Who are the Five Best Financial Bloggers?

A kid in college emailed this to me over the weekend:

Hey JB,
I’m a big fan of the blog, I told everyone in my finance courses to start reading it. Anyway, I’m double-majoring and barely have time to read things that aren’t part of my coursework but I want to make sure I have the pulse of the markets too, was hoping you could help me narrow down my daily reading to the best five or so financial bloggers.

Thx and also I disagree with you on Grizzly Bear, they’re genius and you just are out of touch maybe.

He asked that I not use his name for this public response so let’s just call him Dick. As in Dick who thinks Grizzly Bear is a cool band even though they clearly make sad bastard music and their core fan base is Brooklyn hipsters pretending to like them so they can act all superior to everyone else.

Anyway, here’s my answer to Dick’s query:

Hi Dick,

The best five bloggers in finance are the guys who are consistent and smart and well-rounded enough that they could serve as your only daily read and you would be totally up to speed.  In my opinion, the best five financial bloggers at the moment (of the hundreds I know of) are:

(no particular order)

1. Joe Weisenthal (Business Insider)

2. Tadas Viskanta (Abnormal Returns)

3. Cullen Roche (Pragmatic Capitalism)

4. Felix Salmon (Reuters)

5. Barry Ritholtz (The Big Picture)

There are hundreds of good financial bloggers and dozens of great financial bloggers (I hope that I myself belong to one of those groups) but these five are the best.

The bloggers in the above list, if you could only follow their posts and the things they link to, would give you everything you’d need on a daily basis. If you could follow all five, you’d probably be more well-versed about the economy and markets than 99% of the investing public.

Joe and Tadas were no-brainer choices. There’s almost nothing important that escapes Tadas six days week and on the seventh day he does not rest – he posts a killer long-reads general interest linkfest of all the stuff he’s saved for you. The dedication and work ethic on display at AR just blows my mind, he’s like a machine that makes you a smarter investor and asks nothing in return.

As far as Joe, there’s no one faster on the web as news breaks – and not just fast with the headline but with the context you need to process what’s happening. He has also led the charge in the democratization of Wall Street research. You take it for granted that there’s a guy ripping 20-page big firm research reports off a Bloomberg and delivering you just the filet mignon portion, cut away from the bone and fat and gristle. All day long. Anyone else offering you that for free? It’s insane.

A year or so ago Cullen was still anonymously updating PragCap each day, but I’m really glad he came out of his shell because the man really deserves credit for what I consider to be some of the strongest, most high quality market writing on the web. He is immune to political influence in his outlook and unafraid to bash an economic meme into tiny bits if it offends his sensibilities. It was tough to choose between Cullen and Bill McBride at Calculated Risk for this slot, to be honest, but Cullen wins as a function of utility – Bill’s blog has the intel, but Cullen’s has the reasons for why that intel may or may not matter.

Choosing Felix was tough – not because he’s not great (he is) – but because there are so many other journalists from the mainstream media who also blog that could be in that slot too (Mark Gongloff at HuffPo, Steven Russolillo at WSJ MarketBeat. everyone at FT Alphaville, etc). But Felix is terrific, just the right mixture of wonkiness, acerbity and skepticism. And a great nose for interesting stories and the right angles to cover them from.

As for Barry, let me simply mention that he was blogging finance before there was a such thing as a blog – in 1998, he’d spend an hour writing a post and then an hour coding it on Geocities. He gave us a running record of the dot com boom/bust. Then he blogged 9/11 from a trading desk in real-time. After that, a live accounting of the entire credit boom, credit crash and market comeback as it happened while concurrently writing the definitive book on bailouts and bank excess. How many bloggers have been through all of that over so much time (over 20,000 posts) and have remained relevant? I can’t think of even one other, can you?

So that’s my list. And then the next phase would be to follow the blogs that these guys read into the specialized areas you’re interested in: Meb Faber or Erik Falkenstein for quantitative research, Market Folly for a window into what the pros are buying, JC Parets and Chess and Greg Harmon for trading ideas and perspective, Tom Brakke, David Merkel and Bob Seawright for investment process, Bess and Matt at Dealbreaker for hedge fund scoops and i-bank gossip, Tyler Durden for the reality checks etc etc etc.

Following the right bloggers is a hack, a time saver. The “news” itself is cheap, repetitive and mostly useless – it’s the interpretation of this news that we rely on blogs for. If I were limited to checking just one blogger each day, any of these five would do the trick.

Good luck in school and stop listening to weepy, obtuse indie rock before your roommate steals your chick, bro.

– Downtown



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