Marginal Evolution

That is an email I had sent to two of my friends, back in February of 2006. I’m sure Marginal Revolution must have been called plenty of things over the last twenty years, but “web resource”? Surely a record of sorts.

How I would like to tell you that I have read Marginal Revolution every single day since then. But even in the post truth era, that would be stretching things a bit. The remarkable bit, of course, is that it has been updated every single day since then – and for roughly three years before then.

I have no recollection of what post I read that day that made me want to share the URL with my friends. But I did go back and take a look at posts written on that day, and this delightful nugget cropped up:

“I am engaged and we are in the process of planning our wedding. There is a huge debate over what is OK to put in the invitations and what is not. My fiance and I have been living together for a little over a year and we aren’t planning on registering because we already have so much. So, monetary gifts would be great for us! Now, how do you put this in your invitation? A few suggestions have come up but we don’t want to seem rude or crass. Please help!”
Tyler: Oh, what a softball.  We have already blogged on the deadweight loss of gift-giving, here and here.  So my major advice is simply to read MarginalRevolution on a regular basis.  I can add only that if you are going to ask for money, set up a college fund.  Your kids-to-be are not yet experiencing the impatience of waiting for the money, which implies an arbitrage opportunity with g > r, or the growth rate of the funds greater than the rate of time discount.  Nor do I think that the mechanisms of Ricardian Equivalence will fully offset this transfer.  Got that?

Consistently, delightfully weird, and thank god for some things not changing over time.

Other things have changed over time where the blog is concerned, of course. “Caught my Eye” has become “Tuesday Assorted Links“, for example. Or whatever day of the week it is, of course. We’ve had Markets in Everything, Those New Service Sector Jobs, and other long running series. We’ve had offshoots – textbooks, MRU (did you know it launched on the 5th of September?), a podcast and much else besides.

But the one thing that has remained constant is the fact that every single time I’ve visited the blog, I’ve come away with something I didn’t know earlier. And that’s been true for the last seventeen years in my case, and twenty for those lucky enough to have discovered the blog before I did.

I don’t claim to understand everything that I’ve read on MR, and I certainly don’t agree with everything written on it (what do you mean, give cash instead of gifts. Who does that?!). But I do claim, and with a lot of passion, that I have become a better student of economics for having read the blog for as long as I have.

Part of my motivation for starting EFE was to help other people fall in love with economics much the way I had over the years. And while there is a professor in Pune who is a major chunk of the reason I fell in love with economics, the other two reasons happen to be the co-authors of this blog. And certainly the inspiration to try and write daily comes from the fact that Tyler has written on MR every single day from August 2003 onwards.

2003. The year in which Federer won his first Wimbledon, and the year of the World Cup final That Never Happened. Hell, I was an undergraduate student in Fergusson College. And here I am now, father to a ten year old, with a blog of my own to try and post on daily – and MR continues on its own merry way, making the world a much better place, one small step at a time.

It is not for me to say whether the world has become a better place since then. But I can assure you that I have learnt a little about economics over the years, both because I’ve tried to read every single post written on MR, and because I’ve tried to write on EFE every single day. I’m less than perfect in both regards, and the failure is mine alone. But to the extent that I’m a better teacher today – be it ever so slightly – than in the year 2006, it is for the most part because of the inspiration that MR has provided over the years.

Two posts commemorating the twenty year anniversary on MR: here, and here.

Thank you for all that you’ve done, and here’s to the next twenty years. Cheers!