Monday, Mar. 07, 2011

Free Exchange

Free Exchange brings the reader a few of The Economist's leading economics reporters, but in a more freely flowing form, in shorter bits and in debate with the leading economists of the blogosphere. The "link exchange" feature points the reader each day to the best economics of the Web on that day.

The posts have no authorial names, in accord with the magazine's convention, but there are initials. R.A. is urban expert Ryan Avent (the most frequent contributor) and A.S. is financial economics specialist Allison Schrager, and I am still wondering about P.W. and S.C.

The blog is strong on reasoned argument, links to evidence and avoids the nasty and fruitless polemics that bog down so many other parts of the Web. Most posts have a sharp and thoughtful point about a public-policy issue. The coverage is opportunistic rather than comprehensive, playing to the strengths of the writers. And if that weren't enough, the comments section attracts educated, intelligent remarks.

What's the only drawback of the site? The annoying pop-ups. Most people reading the blog already subscribe to the magazine. But it's not annoying enough to get me to stop reading. The Economist has 24 blogs and this is one of the best.

Cowen is an economics professor at George Mason University, author of the recent book The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better and the co-author of the blog Marginal Revolution.