Naked Capitalism: the First Five Years (Nearly)

The fifth anniversary of Naked Capitalism’s first post is due on 19th December. According to WordPress, another 8,361 posts have gone up since 2006. 7,453 of them are posted by Yves, who thus averages four posts per day, week in, week out, for all that time: unnerving. For all the generosity of Yves’s tributes to other contributors, it’s pretty obvious where the lion’s share of the engagement is coming from, though I would have to single out Ed Harrison as the most wonderful near-full-time helper when Yves is having one of those bandwidth-challenged annual “holidays”.

From direct observation, and deduction, the average Yves Smith working day, which is to say, the average Yves Smith day, splits up something like this:

  • Wash hair, and then fool about noisily with it: 1 hour.
  • Scan blogs and read posts: 2-4 hours.
  • Read emails and answer emails: 2-4 hours.
  • Write posts: 3-4 hours.
  • Check posts for goofs, typos and broken links: 0 hours.
  • Assemble links and antidote: 2 hours.
  • Burble on phone: 0-1 hour.
  • Wrangle furiously with with hostile blog commenters, agonize over who to ban: 0-2 hours.
  • Gym, bar, media appointment or occasional minor tech/troll panic: 0-3 hours. Media appointments include 0.5 hours of makeup application, for that evidently compulsory “harlot” look.
  • Concurrently with the above, guzzle tea, coffee, plain yoghurt, fruit, and miscellaneous substances made from grains; chomp away at hideously perfumed gum.

I make that a minimum of 10 hours, and a maximum of 20; that seems about right. Such is the glamorous business of financial blogging. Somewhere, there was also time for:

  • Writing ECONned, which was, if I remember correctly, 3 months full time drafting, 3 months full time correcting (and rererewriting one particularly recalcitrant chapter), 3 months proofing & galleys.
  • Full time involvement on episodic client projects.
  • Occasional puzzled complaints about feeling ‘burned out’.

And what’s it all for? A quick cherrypick of posts might help explain my take on why this evidently insane and compulsive activity actually matters.

Consider NC’s coverage of the US financial crisis:

Now, I am not claiming that Yves spotted every single unexploded bomb in the financial system at the first attempt, nor was the exact mechanism by which they were to be detonated necessarily clearly identified. But as a rough sketch map of the trouble spots, scribbled down on the fly, a year in advance of the final convulsions of the first phase of the crisis, that’s really quite a good job. You’d be pushed to find that kind of coverage all in one place in print or on TV. If you have time, look at the sober and thoughtful comments by insiders: a really prominent feature back then, still in evidence now, quite often. Most of all, the disjunction between the grim forebodings at NC and the trad media happy talk is striking. It was all useful perspective: for instance, briefed by NC, it was pretty easy to see through Lehman’s PR, ring-led by the hapless Charlie Gasparino.

When the final smashup came, it all made a grim kind of sense, not accessible to consumers of TV and newspaper news. If you weren’t enduringly sceptical of official stories as the start of that period, you were by the end.

Those stories were the prototypes for any number of other debunkings post crisis. For instance:

  • Change you can’t believe in was formally announced on February 9th, 2009.
  • The foreclosure fraud/robosigning/MERS/LPS saga, in high gear from from mid-2010 onwards, still ongoing…
  • Coverage of the 50 AG foreclosure settlement and its long calvary started on October 30th 2010, and continues…
  • A quite incredible number of fights with other finbloggers and media outlets; some, very well chosen indeed, others, in my quaveringly expressed opinion, more an expression of the abundance of pugnacity that is the engine behind all this voluminous dissent.

And on we go.

Finally: I see vlade has been commenting here since November 2007; that must be somewhere close to the endurance record. Rival veterans are encouraged to make their claims (in the comments, natch).

A salute to the raucous or polite or batshit or witty commenters, then; named and nameless alike, some of whom have led the blog to great big stories, and all of whom help to give the place its um, atmosphere.

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  1. anthrax

    In another five years, 2016, I wish you do more well finacially, after the demise of the MSM.

    Just kidding.

  2. Skippy

    I have the dubious distinction of having insulted both the hostess and the blog, in my very first comment here, and lived to tell the tail!

    Skippy…even defectives can get something right…once. Treasured blog

  3. vlade

    Is it that long already? Doh…

    It’s been great fun – especially since Yves is one of very few bloggers who genuinely want to look for the truth, even if it may not always to her liking when found.

    Here’s hoping for good next five years – although one should be careful what one wishes for, for with boring finance and the world generally ok there would be no NC!
    Yves – thanks a lot.

  4. Swedish Lex

    Naked Capitalism has been part of my daily mental hygiene for some time now.
    Que ca continue!

    1. Foppe

      I resent that bit of idiom. I am youngish, so I must be “new school,” but it seems rather unfair to say that this automatically dooms me. ;)

    2. Cheyenne

      Right? And people were dusted when Mike Royko started pumping out 5 newspaper columns per week…

  5. richard wilson

    For our next five years, let us go forward under the banner of MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY.

    Let us take back from the private bankers the power to issue money and credit. Let us restore it to the government and the people per Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution.

    Let us establish a Monetary Authority under the Executive Branch, with the Fed reorganized and put under the US Treasury.

    Let us break free from the need to borrow our own currency from the Chinese, the Fed, or anyone else.

    Let us end the Depression, and make the national debt irrelevant.

    Do this, and America will be utterly transformed. There will be enough money for anything we want to do.

    Congressman Dennis Kucinich has been introducing bills to make this happen for some time. Last year Kucinich introduced H.R. 6550 The National Emergency Employment Defense Act of 2010 (NEED Act) to give us back out MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY.

    Kucinich got ZERO co-sponsors, and Congress allowed it to die.

    On 21 Sep 2011 Kucinich re-introduced it again, this time as HR 2990 — The National Emergency Employment Defense Act of 2011. (NEED Act.)

    This time he got ONE co-sponsor, John Conyers.

    The bill is highly detailed and intricately thought out. It has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services, 80 percent of whose 61 members are fanatically pro-private-banker-control.

    So the bill will be allowed to die again.

    Occupy Wall Street protesters, do you want a single message that will cure almost everything? How about two words?

    HR 2990

    I invite readers to check out the wording of the bill. I promise it’s not dry and boring.

    Or you can ignore all this and continue to remain confused, depressed, and helpless.

      1. Bev

        My comment shows up but has a line that says awaiting moderation, while I am able to reply to it…

        I am unsure that it posted.

      2. Bev

        Like Dennis Kucinich’s NEED Act HR 2990 solves our financial/economic crisis to prevent a Great Depression and start rebuilding jobs and infrastructure fast, so to is the following a very good solution to make public and accountable our currently privatized elections which are now game-able by middle-man-attacks via electronic machines on purpose:

        By Brad Friedman

        I offer the following simple “demand” for consideration by OWS, as this one likely underscores almost every other. Or, at least, without it, all other demands may ultimately be rendered moot.

        Here it is. One demand that seems simple enough — and is as non-partisan as can — for your consideration:

        Every U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older who wishes to vote, gets to vote. Period. Those votes, on hand-marked paper ballots, will be counted publicly, by hand, on Election Night, at the precinct, in front of all observers and video cameras.

        Please help spread this to the Occupiers if you agree its important. For example, Tweet it (or a link to this article) like mad (with #ows in the text), and/or spread it via Facebook and/or print it out and take it to a General Assembly at an Occupation near you!



  6. richard wilson

    Oh, and with MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY we could easily liquidate all “too big to fail” banks with NO shock to the system. America would take off in production, crushing Europe. We could send an expedition to Mars if we wanted. We could fund everything we need.

    It all comes down to freedom from debt and private central bankers.

    If this sounds utopian becuse the bankers and their puppet politicians would never allow it, then I sympathize.

    But if this sounds logically absurd, then you need to think it through some more.

    And if you still resist it after that, then you are a HUGE part of the problem.

  7. ex-PFC Chuck

    Thank you, Richard, for expressing far better than I could why Naked Capitalism is the first thing I read every morning. And Yves, like everyone else here I can’t thank you enough.

    1. Yves Smith

      Richard did include the hair ritual in those 10-20 hours. And I for the record, I have renounced gum (the weird flavor when I was a volcano refugee in London IIRC was blueberry…)

      When I have client projects (usually principal investment related due diligence/valuation) they are short and lucrative. I cut back on the # of overall posts a bit and rely more on cross/guest posts.

  8. Fíréan

    It’s been an education, both the blog and then later Your book.

    Reading both Your work and that of John Maudlin gave to me great insight and understanding of the potential financial crisis when it was still only “pending” and neither written nor spoken of much elsewhere ( rather the notion of a crisis was ridiculed). With this type of enlightenment one can no longer put one’s head back in the sand, and the proverbial dirt can no longer be swept under the carpet from public scrutiny.
    I continue to read Your work daily and greatly appreciate the time end effort devoted by Yourself and those who assist You, especially as is for no personal reimbursement nor subscription demand ( only optional).
    Thank You.

  9. aletheia33

    now that’s what i’d call transparency. (ROTFL. thanks richard!)

    please, please do not burn out. the, um, atmosphere is thick enough around here without the perfume of burning-out yves.

    i know that is a futile plea to one who is on that train that doesn’t stop anywhere, until it crashes. (i took that trip once.) so i’ll amend it to please, please do not burn out JUST YET.

    and to whoever is/are on the ground watching over her (richard? anyone else?), please, make her take a vacation that really is one, if you have to handcuff her, take away her wires, and pile her into a van.

    oh wait, we need her to fix the economic system now. so maybe that vacation could happen right after she finishes that up.

    come to think of it, maybe we should push her into a little civil disobedience, as a last resort, as it appears it forces upon one a few hours of inactivity.

    seriously: congratulations on the first 5 years! the recognition of yves’s work is spreading. since i’ve already donated what i can and pledged to continue that, i hereby pledge also to do more than i have done so far to spread that recognition wider (i.e., beyond my partner, who has been converted). money is good. widespread public acclaim–not to mention dissemination of important work–is good too. as i recently went on facebook, i’m now going to start posting links to yves’s pieces there as often as possible. i will also email more nc links to friends and others.

    brava, brava.

  10. Aquifer

    LOL! What a wonderful post!

    A perfect example of what attracted me to this site in the first place and why i continue to frequent it – it’s inclusion of the “human” side, the most important side when all is said and done, of all this ….

    Thank you!

    1. Can't Make an Omelette

      That’s exactly it. That’s why this blog is unique. Sometimes I’ll listen to a smart analysis of Europe or something on a CNBC or Bloomberg. And the middle 90% of the discussion is factual and very interesting but I’m totally put off by the very ending where the anchor goes “so enough about the angry people – where are you putting your money in a time of angry people?? So, Prof. Roubini, enough about Marx was right, contextualize it for us in terms of how to work the system and make money in a time of widespread immiseration.”

      There may be pretty good factual reporting on unemployment or immiseration or protests, but the underlying question is not “how would I feel if I were in that unemployed person’s shoes,” but “What does this news story mean for our viewers’ ROI?”

      On NC I like the whole thing, not just the factual middles.

  11. EmilianoZ

    5 years! LOL! I’m a newbie here.

    For a long time I didn’t care a fig about finance. I guess that how they like it. They loot your wallet without you even noticing. Then came the mega 2008 bailout. It shocked the hell out of me. And, as I was to learn later, that was only the tip of the iceberg.

    My first guide into to murky world of finance was Simon Johnson’s Baseline Scenario. In fact, the Atlantic article didn’t link to his blog, but I was so hungry for real news that I googled him and found it.

    Then, one day, James Kwak posted something about a post by Yves Smith. I think it was an attack on the mainstream media. The pugnaciousness with which she excoriated them. Wow! That was unheard of to me. I read the post, I read the comments. I was hooked.

    Now Naked Capitalism is main news outlet. It’s the first website I check in the morning. If something important happens, I’m sure it’s there.

    I don’t bother with the mainstream media anymore. I can’t say how much I despise them. In the Potemkin village that the US has become, they’re the sad clowns holding the props.

    Like Chris Hedges, Yves Smith is a beacon of decency in this corrupt world.

    Long live NC!

  12. Carl Miller

    I say “naked capitalism” at least 5 times a day…..

    Promoting this website may be the best antidote to the Parrot Head media’s attempt to undermine any rational debate about restructuring our financial system.

    What’s sobering, is that each analysis adds an additional layer of neccesary logic in order to understand the shifts and moves that take place on a daily basis. The ability of Yves and guest writers to adapt to the news day in and day out proves they are not only brilliant economists, but that their writing is starting a movement, bringing the once financial illerate folks into the game for once. Once literate and able to converse using the technical lexicon we can beging to influence those around us by describing the cabal for what it is…..a cabal. :)

  13. Kathleen4


    I do not know your real name, but it took me a good two years to figure out you were a woman- and a Beeautiful woman at that!

    Thanks for all the effort of trolling[:)] through the madness!

  14. ambrit

    Thank heavens for Mz Smiths’ dedication to Truth, Justice, and the Ethical Way. I know therefore, all is not lost, the good fight goes on. Half the struggle to keep to the straight and narrow is knowing that one is not alone. The community of commentators herein assemblrd is a testimony to the ladys’ virtues and accomplishments. It’s almost a case of absolution by association. (Enough fulsome panygyrism, on to the next phase. Truth will out.)

  15. Carlo Colombo

    I started in 2007. I’ve never missed a day. Whenever the tide turns ominous and grim, nature provides the glimmer of a way forward. I love it when she says “wellie.” What a cool kid.

  16. Kalle

    Thanks for blog!

    Have been following since 2008 when you covered Lehman Brothers. As I spend here more time than reading the magazines I order, decided to subscribe for monthly charge.

    Keep up the good work…

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