Felix Salmon asks an oddly interesting question:

“As befits a book from such an assiduous source-citer as Ritholtz, Bailout Nation comes with 17 pages of endnotes, most of them with URLs. But here’s the funny thing: the number of blogs cited is tiny. Paging through the notes, I see Barry citing himself a couple of times, there’s one reference to TPM Muckraker, and that’s about it.

A blog entry by John Carney does make it into the book, but is cited at its Yahoo Finance address, complete with annoyingly auto-playing video. Occasionally bloggers appear — me, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman — but never for our blog entries, only for more formal things we’ve written (in my case, my NYT op-ed). And we’re all more or less part of the mainstream media anyway. “Pure” bloggers are I think entirely absent from the book. Meanwhile, columnists in more mainstream outlets get cited quite frequently.”

I find that intriguing that Felix noticed this. It was not at all a conscious decision.

But this post may we think about it, and the answer is surprisingly simple: I wanted to keep all of my references to either the original source material (Federal Reserve, Treasury, etc.) or first hand observations.


Well, a lot of the book is laying out the facts in as objective fashion as possible. From there, I engaged in my own analysis and interpretation and commentary, none of which was objective at all. That is the point — to have a perspective, one that is backed up by the data and facts.

Hence, I used Wall Street research, and internal bank memos. I cited investigative journalists who had discovered new information (American Banker, Bloomberg, WSJ, NYT, NY Sun, Oregonian and Portfolio and others). I referenced authors who had done a lot of original research and had written entire books on their relevant subjects.

We are entitled to our own opinion, but not our own facts, I was vey insistent on making sure the facts stood clearly apart from the opinion and analysis.

But when it came to commentary, opinion and criticism, I wanted to ensure the prose was original and in my voice; quoting other bloggers would have defeated that goal.

Note that the bloggers I referenced had produced original material, rather than comments on other people’s original material. These included Calculated Risk, WallStats, Stereo Hell and The Chart Store. Their original art/charts did a great job communicating a particular point I was trying to make . . .


Barry Ritholtz’s book: Where are the bloggers?
Felix Salmon
Reuters Blogs, May 19th, 2009


Category: Bailout Nation, Bailouts, Weblogs

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

39 Responses to “Bailout Nation: Where Are the Bloggers?

  1. franklin411 says:

    You made the right call, Barry. One of the reasons we cite sources is so that others can check our work, but with bloggers that is difficult if not impossible. When you cite a blog post as a source, how do you know that the post will still be there in a week? A month? A year? A decade? How do you know the blogger won’t go back and edit the post so it doesn’t say what it said when you accessed it?

    With traditional sources we do not have that problem. Take a newspaper–as soon as it’s printed, it goes to various libraries, computer databases, and good ole fashioned microfilm shops all around the world. Once it’s in print, it’s permanent.

  2. Wes Schott says:

    pretty conservative position F411.

    In any case, can’t say that I disagree.

    Barry – you are a bit defensive.

    I recently told the “document control division” with the (poor) controls in place, they have the about the validity of a blog.

    So, while there may be good info and/or insights on a blog, it is not really source material.

  3. Not defensive — simply clarifying what occurred so people understand why and why not certain choices were made. After over a year of work, I am erring on the sign of explaining things in detail, rather than allowing silly misinterpretations to occur.

    I throw a lot of grenades and point fingers at bad actors — and they are powerful figures all. I expect both the Left and the Right are not going to be happy with all that is said — the book is an indictment on rigid ideological belief systems, rather than pragmatic problem solving.

    Hence, I’d prefer the assessments that get made about the book be accurate.

  4. Wes Schott says:

    Best to be a master of your own fate, to the extent possible.

    I have the book and I look forward to reading it.

    I expect the writing will be as straight forward and objective as I believe you are.

  5. sparrowsfall says:

    This points out yet again the extent to which bloggers–even the big ones–are reliant on reporters, researchers, and the like for their analytic content.

    Here’s an idea to fund investigative reporting: charge bloggers to quote from *or link to* newspaper sites.

    Radical idea…

  6. Blackhalo says:

    “Here’s an idea to fund investigative reporting: charge bloggers to quote from *or link to* newspaper sites.”

    Quotes in moderation, are fair use, and a link is just an address, also fair use. You are not going to get much funding from that.

  7. call me ahab says:


    you are probably the most naive person I have ever encountered on a blog. Because something is in newsprint does make it a more credible source- a blog or other electronic source including newspapers that have recently gone on line- would be as unable to change what was said in an article as would a , newspaper- people have memories, they often print the blog to read at their leisure , and save information on their computers- all of which would make the source lose credibility if information was changed-

    My impression is that many blogs take the time to analyze an issue with more care and analysis than many newspapers- and in the future it is debatable whether newspapers such as the NY Times and Washington Post can even survive in print-

    spurious argument, sloppy assertions- maybe you should get a job as a reporter- you would fit right in

  8. DL says:

    There are references to bloggers in Matthew 7:

    7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.


    By contrast, the MSM media outlets tend to have an established, and well known reputation. Moreover, by virtue of significant capital expenditures, they have a significant financial interest in maintaining an audience.

  9. Wes Schott says:

    ahab, do you have some issues with F411?

  10. cliffynator says:


    I recall a while back that you were remarking on how most of the blogs out there were (are) simply parroting the common news out there and just commenting on it, or commenting on what other bloggers were posting (derivatives of derivatives). Sure, why bother reading some guy on his soapbox when it should be filed under the original Yahoo! News article’s comment’s section? Heck, I could be blogging this comment right now instead of filling up this post…which actually gets read. heh.

    Since I read your statements on the quality of most blogs out there, I’ve made it a point to NOT be one of THOSE guys.. even if I’m only writing for myself. Who wants an opinion of an opinion..unless, of course, you’re talking futures or options?

    Like sparrowsfall @10:03 said, most bloggers are dependent on full-time news sources. Otherwise, they’re just generating opinions. But there ARE bloggers out there who generate original content….

    Now that I think about it, the only blogs I follow besides this one are market technicians creating original content. I’ve written off the opinion mills, waste of time.

  11. Transor Z says:

    Barry, this is actually a really important question right now. It’s got a formal name: the “sociology of knowledge” — in short, studying whose voice carries social weight and who doesn’t.

    Blogs are now being cited in law review articles, if you can believe it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with law review articles, they tend to be very, very conservative in sourcing material. But as Barry points out, the key issue is why you would cite to the blogs. Primary source material only when you are citing to the bloggers expressed idea.

    But we’re seeing something really new and important going on. Bloggers are breaking news stories and leaks and leads are being provided directly to blogs. See, e.g., Zero Hedge’s coverage (I use the term “coverage”) of the manipulations in the NYSE. That position is seeping into mainstream but the digging was done on a blog — a traditional journalistic function.

    To avoid rambling I’ll stop with one very interesting aspect of blogs like Barry’s and ZH — “Hey, check this out!” posts. Sometimes they’re experimental and float the bloggers idea. Barry, clearly all excited, posts a chart he found somewhere and asks: “Does this real estate chart prove that Alan Greenspan was the world’s greatest a-hole?” Readers: “Yeah… wait, uh, no, Barry. The figures aren’t seasonally adjusted.”

    That might sound like a criticism but it isn’t at all. It’s the real-time nature of blogging and I think a lot of people find it fun/interesting. There’s an interactive on-the-fly aspect that is different from the polished product in traditional journalism/published works.

  12. Wes Schott says:

    You think that someone, something, someonenotfromourexperience, will cast judgement?

    On the blogoshpere? A regulator? A Control Freak?

    MSM…”they have a significant financial interest in maintaining an audience.” yes they do.

  13. Wes Schott says:

    Just playin’. You said it first. Luv ya’ man.

  14. DL says:


    I was simply making a point (the other night) to ahab that anyone posting can have any identity in reality.

  15. Transor Z says:

    @Wes, DL: Either of you ever read Ender’s Game? Had a plot line where the main character’s brother and sister (both kids) were posting articles that were influencing global politics. You two just reminded me of that.

  16. Wes Schott says:

    I was really just kidding.

    I understand your point to ahab.

    No offense intended.

  17. DL says:

    W.S. @ 10:55

    My point in the 10:48 post is that the value of, and validity of a given blogger’s information posts is known only to those few who follow them regularly. In addition, most bloggers have not undertaken a vast capital expenditure in the way that, e.g., the NY Times has. As such, anyone can be a blogger, and so there are no doubt quite a number of fly-by-night operations out there (this website, of course, is not among them).

  18. Wes Schott says:

    Never heard of Ender’s Game.

    DL and I inlufencing Global Poitics!

    Wow, I certainly hope not.

  19. Transor Z says:


    It’s a sci-fi classic, about 25 years old now:

  20. gloppie says:

    Barry quote:
    “We are entitled to our own opinion, but not our own facts”

    unless your name is Bernanke or Geitner :c)


  21. MRegan says:

    Proper sourcing is virtuous.

    Regarding MSM vs. bloggers I submit the following for consideration as we all contemplate the issue:


    Epistemology- I have a recommendation: Paul K. Moser. He’s cute as a button and quite sharp.


  22. Wes Schott says:


    My oldest son”s name is Matthew.

    I love him too.

    Still, trust but verify.

  23. MRegan says:

    Transor Z-

    Remember Michael Dwyer and Bolivia? That Ender’s stuff really happens. You see the guy that was tipped off as to Dwyer was plugged into a unit of the Bolivian police. You cannot believe what has unfolded. They are going to link Marinkovic to Larsen to Philip Goldberg. And Shell will never get back what it lost.

    El Fin

  24. DL says:

    Wes Schott @ 11:25

    Verify what?

    I’m not female, but that would seem to make very little difference anyway, at least in a forum where issues of finance and economics are being discussed.

  25. Transor Z says:

    I remember us exchanging comments about it a month or two ago. I didn’t keep up with it though.

  26. call me ahab says:

    DL Says:

    “most bloggers have not undertaken a vast capital expenditure in the way that, e.g., the NY Times has. As such, anyone can be a blogger, and so there are no doubt quite a number of fly-by-night operations out there”

    valid point- however- has not stopped NY Times from having scandals regarding fabrication and outright fiction being passed off as reporting-

    My point was only that- because something is in print does not make it any more true than something from a blog-

    credibility can be established in either medium

  27. bman says:

    Barry, You’re second thoughts are understandable, but I think you did the right thing. In my opinion few authors ever write more then one good book, it’s usually their first one. I think you should stand firm there, you worked with what was verifiable. That is rule one for most non fiction writers.
    About the larger issues, of blog influence versus the spin mill most people get everyday, and Enders Game. that is something for an historical perspective. where does fiction meet the real world, I’d hazard to guess it’s somewhere pretty close to the blogosphere. Is that good/bad, relevant? I’d say yes to all three. But you might need a real crystal ball to weave them into a good read. Or wait a decade and rely on hindsight to make the story coherent.

    I’m considering looking for the book next time at Borders. no promises, but I’ll be open minded.

  28. tCA says:

    Question- Will the media lovefest of Obama severally cap the publicity and, thus, sales of the book? Though very little of the book focuses on the current administration, it’s a slippery slope when you start peeling back the layers. After all, the current expansion of government will likely drag this economic malaise on longer than the “free markets” likely would circa 1930′s…unless we get WW3 to drive our economy out. Thus, since the MSM continue to pump BHO’s governmental expansion (read: over-reaching intrusion) into nearly everything, they wouldn’t want to hear from one of BHO’s most “strident” critics (according to Salon) who pulls no punches.

    Disclosure: My politics are mostly libertarian.


    BR: The last chapter offers up advice to a new president.

  29. 1.5quadrillion says:

    self promotion is an american disease…

  30. [...] escrito por uno de los A-Bloggers o los blogger estrella en el mundo financiero americano que es Big Picture. Un blogger que dado su exito en la red, acaba de publicar un [...]

  31. constantnormal says:

    The attention to proper sourcing and rigorous documentation will make Bailout Nation a favorite and appreciated tool in lawyers’ arsenals over the coming years.

  32. “Note that the bloggers I referenced had produced original material, rather than comments on other people’s original material.”, from post.

    That, to me, seems Prudent. Has a way of short-circuiting the easier avenues, of criticism, sure to be taken by those looking to do a Job–masquerading as a “Review”..

  33. CaptiousNut,

    to be clear, I hold no brief for BR, though, you can’t upend the logic behind this:

    “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. Or, you may simply be an idiot (a high probability bet).”

    note, the operative: “…if your investment philosophy is dependent upon…”

    but, past that, thanks for fleshing-out, as an example, what I was referring to, above..

  34. Coruscation says:

    In other Bailout Nation book news, the ‘used’ price keeps falling, but it’s still twice the new price !

    Did you publish a ‘links’ web page for the book so readers can go there and e.g., click on Chapter four endnotes rather than typing in long yahoo finance video URLs ?

  35. rubber_factory says:

    My perspective:

    As a blogger, you are already credible among folks who accept blogs as a reliable information medium.

    By relying primarily on MSM sources, you build your credibility among the luddites without sacrificing credibility among your existing readers.

    No need to preach to the converted.

  36. CaptiousNut says:

    I’ve been trading professionally for 13 years. Long gone is CNBC, newswires, briefing.com, etc. The WSJ was never in – nor were *charts*. I read no Wall Street research reports anymore. I’ve graduated to simply surfing the web.

    I submit all the good stuff is on blogs and message boards anyway. It needs to be skillfully mined, but it’s there nonetheless….and it’s *cost effective*.

    Furthermore, when I talk to *wired* Wall Streeters who have access to all the fancy proprietary research and whatnot, I am staggered by their monumental ignorance. Take for instance this clown I met from Tremont:


    Or what about clowns like Dick Bove, Kudlow, Cramer, or Ken Fisher?


    People who knock blogs are simply out of their tree. I’ve learned multiples more from reading and writing blogs over the past 4 years than I did from my nationally ranked HS and my *Ivy League* education. I mean, it’s not even close.

    BR’s under-articulated point may be to *do your own research* – and he’s right. But my research incorporates that of other anonymous pajama-clad idiots.

    Yeah, and Felix Salmon obviously has his own little *bash blogs* agenda. Who the heck is he anyway? Never heard of the dude.

  37. [...] Where are the bloggers in “Bailout Nation“?  (Big Picture) [...]

  38. Cursive says:

    Well, some here had speculated that f411 was a pseudonym for BR. I separately speculated that f411 was blogging here to obtain source material for his thesis/eventual book. So, maybe this is some evidence that at least BR is not f411.