Fundraiser 2016: Naked Capitalism – The Next Ten Years

We will be ten years old this December. So in this annual fundraiser, which is critical for us to keep providing you with incisive commentary, original reporting, our twice-daily news surveys, and a steady diet of cute animal pictures, it seemed fitting to give our longer-term vision for the site. We hope you’ll support our work, and we encourage you to do so by visiting our Tip Jar on the right, which tells you how to give by check, or by credit or debit card.

I started this site in 2006 because there were things that seemed obvious yet were going unsaid. And it didn’t take much insight to recognize that. Any regular reader of the Financial Times and Bloomberg who had a background in finance could see that credit risk was being grossly underpriced across all types of debt instruments, and the ending would be a lot worse than a recession.

Many of the terrific financial websites of that era have either fallen by the wayside or are publishing much less frequently. We’ve been able to stay relevant by following the ever-widening impact of the financial crisis and focusing on areas where we could develop an information advantage. That has come in no small measure though the insights and leads provided by our engaged, astute commentariat. In many cases, like CDOs, foreclosure abuses, and private equity chicanery, readers put us onto these topics and provided us with important insider intelligence.

While it’s impossible to forecast ten years out, Lambert and I still plan to be here at NC. We intend to keep looking beneath the surface of stories to tease out the signal from the propaganda, to use our expertise and research skills to draw out implications, and to keep a vigilant watch on changes in power dynamics.

A seismic shift now underway is that globalization as we have known it is breaking down. After the last era of globalization ended with World War I and efforts to reconstitute in the 1920s failed, Keynes observed that the fundamental defect was that countries had strong incentives to run sustained trade surpluses. These mercantilist policies did damage to their trading partners to the degree that it made the entire system unsustainable. Yet there was no ready method to punish or curb countries that effectively stole jobs from their trade counterparties through running persistent trade surpluses.

The new wrinkle of our current system is the rise of Davos Man, an international elite with no loyalties to nation-states and hence the citizens in them. As a result, mercantilist stresses are playing out on new axes. Before, war was the result when economic pressures super-charged international tensions. While that threat is operative, now we have voters rebelling against elites who have used globalization as a tool to squeeze wages and extract rents for their personal benefit. The elite defenders of the status quo correctly warn that an overshoot in the form of high trade barriers would be destructive, but they still seem unable to acknowledge that they have failed abjectly in their duty to provide enough reasonably-paid work to the populations they rule. Their slow-footed responses, like denouncing populists rather than getting serious about delivering concrete material benefits to citizens, shows that in their cloistered enclaves, they either believe the great unwashed public is just whinging and will reconcile themselves to their eroding prospects, or that any serious discord can be overcome with force. If they test this belief, the outcome is not likely to be pretty. As Mark Blyth has said, “The Hamptons are not a defensible position.”

Another area we expect we’ll cover more regularly is the intersection between technology and governance, and in particular the phenomenon that Lambert calls “code is law.” Unfounded claims of libertarian techno-utopianism are used to justify the gutting of the rule of law, as we’ve seen city after city acquiesce to regulation-shredding Uber. Similarly, in 2012, Matt Stoller warned that insurers would increasingly pressure consumers to provide more information, first by enticing better risks to do so to get better rates, and then when they’d gotten enough of the market to agree to the surveillance, to turn it into a requirement.

And that’s before we get to other festering problems, like the failure to curb the Too Big to Fail problem, the looming disaster that the authorities are addressing only at the margin, climate change, and the One Problem That Now Rules Them All, corruption.

So how do we at Naked Capitalism play a role? We intend to do what we can to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. We want above all to continue to give you information and help you build analytical and rhetorical skills so you can be more effective in your own communities. These often heated arguments in our the comments section are good preparation for what you may encounter at your dinner tables, in your workplaces, and in your town halls.

We believe that our biggest impact is through delivering on our overarching mission: promoting critical thinking. The more adept you are at vetting what is presented to you as fact, at testing the logic of arguments, and at parsing propaganda, the more you will be able to do in helping the people around you better understand the escalating struggle among factions in the elites as they struggle to maintain their hold on authority, and chart a better course for political and personal action.

We’d like to do more. We’d like to do it even better. We’ve managed to punch way above our weight with pretty meager resources. Just 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 $5000, via our Tip Jar. Even a small donation helps us meet our fundraising goals. And if you aren’t in a position to give right now, you can help by linking to our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and telling friends, family, and colleagues about the site, as well as contributing to our comments section.

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. 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 require more even more than before due to both the size of our database (over 800,000 comment and over 18,000 posts) and rising security threats.

You can give via check made out to “Aurora Advisors Incorporated,” sent to:

Aurora Advisors Incorporated
903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10075

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

You can also use the Tip Jar to donate by credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Please note PayPal allows you to use your regular credit or debit card. If you are allergic to PayPal, checks are always welcome!

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 decade.

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  1. Vatch

    I got an email message from you about this before I even saw this article! I just disconnected from Paypal after donating.

  2. knowbuddhau

    Thanks for all you do. If it wasn’t for NC, I might’ve despaired and given up.

    My favorite thing about NC’s content is the non-partisan perspective. One might even call it a Middle Way. ;)

    And my favorite thing about the site in general is the comments. I count on the back-and-forth to make sense of the financial reportage, most of which, I must confess, still goes right over my head.

    Glad to be able to subscribe. Enjoy a cup of good coffee on me.

  3. hemeantwell

    A chip-in on top of my monthly. You’ve been helpful and reliable companions in difficult times.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I wish. Firedoglake used to have a facility for taking donation for writers and Jane Hamsher would let us use that (stringently), but FDL no longer exists.

  4. sporble

    Dear Yves, Lambert & the rest,
    THANKS for your wonderful work.
    I’ve been reading NC for ages
    and was proud to donate again now.
    Keep fighting the good fight!

  5. ChiGal in Carolina

    Done – and a thousand thanks for what you do, especially the laser-sharp focus on critical thinking in posts and comments. You tolerate diverse viewpoints but not nonsense. There is no place like NC [clicks ruby slippers]…no place like NC…no place like NC…

  6. Bjornasson

    For the past year, NC has been my default place on the internet for information and analysis. My day literally begins with reading the Links section.

    Your work has been invaluable. I will be mailing in a check today.

  7. allan

    NC is the most reliable source of news, analysis and commentary that I know of.
    Yves, Lambert, Jerri-Lynn and crew, keep up the great work.

  8. doug

    Regardless of whom wins the Presidency, the next four years are going to be a hoot.

    I just cannot imagine facing this without NC.

    Very good entertainment and angst value for the money!


  9. Isolato

    I learn things at NC and hear the voices of many intelligent souls. It enlarges my world every day. Where would I ever have encountered “The American Conservative” as a considered source? Critical thinking is thinking from all sides. It is a dialog of respect here where nearly everywhere else it is a deaf rant. Thanks. Let us struggle to elevate the common good.

  10. WJ

    Sending tomorrow. This is the best news depo / focused financial analysis site on the web, and even though most commentators here are non-Marxist New Dealers (in sport! in sport!) the threads never really become echo chambers, owing not only to the occasional libertarian or socialist viewpoints that are encountered, but also because of the site’s and readership’s impressive commitment to argument and empirical analysis.

  11. curlydan

    ten years of great entertainment and stimulating writing and links. My #1 website. Thanks! Contribution sent.

  12. porquoislefoi

    Sending a contribution now, (re)signing up for a recurring donation soon. For years this site has been one of my few trusted sources for news and analysis. 2016 has been a bizarre year and it’s only going to get weirder from here on out… Thank you for making this place a safe harbor for sanity, Yves.

  13. PhilU

    I don’t have much but I gave what I can. Small price to pay for my sanity. I was beginning to question my logic of Sanders -> Trump purely under the weight of being the only person I knew to make that jump. Stumbling on to this site made me realize I wasn’t going insane, everyone else was. The sharp comments here are one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrible world.
    I had separately been stumbling around economics and was in the process of grasping MMT so finding this site when I did really helped clarify that thought process. Thanks for all you do!


    Thank you, for your (public) service. You guys have contributed immeasurably to broadening my world view. is the very first site I refer friends to for an independent, non-biased commentary of first world events.

  15. Atypical

    Have recently become a fan so have not seen a need to comment – except once – to Lamont Cranston.

    In a innocuous reply I ended by saying (humorously, I thought) that I knew he was “invisible” but decided to respond anyway; a reference to the old radio show. It was deleted.

    I have seen comments criticizing the system here so it may be a bit touchy unnecessarily. Nevertheless, I hope that widely used Disqus is never considered. I learned that they regularly “adjust” the metrics (up votes and perhaps others) accumulated by posters. Many complain when they notice this. Disqus gives what I believe are evasive and phony reasons.

    I enjoy this site and will do what I can to promote it.


    This is, without doubt, the last resource left from the outrage responding to the looting of the treasury a decade ago. It is a University without Borders and merits the highest praise for practicing not only the spirit of American Democracy in action, but a continuous open learning system with substance and integrity. Bravo!

    I can’t really pay all my bills, but my contribution is in the mail and I made it as painful to my budgeted austerity as I possibly could do. Thank you; thank you…Bruce

  17. H. Alexander Ivey

    Subscribed, finally, instead of one-off payments—I don’t even pledge at my church! (but then I only go there once a week…)

    So now I will submit my 2¢ request for site improvement. Visuals or charts, graphs, and table inputs please. The commentator could build it themselves on their own machine and submit it via a standard formatted file, like PDF. My reason for making this request comes from my experience with this site. Reading Clive’s discussions on how PoS and CC systems are set up and run, or thumbing thru discussions on financial services like derivatives, etc., leave me with either MEGO or scrambling for a pen and paper to sketch the words out in a chart or such. Economics need visuals! Check out Economix by Michael Goodwin for a good example.

    Now, I know, I know. WordPress can’t handle it. Or some such reason like that. And I’m second to no one that if you want something done you should do it (or pay for it) yourself. So I suspect this proposal is not, today, feasible. But I do think this site needs the ability to present information not just in text & paragraph form, but visual forms as well.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Thanks very much for your subscription, but I am afraid that your intuition that visuals (charts, graphs) are “not, today, feasible” is correct.

      These, if they are to be valuable to readers, are new forms of content all in themselves, with a substantial design component. NC does not have a crew big enough, or skilled enough, to create them, or to manage a workflow with others who would create them.

      Finally, I do take issue with your premise that “economics need visuals.” I am told that Keynes’s General Theory did not include diagrams. Nor did Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. Or Marx’s Capital. And to take an example nearer to home, Econned included hardly any visuals at all.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        And to add what Lambert said, my publisher would not produce any visuals. A book publisher of business and economics books didn’t regard this as relevant and didn’t have that capability in house. All they would do is resize and paste in images I found elsewhere.

  18. Dave

    Small donation in the mail today (and flagged via email earlier).

    One (kinda cranky) comment came to my mind in reading this article. I hope that the new “digital infrastructure” doesn’t mean that the NC site can’t keep its simple, retro style. I’m probably in the minority though.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, we like retro. We think it’s easier to read than all the hip eye-candy with too many irrelevant images. We are text heavy and want to keep that as readable and uncluttered as possible. Thanks for the vote of support for our stodgy look!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      +1 I too get increasingly cranky about the appalling level of overdesign in so many modern websites. I very much appreciate the simplicity and clarity of NC’s layout and design, especially on my somewhat out of date phone.

    3. allan

      +2. Simple is beautiful, and getting increasingly rare on the web.

      Example: The bank for one of my CC was recently swallowed up by a somewhat larger one (but still not TBTF). The old bank had an incredibly simple, bare bone site. When I signed on to the new bank’s site for the first time I wanted to throw up. The amount of visual clutter was overwhelming. It was almost as if they were trying to distract the customers. Nah, couldn’t be.

      Moral: keep it simple.

Comments are closed.