Wonkblog: Wonkys

Presenting the first-annual Wonky awards

Welcome to the first-annual Wonkys, where we recognize outstanding achievements -- and disasters -- in policy wonkery. Let’s get to them.

Policymaker of the year: We agonized over this one. There were some stand-out policy proposers this year. A handful of legislators put their all into attempted policymaking, too. But a policymaker, by definition, has to make policy. And Washington didn’t do much of that this year. So the first annual Wonky for policymaking goes to...no one. It’s just been that kind of year.

Policy fail of the year: The euro took this Wonky in a walk. As far back as 2000, economists from Paul Krugman to Milton Friedman were predicting that yoking a bunch of diverse European economies to a single currency could prove to be a bad idea. But this was the year that the structural problems with the euro really made themselves clear. Even large, too-big-to-fail countries like Italy and Spain found themselves caught in a trap, unable to reassure investors of their ability to repay debts, but unable to devalue their currency and grow their way out of their woes. The euro didn’t just turn out to be a bad idea. It turned out to be a bad idea with the potential to bring down the global economy.

Graph of the year: This chart comparing the deficit effects of the actual policies passed under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama was far and away the most popular chart we published in 2011. It got more than 78,000 likes on Facebook -- the 23rd most shared item across the entire social network site. It got hundreds of thousands of views. But all credit for it has to go to the New York Times, which published it alongside this terrific editorial by Theresa Tritch. Here’s the chart:

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