Thursday, October 21, 2010

The blogging game turning sour:)

I just got the following comment to a recent post:
Dear Mr.Deliveli,
As a regular reader of your blogpost, and of your miscellaneous interventions on the daily press, I am becoming increasingly convinced that you are using media space essentially to further boost your already highly-inflated ego, as you hardly ever say anything new or make a significant contribution. There is nothing wrong with expressing your views, provided you are fully aware of your young age, your credentials (which have not really been made public) and relatively limited experience, compared to the much more experienced academicians and established writers on economic issues, who possess long years of accumulated experience and credibility. So, please try to be a little more modest, if you don't want to end up talking to yourself only)
When readers used to email me and told me how much they loved my stuff, it was all fun and games (admitting I love flattery seems like accepting the charge of inflated ego, but it really isn't- more on that later), but first the unhappy customer to Monday's column and now this.

I could just ignore it, but as I said it before, if someone has taken the time to give me feedback, it is only proper that I respond. And since I am not sure whether she will get an automatic response from Blogger if I responded to the comment (it is after all anonymous), I will post it here, as she said she is a regular reader of my posts. The rest of this post will be a direct answer to her comments.

So here we go:

First of all, I sincerely thank you for having taken the time to write a response. I value all feedback. But having said that, I am really not sure why you think my ego is highly-inflated. Is it because of my foray into vanity that I mention in the post you have responded to? If that's the case, that was supposed to be a joke, and I apologize if you didn't see it that way.

I should note that anyone who writes in public space loves to be read. I don't think that should be a measure of my ego. A usual analogy could be made with the difference between price level and inflation: I am obviously thrilled when my column makes it to the most-read in the Daily News website. In other words, my ego rises, but if it is already at a low level, its level will have stayed relatively low anyway. If anything, I would classify myself as with a low-ego, almost to the point of lack of self-confidence, especially after I get unfavorable comments:). Maybe, that's why I get so excited when a column is well-read or gets good comments.

And if it is not my vanity post that induced you to think I have an inflated ego, I would be glad if you could let me know what else. Please be specific as you can so that I can properly understand what made you think that I have an inflated ego. BTW, a friend who is a regular reader (who has also given me valuable advice on the previous discontent) noted the following: "You seem to write with conviction and for me thats a very positive thing regarding your aptitude but that type of conviction and lets say dedication will always attract negativeness of some kind..." 
I fully agree with her on my writing style, but if you are indeed bothered by my conviction, I don't think it shows that I have an inflated ego at all. I really like writing this way because I could not really do that when I was an economist at Citi. Market economists, while they always say what their view is, tend to be more careful and reflect risks to their forecasts. They also tend to herd a lot, as the benefit of being a maverick thinker is not much for an analyst, but the cost a lot- unless you are a star analyst, of course. So you don't really know what they are really thinking. With me, it is simple: I expect x because of a, b and c... Anyway, I could offer more hypotheses on why you think I have an ego issue, but I'll just wait for your explanation.

Similarly, I am really not sure what you had in mind with miscellaneous interventions on the daily press: Were you talking about my Econnews Roundup posts. If that is the case, I really don't see them as interventions on the daily press: It is just me writing my opinion on the news of the day. Sure, I sometimes do criticize the person the news is about or the journalist who has prepared the piece, if there is something fundamentally wrong, at least according to my view, with the analysis. I think that is a valuable service to my readers, as I a saying, "don't jump to conclusions from this piece, as the analysis might be flawed"... But again, if you had something else in mind, please let me know.

I should also note that I don't think I have specifically attacked any academics and economic columnists in this blog ever. I have plenty of disagreement with the mainstream economics thinking in Turkey, but when I do that, it is always about an idea, and never about a person. Having said that, there is also nothing wrong with saying, I disagree with Prof. X on this. That doesn't mean that I don't respect X or think that I am better than her, whatever better means. As you also note, there is nothing wrong with expressing my views even if I am not as good as Prof. X.

Besides, even if Prof. X is has better credentials and more experience than me (and is older, but believe me, I am not that young, either), that doesn't mean that she will be right all the time and me wrong all the time. I might come up with more a accurate analysis on a particular subject even if she is overall a better economist if I know that particular topic better, by conducting a more diligent analysis, i.e. by hard work, or by sheer luck...

To illustrate, if you look at my track record, this is more or less what you get: I have been right on target in some instances (IMF Stand-by, Fiscal Rule) and been totally off-the-mark (CBT policy rates) in others. Having said that, it is obvious that some of my writings have induced you to think that I see myself above other economists. I would be grateful if you could point to those posts/columns and let me know specifically what made you think so- so that I can address the issue in detail.

Speaking of credentials, it is not that I have not made them public on purpose. It is just that the Hurriyet Daily News does not have a set-up for that. They do have authors' pages, but those only have past articles. I agree that they should, and I have mentioned it to the editor-in-chief and web editor several times. It is not that they disagree, but it is not high on the priority list. And while I would not want to post my CV to the web, especially since I am not looking for a job, I have no problem supplying my bio when a place I write for, such as Roubini Global Economics, asks for it.

And besides I don't think there is a direct correlation between strength of credentials, at least in the traditional or academic sense, and quality of analysis/writing. For example, some of my favorite Economics bloggers such as Mark Tahoma and Econbrowser folks, while decent academics, are not likely to get the Nobel Prize. However, I find their analysis and writing much better than many Nobel winners who also blog or write an occasional op-ed (no, I don't have Paul Krugman in mind, I think he is the best writer by far among the Nobeliers).

I should  add I know many bloggers who choose to remain anonymous for various reasons. A couple of quality economics bloggers who immediately come to my mind are Models & Agents and Rebecca Wilder (obviously not her real name). So I really don't think you should judge a columnist by credentials alone. But unfortunately, you don't seem to think much of my writing, either:(

I am obviously disappointed that you say that I hardly ever say anything new or make a significant contribution. It is true that I am not aiming for ground-breaking economics novelties in my columns; that should be, after all, for academic research. But I thought I was saying something new when I noted that the IMF Stand-by would never be realized. Or the fiscal rule had some flaws. The consensus view was exactly the opposite in both, so even if you'd disregard the fact that I ended up being right, there was something new there.

Maybe, you know the Turkish economy so well that none of what I say seems like novel to you. In that case, could you email me the links of a few columnists who, in your opinion, say something new and make a significant contribution?- I would prefer ones writing about Turkey, so that I can make a direct comparison, but really, anything is fine. It'd even be better if you could send me specific articles. I am really not trying to be a smartass; I just want to see your criteria so that I may aim higher and maybe even improve my columns.

In sum, while I do appreciate your feedback, I would really be really grateful if you could be a little bit more specific on the points I noted above. Feel free to write to the original post, to this one or even send me an email at

After all, I would not want to be talking myself only at all:)... But I just might if I eventually find out that enough people (it doesn't have to be the majority, just my subjective criterion) think like you or Tuesday's unhappy customer...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you not tired yet of incessantly going on these ego trips by talking mostly about yourself and precious little else that could be classified under the heading of "economic analysis"? Do you really feel you HAVE to occupy media space with what basically amounts to NOTHING? I don't think too many people are genuinely interested in what you have to say about Beşiktaş (or any other soccer team for that matter). On the other hand, concentrating on economic analysis (as opposed to paraphrasing economic news features) might just help increase your popularity and reduce the boredom of those who allocate their valuable time to read your so-called "ramblings". (Expression in quotes is yours, not mine...)