Q: What is NoahOpinion?
A: I have no idea what that is, but people often seem to confuse it with the name of this blog. I think it's a Danish pop band or something. My blog's name is a pun on "No opinion". See?
Q: Who writes the blog?
A: My name is Noah Smith, I'm an assistant finance professor at Stony Brook University in New York.
Q: What is the blog about?
A: It's generally about economics, but also includes stuff about finance, politics, culture, political philosophy, philosophy of science, and whatever else I feel like writing about on any given day. Mostly economics, though.
Q: How did you get started blogging?
A: I was a PhD student in economics at the University of Michigan. I had thought I would be a macroeconomist, but despite liking my macroeconomist advisor (the great Miles Kimball) a lot, I just got too annoyed at the way macroeconomics is done. So I sort of "rage-quit" the field, and while I was looking for something else to do, I decided to start a blog and vent some of the things I had been thinking. This started out as me basically criticizing anything I read on the internet that seemed wrong, but eventually turned into me explaining why I had quit macro and why I didn't like macro as a field. Eventually I discovered behavioral finance, liked it a lot more, and got a job doing that, so my blog became less angry, and my topics broadened in scope.
Q: What are you known for in the blogosphere?
A: In the early days, I just went around criticizing everything I disagreed with, so I became known for writing "smackdowns", taking on such eminent figures as George Will and Niall Ferguson. I also wrote about my experience in econ grad school, and what I learned there.
I also got involved in a number of the arguments that periodically roil the econ blogosphere, particularly with regards to macroeconomic issues. I began to take an interest in chronicling these debates.
Later, I started using my knowledge of macro to try to explain macro ideas to outsiders. I also started to criticize macro itself, especially DSGE models and the ideas of the people called "Freshwater macro" people.
I also started trying to write about the experience of the econ PhD - why it's a good career path, how to get into a PhD program, how blogging might affect your career, and what it's like to look for a job as an economist.
In addition, I've written a lot about Japan, where I lived for about 3 years. Usually this is about the Japanese economy, sometimes about other stuff.
I occasionally write a post that people find funny (for reasons I don' always understand), and these have proven to be my most popular posts. There was the time I categorized my comment trolls into a bestiary, or the time I defined the internet slang word "derp" in terms of Bayesian probability theory.
Since I became a finance professor, I've tried to write a little more about finance, and I expect to do more of that in the future.
Finally, I often write about pretty random stuff, like what it's like to be clinically depressed, or why I think our society should have more equality of respect, or what science fiction novels economists might like to read.
Q: Do you write anything else besides the blog?
A: I occasionally write articles for The Atlantic, Quartz (often with Miles Kimball), and The Week, and once in a while I have articles in other publications like Foreign Affairs. These articles are often about economics or public policy, but sometimes about different stuff altogether. I also am on Twitter.
Q: Why "No opinion"?
A: Because I am generally pretty skeptical about stuff.
Q: But I don't get why it's a double entendre. What would "Noah pinion" mean? Pinioning Noah? I don't get it.
A: I'll explain when you're older.
Q: What makes you think you know so much about [insert topic here]?
A: If you really think I don't know about [insert topic here], then you're unlikely to think I have a good reason for thinking I know about [insert topic here], so I'm assuming your question is rhetorical.
Q: What is your commenting policy?
A: "Comment at your own risk!"
Q: Why is this post dated April 23, 2010, when it was obviously written long after that?
A: I find that life is more fun when some things are left as mysteries.
Q: Hi, Mr. Smith. My name is XX XXXX, and I work for XXXXX. We're putting together a list of promising young finance bloggers. Would you be interested in contributing to --
A: Stop right there. Now put down whatever you're doing and go jump in the nearest pool. Thank you. Next question?
Q: What other blogs do you recommend?
A: See here.
Q: Who would win in a fight between monkeys in robot suits, and robots in monkey suits, and why?
A: Monkeys. Because monkey rage.