The thinking man's finance blog it is not. But if you are looking for all manner of business and economic news, as well as Wall Street gossip and what's hot on the Web, Business Insider is the best place to go.
Unfortunately, more and more of the content on the blog is basically plucked from elsewhere without a lot of original analysis or reporting. But Business Insider, which is headed by former Wall Street analyst Henry Blodget, does a good job of picking its stories. A recent photo gallery of what hotels look like in brochures versus what they look like in person was a lot of fun. And when Blodget does write, it is usually worth the click. A recent story on why an analyst was fired from Merrill Lynch — a subject Blodget knows a lot about — for writing negative reports about Irish banks was a very good read. Along with Blodget the site has a reliable market commentator in Joe Weisenthal, though the length of his articles, like those on the rest of the site, seems to have dramatically shrunk. Add that up along with a usually insightful daily chart, and Business Insider is well worth the regular visit.
If you only follow one economics blog, it has to be Calculated Risk, run by Bill McBride. The site provides concise and very accessible summaries of all the key economic data and developments. One of the reasons McBride is able to do this so well is that he has an almost uncanny knack of recognizing which facts really matter. He began the blog in 2005 because he saw a disaster brewing in the form of the housing bubble, and tried his best to warn the rest of us of what was coming. I've followed him closely ever since, and I don't know if he's ever been wrong. My advice is, if you've come up with a different conclusion from McBride on how economic developments are going to unfold, you'd be wise to think it over again!
Hamilton is an economics professor at the University of California, San Diego, and the co-author of the blog Econbrowser.
If there's one place online that has captured the zeitgeist of trading floors on Wall Street — the bathroom humor, the outsized egos and the language — it's Dealbreaker. The site is run by Bess Levin, a humorist cum reporter who has successfully managed to turn Wall Street's biggest names into cartoon characters — and into her most loyal readers. The site feels like a mashup of Page Six and Bloomberg News. The articles may be laced with humor, but beneath all that wit lies a remarkable truth that often cuts closer to reality than more sober news reports. Bess's trick is that she's not laughing at Wall Street; she's laughing with them. As a result of Bess's frequent potty mouth, many financial institutions block the site, but that hasn't stopped a fiercely loyal group of readers from making their way to Dealbreaker and adding their comments, typically filled with some sexual innuendo, on just about anything. (You do not want to cross this group!) Nonetheless, Dealbreaker is always good for a quick laugh in the middle of the day or even a penetrating insight into the way Wall Street thinks.
Sorkin is the author of the book Too Big to Fail and a columnist at the New York Times. He is the creator and editor of the blog DealBook at NYTimes.com.
I read Econbrowser every day. But even those who don't might still recognize the name of one of the co-authors if they ever took an advanced economics course. Econbrowser co-author and UC San Diego professor James Hamilton literally wrote the textbook on using math in economic research.
The authors, who also include Menzie Chinn, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin, cover many macroeconomic issues in an understandable and straightforward manner. Chinn focuses on public policy, and he frequently writes about current topics like the economic impact of stimulus spending and the deficit debate. Hamilton's key topics include business cycles, monetary policy and oil economics, the last of which has made Hamilton a must-read as of late. His analysis shows the events in Libya, and the Middle East in general, so far "are not in the same ballpark as the major historical oil supply disruptions," but he cautions that geopolitical changes might continue to spread.
As Stephen J. Dubner wrote on his blog on Feb. 28, Freakonomics, which recently moved to a new Web address, has "taken on a life of its own," morphing from book to blog to podcasts to movie and now an online home away from the New York Times. Yet the blog retains its thriving, daily heartbeat.Each hour, Dubner and Steven Levitt and their team of expert Freakonomists crank out fun, fascinating posts on everything from Romanian witches and tomato gel spheres to the subcultures of knitting and drug dealing. Their obsessions are infectious: I don't follow football, but love their posts on the NFL, as well as everything they write on prostitutes, baby names and fruit stands.
The magic of Freakonomics is its ability to anchor a giant idea — "the hidden side of everything — in compelling human stories and research. One of my all-time favorites is Dubner's "What's the Best Advice You Ever Got?" in which he recounts a fishing trip he took when he was 14. "If you spend all your time catching the little fish, you won't have time — or develop the technique, or the patience — to ever catch the big ones," he learns. It's a lesson in opportunity costs, wrapped in a touching personal story.Frank is a senior writer at the Wall Street Journal and the author of the book Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich. His blog, the Wealth Report, is on WSJ.com.
When the foreclosure scandal erupted last fall, Naked Capitalism was all over it. Long before most of us understood what was going on or the implications of it, Yves Smith, the pseudonymous author of the blog, had long posts explaining in depth how the banks had got themselves into the mess, and just how big that mess was, not only for the banks but for the economy in general.
As the name of the blog suggests, Smith understands the underpinnings of our nation's financial system. Naked Capitalism knows our economic moles. And when bankers do something wrong, the blog is there to call them out on it. At times, Naked Capitalism's accusations against Wall Street can be hard to prove. But the blog's sense of right and wrong rings true to me. Smith has argued again and again that the financial crisis was not just a bad mistake of some stupid bankers that didn't understand the risks of subprime credit-default obligations. And it is a road map for making sure the financial crisis that we just went through never happens again. If only more regulators would read Smith's blog, the country would be better for it.
Real Time Economics
Real Time Economics is the Wall Street Journal's blog looking at the world of economics. It covers a wide range of issues, from Federal Reserve governors to gas prices. But unlike other blogs that roam into food or wine, RTE stays focused on its topic.
Even so, it's eclectic and lively. More than informative, it's quite accessible to the layperson. Many blogs give you links to other stories. But their daily list of economic stories around the Web, "Secondary Sources," offers beefy summaries and is well chosen.
Still think economic analysis is useless? Consider this: of all the blogs that cover the Federal Reserve, RTE seems to have been the first to recognize the significance of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's Jackson Hole speech this summer regarding the central bank's QE2 bond-buying program on the market. The speech was followed by a 28%, six-month stock rally.
Ritholtz is the head of stock-market research firm Fusion IQ, wrote the book Bailout Nation and is the author of the blog the Big Picture.
The Conscience of a Liberal
Over the past decade, economist Paul Krugman has emerged as one of the nation's most vocal (and sometimes strident) critics of the Republican Party — and of Democrats he deems too timid. Before that, though, Krugman made his name in a smaller circle as a clever and politically hard-to-pin-down explainer of economic phenomena. And before that, he made his name in an even smaller circle as a brilliant deviser of mathematical economic models. I know the current Krugman is far more influential, but I have a soft spot for the earlier versions. The best thing about Conscience of a Liberal is that — unlike Krugman's New York Times column — it gives glimpses of all the Krugmans. Sure, there are fire-breathing denunciations of right-wing outrages, but there are also witty asides, wonky explanations of European monetary policy and, lately, lots of great protrain propaganda. Even if you hate Krugman's politics, you can learn from him.
Fox is the editorial director of the Harvard Business Review and the author of The Myth of the Rational Market. He is a former columnist for TIME.
The Consumerist's followers love to complain. Each of the consumer-advocacy blog's posts is inevitably greeted with dozens if not hundreds of comments from agitated us-against-them readers eager to bitch about Best Buy's questionable buy-back policies, the latest fee introduced by Bank of America or any move made by the site's favorite punching bag, Comcast. Consumerist readers even gripe about the Consumerist: since 2009, when the website (tagline: "Shoppers bite back") cut ties with Nick Denton's edgy, gossip-heavy Gawker Media and came under the control of the dowdy nonprofit Consumers Union — the same folks who run grandma-favorite Consumer Reports — the regular kvetch among commenters has been that the Consumerist lost its bite.
Even if that's partly true, the site, which doesn't allow any outside advertising, hosts an enormously popular annual March Madness–like "Worst Company in America" tournament (2010 winner: Comcast), features headlines like "Who Sucks the Most: AT&T or Verizon?" and still has plenty of attitude left. What's more, with its boring but respectable owners, the Consumerist now draws more attention — editors have appeared on 60 Minutes and the Today show — and the companies being complained about by the muckraking masses have no choice but to listen.
The Wealth Report
On his Wall Street Journal blog the Wealth Report, Robert Frank writes with neither fear nor favor about a relatively tiny but endlessly fascinating tribe: the very, very rich. He covers everything from tax policy to — well, here, read it for yourself: "The bride's family gave the groom a Bell 429 helicopter." (That's from a reported $20 million wedding in India.) Another sentence worth rereading: "One thing I have noticed about rich people is that they are insomniacs." Frank neither panders nor sneers. What he does is poke beneath the veneer and show that, contrary to the cliché, the rich really aren't so different from you and me. They're just a lot richer.
Dubner is an award-winning journalist and the co-author, along with Steven Levitt, of the best-selling economics book Freakonomics and a blog of the same name.