About Me

I’m the co-founder of Full Stack Economics, where I write about macroeconomics, housing, labor markets, and technology.

I was born and raised in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota. I spent time as a staff writer at the Cato Institute in Washington DC and also spent some time in St. Louis.

I then went to graduate school, studying computer science under Ed Felten. While there, I was a co-creator of RECAP, a software project that helps users liberate documents from PACER, the federal judiciary’s paywalled website for public records. I earned a master’s degree in computer science in 2010.

After grad school I went to work at Ars full-time. I then spent time at the Washington Post and Vox before returning to Ars for a third time in 2017. In 2021, I quit Ars to start Full Stack Economics.

I can be found on Mastodon. You can email me at tim@fullstackeconomics.com.

14 Responses to About Me

  1. Stu Cohen says:

    When writing about any subject where your name may be confused with someone elses, IP issues on Megan’s page for example, I believe you have an obligation to clearly state, “Note that I’m not related to Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. Nor am I related to Timothy H. Lee of the Center for Individual Freedom.” You should do this in your brief bio at the top, or at the least at the bottom of your articles.

    By neglecting this step you, intentionally or not, get a free ride on the reputation of others and confuse your readers. Just look at the comments on the IP article I mention above for proof.

    Failing to do so, does not help you in any way. Quite the contrary, when it is discovered, it causes a strong negative reaction towards you and reflects badly on your integrity, fairly or not.

    As you state in your Disclosure Statement, “…it would be hard to come up with a code of blogger ethics that would fit all of them. But one principle that seems valuable for almost everyone is disclosure.”

    You didn’t chose your name or theirs but, like it or not, you are stuck with those associations. As you demonstrate on your own web site, you are well aware of that fact. You must explain your identity as clearly in other venues as you do here.

    Warmest regards

  2. Tim Lee says:

    Hi Stu,

    I appreciate the comment, but we’re going to have to agree to disagree here. I’m not trying to deceive anyone, but space in bylines is at a premium. I don’t, in fact, have the same name as Mr. Berners-Lee, and the confusion of my name with his is fairly rare. And frankly, I think the idea that it “reflects badly on my integrity” when I use my own name in published work is ridiculous.

  3. David Parker says:

    Hi Tim,
    I found your article on “Why Patent Lawyers Are Clueless . . .” to be very interesting. I have worked in the music copyright arena for over 25 years and see some very interesting comparisons. My chief disagree with your analysis is the statement
    “But even if he’s right, this is hardly a “small expense” for a typical software-producing firm. For example, one popular Silicon Valley startup funding organization, Y Combinator invests around $20,000 and expects that to be enough money for a new firm (typically two or three 20-somethings) to produce a working prototype over the course of a summer.”
    While I admit I have no experience with Silicon Valley startup funding organizations, I do have a great deal of experience with many business startups. I would never try to properly start up any business with just $20,000.00. It’s not even enough to open up a local neighborhood restaurant let alone develop software. From my point of view, that amount of money is just a recipe for disaster. I believe that this is one of the fundamental errors of business planning that takes place in “Silicon Valley.”
    What say you?

  4. Mark Chao says:

    I read your article, but it is “patently unfair” to blame the Patent Attorney. In reality, the attorney only interprets the laws as written by Congress, regulated by the Patent Office and tried by the Courts.

    If you want to be 100% fair, software companies/inventors hiding their heads in the sand by ignoring patents and patent law are doomed to suffer the adverse consequences that the existing patent laws provide. Patent attorneys cannot force software companies to do their due diligence. The Patent Office grants the patents, not patent attorneys.

    In my opinion, the patent attorneys do understand the software industry. A big part of the job is to educate and advise the inventors of their rights and limitations, and what consequences could occur if they do not take certain steps. Ultimately the decision to file a patent, do a freedom to operate search, or take any business action is in the hands of the client, and not the attorney.

    But, as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

  5. Anonymous says:


    Mark Ames is the last person in the world qualified to talk about “principles.”

    Breitbart did this about him:


    And I’ve had a personal feud with him. Pay special attention to the parts about having sex with 15-year-olds and his ex-associate accusing him of being a rapist:


  6. Pat2Win says:

    sorry, I put the comment regarding IV here, because it seems that one must be invited to comment at Tim’s post about IV.

  7. Peter OConnor says:

    You need to write about google fiber and its impact on corporate ISP (AT&T, Comcast). I can’t stand the idea of paying AT&T $149 install fee for a 6 month discount on a 6MBit u-verse internet. But i’d pay the google fiber $300 for a 5 year free internet connection.

    It’s just going to take google years to move from city to city. I wonder if AT&T or Comcast will offer any better deal then.


  8. Dear Mr. Lee,

    I enjoy following you on Twitter, and I wanted to know if you have a recommended reading list for the case against government control of the money supply. I’ve become rather interested in Bitcoin over the past few months, and I’ve read a lot about currency in general and how bitcoin fits into that space, but I haven’t read much on the normative arguments against government involvement in currency. I’m familiar with the stories of hyperinflation, and I am a big history buff in general, but I was hoping you could point me to some more theoretical reading beyond the history generally known.

    Nelson M. Rosario

  9. Pat Russell says:

    This relates to your “Comcast” post on Vox. Your description of how the Internet works doesn’t jibe with what I think I know. (I am specifically talking about routing and billing issues.) I am a Comcast customer. According to your description Comcast pays on my behalf to what I call the long haul providers (the Internet equivalent of long distance companies in the phone era). But that should mean that the same company hauls my traffic because Comcast presumably only buys long haul service from whoever gives them the best deal. But that is not so. A few years ago I did a TRACERT experiment involving MIT and Boston College. I live in Seattle. Both of them are located in Boston. (Harvard, the obvious second choice turned out to have their web servers in D.C.) Two different companies handled the “long distance” leg, according to TRACERT. So what’s the story? My conclusion was basically that “receiver pays”, the opposite of your “sender pays” description. It also occurs to me that a lot of traffic is UDP so there is no connection in the message to the originator. So I have always assumed that each direction is treated separately. So in my case on the send leg the long distance vendor would be selected by the receiver’s ISP and BC and MIT used different ISPs who used different long haul carriers. The return trip (which TRACERT doesn’t show me) would be handled by the same long distance vendor because it was all going to my Comcast connection. This doesn’t mitigate your overall point. Netflix is driving a lot of download traffic to Comcast so Comcast is in a position to hold up Netflix for more money because they own the “last mile”. I have been trying for years to find out how this sort of thing works. It would not surprise me to find out I have some things wrong. So enlighten me, please. Thanks!

  10. Pragmatic says:

    I just read your piece on the scandal at the patent court – http://www.vox.com/2014/5/27/5753866/the-real-problem-with-the-federal-circuit .

    Dude, get a grip. You have no idea of what your talking about. Cozy court-patent bar relationship? Really? Pick something big that’s a real scandal, not some nitpick on the rump of a flea.

    Here’s a scandal for you: The supreme court has no idea of what it is doing, but yet complains about the CAFC for not following its irrational and incoherent “logic”, e.g., KSR v. Teleflex or Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. That incoherence gives rise to chaos and blither by the duly chastened CAFC. The supremes’ incompetence in patent law is beyond belief and occasionally they admit it themselves. Here’s Scalia’s incoherence and incompetence for all to see in his concurrence in AMP v. Myriad Genetics.

    “I join the judgment of the Court, and all of its opinion except Part I–A and some portions of the rest of the opinion going into fine details of molecular biology. I am unable to affirm those details on my own knowledge or even my own belief. It suffices for me to affirm, having studied the opinions below and the expert briefs presented here . . . .”

    No doubt about it, you have never practiced patent law and are simply blowing rancid ideological smoke. We don’t need any more of that. The two-party system inundates us in it all the time and look at where that nonsense has got us.

  11. A student brought your Post article on McDonald’s budget plan to me as part of an assignment. Half-way through I was nearly certain of your Libertarian viewpoints. By the end of the article, I understood why I’ve seen the Post and its writers denigrated online: you make no mention of how that budget affects someone who is a parent or (AND) attempting to make it through college, which is where I teach, how it affects a hospice caretaker, a vet with PTSD and struggling to deal with the VA, a teenager who’s bounced from foster home to foster home and is trying to create a decent life, and so on. In that article, you make many assumptions, and as an old Air Force Master Sergeant told me, when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me. How can you assume that many of your readers will not note the massive gaps of knowledge (and empathy, sympathy) which you leave out? It’s insulting. If you’d like a simple list of unsupported statements, just reply. Honestly, and respectfully, you should be ASHAMED to imagine that the good fortune you’ve had in your life is common to others. I have been teaching in public schools and college for about 17 years, and I’ve seen the hardest working POOR people here, yet writers like you seem to give these people zero credit, that Post article being an example. Writing like what I saw in the Post simply reveals a failure to acknowledge that MANY people in this country weren’t born with the same SES advantages which you and others have enjoyed as the status quo. Please, spend more time working with poor people, disabled people, people in hospice, abuse victims and EXPLAIN TO ALL OF THEM WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A LIVING WAGE. Be well and healthy.

  12. Maxime says:

    You’re a partisan hack is what you are.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Tim, I just watch you here in Australia at fox news THE HOME OF FALSE NEWS. Tucker calling out your organization and running ring around you. Please tell me they edit it or you holding back because of the appearance dee. God you keep mentioning Facebook while the subject matter is right there in front of you. Bengazi, no go zone Obama phone, the list goes on.

  14. Daniel Estefez says:

    I saw the interview in which the brilliant Tucker Carlson massacred you on the FOX News show, and personally I am GLAD. You are obviously an effeminate gay — why are almost all effeminate gays so afraid of alternate viewpoints (and of course the TRUTH)? Is it because you are afraid of hearing people who will object to your nastiness, your hatred of Christians and of America in general? Is it because you don’t ever want to be told that you are WRONG? You are a DISGRACE to the profession of journalism, and also to America.

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