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Seems like there have been a lot of macro-economics questions lately, for example:

I generally vote to close these, since this is a personal finance site, but it seems like a lot of people want to talk about this. I feel a little guilty, because some of them are actually good questions, just off-topic.

Should we allow comments about macroeconomics and more general economic forces?

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In my opinion, we should not allow the macroeconomics questions. From the FAQ (which was defined in another meta question):

Please note that the following subjects are considered off-topic here:

  • Questions about corporate or government finance
  • Academic questions about economics or questions about economics that have no bearing on personal finance
  • Argumentative questions about personal finance or government policy

Specifically on the three questions you list:

Country Budget Cuts - I agree and closed as off topic. As written, it was open-ended, hypothetical, not about personal finance, and had no real answer.

Does the fractional reserve banking system necessitate indefinite and exponential economic growth? - This question is a "real" question that will have a "real" answer. I'd like to close this one as it is not about personal finance. However, I'd like to see more close votes from the community to help build consensus before closing.

Relationship between gold and silver historically - I think this should stay open. This is valuable to a personal investor for asset allocation. Whether two assets typically track together or separate seems like an investment type question that would benefit.


New thought from Can we support the development of Economics.SE?.

For any truly macro-economics question, add a link to the Area 51 proposal for economics.se.

Something like: If you are interested in questions like this, consider supporting the proposal for an economics stack exchange at http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/1618/economics

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    On the budget cuts one - I also voted to close. Mainly because it was essentially a speech followed by a rhetorical question. Not very well suited for a Q&A forum. – JohnFx Jan 30 '11 at 22:46
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The title of the site is "Personal Finance and Money." I'd think that if only Personal Finance questions were on topic that the site would be called that?

Gold and silver are valid investment vehicles. If we can talk about how to evaluate stocks, we should be able to talk about evaluating the price of commodities. The gold-silver ratio is commonly watched.

The fractional reserve banking process underpins the money we use every day. Seeing how this affects the value of our money can influence investment decisions.

I think they're on-topic.

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    I agree with this. – Chris W. Rea Feb 1 '11 at 2:07
  • The key point here is "Seeing how [some macroeconomic entity] [works] can influence investment decisions." That's it right there. Sure, we can't expect a super-detailed analysis here, but simply things like knowing that Fed-mandated interest rates mathematically can't go any lower is providing the investor with some useful information. – Chelonian Nov 6 '11 at 15:41
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I think that the site should address a broad of a scope of questions about money. The key is to avoid the rhetorical or troll questions, or to encourage the author to turn the rhetorical questions into real questions.

Personal finance and broader economic issues are inexorably linked. You cannot have an intelligent discussion or answer a question about investing in fixed income securities without having the ability to ask about interest rates in general. And you can answer a question about broader economic issues without being a graduate-level economist, quant or other professional.

  • Agreed, if you're asking "Should I invest in Xyz Medical Device Company which sells mainly to US hospitals?", then some knowledge/understanding of the macro-economic impacts/trends is useful. Many marketing departments in global companies are now full of economists tracking precisely these issues for manufacturing planning. – Turukawa Feb 10 '11 at 10:49
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As I mentioned in a previous meta discussion, there's a sort of spectrum to these questions, and it moves from the good to the bad:

... at a certain point I think things moved along from "help me understand how this affects my finances" along to "help me understand this critique of US policy which is relevant to the economy at large but not otherwise directly relevant to my finances" and finally ended up distressingly close to "help me critique US economic policy".

The "country budget cuts" makes a bunch of assertions and then suggests political action. This is very much off-topic. A question seeking understanding of these budget situations or what various analysts or experts think about possible courses of action would be a little more relevant and much less controversial.

The fractional-reserve banking system question is... well, first, it's a notable bogeyman that various groups across the spectrum of politics like to drag out to cause panic. "OMG, your money isn't real! Evil banks conjure it out of thin air! You've been scammed! Vote for Ron Paul and Greenpeace!" Aside from that, it's a very leading question, and asks for a debate, not really answers. I'd close it.

The gold-and-silver question asks for sources of historical data. It's reasonably relevant and asks for sources of historical data. It doesn't suggest policy changes or criticize them.

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    A leading question is bad, period. "Why do the evil capitalist bankers charge unreasonable overdraft fees?" is definitely about personal finance (at least sort of), but also definitely a troll. – duffbeer703 Feb 8 '11 at 4:31
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They could be allowed, if the question pertains to topics relevant to investing or personal finance.

But the more macro it gets, the less I see that happening.

The experts I would like to see on this site would be people that trade in the stock market, prepare taxes, rent property, etc., not economics graduates (There could be crossover, but I don't think they are necessarily the same group of people).

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