John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis


Good news on the economy – 5.8% GDP growth for Q1. Either the recession is over or we get a W. recession.
More good news. I got Econ.US registered in my name on wednesday.
If you are a regular reader of Blogs across the net, you should certainly look at

Filed under: Website

Writing about the Economy

Does anyone do it?
I’ve been surfing the web looking for people who write about the economy on a regular basis so that I might post links/updates on the news page . Unfortunately, there seem to be very few people who do. It’s easy to find business writings, business news, etc; as well as plenty of news articles and commentary on Politics. But very little that focuses on the economy. If there is an economics/economy writing, it is usully sandwiched between a dozen articles on how Boeing is laying off workers, or how the tech industry will save the world. Given the amount of time spent on economics and economy policy in the “real world”, I’d think there would be more articles out there.
Here’s one of my pp’s, look at any major publication that reviews non-fiction books on a regular basis – like the NY Times weekend book reviews, the New Republic, or the Atlantic Monthly – and you will only rarely see an economic book. Perhaps journalists can’t understand the difference between a good econ book and a bad one so don’t review any? They ought to be able to find reviewers somewhere!

Filed under: Economics

Oil Prices

Oil prices have been in the news as of late. Quick Observations.
1) Oil Prices matter – past changes in oil prices are a good predictor of current economic activity. See Oil and the Economy for details.
2) The economy is less suceptable to oil shocks than in the past. Oil as a percentage of GDP has fallen over the past 30 years – primarily due to the growth of the service sector.
3) The only real way to solve the oil problem is to reduce oil consumption. Since the oil supply and price is dominated by OPEC, domestic production won’t do the trick. (I have a nice problem set on this – let me know if you’re interested in seeing this.)

Filed under: Economics

Stock Rankings

I’ve just heard that,as of yesterday, Morgan Stanley has changed their stock ratings to three categories: Overweight, Equal-weight, and Underweight.
This seems to be an improvement in the terms relative to the more traditional strong buy, buy, hold and sell. (Why would anyone ever purchase a buy when there is a strong buy available? Why would anyone want to hold when you could sell and get a strong buy instead?)
The new rankings seem to be an improvement in part because they recognize that people tend to (and should) hold a wide range of stocks.
There is a problem with their implementation however – according to the report I saw on CNBC only about 25% of the stocks reviewed are classified as “underweight.” This seem to me to smack of a lake wobegon (sp?) on wall street – where most of the stocks are above average.
So here’s my solution: keep the categories, but mandate that 1/3 of the reviewed stocks be in each class. That way, in order to upgrade a stock, another must be downgraded. This would be a perfect solution to the “ratings inflation” that currently exists.

Filed under: Economics

A bit of personal background: I ran the economics site at for about 5 years. ArgMax is my new web presence. As of the end of March 2002, I am no longer associated with
I case you haven’t heard, a group of current and former “guides” from have filed a lawsuit against alleging a number of claims including improper compensation accounting, copyright violations and violations of labor laws. I am a plaintiff on that suit. If you’re interested you can view the complaint online.
As of today you can still visit and read my past writings, yet no credit is given and each article appears under the copyright. (My contract states that I own the copyright to this content.)
I hope you enjoy this site – I will be adding new features as time permits.

Filed under: Website


I’m still setting up this website. “Blog” was a new term until I heard it on the IWA website a few days ago. Since then I’ve poked around a bit. Another economist, Brad DeLong, is giving blogging a shot, so I thought I would add a similar feature to this website.
FYI, “Blog” seems to be short for “Web log.” These logs can range from personal logs to more formal magazine column postings. I haven’t decided what to do with this one yet. For some examples you can do a search on google on “blog”. There’s plenty to read.
I’m using blogger as a tool to update this particular page. It seems to be working well so far. (I would like to see a spell check added though.)
If you know of an economics related blog, let me know and I will create a directory at some point.

Filed under: Website