What are the best sources for economic analysis?

What publications have the best economics coverage? I’ve been thinking about this related to a side project, but it’s also relevant in light of the debate over “fake news” and journalistic quality, and as more and more publications go behind paywalls and thereby force consumers to make choices. Which sites are most worth paying attention to?

I have opinions, of course, as I cover economics for HBR. But I was curious to see which publications and sources dominate the elite economics conversation. To do that, I decided to see which sites are most commonly recommended by two major economics bloggers with somewhat different ideological positions: Tyler Cowen and Mark Thoma.

I used the Bing search API to get links to posts in which those two recommend things to read (which they’ve both done daily for over a decade), then I extracted the links from their posts, then I counted up the most common domains. (My code is here. If you notice any errors please leave me a comment on Github! This was a quick weekend project.)

There are a ton of caveats to this approach. It’s not a complete sample; it’s based on whatever links Bing does or does not return. And I don’t try to account for the fact that not every link points to something about economics; Cowen in particular often links to stuff about literature, food, etc. Finally, this is just an indication of what two particular economists found worth recommending; it’s not a comprehensive account of the field or an objective measure of what’s “good”. (If you know of others who’ve recommended links on their blogs in similar fashion, my code could be revised to include them. I’d love to diversify my sample.) Finally, by looking back ten years, my analysis biased toward sites that have been around that whole time as opposed to newer outlets like Quartz, Vox, or Fivethirtyeight. Despite all of this, I hope others find this analysis to be useful.

An observation before I get to some of the top sites: Cowen’s list of most-recommended domains in my sample is far newsier, whereas Thoma’s has far more blogs by individual economists.

With that in mind, here are the domains that show up in the top 50 most linked for both Cowen and Thoma in my sample, not counting platforms like Twitter or YouTube (and consolidating across sub-domains, though my code does not):

The New York Times
The Washington Post
Bloomberg
The Economist
The New Yorker
The Wall Street Journal
NBER
The Financial Times

That list is somewhat biased toward larger news organizations that publish more. Here are the additional sites that make the top 30 domain lists for both blogs, excluding domains ending in dot com:

The Library of Economics and Liberty
The Guardian (its URL ends in .co.uk)
Crooked Timber
Der Spiegel
VoxEU
Brookings
Project Syndicate
Eureka Alert
Digitopoly
The Center for Equitable Growth
The Federal Reserve

Here are sites that didn’t make either of the overlap lists above, but did make one of the two bloggers’ top 10 most frequently recommended:

Cowen:

BBC
The Atlantic

Thoma:

Brad DeLong
Conversable Economist
Econbrowser
Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

Finally, I checked the most common links within my sample just from recommendations this year (2017), and looked at the overlapping domains. Nothing surfaced that wasn’t already on one of these lists.

You could set the cutoffs wherever you prefer (again, here’s the code), and I can’t emphasize enough that lots of caveats apply. But if you’re looking for a places to go for good economic analysis, these lists aren’t a bad start.

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