Where did all the finance bloggers go? My theories.
- Joshua M Brown
- October 23rd, 2012
My friend Tadas has noticed something that I've been thinking to myself as well - there seem to be fewer regularly-updated, high quality financial blogs these days. Many have simply disappeared or have gone inactive. And very few new ones of note have come along to replace them.
If anything, the market and economy have become even more baffling than ever before, even more counterintuitive and in need of explanation. And its not exactly like the economy is off the front pages - this entire election will be decided by what America thinks is the solution to our ongoing economic issues.
Tadas has a couple of ideas that could be contributing to this dearth of quality blogs:
- Other outlets for expression like StockTwits, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. have displaced blogging;
- The economy is getting better and bloggers have found full-time gigs;
- The markets are such a mess that erstwhile blogger have found better things to do with their time;
- Professional bloggers have displaced the efforts of amateurs;
- Insert your best explanation ___________.
As someone whose been around the financial blogging scene for almost four years, I'll take him up on number 5, here's what I think could be happening:
1. Blogging is not a thing unto itself. I have one of the most highly-trafficked financial blogs on the web but if I had to live on the ad revenues alone, I'd probably be dependent on Mitt Romney and his 53% for my survival. The blog is a business tool for me in terms of finding out what I think and communicating, it is not a self-contained business. Those who have started blogs with the idea that they'd be an end in of themselves have found out the hard way that content is only a business for the very few, your Business Insiders and the like. Even the biggest mainstream media financial blogs act as a subscription-driving tool in the final analysis. And so if your blog is not a means to some other end besides immediate revenue, it becomes hard to perpetuate and keep grinding each day.
2. There is a degree of who-gives-a-shit-anymore happening, an idea that everything that can possibly be said has already been said at this point and nobody wants to be a me-too for very long. I personally find myself declining to comment on many topics that have beaten to death, preferring to simply link to those I think have already made the important points. This has value to my readers and so an indirect value to me - but most bloggers are playing a 2-dimensional game. And so they eventually throw their hands up and say "what's the point?"
My third theory is probably closest to reality, though:
3. Many bloggers have simply been so completely dead wrong about the post-crisis period we've been in (Hyperinflation! Depression! Social Unrest! Hoard Water and Dry Goods!) that they simply have no audience left. Keep in mind that many of the 2008-2010 generation of bloggers were misanthropes who had been rooting for a collapse all along. They came out of the woodwork and began blogging motivated by a mixture of I-Told-You-So schadenfreude and the desire to predict the next crisis, which was obviously an imminent thing. Only it didn't happen (I know, I know, any day now). And having blown all of their personal credibility on failed Cassandra-ism, having recognized what a horrendous disservice they've done to those who've heeded them, they've simply moved on. Many went to Twitter instead where there is a less permanent record of their bullshit.
It should be noted that we witnessed this exact same exodus in 2007 and 2008, but during that period it was the more bullish bloggers and stockpickers that disappeared. They too experienced this sense of guilt and purposelessness when the wheels fell off and all of their investment ideas became humiliating at best and dangerous at worst. Inevitably, the wheel will turn again and the doomers (along with their blogs) will make a comeback. I look forward to it - those bloggers are far more fun to read than today's Apple-worship crowd.
What do you think?
Felix Salmon weighs in with a contrary take - the quality blogs he was following in the middle of last decade are still alive and doing better than ever, he says. Read it here:
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.