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Thanks, Daniel

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on February 18, 2009

So we here at CT face the end of an era as Daniel heads over to Treasury. Daniel, Rich, and I founded Common Tragedies after realizing that we read a lot of blogs and were seeking a way to force our opinions on the public an informal intellectual outlet. Daniel has often been the driving force of this blog and put in a lot of effort to attract our current readership by writing intelligent posts and connecting us with other bloggers through comments and links. It’s been a pleasure discussing potential posts and research in the context of the blog and RFF, but also getting to know you as a friend.

Basically, thank you Daniel, for helping to shape a forum in which I can post cow fart jokes and know that they are read by many people that I will never meet.

Posted in Metablogging | Leave a Comment »

Good resources for econometrics

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on February 17, 2009

If that’s not an eye-catching title, I don’t know what is.

As a development economics and politics blogger, Chris Blattman stands out.  However, since adding him to my Google Reader feeds, I’ve noticed that he often links to extremely useful microeconometrics tutorials and guides.  The latest is a guide to regression discontinuity methods in economics, but previous links include IV vs. structural models and Andrew Gelman’s review of a new inexpensive volume on labor econometrics.

Which brings me to Gelman’s blog on statistics in the social sciences.  Gelman is a real live statistician with a joint appointment in political science.  A lot of his posts are pointing out abuses of statistics or interesting statistical tidbits.  But his biggest value added is that he looks as social science methods through the lens of a statistician.

Posted in Economics, Metablogging, Research | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Daniel Hall on February 14, 2009

This is a post that I’ve been putting off writing all week.  But the time for delay is up.

Yesterday was my last day at Resources for the Future.  In some sense I got the opportunity to put a capstone on my time there by writing this week’s Weekly Policy Commentary, which previews the upcoming cap-and-trade debate.  It’s as fitting a final statement as I could have hoped for, as it sums up (or at least touches on) many of the issues I’ve worked on over the last two years at RFF.

Tuesday morning I will report to the Department of the Treasury, to start as a Climate Policy Analyst in the (relatively new) Office of Environment and Energy.  (You can hear Hank Paulson talk about this office briefly in the video from a recent event at RFF — he mentions it a bit beyond the 8 minute mark.)  I’m tremendously excited about the opportunity to help shape the debate on climate policy design.  In many respects I’m moving from being a producer of the type of analysis that RFF does to being a consumer.

That sentiment applies to this blog as well.  I’ll continue to read with interest, and I do secretly hope that this blog long outlives its founders’ involvement as a place where the research assistants at RFF can give timely and accessible thoughts about the work that they are doing and the issues they’re thinking about.

I had the chance yesterday to tell my RFF colleagues what a privilege and a joy it had been to work with and learn from them.  I feel much the same about my co-bloggers and our readers.  I don’t think any of us could have started this thing up without the encouragement from each other, and I know my ability to blog was greatly enhanced by the offline conversations with Evan and Rich (and others) that sparked ideas.  And I learned plenty from the readers too, who were willing to call me out when I was wrong, ask me questions when I was unclear, and point me to additional information when I was uninformed.  Thank you all, sincerely.  I hope in your time reading here you’ve gleaned even a fraction of the knowledge and pleasure that I’ve gained in writing.

And speaking of that, at least a couple thoughts about “what I’ve learned as a blogger” seem in order before I close.  After almost a year and a half, and well over 200 posts, what have I learned?  I think the two biggest things are a sense of humility about how much I know and a sense of awe over the incredible storehouses of knowledge and expertise that are increasingly available through the blogosphere.  I’ll admit that I got into blogging thinking that I had a lot to offer.  And while I do hope I’ve made a contribution and helped a few folks understand climate policy a little better, the longer I went on blogging the more I felt that a lot of intellectual humility was necessary for any complicated question, and beyond that just how big and messy and complicated and interesting our world is.  I know that many of our readers have been disappointed by the low volume of posting I’ve done for the last 6 months or so.  Well, part of that was due to an increasingly busy personal and professional life, but honestly just as big a part of it was driven by my growing sense that there are so many incredible people out there in the blogosphere doing such great work that at the margin I was better off spending a bit of extra time reading rather than writing.  I guess in my view at the moment there is an oversupply of smart and excellent blog posts.  That’s a great thing for blog readers, and so I’ve been content to shift towards consumption and away from production.

Still, I’m incredibly glad I undertook this project and I strongly encourage people who are thinking about it to give blogging a try.  It’s a great way to ramp up your engagement with the world.  It gives you a natural lens through which to try to process and organize information, it sharpens your critical thinking skills, and hopefully it can help make you a better writer.  And you’ll likely pick up some friends along the way.

I certainly have. I’m not going to list any names, but I think you all know who you are.  Thank you for reading.  Thanks for your smart thoughts and engaging conversations.  Our conversations will no longer be as public, but I hope they’ll continue to be as spirited and thoughtful.  And who knows what the future holds?  I like to think that at some point down the road there is some more blogging out there for me somewhere.

Posted in Climate Change, Metablogging | 3 Comments »

All rankings are wrong, but some are useful*

Posted by Daniel Hall on February 2, 2009

And others… well, not so much.

This is so absurd — putting CT ahead of Environmental Economics in any ranking would only be credible if the relevant metric was the inability to show up on time for even the most basic events — that it would be funny, if only it didn’t feel like the Wikio creators were actually out to publicly humiliate the lazy proprietors of this site.  I’ll note that we are not only ahead of Env-Econ, but also venerable econ blogger YouNotSneaky!, who could drink an entire bottle of stupid and still be smarter than me on one of my best days.

The internets, they are a mystery to me.

*Apologies to George E. P. Box for the title.

Posted in Humor, Metablogging | 2 Comments »

Where credit is due

Posted by Daniel Hall on June 30, 2008

The friend who proposed the theory of cultural consumption I mention at Free Exchange today was none other than CT contributor Sarah Darley.

Addendum: I don’t want to derail discussion of environmental economics at this blog, but those who enjoyed the pop culture post at Free Exchange are encouraged to read Felix Salmon’s response. I have a few further thoughts in the comments to his post.

Posted in Metablogging | Leave a Comment »

Free exchange

Posted by Daniel Hall on June 30, 2008

This is a big week for me: I will be guest-blogging this week over at the on Free Exchange!

I will be doing some posting on U.S. climate policy, including a couple more substantive posts that I’ve been meaning to write for awhile and now have a good reason to hammer out. I also hope to post at least a couple things that would be completely off-topic here at CT, but will provide some variety over at Free Exchange.

I will probably post infrequently here at CT, but I think my co-bloggers are planning to keep things lively. And please come over to Free Exchange and join the discussion!

Posted in Metablogging | Leave a Comment »

Why don’t econ blog ads sell luxury goods?

Posted by Daniel Hall on April 22, 2008

Over at 26econ:

The survey that John Whitehead and I did of econ blog readers has finished and produced some interesting results. Thanks very much to everyone who took the time to do the survey. In total we got 387 responses. Here’s a summary of the basic responses to each question …

Check the income responses.  This looks like an income distribution of subscribers to the FT or the WSJ, if not Bloomberg.  Also remember that the ~25% of blog readers that list their occupation as “students” are probably mopping up a lot of the low end of the distribution.  Can econ blogs get premium ad rates due to their rather exclusive clientele?

You’ll notice we don’t have ads around here but maybe we should start hawking Cristal and cavier.

Posted in Metablogging, Random | Leave a Comment »

Survey of econ blog readers

Posted by Daniel Hall on April 9, 2008

Over at 26econ:

John Whitehead and I are conducting a brief survey of readers of economics blogs. I’d be really grateful if you could spend a few minutes answering the questions. The idea is to get some idea of the “demand side” of economics blogs. This will be a nice complement to my earlier survey of econ blog authors. We’ll publish the results when the survey is over.

Take the survey!

I took it.  It’s quick and painless.  It also really drove home for me the way that blogs are becoming an increasingly large portion of my news diet.

Posted in Metablogging, Random | Leave a Comment »

Oh, hey internet, what’s up?

Posted by Daniel Hall on April 1, 2008

Regular readers of this blog now have a general sense of what my posting habits are like in a month in which I spend a quarter of the month on vacation, two of my best friends get married, my hard drive fails, I look for new housing, and my alma mater makes a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

I don’t know if that’s an excuse or an apology, or perhaps just an acknowledgment that real life is going to distract me from this blog sometimes. But hopefully a more regular posting schedule commences today. I actually still have a housing search to conduct and a computer to nurse back to full health, but there are no weddings this month, no vacation time, and the ridiculously talented Memphis Tigers have dimmed my basketball fever.

Speaking of basketball, though, Tim Haab calls me out for making such vanilla Final Four picks in the EnvEcon tournament pool. Presumably by “vanilla” he means “correct”. The upshot is he’s slightly ahead right now but if the UCLA Bruins beat Memphis on Saturday then I beat Tim and John in their own pool. I just became a Bruins fan! Not that this is much to brag about since Tim and I are both pretty far off the lead, but I’ll take it.*

Anyway, while I was “away” we’ve had a new blogger join us, Erica Myers. Welcome Erica! She’s got some background in experimental economics, which is an exciting addition to our collective perspective.

Coming your way this month I think we should have a couple of interesting book reviews, plus I attended a couple events last month that I want to post thoughts on.

Before I go I’ll put in plugs for two upcoming events at RFF, both next week. Wednesday April 9 there will be a “First Wednesday” event on curbing electricity demand, looking specifically at Maryland’s Strategic Energy Plan. Then on Thursday April 10 Matt Kotchen will be here presenting his paper that shows daylight saving time increases energy use.  Please join us for either — or both! — events.

*We’re not even going to mention fellow environmental economics blogger Mike Giberson of Knowledge Problem, who’s whipping our butts, let alone the bloggers at the far front of the pack, Jim Casey and James Hamilton.

Posted in Events, Metablogging | Leave a Comment »

Let’s make waves in Tim and John’s (tournament) pool

Posted by Daniel Hall on March 17, 2008

The EnvEcon guys have decided to run their own NCAA tournament pool over at their blog. Given the emerging rivalry between our domains, we here at CT are going to jump in and try to make a mess.

Here’s the deal: Head over to the EnvEcon post and sign up to their group. When you create your bracket change the name of your entry (under “Edit Entry Settings”) to include “CT” in the name of your entry. You’ll see, for example, that my entry is currently named “DHall(CT) The new rivalry”.*

Tim and John are currently promising “a free ‘Drive Less!’ bumper sticker and bragging rights over John” for the winner. We don’t have any cool gear yet, but if a CT reader wins we’ll give you props here on the blog, plus promise you a future Common Tragedies shirt or hat should they come to exist.

*That last bit is subject to change over the next few weeks, e.g., “EnvEcon gets pwned”, “OSU=NIT”, etc. Further suggestions welcome.

Posted in Metablogging, Random | Leave a Comment »

Cross-pond love

Posted by Daniel Hall on February 27, 2008

Green Central, the environment blog of the TimesOnline, has named us one of the top 50 eco blogs:

Common Tragedies

An American perspective on the economic impact of climate change from research assistants at Resources for the Future.

We love you too, Britain!

Check out the entire list, there are some good sites on there that I wasn’t aware of previously. For example, the blog listed just under us, Energy Outlook, looks like a good source for news and analysis on emerging energy technologies. It’s going in the reader!

Posted in Metablogging | Leave a Comment »

Econ blogger survey

Posted by Daniel Hall on January 4, 2008

Aaron Schiff of 26econ surveyed economics bloggers late last year, and I participated. He has posted and summarized survey results at his blog. I was somewhat surprised by how few bloggers comment at other sites (particularly given the self-selection bias involved in responding to a survey from another econ blogger). I was also initially surprised by the age of the typical econ blogger — over 50% are over 40 — but upon reflection I supposed that, at least for academicians, it does take awhile to get established and perhaps younger researchers are too busy trying to get tenure (and guarding their reputations). Aaron also hosts a useful ranked directory of econ blogs.

In related econ-blog-rankings news, CT has just been added to Brian Gongol’s rankings.

Update: Aaron’s directory has just crossed the 200 econ blog threshold, an event that prompts a few awards, including one to our favorite (shamelessly self-promoting) blog… a blog you might call the “granddaddy” of environmental economics blogs.  (Only kidding, John, only kidding!)

Posted in Metablogging | Leave a Comment »

Econoblog fantasy draft

Posted by Evan Herrnstadt on September 19, 2007

Dani Rodrik posts on new blogs by Krugman and the World Bank’s chief economist for South Asia. I’m excited about both of these for sure, but the comments that follow center on which economists ought to be online. I’m encouraged to see suggestions of some environmental and resource folks, such as Schelling, Nordhaus, Dasgupta, and Weitzman. Hopefully one or more will heed the call and pick up the habit. My favorite part of economics blogs is seeing top scholars debate issues on a semi-regular basis. The discussion is certainly exciting to follow for those of us who have a somewhat unconventional perspective of what makes a superstar.

Posted in Env. Economists, Humor, Metablogging | 1 Comment »