My post from last week asking where all the finance bloggers went raised quite a stink. It was admittedly a bit of navel gazing but that did not stop a number of bloggers from weighing in. Josh’s post at The Reformed Broker unleashed a slew of interesting comments. We like Macro Man’s view on how the market environment has made it difficult on both bloggers and readers alike. Quantivity, which is a must-follow for quants on Twitter, weighed in on how momentum plays such a big role in the way so many different market participants operate. In short, no momentum, little interest in the markets.
However it was a post on a wholly unrelated topic that got me thinking that I may have been off-base. Nicholas Carr at Rough Type talks about how “high tech Luddites” have been decrying the death of the Web and the PC for some time now. Carr notes that that view is decidedly skewed. He writes:
The PC and the Web aren’t dying. As cultural forces, they’re more powerful, more inescapable than ever. What the PC and the Web are doing is maturing, the former exploding into a welter of slick consumer appliances, the latter contracting into a corporate-controlled menu of slick services. They’re both assuming what promise to be their stable forms. The high-tech Luddite, or HTL, confuses maturing with dying, because what’s being lost in the maturation process is the thing which the HTL most values, most yearns to protect.
In that sense maybe I had become a bit of a Luddite when it comes to the financial blogosphere. Having been an active participant in the financial web for some seven years it is possible my view of it had become ossified. Maybe what I really missed was those early days when it seemed liked there was a steady stream of new, independent voices entering the field. Now that steady stream seems to have shifted to Twitter and StockTwits instead.
I was somewhat surprised to read that many of the bloggers who joined up in those early years were still at it one form or fashion. Felix Salmon at Reuters notes how 40 of 52 blogs identified five years ago as being vital parts of the econoblogosphere were still going strong. Felix rightly notes that over that time the financial blogosphere has become increasingly professionalized and the mainstream media has adopted the blog as its way of communicating much new information. Salmon writes:
What we’re certainly seeing is a democratization of the space, with Twitter in particular having a much lower barrier to entry than any blog platform. Twitter was very young five years ago; now it’s almost a public utility. And as a result, more fast and smart financial commentary is reaching more people than anything I could have dreamed of in 2007.
So I’m not nearly as downbeat on the blogosphere as my colleagues. It’s changing, to the point at which the very idea of blogs as a separate-and-distinct entity has pretty much gone away. But that’s a good thing. What really matters is the quality and quantity of financial discussion online. And that’s never been higher.
It is certainly the case that the maturation of Twitter and StockTwits has changed the way that news and opinion is diffused within the field of finance. Items from high-profile practitioners like Bill Gross of Pimco, Jeremy Grantham at GMO and Howard Marks at Oaktree Capital are all now fodder for the financial blogosphere. Any more the supposed-to-be private communications between hedge fund managers and their clients are all publicly available nearly as soon as their e-mails hit inboxes.
So in that regard I don’t think anyone would choose the financial blogosphere of five (or seven) years ago over today’s. There are still interesting and thoughtful independent bloggers joining the fray, just not as many as I would have hoped. I therefore may have mistaken the maturation of the financial blogosphere for its death. Which is funny because without a vital financial blogosphere there is no Abnormal Returns and the last time I checked we are still around.