Are You There, Ben Bernanke? It’s Me, Matt.

Swartz Thought 2Dear Ben Bernanke,

As an economist and sabermetrician, my life was changed recently by the following passage from the Wall Street Journal concerning your reading habits:

“Blogs have become a pretty important source of intellectual exchange,” the Fed chief said, noting that the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and Atlanta both maintain active blogs. But is that how he spends his time browsing online?

“I follow a lot of baseball blogs myself, actually,” he said.

So Ben — do you mind if I call you Ben? — you like sabermetrics and economic policy. I like sabermetrics and economic policy. I know who you are, and it seems like you might just know who I am. And also, we should be BFFs. Just imagine it.

“Oh, hey Matt, what you are up to today?”
“Not much. I’m working on a new piece about why first basemen get paid so much. What about you?”
“Oh, I’m just pulling the strings of the world economy.”
“I hope you don’t mean pushing on a string.”
“Bahaha. Okay, let’s go catch a game and I’ll tell you all about the fight over Quantitative Easing.”

We’ll be the best of friends! I’ll forgive you for being a Nationals fan instead of a Phillies fan. You’ll forgive me for being a Penn PhD instead of Princeton. Then we can go to games and root against the Braves together. And Harvard.

You can give me a secret peek at the Fed’s proprietary economic projection models and I can give you a secret peek at my arbitration salary projection model. Same thing! We’re just predicting incomes, old economist stuff! We won’t violate each other’s trust… because we’ll be soul mates.

We can even go on a road trip to Spring Training and have fun discussions about hypothetical monetary policies. Like, what would happen if The Fed actively pursued Nominal GDP Level Targeting? Is Scott Sumner right that The Fed truly has the tools to make that happen? We can take pictures of landmarks along the way there, and I’ll make a mix tape. After singing “Life Is a Highway,” we can talk about ways to manipulate monetary policy to make the Nationals do what you wanted? You could raise interest rates really high to encourage win-now mode, and push them really low when a new stadium deal needs building.

Then we could go watch a regular season game at Nationals Park. We could talk about how you modeled out what would have happened if ATRA had not been passed on New Year’s Day and how you settled on the term “Fiscal Cliff,” and I can explain to you about the influence of the Akerlof Lemons model on my research on free agents, as well as the Naughty by Nature inspirations to my title “Down with Other People’s Players.” During the seventh inning stretch, you can direct me to go buy us a couple of $5 hot dogs and then make a call to order the purchase of this month’s $45 billion of T-Bonds.

Do you like to eat ice cream out of those little helmets? Of course you do! Once we’ve had a little dessert, we’ll be ready for a serious discussion about the value of using Chaining to determine bullpen WAR and Chaining CPI to reign in Social Security expenditures.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. It’s just so obvious we would have great times together, what with you telling me how you read my articles and me pretending I fully understand yours! I realize gallivanting around to baseball games with your sabermetric soul mate might be tough while you’re running the Fed and all. So if you’re interested, just wear a tiny baseball pin on your lapel the next time you’re addressing the Senate Banking Committee on CSPAN, and I’ll know you feel the same way.

Then I’ll start working on that mix tape.

Matt writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, and models arbitration salaries for MLB Trade Rumors. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Swa.

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As this and the prior article illustrate, we continue to go dateless.


Have we tried asking Manti Te’o out recently?