On News Sources

A reader of mine asks:

I’m interested in the range of stuff you are reading and thinking about.     Would also be interested in a catalog of what, how, and why for “information sources you get pushed to” you and “information sources you pull/poll” on a daily or weekly basis.

This is a struggle, and it changes over time.  I have a category in my Bookmarks called “startup” which contains:

  • My portfolio tickers at Yahoo Finance, and the news thereof
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Bloomberg.com
  • And my RSS reader

The last one varies the most but contains:

AAII Stock Investor Pro Data Updateshttp://feeds.feedburner.com/AAIIStockInvestorProDataUpdates
Abnormal Returnshttp://abnormalreturns.com/feed/
Aleahttp://alea.tumblr.com/rss
Bronte Capitalhttp://brontecapital.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Bruce Krastinghttp://brucekrasting.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Capital Contexthttp://feeds.feedburner.com/CapitalContext
Cato Upcoming Eventshttp://feeds2.feedburner.com/CatoEvents
CFO.com: Today in Financehttp://www.cfo.com/rss/cfo_today_in_finance.xml
China Financial Marketshttp://mpettis.com/feed/
CrossingWallStreet.comhttp://feeds.feedburner.com/Crossingwallstreet
David Merkel (AlephBlog) on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/120209971.rss
Distressed Debt Investinghttp://feeds.feedburner.com/DistressedDebtInvesting
DTC Important Notices – Reorganizationhttp://www.dtcc.com/legal/imp_notices/rss/dtc_reo.xml
Economics of Contempthttp://economicsofcontempt.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Falkenbloghttp://falkenblog.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
FeedBulletin for: Alephbloghttp://feeds.feedburner.com/~u/Alephblog
Financial Adviserhttp://blogs.wsj.com/financial-adviser/feed/
Graham And Doddsvillehttp://feeds.feedburner.com/grahamanddoddsville
HistorySquaredhttp://feeds.feedburner.com/Historysquared
Humble Student of the Marketshttp://feeds.feedburner.com/HumbleStudentOfTheMarkets
Inner Workingshttp://blog.atimes.net/?feed=rss2
interfluidityhttp://www.interfluidity.com/feed
kelpiecapitalhttp://kelpie-capital.com/feed/
Macro Rantshttp://macrorants.wordpress.com/feed/
Macroeconomic Resiliencehttp://feeds.feedburner.com/MacroeconomicResilience
Market Anthropologyhttp://www.marketanthropology.com/feeds/posts/default
NY Fed | Permanent Open Market Operationshttp://www.newyorkfed.org/rss/feeds/pomo.xml
Patrick Chovanechttp://chovanec.wordpress.com/feed/
Rajiv Sethihttp://rajivsethi.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
RIABizhttp://feeds.feedburner.com/riabiz
self-evidenthttp://feeds.feedburner.com/self-evident
Sober Lookhttp://feeds.feedburner.com/SoberLook
The Accounting Onionhttp://feeds.feedburner.com/typepad/theaccountingonion
The Aleph Bloghttp://feeds.feedburner.com/TheAlephBlog
The Cody Wordhttp://blogs.marketwatch.com/cody/feed/
The Financial Investigatorhttp://www.thefinancialinvestigator.com/?feed=rss2
the research puzzlehttp://researchpuzzle.com/blog/feed/rss/

There are many other bloggers I like a lot, but I typically run into them through linkfests from the above.  I favor bloggers that tend to post less frequently; I used to have those that post more frequently, but I could not keep up with the flow.

Occasionally Twitter and email will give me ideas, but I try to limit my time on Twitter.  I use Tweetdeck as my main Twitter client, and Buffer as my secondary client, but once I have Tweeted, I turn it off, because it is too much of a distraction.

With email, I am fascinated at the number of parties that think that I might promote their cause.  Because I respect my readers, I am really choosy about:

  • What articles I will point to
  • What infographics I will post (none so far)
  • What types of advertising I will do (and I have turned down a lot of deals)
  • Most things ;)

I will send back comments to the PR folks, and I will often unsubscribe, or ask to be removed.  I am not a media outlet in the traditional sense.  (And why many Atheist organizations think I will publish their cause floors me, but I don’t unsubscribe, I just quote the Bible to them.  Fun! ;) )

But the truth is, I probably spend too much time in data-gathering / analysis.  I go through cycles where I pare down my sources… I’ve done it probably a dozen times over the last 5-8 years, and then like topsy/kudzu it grows back.  That’s the battle.

But, now you know the basics of my reading lists.  If it helps you, good.  If not, as with all of my posts, I thank you for reading me.  Your time is valuable, and I am very sorry to have wasted your time.  I hope to do better next time, but I understand when people unsubscribe because:

  • Needs change over time, and no one is perpetually relevant
  • I sometimes say controversial things, and offense leads people to leave
  • I occasionally write boring things, and I don’t blame you for leaving — I’m not always Chrysostom (golden-mouthed)
  • There are really good writers out there on investing & finance, and I try to be one, but the competition is very good.  On the bright side, Aleph Blog is still an independent blog of the old school, where one person does it all, and has his own site.

When I was at the recent Investment Research Challenge, a number of the students came up to me and said, “Oh you’re *that* David Merkel.  I read you all the time.”  That was humbling.  I write primarily to give something back.  Yes, I get a little out of advertising and book reviews.  Yes, it gains clients for me indirectly.  But that’s not why I write.

I write because there is so much garbage that average investors are fed, and believe, and my self-appointed job is to fight it.  I tell my kids that there is a loose organization of bloggers that I notionally call “The Good Guys.”  I am one of them, and we are out to expose:

  • Deceptive products
  • Fraudulent stocks
  • General bad ideas in investing
  • Occasionally, bad advisors
  • Crummy but well-known economists
  • Self-serving politicians, and those that aid them
  • And more

Don’t get me wrong, I know I have my own problems, and I accept correction from others.

But that describes how I interact with the Internet, and the vortex of data that it delivers.

2 Comments

  • izimbra says:

    Thanks, I saved the article for reference.

    “I write because there is so much garbage that average investors are fed, and believe, and my self-appointed job is to fight it.”

    I hear you, and I agree there is a lot of garbage in financial reporting/conversation. When I consider “Why is that?” there are obvious factors like greed/vested interest/etc., but I think the epistemological peculiarity of investing is under appreciated as an explanation. What I mean by that is that we try to be knowledgeable about something, our process is shaped by our methodological conceptions of what knowledge is, and how to obtain and evaluate it. The prototypes are academic Physics and formal education. Knowledge of investing differs from that in several totally fundamental ways: 1) the object of study is a social rather than a natural phenomena, 2) it’s not possible to do controlled experiments, 3) the phenomena is not stationary over time, 4) the relationship between consensus knowledge and truth is sometimes antithetical – e.g. the more people share a particular belief about future investment performance, the less likely it is that this belief will turn out to be true.

    Bloomberg radio (live via the internet or recorded podcasts linked at their website) is one of the sources I utilize, and I think it is relatively sophisticated compared to a lot of financial media. Even so, I estimate that I listen to the expert advice and only lean towards the direction suggested by the expert perhaps 20% of the time. The remaining value is in understanding what is already “priced in” to the markets (and therefore not useful as a new investment idea) and in understanding the conceptual framework that will be used to evaluate future breaking news that is not yet priced in.

    I don’t have any personal knowledge of the guy featured in the the following link, but I saved it as as an example of an investment approach/philosophy that I might recommend as “sensible” to an “average person” (if they asked me): http://seekingalpha.com/article/317219-casey-smith-positions-for-2012-a-comprehensive-etf-based-portfolio-strategy-for-the-next-year?source=yahoo

    There’s some interesting comments below the article, including a debate with people who want to do more market timing, and argue both that market timing works and that it is an important psychological crutch for people who need to be reactive during downturns. I believe both of those things are true, and yet I wouldn’t recommend a market timing adviser to an “average person”.

  • woolybear1 says:

    I think your blog is very helpful and I much appreciate the work you put into it. Thanks.

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