“As the bailout plan unfolded, the bloggers offered historical context along with cutting critiques of the proposal. More important still, they offered counterproposals: direct capital injections into banks, for example, or direct purchases of mortgages. Many of their readers began badgering their senators and representatives to oppose the plan. A few weeks later, Congress rebuffed Paulson, sending shockwaves through global financial markets.
Though it’s still unclear how much credit the blogs can take for shaping Washington’s response to the crisis, it’s already evident that policy makers charged with monitoring and fixing the markets are no longer operating alone. A fast-moving, highly informed economics blogosphere now tracks and critiques their every move. The result is that this may be the first national crisis to be hashed out by experts in full public view.
The blogs offer a rolling crash course in economics as authoritative as any textbook, but far more accessible. It’s a conversation that’s simultaneously esoteric and irreverent, combining technical discussions of liquidity traps and yield curves with profane putdowns and heckling headlines. In the process, the bloggers have helped to democratize policy making, throwing open the doors on the messy business of everything from declaring a recession to structuring the most expensive government bailout in history.”