On the Utility of a Prediction-Free Blog

“Hey Josh, how’s the whole internet thing going?  You makin’ a couple bucks off that site yet?”

“The site is great, it’s not about ‘makin’ a couple of bucks’ though, it’s about the writing itself.”

“Yeah, yeah, no doubt.  Any good picks on there recently?”

“Actually, I don’t give any picks or tips or advice whatsoever on the site.”

“Oh.  Then what’s the point?  I don’t get it…”

…and Scene.  I love having company over on Memorial Day weekend.  So, I guess let’s just establish the following about The Reformed Broker website:  It is forecast- and prediction-free for the following reasons:

1.  As a FINRA-registered industry participant and someone who runs an SEC-approved site, I am subject to several restrictions that many bloggers aren’t.  These include not appearing to be promotional in any way about specific investments or investing techniques.  I also can’t mention any products sold under prospectus (muni bonds, mutual funds, ETFs) without going into a lengthy disclaimer, unless I’m mentioning them in a passing manner or merely acknowledging their existence.

2.  There are plenty of blogs offering trading advice and tips or even recommending stocks to buy.  I don’t think I’d be adding anything to the cacophany by doing the same.  Readers demand consistency out of the advice they get, even online; it is inconceivable to many that one could love a stock at 20 and then hate it at 18 a few days later.  I have no interest in updating my opinions or striving for consistency in print without the nuance or market context that elucidates my rationale.  By the way, this irrational demand for consistency is what makes Cramer such a polarizing figure, and I don’t think he understands this himself yet.

3.  The blog is free for all readers, and is not an attempt to upsell anyone on anything.  The purpose here is to chronicle the most important and interesting market events and trends, as they happen, and to add a little color that may help people understand or contextualize them better.  And it doesn’t hurt to laugh a little at some of the lunacy inherent in the world of economics and capitalism.  But…

4.  …I can’t give all the milk away for free.  In the real world, people are paying me for my insights, experience and intellectual capital.  Clients expect me to add value, and while I’m not sitting there spitting out predictions, my ability to discern which way the wind blows is a key part of the equation for them.

5.  There is plenty of value in sharp commentary, even if it is not overtly recommending any particular course of action to you.  Here are some examples of how insight can be more helpful than instruction…

  • On May 18th, I told you about the burgeoning bellicosity of the ‘crash camp‘.  This post was like a shot of raw sentiment right into your vein.  Over the following week, the major indices dropped more than 5%.
  • On March 9th, in a post called Springtime for Setup City, I discussed the fact that trading opportunities were bountiful even against a shaky economic backdrop.  The markets ended up racing to new highs over the next 2 months, with momentum stocks leading the way, as traders recognized the same blooming garden of opportunity that I did.

6.  I have always said that TRB is at its best when it is showcasing the work and opinion of others.  I doubt this site would be very interesting if it was simply a bully pulpit or a stream-of-consciousness rant-a-thon for my own nonsense.  I try to link to the very best of what’s out there and to expose my readers to important voices – even when I disagree with their conclusions.

These are just a few of the reasons that  I run the site as I do.  My writing here and the platform for organizing my thoughts has been extremely helpful to me in my own money management practice.  I hope that along the way, it’s been helpful and entertaining to you as well.

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