Give ’em what they want

We can talk about the past, present, and the future. We know the past reasonably well. The present is fuzzy. We know the future not at all — we can only make guesses. Those guesses might be educated guesses, but they are still guesses...

The thing is, readers have their concerns about the future, and they want advice. Many would rather have a false certainty than a nuanced set of possibilities. We can’t do anything for them — they are fodder for the charlatans.

Can you deliver investment commentary that is completely forecast free? Probably not.

But can you be honest with your readers and talk in terms of probabilities, using things like underlying trend, historical data, intuition and rational thought? Can you make that valuable?

You’re damn right you can. David Merkel (Aleph Blog) has been doing it for over ten years. Tadas Viskanta (Abnormal Returns) has been doing it for eight years. Jeff Miller (Dash of Insight) too. And Eddy Elfenbein (Crossing Wall Street). Even Bill McBride (Calculated Risk), who shares his outlook regularly on housing or the economy, phrases these outlooks in such a way that the reader is never tricked into certainty.

There’s a reason those blogs have stood the test of time. They add value by tackling the issues of the day in an intelligent way – without ever crossing the line into aggressive forecasting.

Not every reader wants reason and rationality though. Some arrive at your blog expecting to be told exactly what to do – what stock do I buy right now that will reward me tomorrow? The bad news is, we can’t help them. The good news is that there will always be someone who’s willing to give ’em what they want.

Just be careful what you wish for.

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