Am I the only economist who does not read The Economist? Well maybe the first one to confess to it.
No, it is not because I am too busy and don't have the time. It is a deliberate decision. Call it a one-man boycott of ideology that masquerades too often as journalism.
It wasn't always like that. In fact, I used to love the magazine and its opinionated style. It was such a refreshing read after American media! I loved it so much that I preferred buying it at the news stand at a higher price to subscribing, because I could get my hands on it faster that way. When I spent a year out on the West Coast, my most important complaint was that The Economist arrived later there (on Mondays instead of Saturdays).
But then I realized that the more I knew about a subject, the less The Economist was making sense. Its one thing to be opinionated, another to be misinformed and arrogant at the same time. After one too many articles in this mold, I simply stopped picking up the magazine. I had a conversation recently with the new economics editor of the magazine (a KSG alum), who said I should take another look, but aside from an occasional thumbing through on a plane ride, I haven't done so.
Yesterday a friend told me in the hallway that The Economist had quoted me in their current issue. I went online, and there it was, a quote from this blog that opens a longish piece on the rule of law and development. But what struck me about the piece is how well it was done. Or how much I agreed with what was in there--which is another way of saying the same thing of course. I thought the article got many of the nuances right, most importantly the distinction--which eludes many people still--between the role of institutions in the short- versus long-run. While institutions "rule" in the long run, in the short run there is a very weak relationship between economic growth and institutional reform. It also has a very nice chart that superimposes the results of three academic papers on the relationship between the rule of law and long-run development:
So should I start reading The Economist again?
Oh, I dunno. There is so much stuff to read these days...