Monday, April 25, 2016

Life Update: Leaving Stony Brook, joining Bloomberg View


Short version: I've joined Bloomberg View as a full-time writer. I'm leaving Stony Brook, and leaving academia, effective August 15, 2016. Bloomberg View had approached me a year ago about possibly working for them full-time. So I took a 1-year leave from Stony Brook, partially to finish some research stuff I had to do, and partially to decide whether I should switch jobs (I retained my Stony Brook affiliation during that time, and kept advising students and working with Stony Brook professors, but didn't teach classes). Early this year, Bloomberg made me a very nice offer for a full-time position, and I decided to take it. The offer included the chance to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I've long wanted to live, so I've moved to SF.

Longer version: Back in 2006, the original reason I thought of getting an econ PhD was actually to become an econ pundit and writer. I saw the quality of the econ commentary out there, and decided that it could be much improved - that there was a huge breakdown in the pipeline of good and useful ideas between academia and the public debate. I admired economists like Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman, and writers like Matt Yglesias, who took some steps to bridge that gap, but I thought that much more needed to be done. I wanted to make sure that good ideas, rather than politically motivated propaganda or silly oversimplifications, made it out of the ivory tower and into the public consciousness.

As soon as I started grad school, I essentially forgot that dream entirely. I got absorbed in the grad school stuff, first in macroeconomics, then later in my dissertation and behavioral finance (which was much more fun and satisfying than macro). And I enjoyed the academic life at Stony Brook, especially the people there. Now, with this Bloomberg job, I'll sadly be leaving that behind - but in the end, I came right back around to where I started. In terms of bringing good ideas from academia into the public consciousness, progress has been made, but much remains to be done. Fortunately, Bloomberg is a great platform to do this, and I'll be working with some great econ writers like Narayana Kocherlakota, Justin Fox, and many others.

As for Stony Brook, I will miss everyone there. It's a good, fast-growing department. The behavioral finance group there is strong and growing, with Danling Jiang, Stefan Zeisberger, and others. The people in charge of the College of Business, including the dean, Manuel London, are really excellent leaders, and the department is much friendlier and less politics-ridden than basically any other I've seen. They'll be hiring my replacement soon, so if you're a job candidate in behavioral finance, and you'd like to live in New York, I'd recommend Stony Brook.

Anyway, to you grad students out there, I certainly wouldn't regard me as a role model - my career is weird and unusual, and was probably always destined to be that way. I'd still recommend the economics PhD, and the life of an economist, to a whole lot of people out there.

That's all that's changed. I'll still be blogging here, and I'll still be around on Twitter!

56 comments:

  1. Josh L.5:07 PM

    Great news! I had no idea about your past, but I've caught myself wishing more than once you had time for more articles. You definitely have a knack for it, and cover an empty niche.

    It's a big change, but it seems to be one that will suit you well, and hopefully you find it fulfilling.

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  2. Anonymous5:12 PM

    I love your blog and have been reading it for many years. I'm doing an economics PhD myself and I applaud you to your brave step. Keep up the good work and don't get allow us researchers to get to cocky.

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  3. Very exciting, we need more articles like this one.
    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2016-03-10/an-economics-laboratory-where-theories-go-to-die

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  4. This solves the mystery of how a person can find time to write 3 high-quality posts a week while working full-time at a tenure-track position in a university econ department and blogging on the side. Turns out they can't. I feel *much* better now. And my respect for you has come down from (unsustainable) lofty heights.
    Congrats, and best of luck with the move. I look forward to the reading material.

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    1. I'll second that! and I'll be eagerly awaiting your future columns.

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  5. Best of luck! You've been one of my favorite writers for a while now, and I'm looking forward to reading more!

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  6. Are you going to be doing any original research or are you effectively burning the bridge back to academia?

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    1. I would like to keep doing research.

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  7. EJMR is thrilled. You have no idea how much they've been chattering about you.

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    1. Haha, those dorks. In a week they'll be back to gnashing their teeth over my every word. ;-)

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  8. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Is Danling moving to Stonybrook? I thought she was at FSU.... in either case, congrats on the move.

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    1. Yep, she is. And thanks!

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  9. Congrats, I saw some rather harsh comments about you & Stony Brook in previous posts which seemed rather uncalled for, hopefully this will clear things up.

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  10. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Congratulations!

    Hey I know you mentioned before that Bloomberg doesn't like you reposting your articles elsewhere but Ritholtz posts a couple of paragraphs and then a link to his articles on Bloomberg, surely you're able to do something similar?

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    Replies
    1. I can do more of this, yeah.

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  11. Petar Lalovic8:56 PM

    This is great news! Academic life consists of learning more and more about less and less. I haven't read anyone that writes in such depth about such a breath of topics like you. I can see why this writing position suits you much better. I hope the new position allows you to continue doing so. I'm curious, why SF? I hope you write a longer post about this decision. As a Political Economist that lives in SF, I have my own love/hate relationship with the City (& I hope to share it in person one day)

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    1. I will at some point. Really, it's because I have far more friends there than any other place.

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  12. Congratulations - will look forward to you having more time to write, Stony Brook's loss is my gain!

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  13. So one assumes this move will make it far, far easier to wager pizzas with Brad DeLong over economic indicators, right?

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  14. So you are no longer multi-classed. But perhaps you have been promoted to 14th-level blogger?

    In any case, you have surely done the right thing moving to the Bay area. 25 years later, I still get stick from my wife for not doing the same, though she was the reason why (I ought to have "made her" move, apparently.)

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  15. Noah, I think I asked this when you first wandered over there, but is there an RSS feed for your articles at BV? I've looked around to no avail, and I'd love to be able to read more of your stuff.

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    1. Oh nevermind!

      http://www.bloombergview.com/rss/contributors/noah-smith.rss

      Boy is that site a bear to navigate. (Either that or I'm getting old...)

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  16. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Welcome to SF. Hopefully you'll love it here.

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  17. As one of the few non-economists who reads your work, congrats on the move. A lot of years ago I faced a similar choice and moved from an academic/research track in biochemistry to working in the pharma industry doing regulatory affairs. It was immensely satisfying.

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    Replies
    1. Cool! Yes, academia can sort of lock one into a set future...it's great for some people, but not for everyone.

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  18. Noah, I visited this blog after a long time (personal changes, some good and some bad had kept me busy). Can I say, I heard it first? I remember a while back when you mentioned that you had a standing offer from Bloomberg and where thinking about it. Though I didn't expect to see you take over a year to decide, lol, your decision did not surprise me. You have many talents but it is comparative advantage, not absolute advantage that governs specialization. And, truth be told, you write very, very well and you enjoy doing it even more. So, even though you will be too far to invite you over for BBQ, I am happy to see you pursue your calling because I know you will be happy too. Plus, SF is a great place to live (police department scandals notwithstanding). Cheers to you and best of luck in your future endeavors.

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    1. Thanks, Costas! We definitely must have another BBQ when I'm in town. :-)

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  19. Damn!!!! I just sent an emergency alert to Cal State Security to be on the lookout for you at all points of entry. Have you applied to the state for a green card??? Without one we will send you right back to Stony Brook!!! We have standards you know!!!!

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  20. BTW is the offer enough to pay 2000 per sq ft for a shack in Palo Alto?
    I am changing tenants in my old house in San Joe's Noes. It is cheap at only 3000 per month. Send an application soon, as the line of potential tenants is growing by the hour.

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  21. Felicitations! I hope that your career change is beneficial for you and for others. I'm glad that you will continue writing; your blog is my favorite blog to read for economics.

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  22. Cost of living in SF so high ... I hope you will be getting paid! Don't want to see you end up like Neal Gabler.

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    1. I will endeavor not to break the bank. :-)

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  23. Todd Kreider1:44 AM

    おめでとう!

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  24. Pedro6:24 AM

    I wish you the very best of luck in this 'new' endeavour!

    ^_^

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  25. Good luck -- I enjoy your blog, w/o agreeing w/everything.

    Stay in touch w/ academic research -- that's what makes your blog interesting, as an intermediary between the academy and nonspecialists (including PH.d economists like me who aren't macro/finance types.

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    1. Well, that's a lot of what Bloomberg wants me to write about! :-)

      And yes, will do.

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  26. On the plus side....more time for twitter!

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  27. Anonymous1:38 PM

    Congratulations. Anonymous lurker here. I moved from Stony Brook to San Francisco after graduation (Class of '92, Philosophy). I loved SB while I was there, and still have fond thoughts of it, but I've missed East Setauket approximately never. Thanks for your work on the blog and BV, and I look forward to reading your new material.

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    1. Thanks! Know exactly how you feel...

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  28. I've been following Noahpinion and your articles on Bloomberg for the last three years. Your articles have been well written and informative (even if I don't always agree.) I admit that this news makes me a little disappointed as I've always considered it an important duty for researchers to communicate outside of the journals. That said, I trust you will continue to provide the kind of in-depth and non-esoteric writing that has defined Noahpinion. I myself took a second major in applied mathematics in preparation for graduate school after reading your post on Econ Ph.D, but ultimately decided that academia and research wasn't what I wanted to do.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words...

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  29. Anonymous10:43 PM

    Is this the conclusion of the Twitter war with Taleb? That was one heck of a headache, and it got really confusing to follow.

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    1. Anonymous10:44 PM

      Congratulations by the way.

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    2. Yep! The dean of Stony Brook wrote a statement on FB specifically to counter Taleb's false accusations, so that should be the end of that. :-)

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    3. And thanks, by the way!

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  30. Good luck. You are an inspiration to me and many I am sure. The world has changed. Academics no longer have the monopoly on brains and public communication. All power to you on your move.

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  31. Congratulations!

    If your path to SF winds through Ann Arbor, look me up.

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  32. So you wouldn't consider a post with the new administration.

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