28-yr-old with no de­gree is a must-read on econ­omy now

The Asian Age - - Financial - PETER COY

Nathan Tankus, 28, hasn't fin­ished his bach­e­lor's de­gree at New York City's John Jay Col­lege of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice. He has, how­ever, mas­tered enough knowl­edge of eco­nomics and fi­nance to be­come a widely fol­lowed com­men­ta­tor on the Fed­eral Re­serve. A news­let­ter he launched this year has fol­low­ers at the Fed, the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion, the Of­fice of the Comptrolle­r of the Cur­rency, and the Depart­ment of the Trea­sury. He's also fol­lowed on Twit­ter by jour­nal­ists, eco­nomic think­tankers, and Wall Street econ­o­mists.

Tankus built an on­line fol­low­ing slowly from around 2015, but it's only in the past year that he's broad­ened his au­di­ence with deep dives into mon­e­tary me­chan­ics. In Septem­ber he di­ag­nosed the dis­lo­ca­tions in the se­cured lend­ing mar­ket that forced the Fed to re­sume buy­ing Trea­sury

Nathan Tankus

bonds on a mas­sive scale.

This year he wrote a se­ries of de­tailed posts called Notes on the Crises, which ex­plained the Fed's emer­gency ac­tions to com­bat the Covid-19 re­ces­sion. He made ex­ten­sive use of Tac­counts, a tool of ac­coun­tants that places as­sets on the left and li­a­bil­i­ties on the right.

"He has re­ally good knowl­edge of the plumb­ing of the mon­e­tary sys­tem," says David Beck­worth, a se­nior re­search fel­low at the Mer­ca­tus Cen­ter of Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity.

Tankus's diploma-free rise is in­ter­est­ing in part for what it says about the eco­nomic and fi­nance de­bates tak­ing place on the internet.

Es­tab­lish­ment cre­den­tials mat­ter there less than ever. Tankus has taken full ad­van­tage of the lack of gate­keep­ers on the web, where a sharp and quickly de­liv­ered ar­gu­ment on the topic du jour-what­ever that may be-can have more im­pact than a peer­re­viewed ar­ti­cle in the Quar­terly Jour­nal of Eco­nomics, say, or the Amer­i­can Eco­nomic Re­view.

No­body is more sur­prised by his new­found fame than Tankus him­self, who can fi­nally af­ford to move out of the fam­ily apart­ment in Man­hat­tan where he grew up. "It's been a com­pletely amaz­ing, strange ex­pe­ri­ence," Tankus says. The news­let­ter, with 450 sub­scribers, is net­ting him $45,000 a year, and he thinks he can earn an ad­di­tional $20,000 from other speak­ing and writ­ing en­gage­ments. "This has turned into a com­fort­ably full­pay­ing ca­reer," he says. "And there's a lot of room to grow."


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