How to blog, Dealbreaker edition

By Felix Salmon
October 27, 2011
this fantastic post from Dealbreaker's Matt Levine.

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If you want a masterclass in old-school econoblogging, check out this fantastic post from Dealbreaker’s Matt Levine.

Econoblogging, at its best, is conversational, wonky, funny, illuminating, and full of links to things you otherwise wouldn’t have noticed; Matt’s post is all of these things. And it’s even a little bit frisky: the post acts as a comprehensive dismantling of Greg Mankiw’s disingenuous claim that the rich are getting poorer. (Yes, that really is Mankiw’s headline.)

Matt attacks the claim with Dealbreaker-strength snark, of course.

With a lot of attention on the CBO report finding that out that income inequality has increased dramatically in the past 30 years, you might have a momentary lapse and think something like “say, maybe those protesters are onto something.” Resist the urge!

But there’s real substance in the post, too. Matt reads the paper that Mankiw’s citing, fairly describes its conclusions — and then comes up with his own, rather more compelling, theory as to what’s going on. And he manages to credibly tie the whole thing to Mitt Romney, too, giving him all the excuse he needs to run that picture again.

Along the way, Matt links to the CBO (of course, but try finding that link in your daily newspaper), Deal Journal (twice), ZeroHedge, New York Magazine, the Economist, CNBC, and an HBS paper. Most prominently, he both links to and quotes from a decidedly underappreciated blog called The Slack Wire, which will surely get lots of new followers from this post.

He does the whole thing with great elegance, explaining complex ideas in very plain English, in an approachable manner which never talks down to the reader. And he’s judicious, too. This is as good a one-sentence take on the evolution of the 1% over the past 30 years as you’re likely to see:

If you believe – whatever your political take on it – that in the early 1980s the U.S. shifted from a tradition-driven economy where the working rich managed their firms for plodding stability (and were paid with a fixed and comfortable salary) and the idle rich invested in Treasuries, to a shareholder-value-driven economy where the working rich managed their firms for quarterly earnings target (and were paid with options and incentive comp) and the idle rich invested in hedge funds, then that would explain the rise in volatility: the rich went from being basically creditors on the economy to being shareholders.

Matt’s the perfect complement to Bess Levin at Dealbreaker: it took them an incredibly long time to find him, but they really got it right here. I just hope he doesn’t get poached by some deep-pocketed mainstream news organization which will end up stifling the very thing he’s best at.

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