The new Bruegel blog surveys the European blog landscape and finds it pretty pathetic (h/t MTW). Read the whole thing, but here are the hight points:
It is striking to note that the online debate about European economic issues mostly takes place on American blogs. A couple of European blogs have contributed to change this landscape, but the European blogosphere remains behind the US in terms of quality and density of discussion.
As Ronny Patz noted in a recent post (hat tip to the European blogs aggregator bloggingportal), European blogs are still very much “unconnected”. That is, they use hyperlinks far less than their American counterparts or do it and in a way that doesn’t create two-way debate. In brief, Europe has bloggers, but no blogosphere: it lacks a living ecosystem to exchange and debate. Of most leading European blogs, only 1 in 5 were linked to other online content. This is a pretty striking number but one that is somewhat consistent with the use that Europeans make of blogs (ie. just another media but not an interactive one).
As Ronny puts its:
Euroblogs quite often do not refer to discussions on other euroblogs. Linking to some newspaper article, even with a discussion section, does not create a two-way discussion (…) and linking to articles on your own blog is nice, but not really a sign of an interlinked blogosphere. What this means is that it is difficult to speak of a “euroblogosphere” in the narrow sense, because this implies some kind of level of interconnectedness. I don’t really see that in our sphere outside a narrow circle of people.
Ronny is right but there are certainly a few of reasons for that.
First, economic discussions in Europe remain for the most part national and simply do not take place online outside of a few exceptions....
... But except a few exceptions like Kantoos who write posts in both German and English, this blogosphere remains mostly national and self-referencing.
Second, there are probably also “cultural” reasons behind that phenomenon. Europeans don’t have “debate” classes in High School and they tend to have far less confrontational academic discussions (we have nothing as direct and antagonistic as the Cochrane/Hubbard vs. Krugman/DeLong for instance). European economists seem to prefer spreading knowledge rather than stirring debate. VoxEU, Telos, the column section at Eurointelligence, and the new OFCE blog all provide avenues to disseminate research and to express opinions, but are not, so to speak, blogs with arguments and disagreements.
This is unfortunate as it certainly reduces the overall quality of debate. As Paul Krugman puts it for the US
“we’ve seen some famous names run into firestorms of criticism – *justified* criticism – even as some “nobodies” become players. That’s a good thing! Famous economists have been saying foolish things forever; now they get called on it."
The recent episode surrounding the debate on bubbles and potential output where a Fed official directly responded to US bloggers was a striking illustration of the role that the American blogosphere has been playing on actual policy debates in the last few years. But while American “star economists” do not hesitate to battle in an arena where readers and critics do not necessarily match their credentials, European economists continue to view the econ blogosphere as a distraction from discussion with the very serious people....