The New Credit Writedowns
I am just back from the Easter Holidays and have had a good two weeks for self-reflection. In truth, I am feeling a bit exhausted despite the fact that I was supposed to have just had a two weeks’ holiday. So, I have decided to make a few changes. Before I do, I would appreciate some feedback from you regarding this site.
First, I want to give you a pretty unfiltered version of my thought process and then I’ll wrap up with some tentative conclusions I have drawn. I’m hoping your feedback will help me draw some more definitive conclusions.
I love blogging. Ever since I decided to start blogging last March, I have felt fulfilled by it. As you have figured out by now, I am a fairly opinionated guy who tends to have an opinion on everything. Before I started this blog, I really didn’t feel I had a good forum through which to exchange ideas to help come to grip with all of the turmoil in finance and economics. Now I do and I love it.
There is an incredibly diverse and talented group of econbloggers toiling away, adding their voice to this discussion. For me, the econblogger space has become in 2008-9 for finance what the Netroots was in 2002 for politics. It is the go-to place to get a well-informed uncensored view of what is really happening today in the world of finance. Quite frankly, most mainstream media outlets have not done us justice and a void is being filled by econbloggers.
The incredible thing about econblogging is how good ideas and well-informed views rise to the top. I mean, this is what the Internet is all about, isn’t it? It’s the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ in plain view for all to see and it should give us all hope for the future of economics, of journalism, and of progress more generally.
However, it’s not like any of us econbloggers is making tons of coin from this. We do it because we love it. But, I am not so sure of my future role in this space. Blogging has taken a lot of time away from my day job (Consulting) – the admin side of things is crushing. And so I don’t think it is sustainable unless I find some way to earn money from this adventure. I might also add that I have gained a few pounds in the last year as apparently blogging is not good for your health! You’ve hear about college students and the Freshman 15? Well, try bloggers and the Blogging 25.
Before Easter, I was in Mexico where I had nearly no connection to the outside world. The mobile was off, Internet access was an hour or two a day, and Television was banned. Quite frankly, there were times during that week when I thought about giving up blogging altogether. My thinking after the week was that I was going to cut back significantly on the blogging because it was costing me time and money. So, I had every intention to write this post to inform you of my need to ratchet things back a gear.
However, the week afterwards was spent in Germany where I was much more connected – to Europe rather than the United States. And I have a ton of ideas and thoughts to share from that week. So, I am at a bit of a crossroads here. I am not quite sure where things are headed at Credit Writedowns. I am glad to have played my part in econblogging, but I am not sure what my role will be going forward.
The first conclusion I drew upon reflection is that my forceful opinions may be keeping some of you from commenting. There are a few of you who have no problem telling me when I’ve gotten it wrong (Denis, VangelV, you know who you are). But, on the whole, I tend to think there are fewer comments from you than there should be. I see this as a conversation, not a monologue. In this conversation, you should not be timid in voicing your own thoughts.
I have also been kicking around a few ideas regarding how to make blogging more (financially) rewarding. Idea number one is a paid monthly newsletter. Idea number two is a donations button on the site. I have pu the donations button up already, but I wold definitely love any feedback you can give regarding what would be useful in a monthly newsletter and whether you would subscribe to one.
I have also been thinking a lot about writing a book. A lot of econbloggers have made a positive contribution in this way: Michael Panzner and Barry Ritholtz to name two. Yves Smith is also writing a book as well. The problem with writing a book is it gives me even less time for blogging than I have already.
I would also like to write more about Europe and am looking for some ‘Partner’ blogs there to bring a fresh perspective. You can see some of them on my blogroll already. I would also like to talk a bit more about psychology and how it affects economic behavior.
So, you can see these conclusions are very, very tentative. They are more a wish list than conclusions at this stage. The only things that is clear is that I need to exercise more!
I love blogging. I wake up in the morning brimming with enthusiasm, full of ideas to share with you. I wish I could do this full time. But I cannot. Any way I look at it, there will be a new Credit Writedowns in the coming days and weeks. As I come to some more definitive conclusions on the way forward, your feedback is very, very much appreciated.
Ed – my immediate thoughts are that having forceful opinions is good, cos they’re easier to argue (constructively) with and they’re the reason I visit your blog daily.
I’d say there are an increasing number of economic blogs out there, and by-and-large the number of comments on most seem to me to be declining. Apart from comments being dissipated by the sheer number of blogs, another reason could be because a year ago the future was much less visible and the lines less clearly drawn than they seem to be now. People were struggling to understand how things might develop from the norm they had been used to. We don’t of course know what the uncharted territory that we’re in will lead to, but at least most of us can no longer remain in denial and now know we’re actually in that uncharted territory, so maybe interest in the minutiae of the future is waning – we know it’s crap and who cares what sort of crap it’s going to be.
Seems if I’m anywhere near right that charging may therefore be unrewarding. I can see that it’s time-consuming and I guess only you can decide if the effort is worth it all – to you. Some blogs I follow are intermittant, but no less rewarding if the points made are thought-provoking, although too intermittant leads to fewer responses. Some bloggers of course add opinions/comments to other, well-chosen blogs and maybe your contributions this way would be just as valued if you can’t find the time to do your own blog as thoroughly as you’d like.
As a mainly-psychology graduate (scottish university system), I understand completely why you’d like to explore this area further, as it helped me immensely when I was managing money. Perhaps you could cover this area as an adjunct to another blog in some sort of partnership.
I just want to say thank you for your efforts on this blog so far. I certainly appreciate how much work it must be — I can barely keep up with simply reading the blogs I want to!
With respect to whether expressing a strong opinion limits comments — I’d be surprised, and it wouldn’t stop me if I had something to add.
One idea would be to do less frequent posts and try to focus on a niche of your own. The blog seemed to have been started with a focus on tracking write-downs and that could still be a core. You also have brought a distinct ability to translate various European articles and be the first on that news. Not that those are your only strengths of course.
I agree with Stevie b., there is a lot of good free blog content out there. A commercial offering might get limited reception, but it can’t hurt to try if you feel inspired. I think acrossthecurve tried it recently — not sure the result as I don’t read them much. But I would think the audience would have to be traders/investors to have many people pay.
Overall, as I think you’ve highlighted, you need to make sure it is worth it to you.
I read your site almost daily yet this is my first time writing. Your efforts are invaluable to me and my investment team as we navigate through the deleveraging process to maintain a realistic view of what will be required to survive before we can prosper on the other side. We hope that you can keep up the effort but understand how it may not make sense economically.
My nearest experience with a blog is with a weekly market update that we have been putting out to our target audience, via email, for several years with 2,000 + readers. A blog before there was blogging. The benefit is limited to name recognition for ourselves and the ability to track clients and prospects entering or exiting our market. There is no direct financial reward for the effort. We get rave reviews about our newsletter whenever I’m introduced in a business meeting, including participants that I’ve never met. I’m told that our newsletter is the “must read email” for my industry yet we rarely get a formal reply. We could get some readers to pay for the service but then we would lose out on staying in front of a much larger audience. We continue providing the service due to the indirect but immeasurable contribution it provides in our overall marketing process. With this experience in mind, one suggestion would be to tailor your web site as a marketing component to your consulting business.
Thanks and good luck in working out the next step.
First of all I have enjoyed your blog and has been very helpful. I like your pragmatic view of things.
I also like it because its free. I have that thought that those opinion is not to generate more subscriptions, but real opinion.
Hopefully it won’t be a monthly subscription, but I do understand that people need to get an income. This is also a similar gotcha of an open source developer. How to do you make a living of something you love to do. Maybe there is someway to channel through the profile of the blog into your real consulting income.
I find that your comments are extremely useful in helping me to gain the perspective that I am unable to get any more from the mainstream media. I first discovered some of your postings when I followed a link from Roubini’s site, and found a satisfying look at the big picture that is lacking in all commentators beside a few (yourself, Roubini, Simon Johnson, Buiter). I am VERY glad that you share your strong opinions with mere mortals like us.
I am a minion in the shrinking American industrial base, trying like the others to figure out how to survive. I worked my butt off to elect Obama, and have been utterly dismayed by Geithner’s priorities. I am particularly pleased that (like John Hussman), you have seen the emphasis that Geithner is placing on protecting bank bondholders. I never thought I’d miss James Baker as Treasury secty. Once again I find myself in an Orwellian nightmare and your comments enable me to see the real truth as it is albeit “through a glass darkly”.
Thanks for all you do…
I had spent some significant time, when I’m not working or doing grad school, putting together http://www.stopbailout.org.
I began to look for websites about 6 months ago to help me get a basic understanding of this financial crisis. There are now three sites that I visit everyday, just to see if anything new is developing: Michael Panzner, Option Arageddon and yours. I just read your ABOUT section, and with your background and in-the-top-20 rating and influence it would be a shame to lessen the impact and counteraction you must be having against a compliant media, and getting the truth out and before the people. I do the same thing on my website http://www.bobagans.org but on a different subject.
I’m 72 years old and retired, so I don’t have much of a stake at risk, but I want you to know that I appreciate your hard work, and whatever you decide to do, I hope it works out real good for you.
I appreciate the sentiments you all expressed here in the comments and via e-mail to me. It is definitely nice to know I have a positive impact and that it is worth it to continue writing this blog in some form.
As to my other idea about a paid monthly newsletter, I get the sense that one is not going to meet the grade.
For now I still have a bunch of ideas to write about – more than I have time. So that is a very good thing. Thanks again, everyone and I will keep you abreast of changes at this blog.
Congratulation for your blog and pls don t give up ! don t forget the “jeff bezos concept” : out of 100+ecoblog, I consult now only 2 (urs included). I think that if you continue the good work, I will not be the only one.
Maybe one quick constructive critic :
– give us your view on all post, not just a collection of articles
Pls keep the good work – will do some “clicking” for you if u need
All the best
Thank you for the words of encouragement. Since you mentioned areas for
improvement, I would be delighted to hear your suggested areas to get
more out of my content. You mentioned “give us your view on all post,
not just a collection of articles.” Does that mean you don’t like the
links posts? Any other thoughts on that subject?
For me I honestly don’t read the links posting, I do read most if not all of your writings. There are other econ bloggers that give out links anyway. I don’t know how other people feel, but less is more for me. I think that is why I like creditwritedowns, you don’t waste a lot of time picking which articles to read. I do like your view that is not too USA centric. I don’t live in the USA so having an econ blogger who has a bigger picture is great.
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