We started Naked Capitalism in 2006 because there were things that were obvious to a careful reader of the financial press, yet not being discussed. Perhaps it was because connecting those dots would point to the possibility of bad outcomes, like grossly underpriced financial risk generating a major crash, or global warming leading to more extreme and unpredictable weather, affecting everything from crops to real estate to the already high rate of species dieoff, to high and rising levels of inequality and rentierism deepening social schisms.
But in 2006, the econoblogosphere was vibrant, and many politically-oriented independent sites that had come of age during the War in Iraq were active. Hardly any from that era are still standing, casualties not just of Google but also of groupthink and legitimate fears about censorship. Look at how this humble site was branded as a Russian stooge via the Washington Post in 2016. Look at how often Twitter suspends accounts for no particularly good reason, meaning most of the time for an obviously bad reason. Straight, unbought commentary on political economy is an endangered species. So please go to the Tip Jar and preserve our habitat!
Despite operating in a hostile environment, we are closing in on 25,000 published posts and 1.5 million comments, thanks to your participation and support. One of the reasons we continue to punch above our weight is that we never conceived of this site as being a finance and economy blog, even though those remain a primary focus. We’ve always viewed this site as in the business of promoting critical thinking. Given the hollowed out and captured state of conventional media, there are more cherry-picked facts, slipshod analysis, and recycled press releases masquerading as reporting, than ever, so we have more material than we could possibly cover.
The US and quite a lot of other places in the world are now firmly in what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls Extremistan, where inequality is so great that adding one more data point will affect the metrics of the sample, like what having Bill Gates walk into a bar does to the average net worth of the patrons.
And remember that Taleb views Extremistan as more “normal” than the tidy, tame risk distributions that economists rely on. This past year provides ample confirmation for his world view. Covid-19, where even the better-coping parts of the world operate with restrictions and infections are back on the rise in Europe. Fires in California and Oregon so extensive and severe that observers describe them as apocalyptic, with ash falling from the burnt orange skies, following terrifying fires in Australia just a year and a half ago. Brexit, where the UK Government seems determined to engineer the worst possible outcome, no trade deal with the EU and US come 2021, thanks to ideologues hijacking what Brexit means. Climate change, where the world fiddles as Greenland hits the melt point of no return and Siberia releases more and more methane from its permafrost. The US is unwilling to take any steps to ameliorate this situation, like get out of fossil-fuel intensive regime change exercises, or take steps to increase fairness, like leashing and collaring predatory financiers and implementing single payer healthcare so citizens would accept sacrifices on other fronts.
So why is this site a survivor? Because you are with us. You value that even when our views have been unpopular, we’ve been willing to make early calls and they’ve overwhelmingly been right. Lehman being a goner. The financial crisis bailouts representing the greatest looting of the public purse in history. Mass foreclosures moving like a juggernaut despite most borrowers being viable with a mortgage modification that also would have been better for investors than taking the house. And disgracefully, the Obama Administration had the leverage to bring bank servicers to heel thanks to chain of title abuses, but instead gave them a “get out of jail almost free” settlement. The 2015 Greece bailout negotiations, when we were alone in seeing that the plucky Greeks would not prevail against the Troika, and their mishandling of the negotiations made their weak position even worse. Private equity, where we were early to call out the egregious fee level and flat out embezzlement. The unicorn mania, with Hubert Horan doing a star turn on Uber. Brexit, where UK-based readers have repeatedly said our commentary (thanks to the considerable input of readers like Clive, PlutoniumKun, vlade, and David) is best on the Web. Covid-19, where we were early to recognize that the disease could become a pandemic, and similarly early to recognize that the disease progress drive economic outcomes. Accordingly, we have provided daily links to studies and research, along with epidemiologist Ignacio providing regularly commentary. And of course CalPERS. To keep this caliber of coverage and help us investigate important new topics, proceed straight to the Tip Jar! If you can give a little, give a little, and if you can give a lot, dig deep.
This year, as Lambert would say, has been wonderfully clarifying. The markets are at stratospheric levels even as experts ranging from Mohamed El-Erian, Bill Gross and Jeff Gundlach have been sounding alarms. Small businesses are set to be the next casualties. The massive Covid bailouts conformed to the 2008 crisis pattern of taking the best care for the well-off… yet in the first round, the Republicans did manage to distribute more money faster to middle- and lower-income people via $600 a week unemployment supplement than the Democrats did in 2009. Essential workers don’t even get government-provided masks. And the US and much of the world is so pre-occupied with the pandemic that important developments ranging from Greece-Turkey tensions to the Assange trial to Biden’s not-coded threats to escalate with Russia to governments starting to take on tech titans, don’t get the attention they warrant (although Covid is temporarily taking a back seat in US news to the the Republican effort to nominate and confirm a new Supreme Court justice at warp speed).
And here is where you readers come in. You come from all walks of life, and all over the world, and you come here for an unadulterated dose of daily information, where we collectively try to get past the propaganda and understand important, underlying developments in the realms of finance, economics, and politics. We’re now seeing the high cost of end-state neoliberalism: how hollowed-out governments and too-often, entitled and in-it-for-themselves elites have become shockingly unable to mount simple one-foot-in-front-of-the-other crisis responses, like implementing mass Covid-19 testing, or how the UK’s Government still seeming not to understand what “trading on WTO terms” would look like in January 2021.
And with the considerable help of our observant, rigorous, and well-plugged-in commentariat, we’ve been able to cover vastly more ground than we used to, despite having what amounts to 1.6 full time writer equivalents. If you value this informational heavy lifting, please go straight to the Tip Jar and give generously.
The vigorous, sometimes combative, discussions in comments don’t simply keep Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, and me sharp by calling out sloppy arguments, imprecise writing or even (embarrassingly) errors. We together are navigating what has become an informational hall of mirrors by testing information and analysis. Reading and participating in comments also helps improve your ability to manage debates in your personal and professional lives.
We’d like to do more. We’d like to do it even better. Imagine how much trouble we could cause if we ever got our hands on some real money!
Please support our efforts. Give whatever you can, whether it’s $5, $50, or $5,000, via our Tip Jar. Even a small donation helps us meet our fundraising goals. If you are one of the winners in this two-tier Covid economy, please give generously, particularly on behalf of loyal readers who are under stress and aren’t able to donate as much as they’d like to.
And if you aren’t able to make a financial contribution, rest assured there are other ways to help! More than ever, we depend on all of you to promote Naked Capitalism and bring in more readers. You can help by sending articles, Links, and Water Cooler to potentially receptive friends, family members, and colleagues, by linking to our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, talking up the site, making comments and sending cute animal photos.
In our accompanying kickoff post, we identify specific things that your donations will fund and will tell you when we’ve hit each of these monetary goals. Our first goal is $19,000 for digital infrastructure essentials, which is the same level as last year. That may not sound very sexy, but this is our plumbing. I’m sure you know from your own experience that when your plumbing is not working, you feel its absence acutely. We have a large nut due both the size of our database (approaching 1.5 million comments and over 24,000 posts), rising security threats,
You can give via check made out to “Aurora Advisors Incorporated,” sent to:
Aurora Advisors Incorporated 164 Peachtree Circle Mountain Brook, AL 35213
Please be sure to let us know if you have sent a check so we can include your contribution in our fundraiser tally. Please send an e-mail with the subject line, “Check is in the mail” with the $ amount, to email@example.com.
We also want to warn you: as much as we feel very guilty about it, we lack the capacity to thank donors individually. Or to put it another way, with our thin staffing, we’d have to cut way back on posting to be able to do that, so we hope you forgive us for having to give top priority to continuing to generate the content you appreciate so much.
Again, we hope you’ll support our work in ways big and small. You’ve helped us build a community, and with your continued backing, we aspire to make it even better in the coming year.