a pretty good array of writers, so be it.

It's predictable because it's the correct stance. It's not that complicated. Trump gets a ton of shit because he deserves it.

Well, there is that. Sort of takes the fun out of formulating a more complex analysis, though.

Trump takes the fun out of everything.

The dude actually said today that we can thank him for no airline deaths in 2017, because he was so closely managing the industry.

That is some Il Duce megalomania, right there.

Is there some benefit to writing for a publication with interesting writers rather than just reading them? Do you get to meet?

I would assume that Tyler Cowen's reputation is enhanced by writing for the same publication to which other talented authors contribute.

Plus all those swanky cocktail parties.

So, to use a British expression, you are just taking the piss with one of the chosen images concerning that 'amazing art collection in the NYC building,' aren't you?

Please add Conor Sen to the list of requested Conversations guests!

I also try to read everything by Clive Crook.

When I read Bloomberg, I read it to find out what the New York Washington corridor thinks. McArdle has made a gradual but inexorable move from interesting to boring insider/preachy.

Journalism as Priesthood. Bloomberg is the Jesuits.

Journalism as a job. Bloomberg is the employer.

Leonid Bershidsky is also a xenophobe that spreads lies about Ukraine.

At some point it seemed to me that BV was trying to be The _American_ Economist . But it has turned out to be something entirely different: distinct voices with their own style and editorial perspective. I enjoy reading BV and I follow the blogs of many of the contributors. But there is nothing larger than the collection of writers. It seems like a missed opportunity to create a strong editorial view/writing style/brand that would make the total larger than the sum of the parts. In a few years, some of the star writers might move on to other things and nothing will be left.

The lack of a unified voice is what keeps me reading and subscribing. These are smart and idiosyncratic writers, only minimally expected to contribute to an intellectual/political brand. How minimally? I think: be reasonably liberal (classical) and reasonably progressive (dump on Trump).

Don't have to be a progressive to dump on Trump. Plenty of classical liberals loathe him too, as they should.

That last photo seems to show a very bad map of Australia. Never work for a man who has little grasp of geography.

It occurs to me that relatively new outlets need to invest more in individual voices than more recognized brands. As much as I appreciate the Economist, I can't name one person who writes for it off the top of my head. Vox and the Ringer, relative newcomers, seem to do a lot to promote their individual writers. I can name perhaps two or three writers from the NY Times -- the exception that proves the rule?

Regardless, this is a generous post, and I appreciate the candid explanation. I'm glad you're happy with this choice.

Articles in the Economist are famously unsigned It's certainly not impossible (or even difficult) to determine who writes for the magazine, but it's not at all surprising that a reader wouldn't know the names.

Is this an El Anatsui behind the counter?

Sounds all very complacent to me.

Can someone help explain to me why the link to " a great company" is a picture? I'm so curious

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