Simon Johnson joins HuffPo

By Felix Salmon
January 29, 2010
This is a great hire: the Huffington Post has brought on Simon Johnson as a contributing business editor, underscoring the way in which the historically staid and boring intersection of politics with economics is pretty much the hottest game in town right now.

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This is a great hire: the Huffington Post has brought on Simon Johnson as a contributing business editor, underscoring the way in which the historically staid and boring intersection of politics with economics is pretty much the hottest game in town right now.

The hire works both ways: Simon bring with him a huge amount of credibility and expertise, a fantastic nose for newsworthiness, and his equally-bright partner at Baseline Scenario, James Kwak, who understands intuitively the speed and power of the blogosphere. At the same time, Simon and James now get access to the HuffPo’s reporting staff, who have been doing great work of late, and who are a great resource with a truly complementary skillset to that of the Baseline Scenario team.

Up until quite recently, the blogosphere was almost entirely parasitical on the MSM: newspapers would do the shoe-leather reporting, and then bloggers would add layers of conversation, commentary, and debate. The exception was the world of technology and media blogs, where the likes of TechCrunch and PaidContent have been breaking news for years. Now, as the likes of Politico and HuffPo start aggressively reporting in their own right, the blogs are moving into the world of original political reporting; inevitably, over the next couple of years, we’ll see the same thing happening in finance and economics.

Reporters are expensive, of course, and you can’t expect them to post multiple times per day if they’re chasing down a breaking story. But as the FT and the WSJ retreat behind their firewalls, there’s a wide-open opportunity for a fast-moving and well-financed financial site to start becoming a must-read on Wall Street in the way that TechCrunch and Politico are in Silicon Valley and DC respectively. Maybe if Simon helps to build the HuffPo business section into something agenda-setting, the next step might be for Arianna to move into the world of finance, competing with the likes of Henry Blodget, and making the financial blogosphere in general something much richer and deeper than it is right now.


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…making the financial blogosphere in general something much richer and deeper than it is right now.

It’s as rich and deep as a wide-ranging blog propaganda campaign run by think-tanks and wealthy foundations and co-opted academics and conniving wall street goons. HuffPo has its own agenda and will provide a much wider audience for Simon’s fairly sophisticated “analysis.” This just means he doesn’t have to argue the finer points of credit default swaps between Goldman Sachs and AIG. (Notice he doesn’t respond in the comments to allegations and evidence that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about) he-next-subpoena-for-goldman-sachs/

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Posted by Uncle_Billy | Report as abusive

Our collective squawking has resulted in zero policy change.

How long has the FED been pushing on a string now? At least a year. Is it really necessary? With all due respect to those who’ve invested a substantial amount of their time and money understanding how markets will behave we still sound like Uncle Billy whose found a open door into the asylum.

At this stage of the debt cycle you don’t need to understand the calculus of 2nd derivative. We are in a liquidity trap. We’re all Uncle Billies now.


Posted by csodak | Report as abusive

HuffPo has indeed been churning out good stuff. One article that I particularly recommend is:  /priceless-how-the-federal_n_278805.htm l

It shows the firm grip the Fed has on the whole academic profession in the domain of economics through the meting out of money and prestige.

Considering that the plutocrats also control every levers of power in the administration and mainstream media, one can only admire the high degree of systematic professionalism with which they infiltrated the whole system.

The game’s over. We might as well accept our new status as quasi-serf and learn about the officially accepted ways grovelling. Freedom, justice, fairness, that’s so overrated!

Posted by EmilianoZ | Report as abusive

csodak: It’s loonier out there than it is in here, by a good measure.

Emiliano: We’d all do well to pay attention to exactly what HuffPo is doing, and why. It has achieved great success and established itself at the top of the credibility heap in a very sophisticated way. It is viewed as a bit anti-establishment and much more trustworthy than the MSM. In fact, it has become MSM and employs many writers that came from the crumbling mainstream world.

Arianna herself started out working publicly with very conservative organizations and people. She used to work for the National Review, for goodness sake and supported Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole. She went after religious conservatives to support her husband’s run as Republican for the House of Representatives. Change of heart? Not buyin’ it. She’s a product of Cambridge, with a degree in economics. She’s also an actress. Classic sheep’s clothing situation.

The article that you link to is itself interesting. It’s what’s known as “limited hangout,” where you focus in on a particular limited issue to avoid the larger, more problematic one. Yes, we all know the Fed is evil, and many of us know already that they’ve got their fangs into academia. But the Fed is part of a larger problem. The article picks up on a theme I’ve been writing about for the past 4 years, which is the use of academics to justify policy. Follow the money. The amount that flows to academic economists from the Fed is tiny compared to what supports the whole industry from the NBER, CPER, private fellowships and foundations.

The article picks up on the way they coopt the economists — no one gets published unless the papers fit the leanings of the journals. You get tenure if you play ball and say all the right things. You get swedish nobel prizes if you deliver something really juicy like Black-Scholes or Efficient Market Theories.

Right off the bat the article gives us Josh Rosner. The paper they delivered at the Hudson Institute back in Feb. of 2007 is painted as toxic. They could only present it at the conservative Hudson Institute, so the narrative goes. Bullshit. Prove that. It was in all likelihood custom-ordered, and served a very particular purpose: to prick the bubble. The entire bubble was built on confidence, enabled by the ratings agencies and their godless AAA’s. Rosner and Mason come along, the good samaritans that they are, and write a paper that demonstrates that it’s all a fraud. *Poof* entire house of cards gets blown away over the next 5-10 years. Rosner used to work at Medley Advisors, which you might want to look into. Basically one of the highest power lobbying companies in the world. Up until this article he was invariably titled “Independent” analyst. The “independent” was studiously avoided in this article. Mason went on shortly after the bubble blew, to a tenured position at LSU, IIRC. Quid Amateur Quo.

If the same people run HuffPo that run the Fed, NBER, and all the other muck, why would they let HuffPo impugn the Fed? What’s to lose? Most thinking people already know how dirty the place is, so what’s more mud. Scapegoat heaven. Heck, what are we going to do about it… reappoint Ben while we’re at it.

So your inclinations are right. This is, in the words of William Black a massive “control fraud.” The entire country (daresay the entire world) is in the hands of some very bad people. If you want to see how this can happen on a smaller scale, look up the Phenix City Story. In the case of Phenix City, they had to call in the National Guard to kick organized crime out of a small time. They had assassinated the attorney general. In our case, they run the people that run the national guard. Who’s left to call, except ourselves and each other.

Posted by Uncle_Billy | Report as abusive

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