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Launching the NC Fundraiser!

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One of the things that I suspect has brought many of you to Naked Capitalism is the hard lesson that conventional wisdom in finance and economics has been very costly to ordinary citizens around the world. If you had believed the prevailing world view of early 2007, that markets were efficient and bad actors would of course be found out and shunned, that were were in the midst of a Great Moderation and could expect to enjoy continued prosperity, punctuated by shallow recessions, and that financial innovation was a boon and therefore to be encouraged, you had an ugly awakening. The global financial crisis imposed tremendous costs on investors and society at large, via unemployment, a housing bust, plunging tax revenues, cuts in government services and increasing political discord.

Yet no one in power before the crisis has been punished or even suffered much. In fact, 2009 and 2010 Wall Street bonuses exceeded the record levels of 2007. As former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson described in a May 2009 Atlantic article, the US instead suffered a quiet coup, with the top end of the financial services industry becoming more concentrated, more powerful, even more concentrated and more firmly in charge of the political apparatus.

Most of you understand this. It’s awfully hard not to notice that we have a two-tier system of justice, in which the major financial firms get to flout the law and violate their own contracts, yet are able to get their agreements enforced against seemingly everyone, from credit card, mortgage, and student debt borrowers to municipalities who entered into risk-laden swaps they didn’t understand to nations like Greece, where a clearly insolvent borrower cannot get a deep enough restructuring out of fear of triggering payouts on credit default swaps. But complexity, leverage, and opacity have been the big banks’ best friends in executing this program of looting. You’ve come here to get educated so you won’t be so easily taken next time.

So the lies that the elite financiers have peddled appeared to be free, when in fact, many of them were sold via clever messaging and lobbying. Look at how the expression “free markets” is widely seen as positive. It stands for the presumption that less, better yet no, regulation is better. In fact, many fields of enterprise have a tendency to evolve to a concentrated format, which allows for monopoly/oligopoly pricing, which any economist will tell you is a Bad Thing. And unregulated markets also feature races to the bottom, where providers willing to cut corners to boost their profits drag their competitors with them. This tendency is particularly pernicious in fields like financial services, where many customers cannot evaluate the quality of the produce they are offered, and go on misleading proxies, like the demeanor of their salesman (any wonder why so many polished sociopaths wind up on Wall Street?)

But getting the truth is not free. It take time, effort, expertise, and resources. One of the great resources we have developed here at NC is an engaged and informed reader community. I learn a ton from comments (even when it is sometimes painful, as in when I’ve stepped in it in one of my posts). We’ve broken some significant stories thanks to input from our reader community, such as the so-called New York trust theory (which basically means the securitization industry has no clean fixes for the mess they created by their failure on a large scale to convey mortgages properly to securitization trust, and explains why they have been forced to resort to widespread fraud in the courtroom) and the Magnetar story (how a single hedge fund’s toxic CDO program played an major role in turning what would have otherwise been a contained subprime bubble into a global financial crisis) in ECONNED.

I want to keep spending more time on the blog. But that means I need your help. Some of it results from the fact that as the readership has grown, it takes more to support it: better hosting, more help with offloading tasks so I can respond to more input and leads via e-mail and the comment section. But it also comes about from the fact that the nature of blogging in the wake of the crisis has changed. As reader and sometimes guest blogger John Bougearel aptly described it, the crisis was like a massive rock landing in a seemingly placid pool. It was pretty simple to figure out what to follow during the crisis; I’d roll out of bed and see what new wheels were falling off the financial system.

But the rings from that initial impact keep widening. There are now more threads to follow, and many of them, like mortgage-related developments, take a certain amount of digging to get right. As I look over my archives over time, even though the number of posts per day is pretty much the same, they’ve become more analytically intensive over time. So I’m often juggling a tradeoff between more thorough investigation and getting posts out.

So I also feel fortune to have a cadre of talented and expert guest bloggers like Matt Stoller, Philip Pilkington, Michael Hudson, Richard Smith (who also does a great deal of behind the scenes work, like troll patrol), Satyajit Das, Marshall Auerback and Rob Parenteau, who cover certain beats in these expanding circles of interest better than I can. We are also glad to have well-regarded fellow bloggers like Ed Harrison, Steve Keen, George Washington, and Bill Black cross posting on Naked Capitalism.

What you get here is something I honestly believe you do not find anywhere else on the Web in the finance and economics sphere, and certainly not in the mainstream media, which is a willingness to question institutions and individuals in power, and get behind skillful sloganeering to uncover sloppy thinking, bad practices, intellectual capture, corruption, and destructive policies. We name names and get granular when their conduct is not on the up and up. This is a role that traditional journalists aspire to play, but shrinking news budgets, accelerating news cycles, the native complexity of finance-related material, and the collusive game of access journalism have defanged the press. We know this sort of hard-hitting, skeptical coverage is something many of you value; the caliber and thoughtfulness of the comments section proves it. So we hope that those of you who are able will invest in this site in a more tangible way.

So here is how the fundraiser will work. Our target is 750 donors over the next week. We’ve already had nearly 80 generously make contributions as a result of our discussing a possible fundraiser, and we are grateful for your early action.

We are looking to get broad-based participation from the NC community. So if you are a student or took a financial setback in the crisis and can only make a small contribution, we’d still appreciate that, because we also have readers such as successful private investors, attorneys, executives, entrepreneurs, and fund managers, who cam make much bigger donations.

We will also put forward specific things we intend to do with your donations and will tell you when we’ve hit each of these monetary goals.

The first one is to upgrade our hosting and tech support. Our current webhost MEV Inc. has been graciously giving us free hosting (we do pay for our mirror website) as a result of a pretty rough transition from Blogger. We also get a break on regular tech support in return for being on a non-priority basis.

As traffic has grown, they’ve had to be pretty enterprising to keep load times from being annoyingly slow, but on busy days, the site can be sluggish. And on big news days, or when we have very popular posts, traffic spikes can and do take the site down. The last thing we want to have happen is to have the site be offline when a crisis break loose (which give the state of affairs in Europe, is a matter of when not if) and you want to get information and communicate with each other, and I want to get posts out. So we need to move to a heavy duty host. Given the state of technology, that is not foolproof, but a service upgrade will considerable increase responsiveness and greatly reduce the incidence and duration of site outages. In addition, we’d also like to get faster turnaround from MEV on other matters, which necessitates an upgrade with them as well. The two combined is roughly $4700, which is our first target. Once we’ve hit that, we’ll let you know what our next item is.

There are multiple channels for donating. The first are here on the blog, the “Donate” and “Subscribe” buttons in the upper right, both of which take you to PayPal. If you are allergic to PayPal, you can send a check (or multiple post dated checks, if you want to spread out payments) in the name of Aurora Advisors Incorporated to Aurora Advisors Incorporated, 903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10075. Please also send an e-mail to yves@nakedcapitalism.com with the headline “Check is in the mail” (and just the $ en route in the message) so we can count your contribution in the total number of donations.

If neither of these work for you (say for people outside the US who are PayPal averse, since my non-TBTF bank gives appallingly bad foreign exchange rates on non-dollar checks), please use this link. I very much encourage you to use PayPal or a check, since donations via the link must be processed manually by reader James B, who graciously offered this service (the “Bicycle, Inc.” comes from his venture to manufacture and sell an improved bicycle seat he designed. The e-mail address in the form will not be retained, it’s there in case we need to communicate with you about the transaction. Separately, I feel guilty that the volume of donations means that I won’t be sending individual “thank you” messages. This is symptomatic of the state of my life. I hope this fundraiser will help me to a place where I have the bandwidth to express my gratitude formally).

Thanks again for your interest and generous support!

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57 comments

  1. Richard Kline

    So Yves, the postman will be calling soon.

    I also saw at Occupy Wall Street that the Occupiers will be publicly resisting Obama’s criminal complicity with endemnifying the robosigners and securitization frauds. I detect an educational encounter with you in that, which is one more public service. Citizen activism needs informed individuals with a command of the facts behind them and road-tested solutions at the ready, capacities which you bring to the table on a daily basis. For you to be that and do that, some of us have to keep the tank topped up too. Fill ‘er up . . . .

  2. Wade Leftwich

    You might check the code behind the Donate button. Using Chrome on Linux, it just took me to my Paypal account page, no way to direct payment to your account. I switched to Firefox and it worked fine.

    Give em hell.

    1. BenE

      Same here. I’m trying to donate via tipjar on chrome and it isn’t working. I will download firefox and try again.

  3. patricia

    Check coming this week. Yves, I am deeply grateful for your fine brain, long expertise, hard work, and heart of integrity. All of them together.

    Oh, and your willingness to be occasional educator—absolutely necessary for me.

    Thanks so much!

  4. spc

    @ “One of the things that I suspect has brought many of you to Naked Capitalism is the hard lesson that conventional wisdom in finance and economics has been very costly to ordinary citizens around the world.”

    This is spot on!

  5. Steve

    Donation sent. Thanks Yves, for education and even handed news reporting and analysis. Please keep up the excellent work you are doing.

    You folks on the sidelines–get off your duff and contribute something.

  6. Stephen

    Yves,

    Are you up for a mirror? For example, I don’t have too much spare cash, but I do have extra available bandwidth that could be used for a “read-only, feature-light” version of the website. The mirror would be useful in cases where news headlines are moving fast and you need extra bandwidth.

    I’d be happy to donate a directory tree under my own website if you’re interested in doing this, though I think it would require a bit of work to set up. I think it’s worth investigating though. Lots of people in the “free software” movement solve their bandwidth problems through donations of bandwidth (and not necessarily money).

    Whaddya think?

    Stephen

  7. Jim

    Yves –

    Done via PayPal. I think of this as a professional subscription and a darn good one at that. Thanks to you and the gang for all the hard work. Suggest that this become an annual event.

    Jim

  8. bummed

    Any chance of adding a google checkout button for donations? I don’t do paper or paypal. The other option is I can “email” cash using something called Zashpay through my credit union – is there an email that one can send donations too?

    BTW I’m a sideliner/lurker but read the site on a daily basis so I’m willing to donate a bit of my declining paycheck to keep reading interesting news/commentary.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The other link provided would allow you to use pretty much any credit card. Does that help?

      1. bummed

        The buttons at the top? They both go to paypal. I have an aversion to giving that company any money. I can have my CU send a paper check. Actually I did it while writing this. $30 in the mail Monday.

  9. Lois

    Done via PayPal! Not a ton extra in the budget right now, but if you get a little from a lot it should add up. :)

  10. Lady Bug

    I support you and the US Post Office. Check is in the mail. I sooo need Naked Capitalism to thrive – you are my link to intellectual sanity and common sense, plus I get a shot of unvarnished spirituality with your wonderful daily Antidote (don’t EVER stop that feature).

    Thanks for your hard work,

    AEW
    Portsmouth NH

  11. jimmy

    $50 on the way via paypal. it says it went to susan webber at aurora advisors; is that right?

    thanks for the good work.

    keep giving em hell.

  12. MontanaMaven

    Donation sent. I used Pay Pal from an account at a small local bank, but probably should send a check next time.
    Thank you for this site. It is the first thing and last thing I read each day. Excellent links and pictures. And your readers are awesome.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I’ll ask my tech guy if we can do that or get a preview function, which Blogger had.

  13. Gretchen Axelson

    Yves, my little $20.00 cannot begin to thank you for the amount your blog has enriched my life and pointed me toward the truth about the world of finance.

  14. Joe Rebholz

    OK, I will be mailing my check later today on my way to join Occupy Tucson’s march on Bank of America.

    Thank you, Yves. I have gained so much new knowledge over the last 13 months reading Naked Capitalism — new knowledge worth way more than the few $’s I can contribute.

    I’m usually a reluctant contributor, but, today, as the song says, “I feel GOOD.”

  15. Psychoanalystus

    Yves,

    This is a very valuable blog. Your articles (as well as many reader comments) place the financial news in the socio-political context like no other place I know. Additionally, your blog has developed a sense of community, which is not commonly encountered elsewhere. I will send you a donation right away.

    As far as your server is concerned, I did notice response to be slow these past few months, especially when I am Europe. The ads seem to take forever to download.

    Incidentally, back in the 80s I used to live at 975 Park, just up the street from your 903 Park office. Nice area — I really miss it.

  16. Sunny129

    Yves,

    My contribution sent via paypal, a minute ago!

    I got almost unscathed by 2008 crisis by getting educated by reading a few specific financial blogs during 2006-’08 and ignoring the BS on MSM! But got hit by ignoring Ben’s Put and ‘don’t fight tape or the FED’ where the perception spin won over the reality. Now, that ‘house of cards on thin ice’ is facing wind of ‘reality’ again.

    Thanks, for your good and hard work in seeking the TRUTH

  17. Herman Sniffles

    I just sent a $100 check. As I was writing it out I realized I was using the BofA account I’ve had for over 25 years. Yow! I better get my act together.

  18. Herman Sniffles

    “in the name of Aurora Advisors Incorporated” that means made payable to Aurora Advisors Inc, correct? Not to Naked Capitalism?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, NC is just the name of the site. Scroll to the bottom of the page, you will see Aurora Advisors (my corporate persona) is the copyright holder.

  19. rasik

    It’s on its way via PayPal. Enormously appreciate your efforts and those of your collaborators. Thank you.

  20. notabanker

    “What you get here is something I honestly believe you do not find anywhere else on the Web in the finance and economics sphere, and certainly not in the mainstream media, which is a willingness to question institutions and individuals in power, and get behind skillful sloganeering to uncover sloppy thinking, bad practices, intellectual capture, corruption, and destructive policies. We name names and get granular when their conduct is not on the up and up. This is a role that traditional journalists aspire to play, but shrinking news budgets, accelerating news cycles, the native complexity of finance-related material, and the collusive game of access journalism have defanged the press. We know this sort of hard-hitting, skeptical coverage is something many of you value; the caliber and thoughtfulness of the comments section proves it. So we hope that those of you who are able will invest in this site in a more tangible way. ”

    Could not have said it better myself. Long overdue donation submitted.

  21. Mary Sanders

    FYI – I tried to use the “Tip Jar” and it didn’t work because I had no e-mail address to give it for payment and it didn’t fill it in automatically. Used the monthly option, but would send more for the fundraiser if the problem with the “Tip Jar” wasn’t an issue!

  22. T Ernst

    Yves,

    don’t agree with 100% of what you write/publish ; however, yours is a great and necessary read every day

    Check is coming

  23. mary in nashville

    Check will be in mail on Monday. I have no expertise so do not make comments but read you daily. Thanks!

  24. Jonathan Dean

    I have signed up for the $15 a month subscription. Give ‘em hell.

    One suggestion: Perhaps a matter for debate, but the Occupy movement may be a little rudderless, possibly even lacking in the necessary financial acumen to understand the causes of the current injustices. How about Occupy primers, explaining the basics of how we got here and what the top 3-5 requests should be (know you referenced Matt Taibbi, but banking as a utility could continue to be stressed as a “demand” etc.)?

    Regards, Jonathan.

  25. wafranklin

    Yves: NC is the very best site I visit every day. Then I do the links. I have learned more here than I thought possible, although some of the commenters and articles drive me to study up – great stuff. Sent you the $15/mo. Would do more if I had it.

    Regards, Bill

  26. ECON

    PayPal on the way. After I get my daughter “off the family payroll” by Sept of next year from her graduate studies in geophysics/seismology, I will be so overjoyed that she never/ever considered economics after two courses in undergrad and determined not to follow her father down that path. A subscription will follow then. All the best Yves.

  27. dugsdale

    Donation made. Love all the comments–gawrsh, it’s like a big old-fashioned barn-raising! And seriously, at a time when every single one of our institutions we depend on has let us down, it is a privilege and delight to help build and strengthen one that has not. Thank you, Ms Smith, for the opportunity.

  28. selise

    yves, thanks making the request for what you need.

    just one bit of disagreement….

    “I feel guilty that the volume of donations means that I won’t be sending individual “thank you” messages”

    please don’t give it another minute’s thought. i doubt any of us are contributing in order to get a personal thank you. would much rather see you spend the time shredding your next deserving target!

    1. H James

      Well, it may be true that we cannot expect a personal thank you this time. But as a past recipient of one, I must say that it was well worth the wait. It still lingers in my “Save” folder.

      Keep on rocking, NC. Yves & numerous commentators, I salute you all. You have served as reliable lighthouses that have kept my boat stay afloat in a stormy sea of media propaganda, political corruption, corporate malfeasance, ignorance, and institutional rot.

      My check will soon be in the capable hands of the U.S. Postal Service which, regrettably, appears to be on the verge of full privatization with reduced accessibility for all.

  29. Paul P

    I am boycotting Pay Pal because it refuses to process Wikileaks donations.

    Where would I send a check?

    1. Foppe

      Near the bottom of the post: (;))

      If you are allergic to PayPal, you can send a check (or multiple post dated checks, if you want to spread out payments) in the name of Aurora Advisors Incorporated to Aurora Advisors Incorporated, 903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10075. Please also send an e-mail to yves@nakedcapitalism.com with the headline “Check is in the mail” (and just the $ en route in the message) so we can count your contribution in the total number of donations.

  30. Mike

    Long time reader, first time commenter. NC is easily the best alternative to the MSM financial/economics and well worth the $100 I just donated. Will happily contribute to an annual NC fundraising drive!

Comments are closed.