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Disclosures

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On February 4, 2007 @ 6:34 am In Weblogs | Comments Disabled

Since the readership of this blog has risen to beyond a small circle of friends [1] — we are coming up on 9 million page views, and over 11 million hits [2] — I thought it appropriate to list a full set of disclosures.

The following cover the site, my own investments, and the financial arrangements of this blog:

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1. Market Positions

If I am discussing a specific company and/or its stock, and I have a
personal (or firm/client) position in that stock, I will disclose that position at
the end of the post, near the "sources" section.

I may or may not make such a disclosure if I am only discussing a
given sector. (i.e., in a discussion of Oil/Energy, I may or may not
disclose positions in Conoco Phillips and BP).

I try not to discuss small cap positions often, as they are too
easily pushed around (i.e., manipulated). I especially don’t like to
discuss small cap shorts. 

Since I prefer not to disclose short positions, but do want to maintain a full disclosure policy, I mostly avoid posting on them.>

Readers should not assume that I have a long or short position merely because a stock is mentioned.

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2. Edits:

My policy about editing posts: Once a post "sets," there are no further edits or changes. I give myself an ~hour after posting to clean up grammar, spelling, etc. If a news event comes out that is the subject of the post, any further changes are frowned upon. In the event I come across something that simply MUST be changed due to an errant suppository accident, I will strike it out and leave it visible as the nearby text shows.

UPDATE: January 27, 2007 8:31am
I will occasionally add Updates, and they are clearly dated and time stamped, as above.

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3A. Posting Comments:

I attempt to read every comment that goes up (although that is becoming increasingly difficult). I read all email, but make no promise about responding.

I post comments in my own name. Anytime I edit anyone else’s posts, I clearly mark it as such (~~~ BR: like this).

On occasion I will post someone else’s email (or telephone call) as a comment in their name or initials (because they can’t). Because my circle of friends includes people who (due to their employers compliance policies) risk their jobs by posting comments, I will, in my own judgement, do so on their behalf when appropriate.

3B: Comments by Trolls and Asshats:

This may be a free country, but The Big Picture is my personal fiefdom. I rule over all as benevolent dictator/philospher king/free safety/utility infielder. Fear my wrath, mortals!

I will ban anyone whom I choose from posting comments — usually, for a damned good reason, but on rare occasions, for the exact same reason God created the platypus: because I feel like it.

I encourage a broad range of perspectives, philosophies, sexual orientations. Dissent is good. I want to see a debate of views, a battle in the market place of ideas. (Thomas Jefferson wasn’t so dumb after all). You can post on nearly anything, so long as it is at least tangentially related to the topic at hand.

On occasion, I will "unpublish" a comment if I feel it is too impolite, harsh, inappropriate, or off-topic.

A few things that will get you permanently banned from The Big Picture:

- Knowingly posting false or malicious material;
- multiple postings under different names;
- generally engaging in troll-like [3] behavior;
- misquoting your host/overlord;
- being impolite in the extreme;
- ad hominem [4] attacks;
- being an asshole.

Right now, someone is reading this and saying to themselves "What does he mean, being an asshole?" If you actually wondered that to yourself, well then the odds strongly favor that you yourself have sphincter-like qualities. Thus, you should consider it likely that you will be banned from posting comments sometime in the future.

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4. Sources:

I attempt to be fastidious in sourcing all materials. Whether MSM or
a blog, I link in the body of the post and source at the end of every post. If I
excerpt a sentence or two, I ususally "quote and italicize" to show its someone else’s writing.

I will indent and often present a different color for quoted text of longer lengths, beyond a sentence or two.

I
often use graphics, photos and charts, and I try to disclose not only
the media source but the actual photographer where possible.

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5. Media Appearances:

All media appearances (tv, print, radio) are unpaid. I show up, say what I believe, and
head home. There are no fees, no scripts, no banking favors. I
always disclose positions/conflicts to the producer/editors in advance.
If time permits, I spit out my personal and client positions on air;
Same goes for print.

I try to post a heads up on TV appearances in advance when I can, but since they tend to be last minute affairs, I make no promises.

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6. Board of Directors, Burst.com

I have served on the Board of Burst.com (BRST) since February 2002. Burst is a public company which developed a patent portfolio over the past 17 years related to moving/streaming audio and video around a network, i.e., such as a LAN or the Internet.

When discussing any company that may present a conflict (i.e., license or litigation) with Burst, I will make that disclosure when relevant.

Example: When Burst was in suit with Microsoft in 2003-05, and I was discussing MS Office, it was irrelevant, and therefore no disclosure was needed or made. However, any discussion of Corona, or Microsoft’s Streaming Media, or WMP, and the conflict disclosure and BoD membership was made. (Microsoft settled the case in 2005). 

Burst is currently in litigation with Apple (in the midst of licensing discussions in 2006, AAPL initiated litigation by filing for a declaratory judgement). The same policy applies.

Recent Apple related posts, (i.e., the initial impressions of iPhone, as well as the iPod line) have all been positive, so further comment seemed unwarranted. Somehow, additional disclosure didn’t strike me as necessary when you call a litigation adversary’s product "Drool Worthy [5]."

However, since the iPhone has a built in iPod, it would technically fall under the same theory of infringment that iPod/iTunes does.

Consider this my blanket litigation/conflict disclosure on that product.

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7A.  Investment advice:

We do not offer investment advice on this site. That’s here not only because the lawyers insisted, but because its true.

Consider: I have no idea what your risk tolerances are, or what your financial goals may be. I don’t know your personal income, age, savings, financial circumstances, dependents, net worth, what tax bracket you are in, even what country you live in.

There are some people who would find those factors relevant.

This site is a great place to come if you want to learn about some of the market/economic issues of the day, and see them discussed with a somewhat contrarian bend. I have a tendency to push back against the mainstream thought processes. I like to explore ideas I find interesting and relevant.

Its a blog, for crying out loud. Professionally, I write research and manage money for a living. You get what you pay for; this is free.

My all-time favorite comment (for two reasons) is this: "I bought/sold/stayed out of the market  because of something I read here."

The first reason I love that comment is that it reveals you as a troll (delete! ban! buh-bye!). Space doesn’t permit detailing the proof, but IP addresses don’t lie. I am very confident of that statement the vast majority of the time.

The second reason is that if your investment philosophy is dependent upon what you read in the media or even worse, on a blog, well then you definitely need to go back and rethink your investing philosophy. Pronto.

Let me give you a head start on that process: Go read "Lose the News [6]."

7B.  Investment philosophy:

If you are managing your own portfolio, as a general rule, I favor dollar cost indexing on a monthly basis. For most people of moderate means, this is the lowest risk, highest return approach. No stock selection, no market timing, nothing exotic.

The hard part about dollar cost averaging is that when you should be doing it the most, every instinct in your body [7] will be telling you not to. When it comes to the capital markets, your instincts are invariably wrong. 

For more on this, go read You Just Ain’t Built For It [8].

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8. Amazon.com:

Any purchases made at Amazon from this site generates an associate
fee (minimum = 4%) in the form of an Amazon.com gift certificate. I use
these to purchase more books, CDs, and DVDs which eventually get
reviewed here. Thus, the virtuous cycle continues. If that continues to scale up, I may switch it for cash for tax reasons.

Note that when possible, I also link to an artist’s official site, their MySpace page, a YouTube video, or an IMDB entry. 

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9. Freebies, product placement, payola:

I do not accept any "blog product placements [9]" nor am I willing to accept blog payola [10].

As to "freebies," there is already too long a queue of books
patiently awaiting my attention. If you insist, I will accept a book
from an author or a publisher or PR marketing firm, with the following
caveats — if you send your book to me:

- I may or may not read it;
- If I read it, I may or may not like it;
- If I like it, I may or may not review it;
- Regardless, I won’t sell any of these books on eBay, Amazon, etc. — but I might give it away to a worthy reader.

If you can live with those terms — and your book is relevant to what we discuss here — then you may send it to me. 

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10. Advertising:

We happily accept advertising:  We charge $10,000 per commercial Trackback or Comment linking back to your site or product or service.  Eg., 3 trackbacks = $30,000.

By placing any commercial advertisement on this site, you agree to these terms and conditions: That you will pay the aforementioned fee promptly, that you agree to be governed by the laws of New York State and where appropriate, New York City, that you agree to jurisdiction in the great State of New York. You further agree that you are jointly and severably responsible for what any 3rd party does on your behalf, including but not limited to PR or Advertising or Marketing firms.   

We will bill you promptly. Failure to pay will force the balance to be put into collections, where you will also be responsible for costs and legal expenses. You agree to jurisdiction in any small claims court of my choosing, or in the alternative, any court in New York State of my choosing.

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Non-Trackback or Comment advertising is available at a negotiated rate.


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2007/02/disclosures/

URLs in this post:

[1] beyond a small circle of friends: http://blog.valuewiki.com/2007/01/24/most-popular-finance-blogs/

[2] 9 million page views, and over 11 million hits: http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=sm2ritholtz

[3] troll-like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

[4] ad hominem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

[5] "Drool Worthy: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2007/01/apple_iphone_dr.html

[6] Lose the News: http://www.thestreet.com/_tscana/comment/barryritholtz/10228215.html

[7] every instinct in your body: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2005/03/excuse_for_bad_.html

[8] You Just Ain’t Built For It: http://www.thestreet.com/_tscs/comment/barryritholtz/10221284.html

[9] blog product placements: http://www.google.com/search?num=50&hl=en&c2coff=1&client=safari&rls=en&q=blog+product+placements&btnG=Search

[10] blog payola: http://www.freepress.net/news/20374

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