Sunday, August 23, 2009

On Blogging Brawls and Bragging Rights


A couple of days ago Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism posted a comment, Who Is Tyler Durden? The post generated over 187 comments (and still counting), most of which were infantile swipes from morons claiming that one blog is better than the other one.

I got carried away too and used language that I shouldn't have, but after sleeping on it, I want to offer you some of my thoughts on these blogging brawls and bragging rights.

First, while I defended Yves from the vitriolic attacks in the comments, her post was stupid and probably done to stir up shit in the blogosphere. As I stated in the comments, who cares who Tyler Durden is? Whether it is one person or a group of people posting anonymously, is irrelevant. As long as Zero Hedge keeps delivering interesting comments, people will read it and make up their own minds as to accuracy of what they are reporting.

That brings up my second point. Everyone has an agenda, including yours truly, and so does Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism. Everyone has their "schtick" and they want to be heard. The thing that gets me is that some people are a lot more transparent than others in their agenda. I use my real name, you can read all about me on my profile, I tell you my agenda right at the top of my blog. I say this because I just found out yesterday that Yves Smith is Susan Webber of Aurora Advisors.

[Note: Admittedly, I am an idiot because when I first started reading Naked Capitalism, I thought Yves was a guy. She then sent me an outline of her new book and I still couldn't figure out who she is. She even emailed me once or twice as Susan Webber and I never put two and two together because at that time, I thought it was someone else. You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of her blog to see Aurora Advisors. No problem, I wish she told me right off the bat in clear English or posted it on her blog clearly so I can add her company to my list of advisors on my blog, which I gladly did last night.]

Third, your credibility is only as good as what you post. I can easily castigate Yves Smith, citing that she worked for Goldman Sachs or that Lehman Brothers and Soros Fund Management are part of her firm's client list. I can conjure up a conspiracy theory that tells you Goldman Sachs is behind Naked Capitalism to bombard the market with disinformation. But Yves has posted numerous critical comments, some of which are highly critical of the financial establishment. I do not question her credibility, but I would have liked it if she was more upfront of who she is and where she works. If you are selling your services to clients in the financial world, you should disclose it.

Fourth, posting anonymously does not detract from the message but again, please state your qualifications and your agenda. Everyone has their agenda, so just be upfront and state it. Some of us stick our necks out more than others, however, because quite frankly, we got nothing to lose. As I told one former pension bully who kept threatening to sue me, "I know the truth and will disclose it in a court of law. I got nothing to lose." It cost me a future in the pension industry, but I had my fill of pension parrots and pension politicians and their feeble cover-your-ass board of directors.

Fifth, I find it absurd when I read comments like "this blog is the best or that blog is the best". Why do we blog? Because we are fed up with the bullshit that the investment bankers, banks, insurance companies, private funds, mutual funds, and pension funds are feeding us. I consider blogs as another medium to help me gain an edge in what is really going on.

Importantly, the blogosphere has fast become a key medium in the information arbitrage business. There are many excellent blogs out there and none of them have a monopoly on wisdom. Some think they are more important than others, but they are only fooling themselves.

Sixth, we all have our personal tastes when it comes to blogs. For example, when I want to know about markets, I love reading Tim Knight's Slope of Hope, Ben Bittrolff's Financial Ninja, and David Spurr's Displaced EMA. The Kirk Report recently had an excellent Q&A with Tim Knight which put it succinctly:
In fact, every time you visit his blog you can count on Tim saying or sharing something that is likely to amuse you and/or at least get you thinking about something. His perspectives are always fresh, witty, and clearly different than the typical "we're always in a bull market" garbage found within the mainstream financial press.
I do not always agree with Tim, Ben or David, especially recently where I feel their bearish tone totally underestimated the effects of performance anxiety following a horrible Q1. But what I appreciate is their free thinking and the fact that they have "skin in the game". They are individual traders trying to make a living, not some investment bank trying to sell ideas to big institutional clients (so they can front run them or take the opposite side of the trade). I will say it again, in the environment we are heading, small is beautiful and you'd better forget what the claptraps on Wall Street are saying and pay close attention to what the top hedge funds are buying.

As far as big picture ideas, I like reading many blogs, but the best ideas often come from other sources like Hoisington Investment Management and Absolute Return Partners. I especially like reading independent thinkers like Michael Hudson (read his latest on the specter of debt revolt haunting Europe) and Henry Liu who has many excellent articles on his website and on Asia Times' Complete Henry CK Liu. There are academics and numerous other commentators that I place ahead of any blog in my "must read" category. That is why I have placed extensive list of links on my blog so you can access these comments.

Finally, every blogger has his or her own style. I like posting links to articles, often posting the full article and adding comments (short or long) at the end. Yves and Mish like interjecting on some passages. That is their style and their right (I find it too "mish-mash" for my taste). As far as copyrights, the minute someone posts and article on the internet for everyone to view, it is open. I give full credit where credit is due, posting the link and stating the authors and source, but I like posting full articles so people avoid going back and forth. That is my style and I make no apologies for this (okay Mr. Mish?!?!).

On that final note, I will let all my readers know that I decided to stop posting on Naked Capitalism. I thank Yves for the opportunity, but I am an independent thinker who does not like to be edited and to be honest, I have overextended my stay there and helped her out enough while she wrote her book. I decided to join the team over at Zero Hedge, using my real name, and will continue posting my material as I see fit.

I invite all of you to keep reading Pension Pulse regularly as I keep discussing trends in the pension industry and financial markets the way I've been diligently doing for a little over a year now. I still do not allow comments on my blog because I do not have the time nor the inclination to police them. Feel free to email me (lkolivakis@gmail.com) if you have any specific comments on my posts.

***UPDATE***

Bill Tufts of Fair Pensions For All was kind enough to send me this interesting article, Bloggers hitch wagons to the traditional media.

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