Saturday, November 29, 2008

Econoblogosphere and the state

Real Time Economics , WSJ's blog took note of Peter R Orszag's appointment by Obama. The blog said that Orszag's appointment means that the econoblogosphere has lost an important voice since he spent time correcting media's wrong interpretations to the lightening changes in regulations over the last few months. Orszag put up a post at the Congressional Budget Office's blog that he would miss the CBO. He has been appointed for the Office of Management and Budget job. Mr Orszag has an interesting view on why the $ 700 billion bail-out package may not have a lasting fiscal impact on the government's balance sheet - depending on whether the transactions are a net gain or a loss to the government.
I think this is an interesting development when key future budget officials are in touch with the junta (for all non-Indians, 'junta' is a word used in Hindi to describe the common man.) I think it says as much about blogging as a medium as it does about the new generation public official.
I cannot conceive of Indian budget makers being so open to the media and the world at large! They are usually sequestered in the finance ministry both before and after the annual budget exercise. To be fair, there have been many officials who take it as their mission to educate government/economic reporters on the actual consequences of a budgetary allocation or accounting changes, but they are few and far in between.
This culture of speaking to the media - by the rank and file of the administration stems very much from the top. Many senior journalists in Delhi tell me, if the minister in question is 'open' to the media, it comes across with the way bureacrats in revenue, expenditure and economic affairs deal with the media. Have strong reasons to believe that the current administration is far from being courteous to economic journalists.
Coming back to the Obama administration, am sure American journalists are looking to having access to a more open government over the next few years, given that it was preceded by the most all-inclusive Presidential campaign.

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