After Economic Principals left The Boston Globe for the Web in early 2002, the former newspaper column eventually found its way to a public broadcasting business model: an annual subscription pitch in December, with little or no metering thereafter. That practice worked well enough to finish Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations: A Story of Economic Discovery (2006), begin a sequel, and, in between, complete Because They Could: The Harvard-Russia Scandal (and NATO Expansion) after Twenty-Five Years (2017), after the sequel changed course.
The switch this year in July to subscription publishing via Substack complicated matters somewhat. Given that many readers had kicked in during December 2020, I decided to send the Bulldog to everyone for free until near the end of the year.
Well, it’s December, and this is the last free full early edition that non-subscribers will receive. If you are already a subscriber, as many readers are, see you again next Sunday. If you are not, you can ante up now and expect to receive the Bulldog edition in timely fashion for the interesting year ahead (and periodic semi-autobiographical subscriber reports that take you behind the scenes). Unlike old odious PayPal, Substack will let you know a week before Stripe seeks to renew. And you can always give a subscription as a gift.
Otherwise, though, you’ll continue remain on the free list, receiving Sunday a short preview of the paid post, but you will have to wait until Monday morning if you want to read the final edition at www.economicprincipals.com – a vestige of the old public broadcasting ethos. Or you can unsubscribe here and take your name off the list altogether.
Why, then subscribe, if EP is available free a day later with minimal fuss? That’s the flip side of the public broadcasting pitch: you’ll be supporting a style of weekly journalism that otherwise wouldn’t exist: newspaper-grade, independent, and skewed toward those making history in economics – that is, economic principals. A distinctive point of view, EP has become for many “a part of Sunday morning,” as a friend put it last week. Moreover, a good book is in the works behind the newsletter.
The move to Substack feels like a success – as though I had somehow moved to a bigger arena. The three midsummer columns I wrote about the aftermath of the 1996 Massachusetts Senate election (here, here, and here) provided a certain degree of closure to my involvement in a long-ago controversy. I remain interested in the question of how much loyalty top editors may owe newspaper publishers, all the more so since high-end print publishing has become so much smaller a fraction of the news industry than before.
Then there is the opportunity to reflect on the shortcomings of my 1984 book, The Idea if Economic Complexity. I came into economic journalism writing about inflation, and I have learned a lot since – not enough to be authoritative on the subject, that’s for sure, but I aim to be a little clearer here about the questions I raised way back then. They are still, I think, still questions worth asking.
And naturally I can’t say goodbye altogether to politics in such as interesting times in a multipolar world. Even NATO expansion is back is the news. I fully expect we will get past Trump, much as we once got past an even greater earlier scoundrel, US Vice President Aaron Burr. How it happens promises to be a most interesting story.
Best of all about the new arrangement, at least from writing desk my office, is the freedom to pound away four days a week on the book on which I’ve been working for the past dozen years,. I described it to a friend the other day as a being about “competition among university economics faculties since 1945” (not just North American universities, of course), and that’s close enough for now.
Many thanks, subscribers! See you here again next week.