from Follow the Money

Happy (late) blog birthday

September 16, 2005 5:27 pm (EST)

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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It has been a bit over a year since I started doing this.  

I did not anticipate the blog would generate half the audience it has.   I often have focused on relatively obscure topics: the global balance of payments, international capital flows, central bank reserve accumulation, systemic risk and the like.  Even when I venture into more popular topics - China, the US trade deficit, social security -- Brad Plumer felt the need to warn his readers that my jargon-rich prose can be a bit of a slog.   I guess not everyone talks about curve-flattening and capital losses on central bank balance sheets. 

Among those - apart from Dr. Roubini-- who deserve thanks: the good General and his army, who were among the first to discover this blog, uber-blogger DeLong, who can generate site traffic like no other, the team over at Angry Bear, Billmon, who briefly set an impossibly high prose standard in the comments section before he reopened the  Whiskey Bar, Dan Drezner and Macroblog, who reached across from the other side of the blogosphere, Calculated Risk, who has deterred me from ever posting on housing again and Simon World, who helped connect this blog with Asian blogosphere. 

That leaves out a huge number of others. Known early adopters got preference.

Finally, I get a sense that I have a reasonable comments-to-readers ratio, though not quite as a high ratio as before the westward migration of uber-commentator Anne.  So special thanks to all those who put electronic pen to electronic paper.

Some of the highlights for me:

The discussion of systemic risk that emerged after I posted on the topic in February.  I had feared that the topic, which can be sort of technical (CDOs, correlation trades, long-equity/ short-mezz, copulas .. ) would sort of land with a thud.  I was wrong.  Alas, the comments got a bit scrambled during the transition to the new site architecture. 

The firestorm that followed (at least in the Anglophone Asian blogosphere) after I put up a post arguing that it would be far easier for classically trained Western economists to explain Chinese economic stagnation -- all those state banks and state-owned firms, all those distorted prices and even (formal) restrictions on labor mobility -- than China's current economic success.

The erudite discussion of the common origin of the terms "yen," "won" and "yuan" - all of which apparently all derive from a coin produced by the Hong Kong Royal Mint.  I guess it is obvious once you think of it.  But it was news to me.  Sort of like the link between dollar and the old silver thaler ...

And the raging debate that emerged here after CNOOC's bid for Unocal.   CNOOC's bid brought together two themes close to my heart: the geopolitics of oil and the global balance of payments.   Remember, the US has to sell the equivalent of forty Unocals a year to finance its current account deficit.  And China can buy a Unocal a month with its reserve accumulation, and a Unocal every two months with its current trade surplus.  Two state-owned Chinese firms just joined forces to buy the Ecuadorian assets of a Canadian firm.  The US, China, dollar, oil nexus alone should assure plenty of grist for this particular mill - hard, soft or no landing.

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