It has been more than a year since we published our feature, “The Twenty-Five Best Financial Blogs.” A great deal has changed since then. Some of the blogs on the list are gone or no longer have regular posts. Others have grown and become better.
This is a list of independent blogs. Several major media outlets have excellent blog sections, including Market Beat at WSJ.com, Fortune.com’s Apple 2.0 blog, Paul LaMonica at CNN Money and BloggingStocks at AOL (24/7 contributes content to this site.) Obviously, these blogs have a level of financial support that independent blogs do not enjoy. Their writers have paid salaries. They have greater media exposure due to their relationship with larger websites. Many are excellent, but really should not be compared with websites operated by one person or a small group of people. Nevertheless, they should be recognized for their own commentary as well as the links that they often give to independent blogs.
Financial information about blog sites is not readily available. Most financial blogs are much too small to bring in enough direct revenue to support their writers. Some have paid newsletters, but it is impossible to know what they yield. A number run Google AdSense links on their sites to generate ad revenue. And some are operated by money managers who use the exposure to get new clients. The great majority of financial blogs end up being either labors of love or ways to promote small money management or paid newsletter businesses. It is a tough way to make a living.
Over the last month, 24/7 Wall St. has looked at more than one hundred financial blogs. The list came from those blogs mentioned at major media sites and the largest aggregators of financial blogs, SeekingAlpha and BloggingStocks. We also reviewed the lists of “blogrolls” – favorite blog lists – at long-established financial blogs like MSN Top Stocks and financial commentary sites like Minyanville. After we narrowed the number of financial blogs down to about 50, we tracked posts for several weeks before picking the final twenty.
Original content and original thinking were among our most important metrics: specifically, content that was well-written, well-researched and crisp. Blogs that were mostly aggregations of content from mainstream media did not make the cut. This meant that the majority of the copy had to be directly written by the blog’s author(s) or that the commentary on outside content had to be especially strong. Some of last year’s blogs now charge readers for the bulk of their content, which may still be excellent. We have excluded these because the best work by the authors is not universally available as it is with the sites that made the list. Anonymous blogs were usually excluded. It is too difficult to understand the agenda of a blog where readers cannot understand the writer’s identity and potential motivations. Some of the sites on our list have “anonymous” writers, but their readers know who they actually are.
The final major metric was frequency of posting. If a blog had very good content, but the author only posts once or twice a month, it becomes too hard to follow without referring back to the same story and waiting for weeks for it to change.
The list is in no particular order.
1) Dealbreaker dealbreaker.com. The New York Post of Wall St. media blogs, Dealbreaker provides an insider’s perspective with a wink and a nod. In this tabloid, you are just as likely to read up-to-the-minute coverage of Lehman’s bankruptcy as you will contests to find the “money honey” a new nickname.
2) Infectious Greed paul.kedrosky.com. Paul Kedrosky considers himself to be one of the preeminent financial market pundits. Many people would agree. The site offers the perspective of a former technology analyst, institutional money manager, and venture capitalist. Infectious Greed provides a running commentary on capital markets, economic trends, and complex financial instruments. He’s also not above ranking the best books about the financial crisis by the number of “f-bombs.”
3) The Angry Bear www.angrybearblog.com. Half a dozen professionals, including a tax law expert, a historian, PhDs in economics, business consultants and financial professionals provide perspectives on the financial world. Despite their expansive coverage of economic issues, their articles are as deep as their coverage is extensive. Topics include world trade, industrial production, U.S. Government programs, and major regulatory issues.
4) The Big Picture by Barry Ritholtz www.ritholtz.com/blog. Rithholtz has been a financial blogger since before there were financial blogs. He is one of the few people on the list who manages money full-time. His posts focus on macroeconomics and attacks on the business press and online media. Ritholtz’s grasp of the broad economy is as good as anyone’s and better than most. The site is littered with charts and tables which are occasionally useful. It is as likely to post a trend chart as he is a March Madness bracket.
5) SeekingAlpha seekingalpha.com. The original financial blog aggregator, and also the largest. The site has tried to improve its content by adding some full-time staff. Unfortunately, the work of outside contributors overwhelms them. Several hundred sites and writers contribute to SeekingAlpha. The most difficult problem about the site is separating the wheat from the chaff. SeekingAlpha gives exposure to a number of writers who would otherwise be obscure.
6) Calculated Risk www.calculatedriskblog.com. Remains perhaps the preeminent economics blog, providing quick and insightful analysis on a breadth of issues ranging from the housing market to the Fed rate. Drawing on his vast experience, Calculated Risk gives poor economists no quarter.
7) Econbrowser www.econbrowser.com. The site is authored by two economics professors. Although it rarely gets outside the realm of what academic economists would normally cover, it brings readers in-depth and complex analysis which an educated investor might be able to understand. The topics range from international policymaking to government economic statistics and modeling of the expense structures of both industries and nations.
8 ) Carl Futia carlfutia.blogspot.com. This is one of the few blogs heavy on technical analysis, a method that many traders, including bloggers on this list, find instructive, while others find it amusing but largely useless. For those who subscribe to his investment philosophy, Futia’s analytic work is better than any of his peers.
9) 10Q detective 10qdetective.blogspot.com Perfect site for analysis of how companies use public statements to obfuscate information they would otherwise want to hide. The author, a former equity analyst, is not afraid to get his fingers dirty and clearly has no problem digging through the musty stacks in the basement of the SEC.
10) Maoxian maoxian.com. A daytraders’ delight filled with complex and sometimes unreadable charts and graphs. The author is particularly talented at taking complex economic data and explaining them to the reader. The site may or may not be based in China.
11) Zero Hedge www.zerohedge.com. Arguably the trendiest and most controversial financial blog, Zero Hedge’s anonymous author Dan Ivandjiiski is much like his nom de plume, Tyler Durden; the content is fast, irreverent, thought-provoking, and philosophically bizarre. Nevertheless, on complicated issues, he (or they?) pulls the right data and makes smart observations.
12) Trader Feed traderfeed.blogspot.com. Our favorite one-author blog. Brett Steenbarger clearly spends long periods of time analyzing the thought processes and psychology of investor behavior. Brett also is strong with technical analysis and broad-market commentary.
13) AVC www.avc.com. Fred Wilson is one of the senior venture capitalists in New York City. Although the east coast has a number of highly regarded VC’s, Wilson’s musings provide the most trenchant analysis of emerging trends in social media and microtechnology. His Union Square Ventures has taken positions in successful startups, including Feedburner, Twitter, Boxee, Disqus, and foursquare.
14) Bespoke Investment Group www.bespokeinvest.com. Also known as “Think Big,” is produced by a small money management firm. The company also sells a subscription product which careful readers of the blog do not need. Bespoke gives readers detailed analysis of technical trading, a blend of macroeconomic trends, and microeconomic sector analysis. Also particularly useful in this market is the information about currency trading.
15) Bill Cara’s Cara Community caracommunity.com. Cara is one of the few bloggers who is equally comfortable writing about companies, currency, the bond markets, interest rates, and macroeconomics. His analysis on these subjects is unusually deft and intelligent. The community portion of his website is nothing more than an afterthought.
16) Global Economic analysis globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com. Although we can’t rate the success of SitkaPacific management, the blogger’s day job, Mish’s site is undoubtedly near the top of every economist’s blog roll. Although sometimes his commentary is outweighed by his citations, he nevertheless talks about sovereign debt, unemployment, and economic indicators in the global market like a pro. Like other top economic bloggers on this list, Mish is an enemy of conventional wisdom.
17) Venture Beat venturebeat.com. Venturebeat is the bible and gossip rag of the private equity and venture capital world. Frequent visitors read about the latest acquisitions and investments from well-known private institutional investors along with what VB’s editors think the prospects of new startups may be. Like many VC and PE sites, there’s a decided focus on all things technology.
18) Business Insider www.businessinsider.com. The most widely read blog on the list, it probably has over 2,000,000 unique visitors per month. With fifteen full-time journalists, it is run like the professional shop that it is. Its founder, Henry Blodget, has a knack for finding the lowest common denominator and producing high-quality financial analysis. Always an informative and entertaining read.
19) Abnormal Returns www.abnormalreturns.com. In general, we do not approve of link fests, considering them indicative of weak minds. However, Abnormal Returns presents an exception to this rule. With daily posts on diverse topics, AR’s themed links give wide coverage of what the market and major media are saying on issues the author thinks are important.
20) Hedgeye Blog www.hedgeye.com. This blog, written by Keith McCullough, a long-time money manager, has many observations about the technical aspects of the hedge fund business. McCullough mixes this with observations from philosophers and economists. His perspective benefits from his capacity to take a long view of economic history. Few important pieces of financial news miss his eye and thus his commentary.
-Michael B. Sauter, Ashley C. Allen, Douglas A. McIntyre
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