How many lives does this blog save?

I’m joking (a riff on the “How many lives does insurance save” brouhaha from earlier this year). Today Scott Sumner estimated the value of his blog thus,

1. Suppose all the pressure from the blogosphere and pundits increases the Fed’s chances of easing by 10 percentage points.

2. Suppose that easing would produce social welfare gains of $1 trillion. …

3. And suppose that each of the bloggers pushing for monetary stimulus (me, Avent, Duy, Beckworth, Rowe, Harless, Woolsey, etc, etc) contributed 1% toward that total pundit pressure on the Fed. …

I think you see where I am going. If monetary stimulus can produce $1 trillion in expected gains (and I think it can do much more than that) then the expected value of the output of my blog is (1/10)*(1/100)*($1 trillion) = $1 billion. …

Heh, I’m underpaid!

We can joke about this, but it is a good question. What is the value of this blog or any serious blog that gets some attention from policy wonks? Normally I think the answer is, “Next to nothing,” unless your name is Krugman. But, as Sumner pointed out, Krugman cites his blog. He cites this one too, though nowhere near as much as he should. 🙂 So, we get a little credit, don’t we?

I think if we have to resort to this degree of contorted logic to make our blogging feel like it has an impact, that’s a strong signal that it actually doesn’t. If it mattered much, we’d know it. But mattering is not why we blog, is it? Thankfully, in my case at least, the answer is, “No.” It’s just plain-old-fashioned fun. Kind of like writing to a bunch of people I don’t know and yet, strangely, appreciate. Fun!

OK, back to work.

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