Thanks to your generous and speedy responses, we’ve met our first four targets: more upgrades to the user experience and other site tech support (which should lead to faster loading times and quicker resolution of reader problems), nice ex-post facto honoraria to our loyal guest writers, travel/conference expenses and coverage, and vacation and partial weekend coverage. Let me stress again that these are all things that your donations have and continue to make possible. And at 919 donors, we’re over 90% of the way to our goal of 1000 contributors for this fundraiser.
Our fifth goal is funding for more original reporting. Yes, I know, it may sound peculiar to ask for that at this point in the fundraiser. Shouldn’t we have asked for that sooner?
But the reality is that all the things we’ve asked for were essentail to keep the site going as it is now and provide for some readily-executed and critical improvements, like improving the mobile version of the site and rewarding our regular writers (which will also help us in bringing new writers on board).
Readers have told us that one of the things they particularly value about Naked Capitalism is its no-holds-barred coverage of financial and economic news, and increasingly of the power dynamics that drive them. Consider these two e-mails from readers:
I’ve been reading naked capitalism for years already so it was time to show my support!
I always appreciate your contributions specifically as they always show a broad view and are spot on. Having been in risk management for 25 years in Zurich and London, with a theoretical physics background and leadership training from the Swiss Air Force I have become increasingly interested over the last 15 years in the mechanisms beyond the technical risk management aspects. I had to realise how the financial industry and then politics in general have become increasingly compromised. I think that the forces at work are formidable and only seldom are they properly understood and hence thematised. Naked capitalism is one of the few sources that does, therefore I always enjoy reading your contributions.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: to the extent humans can have self government, we depend on a truly knowledgeable, skeptical press without a financial interest in what they report, willing to ask uncomfortable questions and difficult issues. Unfortunately, what with how the economy and society has evolved, broadcast media is too beholden to its product (will ESPN ever really be hard-charging on NFL head injuries? Will CBS, NBC, or Fox, when so much of their revenue comes from football games?). And newspapers don’t have the resources, nor it appears the will, to challenge the status quo.
So we depend on the few, the proud…, the bloggers, to defend freedom, honor, and the truth.
In the runup to the crisis and during its course, it was possible for someone with a decent financial markets background to discern what was going on simply by reading the press and taking the extra step of parsing spin from information. But in the aftermath of the crisis, the financial firms have made a concerted effort at controlling news flow, and have focused even more energy on getting Washington DC on their side. That means the official messaging regularly aligns with the interests of the 1%, albeit sometimes artfully wrapped in Vichy Leftist garb.
So it is often harder on a day-to-day basis simply to extract the signal from the noise in what passes for financial journalism. But our continued skepticism and informed readership have over time led us to break or be early to report stories, such as widespread problems with mortgage securitizations, which led to the use of bogus documents in court to try to cover up those failings; the legal and political battles over foreclosures, which culminated in the second bank bailout of the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement; our extensive series on the fiasco of the so-called Independent Foreclosure Reviews, based on extensive whistleblower input as well as further analysis; reports from multiple in-bank whistleblowers on servicing abuses. More recently, we’ve done ground-breaking reporting on private equity abuses, including grifting their investors and abusing tenants in their single-family home rental businesses.
We’d like to do more reporting, but we’ve discovered why journalists take umbrage at bloggers: An originally-reported story takes roughly four to ten times the effort of a blog post of commentary and analysis. Even when it is a comparatively easy original post, like our analysis of the Hank Greenberg version of events in the AIG bailout earlier this week, it still requires digesting raw information, testing its veracity, and assessing whether critical information has been omitted.
Similarly, while whistleblowers can be invaluable sources, they come with their own problems. We’ve found that under one in five can provide enough support for their story (no matter how compelling it sounds) for us to be able to develop a post based on it. And we typically need to spend some time with the ones who can’t deliver the goods before we have to tell them that we still need more information to move forward. And even in those cases when we’d have extremely capable whistleblowers, who have provided documentation and clear explanations, they’ve brought their own baggage, such as trying to get access to our information and contacts to advance other aspects of their business.
Our target for original reporting is $16,000. We are already $800 towards that goal. Please keep in mind that last year, if you gave to us, some of your donations supported our journalistic efforts, such as our lawsuit against CalPERS and our putting up a separate site to publish never-before-seen limited partnership agreements. But that came at the expense of other things that we wanted and needed to do for the site. So we hope you can help us make progress on all fronts!
One thing we would do immediately is pay some math post docs at Harvard, including NC stalwart Andrew Dittmer, to complete some analyses of data we’ve gotten from CalPERS. That project has languished because their day jobs have understandably taken priority. Another is to pay our intern Jessica to take some of the load off Lambert and me so we can devote more time to digging and original writing.
So those of you who have contributed already, thanks again for your generous support, and we look forward to those NC fans who have just found out about the fundraiser to help make the site more successful.
There are multiple ways to give. The first is here on the blog, the Tip Jar, which takes you to PayPal. There you can use a debit card, a credit card or a PayPal account (the charge will be in the name of Aurora Advisors).
You can also send a check (or multiple post dated checks) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the headline “Check is in the mail” (and just the $ en route in the message) to have your contribution included in the total number of donations.
Donate now to Naked Capitalism. If you can’t afford much, give what you can. If you can afford more, give more. If you can give a lot, give a lot. It will pay for itself, I guarantee you. This isn’t just giving, it’s a statement that you are want a different debate, a different society, and a different culture. As one reader wrote, “A small investment in our future, together.”