Sunday 13 January 2013

What are the 100 Top (Anglo-Saxon) Finance Blogs? A Pseudo-Scientific Study

I know what you're thinking: How on earth would I be able to read, let alone rank, 100 blogs? The answer is simple: I have a METHODOLOGY!... and it's about as scientific as a model used to work out the value of a junk-bond backed CLO. Yes, I've taken something completely subjective and added a spurious quantitative element to it. Given that this is standard practice in the financial industry, there should be no problem.

The Methodology
A category like 'financial blogs' is somewhat loose: I've included blogs that focus on analysis of financial news, blogs that waffle about trading and investment strategies, and more general economics blogs that provide analysis relevant to financial markets. Personal finance sites though, are excluded, so no The methodology is based on 3 voting rounds, during which points are scored. Let me explain...

Voting round 1: The List-Makers
As a starting point, I sought to identify four pre-existing 'best of' lists that appeared to be relatively reputable. There were actually surprisingly few of these, but I settled on the following four: 
Each recommendation from these lists counted as a Round 1 Vote. I got 25 from Time, 6 from MarketWatch, 21 from CNBC (this list actually had 18 main suggestions, but mentions 3 others), and 13 from Downtown Josh Brown (his list has 5 major recommendations, but a series of secondary recommendations too). That gives us 55 initial votes from pundits who were prepared to put their reputation on the line.

Voting round 2: The winners of Round 1
I decided that if a blog received two votes or more from Round 1, that blogger was then eligible to vote too. How would they do that? Simple - I used their blogroll as a proxy: A blogroll is a list of blogs recommended by a blogger, an implicit vote of confidence if ever there was one.

The top blogs emerging from Round 1 were Business Insider (Joe Weisenthal), Calculated Risk (Bill McBride), Dealbreaker (Bess Levin), The Big Picture (Barry Ritholz), Pragmatic Capitalism (Cullen Roche), Felix Salmon, Zero Hedge, Abnormal Returns (Tadas Viskanta), FT Alphaville, Naked Capitalism (Yves Smith), Reformed Broker (Josh Brown), and Dealbook. Not all had blogrolls though, but I managed to find 282 blogroll votes from Naked Capitalism, Calculated Risk, The Big Picture, Zero Hedge and FT Alphaville.

Voting round 3: Up-and-comers from Round 2
I used a similar process for Round 3. This time, if a blog had received three or more votes of approval from Round 2 and and Round 1, their blogrolls were eligible to be drawn into the vote pool too. The Up-and-Comers included Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, Econbrowser, Mish's Global Economic Analysis, Credit Writedowns, The Epicurean Dealmaker, Infectious Greed, The Aleph Blog, Minyanville, MarketBeat, Angry Bear, China Financial Markets, Jesse's CafĂ© AmĂ©ricain, Oil Price, The Economic Populist, Cassandra does Tokyo, Economist's View, Interfluidity, and Financial Armageddon. I rounded up the blogrolls of those that had them, and harvested another 1074 votes.

Weighting the Votes
To compile the final list, I weighted the votes. The votes from Round 1 were worth 4 points - because they were from explicit 'best of' lists that had been actively created. The votes from Round 2 were worth 2.5 points, because they were from more passive blogrolls, and the votes from Round 3 were worth 1.5 points. These points are somewhat arbitrary, but the results remain roughly similar even when I use slightly different point weightings. Besides, it's my list. So, here it is, split into four quartiles (please note that only the first quartile is ranked in exact order - thus, while Naked Capitalism is No.2, a blog in quartile 3 is somewhere between 50-75. I don't feel the need for spurious accuracy).

THE F-100


Top24 Q2 Q3 Q4
Calculated Risk Cassandra does Tokyo TheMoneyIllusion Daneric's Elliott Waves
Naked Capitalism Financial Armageddon The Research Puzzle Dr. Housing Bubble
The Big Picture Jesse's Cafe Americain Macro-Man Global Econ Matters
FT Alphaville Oil Price Macro Market Musings Greg Mankiw
Felix Salmon Minyanville PeakProsperity Liberty Str. Economics
Business Insider WSJ MarketBeat Streetwise Professor Macroblog
Dealbreaker Economix The Burning Platform Max Keiser
Abnormal Returns Marginal Revolution Tim Iacono Modeled Behavior
Zero Hedge Real Time Economics The Oil Drum Next New Deal
Econbrowser Rortybomb Megan McArdle Psy-Fi Blog
Paul Krugman Von Mises Institute World Beta re: The Auditors
Economist's View The Economic Populist Alea The Market Ticker
Credit Writedowns The Aleph Blog A Dash of Insight WSJ Deal Journal
Reformed Broker Epicurean Dealmaker Bespoke Investment Distressed Debt Invest
Angry Bear Credit Slips Eschaton Brazilian Bubble
Mish’s GlobalEcon VoxEU iMFdirect Macrobusiness
Interfluidity Falkenblog Marc to Market Money is the way
Brad DeLong Ezra Klein Market Montage Automatic Earth
Dealbook Freakonomics Testosterone Pit DollarCollapse
The Baseline Scenario Beat the Press AllAboutAlpha Environmental Econ
China Financial Markets Bronte Capital Bonddad Blog Pension Pulse
Infectious Greed Roubini GlobalEcon Boom Bust Blog Q-Finance
Pragmatic Capitalism Free Exchange Capital Gains & Games Robert Reich
Of Two Minds Footnoted Capital Spectator Worthwhile Canadian
Jeff Matthews Coyote Blog No.100: Your Choice!
Market Folly

So, who is No. 100?
That's for you to decide. The list needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, because I've derived it from pre-existing opinions from respected, but comparatively mainstream commentators and their blogrolls. Not only have I assumed that their opinion is valid, but I've also assumed that there is no group-think or systematic bias from well-known bloggers reinforcing each other's positions with reciprocal links. Perhaps we should call the list the "Top 100 mainstream anglo-saxon finance bloggers who have already been discovered". It doesn't include all the cool smaller blogs that don't post as regularly, or who have weirder things to say. That said, I'm very pleased that the deranged rantings of Michael Fowke from Money is the Way got on - his blog is so surreal that many people don't get it, but it really captures something of the absurd hubris of financial institutions. I'd really like to see Ian Fraser's blog on there, and Tim Johnson's Magic, Maths & Money: Both of them got votes in Round 3, but not enough to get on the main list. I'll have to start work on another list of more marginal (and perhaps more subversive) bloggers - please send me any suggestions!

By the way, if you want some more good lists of financial blogs, check this huge list here, this one here, and this useful site here.

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  1. Hi David. Yep. The methodology has limitations - it's by no means perfect, which I point out in the blog. Then again, every methodology has its limitations. Cheers, Brett

  2. How about Screwtapes?

  3. Rather than blogroll listings (which may suggest more about who asks to be included than about overall influence), I would rather see a methodology based upon citations by others. I'm sure that would be difficult, though.

    1. Indeed, for version 2 I'll start incorporating other elements

  4. Hi Brett. Just came across your excellent blog via falkenblog and hope you don't mind if I link to it at - Home Of The Financial Investment And Economic Blogosphere. We curate the worldwide blogosphere daily and it would be an honor to be on your list. Thank you for all your contributions.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Quite a list...I'd never heard of many of those blogs before...

  7. For us in university there is one blog we enjoy,

    1. one of my recent discoveries and I can't get enough!

  8. Thanks a lot for sharing the list of financial blogs. These are outstanding. They will help me greatly.

    Pitter Jon
    IRS approved QROPS