“Whom the Gods would destroy, they first put on the cover of Business Week.”

-Paul Krugman

>

I was speaking with a few other trader/blogger types (they best remain nameless so as to keep their jobs) and this interesting observation was made: It has been exactly one year ago today when a (mostly) fawning NY Magazine article on Zero Hedge came out: The Dow Zero Insurgency.

Since that article, argued one of the hedgies in the group, Zero Hedge has seen their influence wax, then wane. The incisive, no hold bars critiques of Goldman Sachs, HFT, regulatory failures and corporate excess seems to have gotten lost in a sea of conspiracy theories, standard gold bug rhetoric, and lots of C grade commentary.

What made the blog great — a singular expert voice (with a few supporting characters) that wrote with passion and insiders knowledge. But that voice seems to have gotten lost in a sea of supporting characters; the original proportions have been inverted.

Its not that the good stuff isn’t there — it is, if you hunt for it. Its just that it is now surrounded by so much other stuff it becomes challenging to locate. (It doesn’t help that lots of writers seem to publish under the name Tyler Durden)  This seems to be the same challenge that many of the multi-author sites have — from Street.com to HuffPo to Seeking Alpha to Minyanville to Business Insider — they must wrestle with this issue on a daily basis. Can you produce more content but still maintain the level of intensity and passion when its a team, and not a single voice?

Whenever a narrow focus and intensity is replaced with an broader emphasis on well, nearly everything, must something get lost in the expansion? I still read ZH — but much less than I used to, now that the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Crowd Query:  A what point does a blog jump the shark? Not just Zero Hedge, but The Big Picture, or boingboing or your favorite blog ___ here?

What say ye?

>


UPDATE:September 28, 2010 6:12am

Zero hedge responds here.


Category: Contrary Indicators, 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.

106 Responses to “Dow Zero Insurgency Peak ?”

  1. Freestate says:

    Being a good blog author requires the same skill as being a good investor. It takes focus and intellectual rigor and critical thinking. And when any one of those slip the results slip.

  2. swag says:

    The Huffington Post jumped the shark when it began to converge with the Drudge Report. Talking Points Memo jumped the shark when it began to converge with the Huffington Post.

    There must be more in this chain of jumps, but I’ve been too depressed to read politi-blogs these days.

  3. louiswi says:

    The Big Picture appears to be in a class by itself. Don’t f#ck with it.

  4. TheUnrepentantGunner says:

    I think some of it has to be topicality. For example i think while Tanta passing away certainly hurt, I think much of what made calculated risk great was that they not only banged the housing drum and nailed the call, they were *clearly* experts in the area, and were pretty much *the* go-to source there.

    Their writing is still good, but less critical, and the overall posting content has probably changed some.

    I think a tax nerd that could work thru the inside poltics of whatever law-changes could become hot, if they were willing to start something. I also think a demographics/aging expert that could talk about the implications of baby-boomers being forced to either work longer or chase yield and possibly pull out of equities is interesting. Acutally the whole dynamic is strange. 5 years ago i could have told you that stocks would be terrible and bond yields would fall for 20 yeras once the boomers retired since they had to move their assets. The change happened so fast and for seemingly unrelated reasons. Are those boomers going to stay in equities? Are they going to do preferreds for yield instead of munis? Are munis safe?

    Anyway, you haven’t lost your topicality yet barry, for what its worth. Your readership may have dropped some after the insane beta days of late 2008, but i find you still terribly relelvant.

    I think the other big changer is you never know what happens in life. If say, Tyler Cowen decided he had lost the desire to publish on an insane schedule, or Paul Krugman either became totally disgusted with President Palin or contented with President Pelosi, that their work might suffer.

    Anyway, to the commentariat: enjoy this day, enjoy the chance we get to read so many great things. I really wish that 10 years ago when I was in school i had access to so much good (and bad) writing, as it has sharpened my own thinking more than just about any textbook possibly could.

  5. http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/09/dow-zero-insurgency-peak/#comment-412251

    past that, personally, I’ve been wondering when “jump the shark” is going to ‘jump the shark’..

  6. wngoju says:

    “A what point does a blog jump the shark? ” Boy. I doan even know what that is. Well, I do know what Gaussian Quadrature is – does that count?

  7. Ilya says:

    The BP might eat a shark but never jump one!

  8. Jack Damn says:

    past that, personally, I’ve been wondering when “jump the shark” is going to ‘jump the shark’..

    Well, there is the term “nuke the fridge” for the generation that didn’t grow up watching “Happy Days”:

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=nuke+the+fridge

    Cinematic equivalent of the TV term “jump the shark.” It is used to refer to the moment in a film series that is so incredible that it lessens the excitement of subsequent scenes that rely on more understated action or suspense. Such moments are felt to mark the beginning of a low point in the quality of the franchise, as it attempts to explore more absurd avenues. “Nuke the fridge” is a reference to a scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wherein the title character incredibly survives a nuclear blast by climbing into a lead-lined refrigerator.

  9. soulmatic09 says:

    I don’t think it is possible. That’s just the nature of the web: unplanned obsolescence is the norm.

    There are a few that buck the trend (this blog, nakedcap, and few others), but generally it’s hard to do.

    I spend a lot of time at Krugman’s blog, thinkprogress & dailykos these days, which I never visited in the past.

  10. forwhomthebelltolls says:

    The point at which they begin to “breathe their own vapors”.
    Statements are no longer correlated with ample fact and/or examples.
    Intelligent debate is no longer encouraged.
    Opposing opinions, regardles of how well substantiated, are considered heresy.
    A seeming inability to adhere to the “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” ethos.

    Personally, I love nothing better than to be shown, really shown, the error of my ways.
    Perhaps if I ran a blog, I would have to put so much effort into bolstering my own argument that I would lose that enthusiasm for being proven wrong.

    BTW – Long time lurker. First time poster.

  11. obsvr-1 says:

    No sharks or water-skies yet — keep up the great forum

  12. pmorrisonfl says:

    My favorite consultant, Jerry Weinberg, says, paraphrased possibly poorly, that as long as you’re learning it’s worth continuing. I think that’s probably true for the readers, as they get something new when they read, and for the author, as when you stop learning you stop saying new things.

  13. chartist says:

    Zero Hedge is the only reason I read finviz.com……It’s the best financial analysis on the net.

  14. VennData says:

    I’m worried about this happening to Fox News one day.

  15. econimonium says:

    It’s really about topicality and the user comments for me. At BP you still seem to have control over the comments where, for example Calculated Risk, lost the ability to keep it from being a gang love-in for their own opinions and ceased to be relevant or even informed. So now I read the posts once a day because they are still topical and very interesting but avoid the commentary which is really too bad.

    So for me it’s not only great and sharp content that is timely and relevant, but also the commentary on it that makes a learning experience and a blog a “must read”. Once a blog starts to just regurgitate news, and the comments reach the realm of Yahoo, it’s time to move on. Sort of what happened to the Republican Party haha!

    Keep up the good work!

  16. san_fran_sam says:

    A blog nukes the shark when it loses control of who it allows to publish. Clearly Seeking Alpha has jumped the fridge. i can’t go there anymore. too much noise to signal ratio.

    BP will never jump the shark under these conditions as you, Barry, are the only author.

    Which brings us to the second condition for JTS. The author or authors go off the deepend. so please let us know when you have been kidnapped by aliens and have started wearing aluminum foil hats.

  17. DoppelGanger says:

    I used to read ZH — they went batshit crazy a few months ago. Mish too.

    naked capitalism is still very good, as is CalculatedRisk and Credit Write Downs

  18. Bernie638 says:

    I usually begin reading a blog less often when it gets away from its area of expertise. When the writer(s) begin to believe their important enough to comment on issues with nothing to say, or nothing to add, that you can’t read anywhere else. Usually, but not always it starts with the author thinking anyone cares about his political views. If I can read the blog and never have any clue who the author will vote for, I will likely keep reading. Those kind of blogs seem to be getting fewer and farther between.

    This blog, Calculated Risk, TPC, Capital Observer, Marginal Revolution, Books for kids, The Stupid Shall Be Punished, and Volokh are my favorites.

  19. Trevor says:

    I host a blog for a good friend who is a transit advocate (Steve Munro. Google him). His blog includes the odd rant, but it is HIS blog, and it’s about HIS thinking. Nobody else’s. I’m convinced that a good blog is one where the author has a great passion for the subject and has decided to express him/herself without significant filters. Even better if the blog is the result of a reasoning mind.

    Occasionally, we all nuke the fridge. Sometimes in public. If the history of the blog compels people to follow you, you will be forgiven the ups and downs of the blog. After all, the blog is you; kinda, sorta. If you have something to say, it should be your feelings, unvarnished (truth to readers, and all that).

    Perhaps a blog is to clarify your thoughts. Maybe it’s a forum to rant. But, it should be you and your thinking.

    Otherwise, what’s the point?

    Why do I like this blog? Because I appreciate that Barry points out the emperors who have few clothes.

  20. wngoju says:

    I agree with Doppelganger above (!)

    ZH is flaming BR (http://www.zerohedge.com/article/jumping-sharks-barry-ritholtz), thus making BR’s point. They certainly are -angry- over there.

  21. wally says:

    A lot of financial blogs that ‘nailed’ (to overuse the term further) issues before and during the height of the crisis have been later revealed to be stopped clocks. Another problem is that the comment boards gather barnacles.. the same posters say the same things, over and over.
    CR remains excellent for analysis and levelheadedness, but the comment board is far, far too predictable.
    Others I read: naked capitalism, FT Alphaville, Pragmatic Capitalist, Baseline Scenario, ZH, Clusterstock (hey, it IS entertainment) have their moments. Some of them had stellar moments, great insights and fresh ideas, but it has become evident that there isn’t much market for such things these days. Hell or high water, we are going to muddle through by preserving the wealth of the elite at any cost to everyone else. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but big money may trump all. These days I’m mostly just depressed by it all.

  22. Andy T says:

    When someone writes something like this on April 16th in the comments section:

    “BR: ZH is a blogger who covers Wall Street.
    I am a Wall Streeter who blogs.

    So while he was typing, I was speaking to our clients, doing a Tech Ticker interview for Yahoo, a radio interview, and then making arrangements with NBC World News Tonite.”

  23. contrabandista13 says:

    Barry:

    Not cool Bro….. This isn’t a popularity contest…. Cindy didn’t steal your boyfriend…..

    Chill…… I say that with all the respect I can muster…. You have a great blog, don’t fuck it up…

    Best regards,

    Econolicious

  24. wngoju says:

    While I’m flailing away, lemme point out that san_fran_sam is incorrect: BP will never jump the shark under these conditions as you, Barry, are the only author.”

    Lesse, there’s Boockvar, Invictus, Welch, … The time to flee this blog is when BR lets me post…

  25. The problem with ZH is, as BR says, the fact that many people post under the one name. You can’t figure out who is the crank and who has something intelligent to say. That will never be a problem here as everyone posts under their own name(thought some people forget to read and mistake Invictus for BR).

  26. Tarkus says:

    From my perspective, BP is John Stewart and ZH is Stephen Colbert.

    Can watch both.

  27. cpd says:

    I’m a big fan of ZH – it’s probably my favourite. I used to run a trading desk at one of the big banks on wall street and ZH gets it. They are probably more cynical then many people would appreciate but these are crazy times – I find it hard not to be cynical.

  28. JayHank says:

    Seems that ZeroHedge was started by someone who was very familiar with some disturbing and dysfunctional parts of finance. When the author was vindicated about those particular corners of financial markets, he concluded that this was some sort of evidence that *everything* was disturbing and dysfunctional in finance.

    While indeed there remain many disturbing and dysfunctional aspects of finance, the site makes no particular effort to distinguish the good from the bad. They were right about the thing they knew about being bad and so therefore everything is bad, they believe as a matter of quasi-faith, as they plunge into topics they know nothing about. Just an example of Anchoring Bias from freshman psych.

    It’s no different than an investor who is extremely right about subprime, concludes he’s a genius, and then gets it all wrong on v-shaped recovery. All the cliches apply — past results are not an indicator of future success; a broken watch is exactly correct twice a day, etc. There’s no broader conclusion to be drawn.

  29. bubbles says:

    @ Calvin Jones, you said “The problem with ZH is, as BR says, the fact that many people post under the one name. You can’t figure out who is the crank and who has something intelligent to say.”

    Sorry, the content is all that matters, who wrote it is meaningless. This is probably news to you, but our founding fathers wrote the Federalist Papers under pseudonyms.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Papers

  30. wunsacon says:

    IMO…

    ZH’s posts are still excellent.

    When you say “the inmates took over the asylum”, are you referring to the commentariat? Often enough, I agree with them and find them funny as hell. But, I also think they’re a little too rancorous and philosophically homogeneous.

    As far as “influence” goes, which “blogger” has influence? Barry, you get much more air time in the MSM. But, do you and/or will you have “influence”? Over what? Certainly not policy. (Don’t misinterpret. Yeah, I wish you had “influence”. But, consider: despite a much higher profile “position” than you, Volcker apparently lacks influence, too.)

    So, okay, maybe ZH isn’t as widely read anymore. By whom? Andrew Ross Sorkin — probably a good proxy for the Establishment thinkers — concludes “letting LEH fail” was the biggest failure. He wrote a best seller. Forgive me, but I’ll continue to read these blogs, even if they’re “less influential”.

  31. GYSC says:

    This thing may get ugly but I did want to add my 2 cents.

    TBP had a post a while back about “Buying What You Hate” and while it proved profitable, jumping the shark can be writing a book about bailouts and corruption then playing on that very dynamic for profit. Took a huge step down in my eyes on that one.

    ~~~

    BR: We manage assets for people who want returns, not my lectures. That is the asset management business for you.

    I draw the line between owning stocks you do not like, and being a lying cheating theiving scumbag. Its a pretty brtight line, so long as you don’t squint . . .

  32. wunsacon says:

    >> A what point does a blog jump the shark?

    My favorite blogs seem (to me) to be a conversation from the blog author to its readers, with occasionally a good commentariat conversing back or amongst each other.

    Maybe it “jumps the shark” when the proprietor starts trying “too hard” to monetize it or become an absentee owner, because that gets in the way of the conversation.

  33. jonhendry says:

    bubbles wrote: “This is probably news to you, but our founding fathers wrote the Federalist Papers under pseudonyms.”

    The manic anklebiters at ZH aren’t in the same intellectual class as the founding fathers.

    Anyway, the point isn’t that they need to give their real names. They could simply use unique pseudonyms, so that their posts can be easily distinguished without having to read until the nuttery, if any, becomes apparent.

  34. karen says:

    Since you asked, BR.. A blog ‘jumps the shark’ when the host becomes too big for his britches. Much like Tepper admitting in his NYMag interview: “Sometimes,” he whispers, leaning across the table, “if someone is an asshole, like a waiter at a restaurant, I think, I could just buy this place and fire that guy.”

    The second you ever have such a thot, (1) never admit it; and (2) immediately shoot yourself in both feet so you remember that $ doesn’t make you better than anyone. That “asshole” he described might have a child in the hospital with Leukemia or some other h0ror in his life that is preventing him/her from being their absolute best and most “serving” as a server.

  35. cognos says:

    ZH is run by idiots and filled with the same.

    They had their moment, it’s gone (M Whitney, Rosenberg, etc).

    The basic premise ZH is built on is simply 100% incorrect : “long- time = zero survival” (Corp equity context)

  36. cognos says:

    ZH – they just care about their “philosophy”. Total ignorance of facts.

    That costs readers enormous money.

    How hard did they push the ” bond auction fail” thesis? What idiots!

  37. karen says:

    yeah, i meant “horror” but LOL as I was spared the horror of my avatar showing up here : )

  38. Ilya says:

    I believe a part of the problem is the wolf pack mentality surrounding a particular blog. I would use Calculated Risk as an example. The kid that writes it is as insightful and fair as can be but the responders in the ole ‘leave a comment’ club can muddy up the few with cogent observations. Having a back channel which Caras community offers gets rid of the ‘Happy Days’ home room chatter.

    If Sam A is buying RIMM for his grandkid’s education (idiot) and Paula B wants to call him an ‘idiot’, a back channel gives those consenting adults their own pigpen.

    I can respect opinions that differ from mine. That’s how I continue to learn but jousting for position whether from a blogger, his alter ego or the rabid cult followers at length becomes banal and not worth the time spent.

    If you are looking for your midterm grade, I still give you an A with a gold star.

  39. scottinnj says:

    Lurker 1st poster.

    The daily reads include Calculated Risk (as noted above Tanta was a great loss, but CR still is a go to for data), Kthug, naked capitalism and a quick read through zerohedge (posts not comments). Economix section on NY Times is worth a check in every day or two. I think one of the more insightful bloggers now on real estate is IrvineRenter at the Irvine Housing Blog. I’d also strongly recommend aleph blog as well worthwhile insights from a real fixed income manager (meant as a compliment). I do miss accruedinterest blog and across the curve.

    BR is a good daily read – I really started reading regularly earlier this year when he was quoted in the NY Times to the effect of “It is always a good time for a realtor to be involved in a transaction that generates a commission” which was a classic summary of the NAr attitude. But what really won me over to Mr Ritholtz were in postings in the music section. Any financial blogger whose tastes include the incomparable Kylie Auldist on a top 10 list sold me (I hope BR has also hooked on to The Bamboos with whom Kylie is now recording (check out “On the Sly” as well as their cover of Kings of Lean Kings of Rodeo with Megan Washington – another extremely promising up and coming Aussie singer).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKVAJxCrR7k&ob=av2e

  40. Ed Sanders says:

    there are plenty of things that make a blog jump the shark, the author losing his head, the author losing interest, adding voices that don’t add value.

    There’s only so much info I can consume, so it’s relatively easy for sites to fall away, but Big Picture, CR, and even TPM (which really isn’t a blog anymore) are still on my daily visit list.

    As a guy not big on the social media stuff, the bigger question for me is, what is going to make Facebook jump the shark?

    How’s that Myspace investment working out for Murdoch?

  41. jagmot says:

    I compliment you BR on calling out ZH. While many of the articles are good on ZH, my main complaint are the Gold/Silver manipulation articles. Most of these articles say there is ‘proof’ yet there is none.

    One of the articles said and I quote “There is evidence that the supply of physical silver is getting tight and it could be the beginning of a major upward move in the price”

    So I go ahead and read the article and the only ‘evidence’ are statements such as silver has started trading differently (no further explanation) and the price of silver rising. The price of silver rising does not mean that there is ‘evidence’ of a physical supply problem.

    The report then goes on to quote three anecdotes from metals dealers, all of which are not sourced saying that supplies are tight. If I was a dealer would I have an incentive to say that supplies are tight? (charge a larger premium, customers rush to buy today vs putting off til tomorrow, next week, etc)

  42. longranger1 says:

    You get some intellectual masturbation from some blogs (hence a general time waster), but none helps you make money in the markets.

  43. Trader Joe says:

    Gee, just because they missed the best Stock Market Rally in a generation 30 years is no reason to get all pissy.

  44. bergsten says:

    I put this comment over there, so I figure it’s only fair to put it here too…

    Oh, for Pete’s sakes.

    Barry’s site crashes your web browser thanks to badly programmed ads running amok.

    Whereas ZH no longer has those great daily RobotTrader posts (and you know which ones I’m talking about).

    “I” kind of created/inherited a financial website and it wasn’t one week before somebody else got pissed off for no obvious reason and started his own. This seems to just come as part and parcel of blogging.

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, especially from the inside.

  45. jonhendry:
    Thank you. You clarified my point, which I though was self evident, but I guess not to Bubbles.

  46. Ed Sanders:
    Myspace is effectively dead. Facebook will jump the shark soon, if it hasn’t already. I’d give it 5 years tops.

  47. RuffRednSore says:

    Look at BusinessInsider. It jumps the shark every day. It tries to be provoking, in your face, goes against the grain, unnecessarily contrarian. I’d put it on par with an old national lampoon magazine.

    I quit reading ZH and Mish early in the year when I got the sense they were on a mission to prove how correct they are. Oh, and ZH’s commenters (remoras) are straight from tea party central casting.

    My faves are; Krugthula, Calculated Risk, Big Picture, Minyanville (Buzz and Banter), Baseline Scenario, Daily Kos, and recently I check out Bruce Bartlett on Capital Gains and Games.

  48. sixmil says:

    I have been visiting both sites daily for a while now. A buddy turned me on to TBP first, but I forget how I started going to ZH. Anyway, ZH is bookmarked one above TBP, and my buddy and I are discussing their articles more frequently now. He’s a gold bug, and I love a good conspiracy theory. So, if you two can’t get along and force me to chose, I will have to join the fight club.

  49. pseudboy says:

    As a regular reader of both TBP and ZH, I would summarize my comparison of both as below:

    On the average, quality and relevance (to me as an investor) of blogs is higher at TBP. This may be because of some level of intellectual superiority. But I suspect this is more likely due to better quality control (i.e. single author factor).

    HOWEVER, I find that the chances of stumbling upon a multi-multi-bagger investment theme is much more likely at ZH. Of course, you have to cut through a lot of noise, propaganda, bearish bias, conspiracy theories and frequent amateurish research articles (Reggie Middleton types) for that. And you have to be patient and time it right.

    So if I view my time reading financial blogs as an investment, I would categorize TBP as a low risk/low return strategy and ZH as high-risk/high-return. For now, they both have a place in my portfolio.

  50. Demi says:

    Ooooh. don’t you dare criticize ZH ! I unload my wrath at thee!

    No wonder he got kicked out of the securities industry. What an asshole.

  51. Trainwreck says:

    When you start to enjoy and relish the kool-aid thinking, you have probably jumped the shark.

  52. Thor says:

    What is this? “My blog is bigger than your blog?”

    Really?

  53. xynz says:

    I have to agree with you about ZH. I used to read it everyday….now I hardly read it at all.

    When does a blog JTS? That’s something that can only be determined retrospectively. From a personal point of view, it’s jumped when you have lost confidence in it. From a collective perspective…..I would say it happens when the blog spends to little time on the “core competency” that brought it to prominence. In many of the cases you’ve mentioned, they have been guilty of the blogging equivalent of “diworsifying” (h/t to Peter Lynch)

  54. crunched says:

    Okay, I can see that most of the comments here are kissing Barry’s ass, but are you f******? kidding me? Barry, I love your blog, but to say ZH is waxing or waning or ing-ing of any kind is insane. Zero Hedge has long since surpassed its status as a mere ‘blog.’ It’s become an institution, a tangible piece of the counter-culture that’s trying to fight back against all the selfish, incompetent fools who got our country into this mess. The same people who could care less if we ever get out of it, as long as they can keep lining their pockets with money. Be it HFT, Goldman Sachs, Geitner…

    And yes, maybe there’s few sensational pieces thrown in occasionally to satisfy those on the fringes, but the amount of relevant, insightful, hard-hitting material they continuously pump out on a regular basis is mind boggling. Absolutely no one or no blog can compare.

  55. Investradamus says:

    I quite enjoy reading ZH. There’s an impressive amount of valuable information that I find there on a regular basis that just isn’t covered elsewhere. I see what you are saying though, about the increase in contributors and guest commentary. The site lost some credibility in my eyes after the Macondo blowout and George Washington jumped well off the deep end obsessing over Matt Simmons doomsday theories. He finally stopped posting 100% exclusively on BP, but a significant portion of his contributions on ZH are still nothing but specious claims about Corexit destroying the world or collusion between BP and the Government to cover up “the truth”, etc. It doesn’t help that on 9/11 he posted some truther nonsense, either.

  56. foxorrabbit says:

    “No holds barred” — a wrestling term meaning that any type of wrestling hold is legal, i.e. No Holds are Barred from being used. Though maybe you switched it up on purpose as some sort of clever pun that went right over my head.

    And no posts yet on the “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” movie? I’m sure all your loyal fans are eager to hear your thoughts (and share their own) on that POS…

  57. Clem Stone says:

    The Beatles stopped touring when all the screaming girls drowned out their music. ZH is great but I’d like it better if the screaming girls retreated to the fallout shelters with their canned goods, guns, and gold nuggets (and margin calls).

  58. Dylan says:

    From a ZH commenter:

    xPat
    on Tue, 09/28/2010 – 00:33
    #609205

    While I understand the idea here is to bash Ritholtz relentlessly, I can’t resist but observe that some of his comments are spot on.

    Personally, I think of ZH as two things:

    1. The single best source of deeply insightful investment information on the net, bar none.

    2. The single biggest source of outright fucking bullshit on the net.

    As Ritholtz says, the trick is sorting through it and picking out the priceless gems (HFT commentary, the AUDJPY-SPX convergence trade, Nanex’ discoveries about the flash crash and HFT in general, Nic Lenoir’s technical analysis, etc.) To find it you have to sort through utter nonsense… Gonzalo Lira flaunting his complete and total economic ignorance, Adrian Douglas and the rest of the charlatans at GATA using ZH as a mouthpiece to promulgate their utterly baseless propaganda, and all the rest. I think of it as a puzzle: If you can separate the ZH brilliance from the ZH bullshit, you win the prize and get a very real and tangible leg up on the market. But if you let your emotions take over, you can quickly fall into the trap of buying into all the conspiracy bullshit that punctuates some of the best investment insight on the net. It’s a constant challenge.

    To ZH’s argument that “our critiques of … were in fact considered “conspiracy theories” by pretty much everyone, including said author himself, until such time as they were proven to be in fact, well, fact.”, in some cases that’s true. But in other cases the utter bullshit posted on these pages has been proven to be, well, utter bullshit, and ZH’s track record of owning up to its mistakes is less than perfect. For example, ZH gave GATA top billing for Adrian’s absurd allegations that LBMA had “Gone Dark” and witheld clearing data from the public, but when several people on the net pointed out that all LBMA did was to redesign their website and move the data to a different URL (the data was ALWAYS there and was NEVER taken offline), ZH was silent. No retractions are to be found when ZH is proven wrong. Similarly when the whole “100:1 Leverage on the LBMA” bullshit argument was disproven, ZeroHedge was again silent. (The full article from FSN debunking GATA can be found here: http://www.financialsensearchive.com/editorials/townsend/2010/0419.html).

    Similarly, when a character like Gonzalo Lira shows up with a sky-is-falling article about hyperinflation that completely ignores (and never addresses) the fact that the USD is still the world’s reserve currency, and is backed by the world’s most powerful military and has very substantial gold reserves, he gets top billing and nobody bothers to point out the utter lunacy of his arguments. Yes, Hyperinflation of the USD *is* possible, but for it to go down the way Lira describes is completely and totally IMpossible. But it was still a great read with a “world is coming to an end and the government is evil” feel to it, so it went viral instantly.

    To those inclined to flame me or junk this post, why don’t you instead post a polite reply explaining why GATA and ZH never came clean about their gross misrepresentation of the “LBMA goes dark” story or the completely nonsensical claims about 100:1 leverage on LBMA? While I agree with the statement that some of the alleged “conspiracy theories” on this site have actually been proven to be conspiracy truths, there are at least as many examples of stories that have been proven utterly false and where ZH has failed to retract or come clean about what the real deal actually was.

    But at the end of the day, I still love the site. As your graph of page views proves, bullshit sells! If including the fiction that fills about half of these pages helps you guys generate the revenue you need to keep bringing us the good stuff, I say rock on, Tyler! Sorting through it and separating the brilliance from the bullshit isn’t an unreasonable price to pay for the benefit of the brilliance that can be found here.

    Best,

    xPat

  59. Expat says:

    It’s like the price of something expensive. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. And so with blogs, if you have to ask about your own blog, you automatically doom it to oblivion.

    Another key sign is that my posts elicit serious or passionate responses. When that happens, your blog will implode within hours.

  60. Analyze This says:

    I help to develop web analytics for a major search firm. The reach and traffic numbers tell only part of the story.

    For a financial site, what matters most are the audience demographics. Traffic stats matter less than the Readership characteristics such as average income, education, AUM, is where it derives its influence and strength.

    ZH went from a narrowly read hi-net worth hedge fund audience to an expanded audience — what was likely a VERY hi-net worth readership expanded to a Yahoo Message Board crowd. With Finance, you have decide if you want quantity or quality. Read their comments — it is a mix that comes across as not very sophisticated, and certainly not high net worth.

    They have their place in the food chain, but they seem to start believing their own press . . .

  61. Y says:

    Barry,

    Of course, you got a predictably puerile response. Personally, I
    avoid reading them, they are the National Enquirer meets 4chan, with
    the occasional good chart to keep you confused.

  62. ItalicBold says:

    Your posts are still the only posts I read on this site Barry, I am more interested in the commentary than the core financial stuff behind it all. It is good that you have made it easy to distinguish who is posting what.

  63. ItalicBold says:

    “I quit reading ZH and Mish early in the year when I got the sense they were on a mission to prove how correct they are. Oh, and ZH’s commenters (remoras) are straight from tea party central casting.”

    Completely agree, there’s just too much noise and sensationalism. One needs clear thinking in times like these.

  64. Invictus says:

    Their response was amusing. And they have jumped the shark. Readership is rabid and 40 people posting under one name is absurd.

  65. The first rule of Zero Hedge: Never mention Zero Hedge.

  66. PDS says:

    “Jumping the shark”? ….”Nuking the fridge”???….why so esoteric?….i thought this was just BR’s big “cocktail party”…..

    BTW BR…..not to offend…but the best financial blog site is no more…at least not with its original blogger…”Macro Man” ruled the financial blogos….the good “die” young..

  67. Silent Cal says:

    Over react much ?

    The response of ZH and their commentators makes me wonder what sort of a terrible childhood he had.

  68. dead hobo says:

    Settle down, BR.

    ZH has changed the world to some degree. Without ZH, you would have no, or very little, mention in the business press of HFT, flash trading, low volume melt ups, graphing of how POMO and stock rises are highly correlated, and more. Yes, a lot of the commenter are banal and only a gaggle of followers. Yes, some of the main posts are shrill and out there. And, here’s something nobody else has noticed, their paragraph editing is often horrible in that large paragraphs are sometimes almost unreadable because of their length and the complexity of the material. There also seems to be a undercurrent that all spending on their view of unnecessary items is bad, especially if credit is used.

    But here at TBP, right here in river city, you have a holy belief in trading as religion that is carried out by a higher form of life that is just ass shaking smarter than everyone else … or that is how it comes across to me. Without my constant ridicule of magic charts and magical thinking, TBP would probably still be a place where magic charts are the implied rulers of the universe. Or how about the trader rules … the ones that probable applied when market diversification still worked but now won’t. Moi wrong on this??? Then, pray tell, what about the stories of various hedge funds exiting or cutting back because they claim stock picking no longer works. Or how about the holy belief here that the markets are still the same ones as before so the same rules still work. Yes, a few recent posts have challenged this a little, but the trend is that some smug list of rules will still appear that imply only the best of the best engage in Investing Science and do what you do.

    In summary, TBP is drifting towards an establishment view. I can almost see you in a room with a few buddies harumphing about all the people who still don’t get it, much like Ben Bernanke believed the financial industry was still safe back in 2006.

    On the other hand, I applaud your thick skin and generosity in allowing me to spew my thoughts here. This gift from you has sharpened me up considerably. Plus, you’re still pretty smart about a lot of things. You just haven’t ascended to a higher plane. Sorry.

  69. Dennis the menace says:

    I am not at all surprised by the reaction. The dude was booted out of the industry. You are fucking with his meal ticket. Zero Hedge is now his career.

    Talk about thin skinned — Funny, he can dish out, but he sure cannot take it.

  70. dead hobo says:

    In fact, I wonder a little if there is an element out there who thinks real buyers and sellers will return to the markets if only ZH is shut down or fully discredited because the filth he spews about unclean financial markets is only hurting business for everyone else.

  71. chartist says:

    Maybe I missed something but I didn’t think this post was my schlong is bigger than your schlong……I think there’s plenty in Wall street’s ivory towers that would like to see both ZH and Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibibi silenced forever…..Bottom line is, we need the mainstream to get mad too, to take up their pitchforks, and get grass movements going to force change.

  72. I thought it was an interesting question — not a challenge to ZH’s manhood.

    Pretty much makes the point for me.

  73. JasRas says:

    As a consumer, I read and use both BP and ZH on a daily basis. I’ve never really compared them as one better than the other, just different reading material with different bias…like reading the NYT and WSJ or the Trib or Post or…

    Aesthetically, this site is organized much better and I think is more carefully edited as far as content presented. Plus BP has a light side with video, music, cars… ZH is a jumbled mess; almost like throwing a bunch of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. It does tend to seek out the negative theme– They do seem to post a lot of 3rd party research, some I appreciate, some is junk. It also seems to have a very heavy FX tone, at least it did this summer–and I don’t do currency…

    My guess is that unless they do a website overhaul, their rise in popularity will wane as people get frustrated by the lack of design and organization. Barry, you went through that process—twice. You also were much more prolific at the onset and have become more selective in your postings. So in the end, I’d say the difference is refinement and consistent quality.

    I still use both though, and others as well…

  74. chartist says:

    Bottom line: ZH is effecting change, no other financial blogger I know can say that.

  75. denis_bda says:

    In my personal opinion alone Barry I somewhat feel like your blog jumped the shark not long after you transferred to wordpress. I have little doubt others will disagree for their own reasons and what value they get out of the site but I thought you’d appreciate the feedback.

    For me as a novice investor who’s fairly new to the industry TBP was a must daily read for the deep insights you could provide via your commentary on the state of the market. As of late however, I find your blog is lacking in the level of deep insightful commentary that you used to provide and contains far more filler to which I perhaps don’t appreciate the value offered or is simply over my head. Perhaps you’re interested in catering to a more advanced audience or are simply noting for your own purposes but it would be helpful to have more detail. (None the less I still peruse and am greatly thankful for your efforts and willingness to share your thoughts and ideas)

    Personally I’m hoping to gain as many insights as I can from your writing to improve my own understanding of the markets. It seems your blog has trended away from this. Take your front page today and the last few posts for example.

    Hirsch’s WTF Forecast: Dow 38,820 – It’s interesting to note, but not very useful

    Dow Zero Insurgency Peak ? – Critique of other site, no insights into the markets there

    Flash Crash – I have little doubt that this could be useful, but unfortunately as a novice I have very little understanding of the point you’re trying to make, there’s no commentary or insight provided, just a couple charts. Certainly I can read the full linked article, though a couple sentences summarizing it would be helpful so I know that there is value to be gained in understanding what happened without having to read a whole article to which I may still not understand the point.

    Tracking Bank Failures – This has been something you’ve been tracking for some time, it’d be helpful to have reminders as to why it’s important and what impact is has, otherwise why track it?

    The Impact of Unchanged NYSE Issues – Over my head, you hint that the chart provides clues but really as a novice I’m lost as to what they are

    The Left Right Paradigm is Over – Its You vs. Corporations – An interesting thought, though it is not clear how this impacts the markets and what we can expect looking forwards

    Rating Agencies Ignored Proof of Unsafe Loans – An ongoing theme along the lines of your book which is helpful to note but it’s not clear what can be learned from it and how we can watch in the future for similar risks

    FDIC Bank Failures – You’ve been tracking this for a while, again, it’s easy to get lost on what the point is, what does it tell us, what impacts do the failures have, how is it different from the past etc? Certainly we can explore back to the original post on tracking the failures, but a quick reminder and observation of how things have progressed helps.

    Thaler on Tax Cuts – Interesting commentary, though again, not much in the way of market knowledge

    Six Rules of Michael Steinhardt – This is the kind of stuff I come here for, helpful insight that I can learn from.

    So, out of an entire page of articles there are really only a couple to which I personally see value in comparison to where I used to see value in reading every post you made. Now certainly, as described above, each individual has their own takeaway from your blog and certainly you have your own intentions and desires for it. It is up to you to decide how you write your blog and ultimately write it for you, not for individuals like me. None the less, I thought you’d appreciate the insight from a medium term reader (3-4 years) on the trend I’ve seen with your blog and what answer I’d provide to your question of whether it’s jumped the shark.

    Thanks again for all your efforts and hard work, I know from personal experience that blogging can be a very demanding and sometimes thankless experience and I am certain I am not alone when I say that I’ve learned a great deal from your writing and am thankful that you are willing to share your thoughts and insights.

  76. V says:

    Generally the blogs where there is a single or limited number of names are easiest to follow and you know and understand their style of analysis. MPettis, TBP, Naked Capitalism, PragCap, CafeHayek, Marginal Revolution etc

    ZH, although not as easy to follow as the blogspot days has some excellent content hidden in the forest of various theories and comedy, it’s so hard to keep up, my RSS normally shows (500+) for ZH alone. Naturally much gets missed.

    In many respects everything has it’s time and place, your commentary the other day about “Corporations versus You” probably featured in the realms of conspiracy 10 years ago.

  77. Trevor says:

    Perhaps ZH means well when he ‘exposes’ issues, but Barry calls out many people, too. And Barry will show in reasoned terms why he does so.

    I visited the ZH response. The (for want of a better word) ‘style’ of writing seemed to me frenetic, vain (frenetically vain?), immature, and (perhaps consequently) defensive. In comparison, TBP is zen-like, with no apparent ego to defend. Even the vigorous comments on TBP are calm by comparison with ZH’s self-centred response to this post.

    My morning coffee is more than enough to give me a buzz before I consider what the market is doing, thank you.

  78. Biggie Small says:

    Why would you bother with a guy like that? He is damaged goods.

  79. curbyourrisk says:

    No offense, but the content here and the content there can not be compared. The in-depth analysis ZeroHedge provides is awesome. Your work is great, don’t get me wrong… But my biggest complaint is that your articles show your political sidings. They don’t have a political agenda…both sides are wrong and they stay with that. YES, their articles are slanted, but not politically. It is not political to call out GS at every opportunity. They hate GS and that is an egenda, but it is not political. I enjoy coming here for your insight, but for in depth analysis, very few blog sites can provide what ZeroHedge does. In fact, Reggie Middleton is one of the few people can provide such analysis, and he happens to also contribute a lot of his work to their site. Guys like LEO and the MadHedgefundtrader….not so much. Their work is there for everyone to see, but just not as in depth as other contributors. I still say, Mr. Denninger site is the best run, and most informative site out there. There is not a topic he won’t conquer….

  80. wally says:

    On an unrelated issue… but the most important one: I see that census data now confirms: a greater income disparity in the US than ever, and greater than in any industrialized country. There will be a war over this, political and cultural. It is tomorrow’s theme.

  81. tradewithdavedotcom says:

    It can be a little overwhelming to visit a site like HuffingtonPost.com. It reminds me of going to one of those arcades on the boardwalk where every machine is vying for your quarter…. very noisy.

    ZeroHedge.com and BusinessInsider.com are probably our two favorite websites here at TradeWithDave.com. Not only are we simple and easy to look at, we also called the latest bull market. We’re nearly as smart as the folks at ZeroHedge (not), but when it comes to calling the market, we’re more prone to focus on non-technicals such as “shark-jumping” or the Tony Robbins market call on HuffPo recently as our leading indicators.

    http://tradewithdave.com/?p=2264

  82. Patrick Neid says:

    Bands are only as good as their audiences. When the comment section goes, prompted or otherwise, the blog is over.

  83. zell says:

    Ditto Dead Hobo- especially the concept that the markets are still the same. We are in transition. To what, we don’t know. It makes science fiction more interesting than science.

  84. Josh says:

    A year ago, you would have gotten death threats

    They have mellowed

  85. Shnaps says:

    Zerohedge kind of reminds me of a financial-blog equivalent of 4chan.

  86. Lugnut says:

    “A what point does a blog jump the shark?”

    In my observation: When it gives up on any pretense of analysis or journalism, and merely parrots existing primary articles, makes a couple of shallow insights, and then asks for reader comment input. YMMV

  87. [...] the state of the Zero Hedge insurgency.  (Big Picture, Zero [...]

  88. Mutant_Dog says:

    Surprised nobody has mentioned it.. I find Abnormal Returns to be an invaluable resource. Not exactly a blog, but so what ??

  89. DeDude says:

    Interesting to see the reaction to this over at zero hedge. First thing that hit me was how emotional and immature it was. No ability to abstract and think about it, just fire back with an attack and the classic high-school “mine is bigger than yours, want a fight yeah?” response. The comments were almost all similarly immature, brain-dead emotional reflexes.

    The same kind of rushed “I have no time to think” short comments with no value that huge numbers of blogs are pestered with. It is very popular, so I am not surprised that it to some extend has taken over a site with multiple authors. It also fits very well that this type of individuals would be prone to conspiracy theories.

    If you are to dumb or lazy to conduct a deep analysis of reality then you can always explain it with a conspiracy. It takes 5 seconds to explain things with a conspiracy, whereas it may take hours or days to figure out how things actually are connected and happen.

    But then they also have writers that are outstanding and really worth reading, so its just that you have to sort out who you read, and forget the comments on that site. That is where the advantage of their model comes out. Nobody can make 3-4 outstanding items every day. Your model could be enhanced if you allowed a couple of your Think Tank people to post in the blog twice a week.

  90. bonghiteric says:

    TBP’s byline is “Macro Perspective on the capital markets, economy, technology and digital media”, therefore, “when does a blog jump the shark?” is an appropriate topic for this blog. TBP has never been just a financial blog and (to some previous posters) it has never been a blog to get investment advice or stock tips.

    In the early months of Zerohedge’s existence if you didn’t have a background in sophisticated trading, fixed income/credits, or currencies you were out of your league trying to keep up with the concepts and posts that ZH was putting out. I was very fond of reading “that” Tyler Durden. The analysis was cogent and the opinions were radical and contrarian. It doesn’t seem like the Tyler Durden doing the posting now is even the same TD doing the posting then. What was once a blog consistent in their rigorous analysis of topics seems to have been supplanted by vitriol, sarcasm, and the view that unless you own guns, seeds, gold and pledge allegiance to the Austrian School you can’t belong to the club.

    They have jumped the shark. No question there’s value in some of the posts but the original TD let that shit get away from him.

  91. Justin Fox says:

    Wall Streeters like conspiracy theories. Always have

    Most of what’s said in those conversations is half-baked hooey—as is most of what Ivandjiiski writes. But there is still truth to be gleaned from it. (I should add that most “serious” journalism—including mine—is probably half-baked hooey as well. It pays to be a critical information consumer.)

  92. Andy T says:

    “by Cursive
    on Mon, 09/27/2010 – 23:48
    #609148

    Those were the golden days of TBP. Bruce in TN, Leftback, Karen, DL, Mannwich, Steve Barry, call me ahab, Onlooker from Troy, I-Man, Mark E Hoffer, Andy Taboo, Mike in Nola, dead hobo, wunsacon, pmorrisonfl, Amen Ra, Marcus Aurelius, CNBCSucks, Transor Z, impermanence, etc. and John Borchers. Oh, John Borchers! Anyone who’s been long and laughing, let me warn you that you don’t get Borchered. TBP was good. Then Harry Wanger showed up. There were plenty of theories that BR was really Harry Wanger. I could believe that. There was the same rumor about franklin411. It all went to hell shortly thereafter. The Congress flap was a biggie, it was Barry’s Waterloo:

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/09/fed-vs-congress-lesser-of-two-evils/

    Interesting that it was a year and a day ago.”

  93. Andy T

    To review: I get tagged to testify on 2 days notice (because someone else canceled).

    I cannot, as I have longstanding professional commitments (i.e., contractual obligation) elsewhere that simply cannot be broken.

    Get over it.

  94. Niskyboy says:

    I enjoy and learn from both The Big Picture and Zero Hedge. Theyt both are art of my daily routine. There’s stuff you have to put up with on both — over there it’s a lot of hyperventilating, over here (recently, anyway) the pages take forever to load.

  95. bergsten says:

    While we’re all bitching about blogs…

    Something at “ritholtzweb.twg.ca” has a seemingly permanent TCP/IP connection to my machine. With nothing running at all.

    Whazzat? Time to fire up the Ethernet sniffer…

  96. Thor says:

    Andy – Still beating that dead horse I see.

  97. Invictus says:

    Welp, since no one’s picked up on this yet, I guess I’ll have at it:

    Paul Krugman has apparently written of late that wars — due to their fairly expensive nature — tend to stimulate economies. Although he was hardly advocating for war — simply stating a fact — a blogger took him to task for the comments (post has since been removed at BusinessInsider, but can apparently be found here). Brad DeLong picked up on this “batsh*t crazy” post, which is how I found it. Still with me? Anyway, at Gonzalo’s blog, he has a link to his (no doubt self-published) Wikipedia page that contains the following money shot:

    “Starting in 2010, Lira began contributing blog articles to Zero Hedge, naked capitalism, Seeking Alpha and Business Insider, despite have no economic background, no financial education, and no business experience in the financial markets.”

    Is that lack of credentials what it takes to blog at those sites? Frankly, it simply goes to prove the point BR was making about jumping the shark.

  98. Beaufou says:

    You should really point out that you use your real name rather than Tyler Durden, it does make a difference in real life.

    Peace