Being The Economist, I am sure they are aware of this.
The Economist has so good reputation that just being one of the 75 staff journalists creates lasting value for the journalist. Other journals find it important to mention that X.X was previously writing for The Economist.
The Economist is just one of the handful magazines worth of subscribing.
The do seem to have a fairly wide breadth. But given a particular topic, I'm likely to learn much more from an in depth article from most mainstream sources than from an article in the economist.
For a given article, I often think: Well, that's a pretty accurate description of the situation, the main points of contention, and some opinionated conclusion (maybe with a divergent viewpoint thrown in, but not always).
Sure, it's often some young kids from Oxford's PPE (Philosophy, Politics, Economics) programme writing the articles, but they've learned a bit at school and they have access to the best experts. That's what makes it so valuable in my view. I would not call it "banal", but then, I don't necessarily want great originality in my newspaper either.
And, mind you, the articles are typically just one page. That's a pretty good achievement for one page: get the best expert's condensed opinion on a topic.
As an equivalent, think about any info sec topic, and imagine someone sitting down with tpacek for an hour and then writing a one-page article about it. Even if they have not much clue about the topic, the article might be pretty informative, particularly for one page. Yeah, you can go and read hacker news for months or read Schneier's blog and books and the info sec stuff in depths - but most readers of The Economist don't have the time for that.
Providing a concise, informed overview (and view) on a broad array of important topics is what The Economist is good at.
Lastly, while I rant, they do have longer articles ("Briefings") and thematic clusters of articles ("Specials"), which give deeper insight.
It's a curious policy and highly unusual, so I have to wonder if it's a good idea at all. The usual arguments for anonymity online seem to only questionably apply here. There's a lot to be said for people writing under their own names - accountability, for one thing.
We have seen the great unbundling of content. TV stations, cable channels, publishing houses, newspapers were giving way to blogs, you-tube etc..
Recently I start wondering whether the pendulum is swinging back. Netflix, Medium and in particular the recent discussion of distribution networks for ads which provide funding for the long tail.
> The main reason for anonymity, however, is a belief that what is written is more important than who writes it.
Important for whom? The writers? The readers? The advertisers? The company?
The readers could care less. The company probably and maybe the advertisers. It's more or less saying that we speak as one voice rather than many diverse voices. So I guess it also implies very strong editorial control. Which means it's the voice of the owners and its advertisers than voice of a diverse set of writers.
So it's voice is actually of the writers first and foremost. It's really kinda cool considering that they're one of the most successful print meadow companies in an age when most are struggling.
>The readers could care less.
On the contrary - many people with entirely valid points have been told to go pound sand because of their "distasteful views" in completely unrelated topics. The readers very much do take note if the writer is Stephen Hawking or Alex Jones. They don't care as much if it is Stephen Hawking writing on personal hair product or Alex Jones doing a history article on chewing gum. "Hawking is probably right and Jones is probably wrong." without even reading what they have to say, based on nothing but who they are.
Anonymity detaches preconceived notions from the article. Instead of instantly dismissing any points - no matter how valid - because of who said them the points can stand or fall on their own merit. Bad arguments are bad arguments - no matter who says them. Likewise for good arguments. But people's personal biases will accept bad arguments from people who often say things they agree with and dismiss good arguments from people who say things they often disagree with.
Maybe you don't want to read Peter Theil's view of how the tech sector will change in America even if it was a spot on analysis
The rest of the time when they are not at work, the authors 'recharge' in order to ready for more work and to keep motivation for working. In this way, the worker's entire life during the course of employment 'belongs' to the employer; in fact arguably the time when the worker is most valuable to the employer is when he is maintainig himself, just as the employer must maintain a machine from wear and tear, the worker is able to maintain himself from wear and tear and the employer doesn't have to pay a dime more for it.
I used to read Matt Levine when he wrote for Dealbreaker. I now read him on Bloomberg and rarely visit Dealbreaker.
One's wealth has little relevance to the theory of worker exploitation, alienation and commodity fetishism. You can be a rich worker but still be exploited in the Marxian sense. You can be poor but still be an exploiter. One's wealth has little to do with the relationship to the means of production, unless that wealth comes in the form of private property upon which wage labour can be employed.
The fact is that "pulling up by the boostraps" is not an option for many people, and if it were it does little to stop systemic poverty, destitution and the need to sell labour-time very cheaply.
If a reader believes that the current system is the best system possible, than these politically-charged complaints sound as futile as politically-charged complaints about being unable to exceed the speed of light.
Managerial positions are of course kept (as managers are wage labourers too), the only difference is that there isn't someone at the top to collect surplus labour.
This is otherwise known as anarcho-Communism, or some variant of social anarchism. I am reading into communalism too (Bookchin) and the question of how those in service jobs can own their labour is an interesting one, I'm not aware of the current research on that.
I love the economist, but If you want balance, you'll need to read alternative sources that provide a more (dare I say it) compassionate viewpoint.
But I would hesitate to call it a libertarian perspective. Its a very "traditional+behavioural" (I do not have a better word) economics point of view. Its "pro free-trade", and generally socially liberal, and sure, it argues against various taxes, but I believe it called out house price bubbles pre-2008, and I think it would generally be in support of environmental regulation (it is not global warming/environmentally skeptic), some kinds of financial regulation, and probably pro-socialised health care.
Coming from a european persepctive (as in, the economist is a distinctly european/british magazine), its probably a fair bit more skeptical of american capitalism and libertarianism than might otherwise be assumed.
Just a small aside: if someone is sceptical that climate change is occurring, logically that should not indicate how they view environmental regulation in general (in cases where they agree some environmental harm is occurring). I realise this might not always be the case in reality. If someone tells you they don't believe climate change is occurring because they oppose environmental regulations, it's a pretty good indication that they're full of it.
Yeah, there are plenty of examples of The Economist advocating for regulation, the most obvious being gun control in America.
1) You don't know what libertarianism is
2) You don't read the economist very closely
3) You meant liberalism
Given you think that the economist dogmatically believes in less tax, regulation and trade barriers, it seems more likely you don't actually read the newspaper very closely.
Take healthcare in US for instance. The economist consistently favours more government intervention and higher taxation with a single payer health system. Just taking one example from the current Europe editor (I think): http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/09/he...
> In fact, government intervention is often necessary in order to bring comprehensibility to a bewildering private landscape.
Yes, I do think the economist is dogmatic. If you think it isn't, you probably don't read very widely.
Disagree. They certainly hold several positions very dear, and you might say axiomatically, but I'd say because they've proven to be fruitful.
And they have changed their mind (sometimes reluctantly) on some issues, such as austerity.
Their viewpoint reminds me of my economics professor. What is good is what leads to the most economic growth, which is a question the science of economics can address. Welfare has a role. Regulation has a role. Monetary policy has a role. Education has a role. Healthcare has a role (people may remain in situations of suboptimal productivity to maintain health coverage). All can be done poorly, but all must be done well to have optimal productivity. Principles like comparative advantage and supply and demand are largely reliable, and should guide policy. The market will get most things right, and for the rest, government should manage the externalities. Government can have good reasons to impede business, but the benefits should be in line with the costs.
It is the Economist, after all. Free trade being a good idea is uncontroversial among academic economists. So yeah, you aren't going to see them in favor of protectionism. You will see them represent a wider diversity of opinions on monetary policy, in accordance with its not being so much of a settled question.
They support a much larger role for the state than the "personal responsibility"-thumping, climate-change-denying Republicans in Congress, and are certainly far left of the you're-not-the-boss-of-me Bitcoin-thumping internet libertarians.
This is a pretty good summary of how most economists working in the public service tend to view the world too (at least in my experience). It's unfortunate that public discussion of economic issues has become so politicised and disconnected from reality. We seem to have reached the point where many believe the word 'economist' is a synonym for 'libertarian demagogue'. Either that or economists are thought to be 'those guys that trade shares for a living'.
However, it does seem like there's an awful lot of these libertarian 'economists' running around the internet nowadays...
When in doubt, portmanteau the idiom.
This is significant editorial change of heart. The Economist was a loud, regular voice in favor of austerity policies for many years. That it has written critically of austerity programs in 2016-17 is great, but it's something of a Damascene conversion for the paper.
As Keynes is reputed to have said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
Yes, with the caveat that the theoretical argument in favour of free trade (say, in a Heckscher-Olin 2 countries, 2 goods, 2 factors model) depends on compensation to the losers of trade, i.e. redistribution, transfer payments.
That's what turns it (theoretically) into a Pareto improvement: you go from no trade to free trade, then compensate the losers in both countries, and then still have cloth and wine left to distribute at will.
Also, less naive and more realistic models make it all much more ambiguous and complicated.
At any rate, even the simple Econ 101 model says: free trade is unambiguously good, if you tax the winners and give to the losers... and that second part is often conveniently forgotten by some, because "free markets" and all.
Sure; their viewpoint has a focus; you'll get a different story elsewhere. But I don't see this as a kind of adversarial "us" vs. "them" issue: it's not that they're misleading you or even avoiding confronting other sides of the story; it's just that the world is a large place: not all topics can be in scope, even if several viewpoints are valid and partially in conflict with one another.
You present the unified world view a little as if the focus on (e.g.) free trade is a bias that can be misleading; I suggest the alternative metaphor: it's more like the dentist reminding you to brush your teeth. You may not want to hear it, and he's a like a broken record, and it's not going to tell you much about how to cook, but that doesn't mean the dentist is wrong or trying to hide the importance of cooking from you.
If there's a preconceived notion underlying the economist, it seems to be that its worthwhile to think of benefits and costs to society overall, and not just to individuals. Whether that's right or wrong is largely a matter of ethics; I doubt we'll ever know what's "best".
Obviously, no newspaper is perfect; they will misjudge some things, some time. But so will you and I. Do you know of an outfit that appears to be less biased?
The Economist is very straightforwardly a British/European liberal (not in the American sense of "liberal") publication that is economically and socially liberal and strongly internationalist in its outlook.
It will almost always recommend lower tax burdens, reduced business regulation, reduced trade barriers and membership of the EU, UN and NATO, privatisation of nationalised industries, and reduced moral policing by the state. However, it will admit, reflecting a British political consensus, that government intervention and regulation is invaluable in areas such as health, natural monopolies such as energy and transport, moderate levels of income redistribution through the tax system, social safety nets in the event of economic downturns or disability, or with national or international threats such as climate change were government coordination is indispensable. Sometimes they will admit that the power of the state is the only way to get things done, and so they aren't strictly dogmatic about their pro-market credentials, but if there is a viable path for leaving something alone they will advocate for it.
If you are an American reader this combination of issues may seem to fall across a lot of political boundaries, and so its novelty makes it seem diverse. In fact, this combination is a fairly straightforward centre and centre-right view of policy in the UK and much of Europe.
Edit: Some people seem to be suggesting The Economist is Libertarian. You are mistaken - it is liberal.
I know personally I identified as a left-libertarian and then realized that classical liberal was a more legible way to express the same positions.
So, I'd think that your left-libertarian position is somewhat rare, and most libertarianism is of the right variety.
Classical liberalism is a much better term, in my view. And mind you, Milton Friedman himself advocated for government intervention in many cases (natural monopolies, externalities, maybe even asymmetric information, not sure).
1992: D - Bill Clinton (vs George Bush)
1996: R - Bob Dole (vs Bill Clinton)
2000: R - George W. Bush (vs Al Gore)
2004: D - John Kerry (vs George W. Bush)
2008: D - Barack Obama (vs McCain)
2012: D - Barack Obama (vs Mitt Romney)
2016: D - Hilary Clinton (vs Donald)
Yes, market friendly, sure, but well aware of the limitations of markets and the importance of good regulation - you bet.
I guess the subscription fee pays for this degree of professionalism. I was impressed enough that I immediately bought a subscription.
> Most people who manage to get inside the Economist-tower quickly realize why the magazine does not have bylines. The writers all seem to be in their 20s. If the reader knew that the article about the ECB that made him sell his government bonds was written by a newly graduated philosophy student from Oxford who shares a flat in Hackney with four bloggers, he'd choke. The cocksureness of The Economist comes from the debating style taught in the British elite universities, where students are trained to pick any topic and quickly argue one side of it.
But behind that facade is a kid not long out of Eton who probably is working at his very first job.
And there's nothing wrong with that. But the magazine is not upfront about it. In fact it intentionally hides it from its readers.
It's the same game that consulting firms and I-banks play, where they bring in a partner to shake some hands and then all the real work is done behind the scenes by a 25 year old recent graduate with an elite education but no experience, working 80 hours a week and sleeping under his desk.
I generally agree with your analysis of the Economist's staff, but I wouldn't say they intentionally hide the fact that their writers have little expertise to draw on. It's like an inside joke that anyone who cares to research their editorial practices knows. I still enjoy reading the magazine from time to time, knowing full well that what I am reading about Southeast Asian demographics might have been "researched" by talking to a friend whose girlfriend just returned from a holiday in Cambodia, and just chuckle when I read an impressively argued assertion that I know is superficially true but doesn't mean what the author thinks it does.
If you wanted to put out a news magazine as thick as the Economist and actually have everything in it properly researched and written by knowledgeable experts, it would probably either cost $50/issue or, more likely, go bankrupt. So instead we have a magazine that does its utmost to aspire to that ideal, but is actually written by 23-year-olds sleeping under their desks - as you say - who do write some rather good stuff, but also a lot of total baloney. It's half educational and half entertainment - and the fun is figuring out which half is which.
That, and the model of lots of eager youngsters overseen by a thinning pyramid of progressively more experienced people, as in consulting or investment banking, seems to crank out some pretty good results.
I think it's the content of a text, not its label, that displays understanding and experience. Arguing only experts should be writing for X because it puts on an air of expertise is getting causality backwards: a publication gets its reputation from its work.
Reputation and credentials are important because reading something like this is an act of trust. It matters whether the source is competent and trustworthy. However, I don't think it's a problem for the trust to apply at a publication level rather than an individual author level. Editors are a thing.
If you already know whether or not the Economist is correct about something, what value are you getting from reading it?
The economist writes on topics on which I am an expert. It writes on many topics on which I am not. The topics on which I have expertise I find to generally be (a) reasonably well-written, and (b) incorrect within the recognizable error-margins of "well researched, clearly spoke to a lot of people that knew their shit, didn't see much in the way of terrible mis-comprehensions."
That's better than the vast majority of published material on the topics on which I have expertise. I take that as a proxy indicator of the quality of information in the remainder of the magazine. It's not particularly known as being expert in My Topic, so if they handle that well, the rest is reasonably unlikely to be trash.
It can, of course, be trash, and this doesn't guarantee any particular piece of writing isn't, but on the whole, I think my conclusion is reasonable.
Exactly my experience on topics I know - the author probably spoke to several experts, has enough grasp of it that he can meaningfully excerpt and summarise their opinion, doesn't make silly mistakes, and most likely has the stated facts absolutely right.
If that were true, it'd be one more reason not to try to give credence to unfalsifiable publications by linking them to experts of various fields, or even editors-who-once-took-a-course-on-T.
But I think it's not true at all. The thought process on most publications like Economist is one most people can follow for its validity, precisely because it's not state-of-the-art mathematics (or even economics). Even though the domain experts can immediately judge its correctness, I think it's important for anyone to be able to at least identify when they're reading something they can't verify as correct, and not take publication X's "word" for it.
> Editors are a thing.
Editors are there to make sure the news piece conforms to certain standards, but that's not the standards of the readers.
> If you already know whether or not the Economist is correct about something, what value are you getting from reading it?
That was nowhere near my point, and I don't see why you base your comment around it. My point is I am (or want to be) able to read a piece and judge it on its own, rather than who wrote it.
This one is dated 27 March, but it has a link right at the bottom to the original, from 5 September 2013: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/09/ec...
In this case the article is more an 'About Us' piece than news or commentary. I've seen it come up several time so I think it my actually be a permanent part of the site.
There are, traditionally, two sorts of newspaper articles: the quick, half-page max Who/What/When/Where, and the longer pieces based on weeks of reporting, being exclusive etc.
The former are anonymous or have the author's initials only. It's considered an honour to get one of the latter published. Those are also written differently, allowing for more of a personal voice.
As it happens, The Economist has a strong focus on the first kind of article–only the editors get to gave fun when they add the photo captions.
Compare to The New Yorker, or Foreign Affairs, or the Rolling Stone where it just wouldn't make sense to publish articles without names.
> The debate over the [US] Constitution ... was done almost entirely through pseudonyms. Most writers, on both sides of the question, chose to conceal their names from the public, as was the custom in the late eighteenth century. A free press, one of the most essential principles for the founding generation, was presumed to include a right to anonymity.
Prior to the introduction of moveable-type printing to Europe, ~1440, and excepting the Classics (Greek and Roman works), authorship and authority were not particularly highly considered. Without the means to cheaply reproduce and sell works, authorship wasn't a key concern. There were ~30,000 volumes (as in books, total, not merely titles) in all of Europe in 1400. By 1500, 20 million, and approaching 1 billion by 1800. Literacy and costs (in wage hours) also changed tremendously, rising (from ~5-10% to 90%+) and falling (from ~$0.5 to $1 million modern equivalent, to perhaps a few dollars for a work) as well.
"Moral rights" of authorship are a French tradition, though I'm not certain of the date of origin. Modern copyright law dates to 1709 and the Statute of Anne.
I mean, the Federalist Papers "fifty-one!" sequence would probably have made a better refernce, but they're not too explicit about the pseudonyms there.
Contrast with, say, The New York Times, which to the best of my knowledge entirely fails in this regard, even when specifically discussing scientific or medical research "a study", and author(s) names are about as much as you can hope for), and I'll nod slightly to The Economist.
I ran across a Los Angeles Times piece a few months back which rather pointedly did reference several sources, with hyperlinks. A practice I applaud highly.
It's not "owned" or controlled by the Rothschild family: they own some shares in it, which don't give them control.
> [The Economist Group's] articles of association also state that no individual or company can own or control more than 50% of its total share capital, and that no single shareholder may exercise more than 20% of voting rights exercised at a general meeting of the company.
Was that the only reason? Wasn't there something about preventing writers from building their credibility and fame then negotiating higher compensation? Is there something about it today?
I'm sure they've made the occasional mistake (though my understanding is their fact checking is exceptional), but "repeatedly/often times"? Really?
(Unfortunately, that makes the editor's job that much harder.)
Leaders tends to lean more conservative than the full reports in the rest of the paper. And it's not entirely hidebound. But the paper certainly knows its biases.
First, I'd say that The Economist's stance these days incorporates Keynesian thought, and as such might be closer to the neoclassical synthesis, but I'd argue it goes beyond that.
At any rate, below are some articles just from the last week or two that are somewhat more progressive, or touch on aspects that neoclassical economics tended to ignore.
Maybe you'd like to highlight some articles that are off target by being rooted in neoclassical thought?
* TE applauds Sesame Street for introducing a character with autism (https://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2017/04/ok)
* TE criticises proposals for "extreme vetting" at US immigration (http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2017/04/not-so-smart)
* TE writes about slow improvements in mental health care in India (http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21719808-suicide-rate-rem...)
* TE laments Trump's attacks on the UN (http://www.economist.com/news/international/21719467-preside...)
* TE writes about global poverty, and notes that "India and countries like it need proper welfare systems", and "A broadly poverty-free world, but with sad, durable exceptions, is not good enough." (http://www.economist.com/news/international/21719790-going-w...)
* "US proposed budget cuts would be bad for environment" (http://www.economist.com/news/international/21719466-and-sig...)
Some older articles:
* "Happily, despite Mr Schäuble’s macho rhetoric, the pace of tightening in the euro zone is slowing." "the world needs fiscal policy driven not by faith [in austerity], but by reason." (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21565211-debate-about-...)
* "A decent deal would have put Greece on the path to sustainable growth and taken the prospect of Grexit off the table. Instead, Europe has cooked up the same old recipe of austerity and implausible assumptions." (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21657806-deal-between-...)
* TE argues against "the war on drugs" (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21650112-one-war-drugs...)
* TE on information asymmetry, and in favour of fiduciary duty (http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2017/02/who-guards...)