About Grasping Reality—The SubStack Newsletter
The cool & not-so-cool kids today, increasingly, neither want to turn themselves into round pegs for round holes, as they put on the blinders & feedbag of modern journalism; nor reduce themselves to impassioned loons ranting in small bites on Twitter <http://twitter.com>. Instead, they appear to be moving to SubStack <http://substack.com>.
& they appear to be hoping to make some money off of it—following the example of Ben Thompson & his excellent StraTECHERY <http://stratechery.com>, that I have long—in internet-dog years—subscribed to.
So what will I use this for? My weblog over at Typepad <http://delong.typepad.com> has grown into its form for my convenience: what I want to learn, know, & remember about what I am writing & thinking.
This will be for your convenience: focused on what I think you need to learn & know. That will be very different from the flood of information that shows up on my weblog. But I am not yet sure how: that depends on what audience this ultimately attracts.
I do not know what to think of the “making money” part. I think that if I write something really good, it should have as wide a reach as possible—which means I really ought to maximize readership by charging marginal cost, i.e., zero. & if it is not so really good, so that I do not feel that I am betraying the Invisible College by putting it behind a paywall, can it be valuable? What are people actually selling & buying here? Patronage & personal engagement, perhaps—but I would hope that anyone who reads my stuff would gain a sense of my self, because how can you interpret an author unless you have a sense of who they are & thus of where they stand?
Do I think that what you will read here (& elsewhere) that I write is of substantial general interest? Hell yes. Smash that share button:
Do I think that, if you follow me & read, you will get more value than the $10/month that is the focal point for SubStack paid subscriptions? Hell yes. Smash that subscribe button:
Join the Crew
But maybe you want to ask a different question—not “is it worth it?” but “would I raise my utility by paying for it?” Do I think that the differential value of whatever extras I decide to put behind the paywall is more than $10/month? Of that I am more dubious. Perhaps it is better for me (& you) to think of subscriptions as on a patronage model. For now. Things may well change.
But there is one benefit of subscribing that may become quite large: if this serves as a focal point for a community of interesting people, subscribing is how you join.
And there is a second benefit: subscribing gains my attention. You subscribers will be my assignment desk: ask me to write something, & I will do so (in my own time, however: I have found that my best thoughts are those that are well-baked and not untimely ripped from the womb of thought.)
Feel as though you & the world would benefit from your having a subscription, & also feel that you cannot afford one? Please email me at email@example.com.
About Brad DeLong
James Bradford DeLong is an economic historian & macroeconomist. He is Professor of Economics <http://econ.berkeley.edu> & Blum Center Economics Director <http://blum.berkeley.edu> at the University of California, Weblogger at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth <http://equitablegrowth.org>, & was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury during the Clinton Administration. He runs one of the oldest & most prominent economics weblogs at <http://delong.typepad.com>. In fact, go take a look right now:
He can be found on Twitter at @delong. In fact, go take a look right now:
Why should you read & engage with him? At the moment, Google says he is best known for:
Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets—how Milton Friedman's claim that irrational investors must in equilibrium have no impact on market prices is simply, well, wrong <http://ms.mcmaster.ca/~grasselli/DeLongShleiferSummersWaldmann90.pdf>
Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy—how when inflation is as quiescent & interest rates as low as they have been since 2001, bond- & money-financed expansions of government purchases are, when properly hedged, truly a win-win free lunch that competent governments would pursue <https://www.brookings.edu/about/projects/bpea/papers/2012/fiscal-policy-depressed-economy-delong>
Did J.P. Morgan's Men Add Value?—reputation, managerial competence, oversight, & the benefits to society of long-term greedy plutocratic investment banks <https://www.nber.org/chapters/c7182.pdf>
Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrow's Economy—how the "Smithian" image of the economy that we economists have held in the forefront of our minds since 1776 is obsolete <http://osaka.law.miami.edu/~froomkin/articles/spec.htm>