This morning, I looked at the fall in the Chinese stock market, and I said to myself, “It’s been a long journey since the last crash.” After that, I wrote a brief piece at RealMoney, and another at what was then the new Aleph Blog, which was republished and promoted at Seeking Alpha, and got featured at a few news outlets. It gave my blog an early jolt of prominence. I was surprised at all of the early attention. That said, it encouraged me to keep going, and eventually led me away from RealMoney, and into my present work of managing money for upper middle class individuals and small institutions.
I try to write material that will last, even though this is only blogging. Looking at the piece on the last China crash made me think… what pieces of the past (pre-2015) still get readers? So, I stumbled across a way to answer that at wordpress.com, and thought that the array of articles still getting readers was interesting. The tail is very long on my blog, with 2725 articles so far, with an average word length of around 800. Anyway, have a look at the top 20 articles written before 2015 that are still getting read now:
20. Got Cash?
Though I write about personal finance, it’s not my strongest suit. Nonetheless, when I wanted to write some articles about personal finance for average people, I realized I needed to limit myself mostly to cash management. A few of the articles in the new series “The School of Money,” should be good in that regard.
19. Book Review: Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts
I write a lot of book reviews. I have some coming up. I was surprised that on this specialized got so many hits after four years.
18. On the Structure of Berkshire Hathaway, Part 2, the Harney Investment Trust
This is a controversial piece on the most secretive aspects of what Buffett does in investing. I have tried to get people from the media to pick up this story, but no one wants to touch it. I think I am one of the few admirers of Buffett willing to be critical… but so what? Hasn’t worked on this story.
17. Learning from the Past, Part 1
This short series goes through my worst investing mistakes. It’s almost finished. I have one or two more articles to write on the topic. This one covers my early days, where I made a lot of rookie errors.
16. On Trading Illiquid Stocks
I describe some of my trading techniques that I use to fight back against the high frequency traders.
15. De Minimus Laws
Here I do a post aiding all of my competitors, giving the relevant references to the de minimus laws for registered investment advisers in all 50 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico. Note that I got my home state of Maryland wrong, and I corrected it later.
14. The Good ETF, Part 2 (sort of)
Reprises an article of mine explaining what makes for exchange-traded products that are good for investors.
13. On Bond Risks in the Short-Run
A piece giving advice on institutional bond management. Kinda surprised this one still gets read…
12. Should Jim Cramer Sell TheStreet or Quit CNBC?
Cramer generates controversy, and thus pageviews as well. As an aside, TheStreet.com is down another 20% since I wrote that. Still, the piece had my insights from brief discussions that I had with Cramer, way back when.
11. An Internship at a Hedge Fund
Basic advice to a young man starting a new job at a hedge fund.
10. Q&A with Guy Spier of Aquamarine Capital
I have always enjoyed the times where I have had the opportunity to interact with the authors of the books that I have gotten to review. Guy Spier was a particularly interesting and nice guy to interact with.
9. The Good ETF
This is the predecessor piece to the one rated #14 on this list. Brief, but gets the points across on what the best exchange traded products are like. It was written in 2009.
8. We Eat Dollar Weighted Returns — III
I’ve been banging this drum for some time, and the last one in this series was quite popular also. This article highlighted how much average investors lose relative to buy-and-hold investors in the S&P 500 Spider [SPY]. Really kinda sad, underperforming by ~7%/year.
7. Portfolio Rule Seven
Now, why does my rebalancing trade rule get more play than any of my other rules? I don’t know.
6. The US is not Japan, but there are some Similarities
I had forgotten that I had written this one in 2011. Why does it still get hits? In it I argue that the US will get out of its difficulties more easily than Japan. (Maybe this gets read in Japan?)
5. Actuaries Versus Quants
My contention is that Actuaries are underrated relative to Quantitative Analysts, and have a lot to offer the financial markets, should the Actuaries ever get their act together.
4. Can the “Permanent Portfolio” Work Today?
Does it still make sense to split your portfolio into equal proportions of stocks, long Treasuries, T-bills, and gold?! Maybe.
3. The Venn Diagram Method for Greatest Common Factors and Least Common Multiples
I was shocked at this one, written in 2008. This post explains a math concept in simple visual terms for teachers to explain greatest common factors and least common multiples.
And now for the last three:
2. On Berkshire Hathaway and Asbestos
1. On the Structure of Berkshire Hathaway
0. Understanding Insurance Float (oops, miscounted when I started… so much for being good at math 😉 )
Should it be any surprise that the last three, the most popular, are on Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway and Insurance? People go nuts over Buffett!
The one novel thing I bring to table here is my understanding of the insurance aspects of BRK. Each of the three deal with that topic in a detailed way. Aleph Blog is pretty unique on that topic; who else has written in detail about the insurance company-driven holding company structure? Aside from that, many don’t get how critical BRK is to covering asbestos claims, and don’t get the economics of insurance float. Many think float is magic, when it can lead to an amplification of losses, as well as an intensification of gains.
These last three pieces got really popular in March, around the time that BRK released its 2015 earnings, even though they were one year old.
Anyway, I hope you found this interesting… I was surprised at what gets read after time goes by. One final note: for every time the most popular pre-2015 article was read, articles that would have been rated #22 and beyond got read 10 times… and thus the long tail. It’s nice to write for the long term.
Full disclosure: long BRK/B for myself and clients