First of all, welcome to the first day of the end of the world. Just kidding.
I wanted to offer a Heisenberg Report update this weekend for those who are interested. We’ll start with that and then I’ll give you my quick take on where we’re headed politically.
Traffic to the Heisenberg Report has broken its own record every single week since I got out of the hospital in late November. Generally speaking, the w/w average increase is 22% or more.
Daily traffic breaks its own record on the vast majority of weekdays. Average daily traffic is up 110% in January versus December.
So thank you for that. I’m flattered that so many people have apparently made my writing a part of their day.
I’ll give you the actual numbers once they’re in for the whole of January.
One thing you might have noticed is that I haven’t attempted to make the site a news wire. I’m reasonably sure I could boost views by trying to report on each and every story that makes headlines and I’m absolutely sure I could boost views by reporting each and every economic data print that’s material to investors.
But I think that’s a mistake. It decreases the signal to noise ratio and, more importantly, I think it’s ultimately pointless. If I’m a reader and I want to read about housing starts or initial jobless claims, I can go to Bloomberg or one of the main wires. If there’s some anomaly that I think I can put a unique spin on, I’ll talk about it. If not, not. I see far too many sites trying to force their own bias on data that admits of no narrative. That is, sometimes a mundane print is just a mundane print. No one wants to hear someone’s painful attempt to spin something that’s not spinable.
Also – and I think this is really important – I don’t repost articles from other sites in full and I don’t repost articles from other sites in part without at least trying to provide some color of my own. The blogosphere – and especially the political and financial blogospheres – has become an echo chamber. I did an experiment lately where I went to sites that post political content and started clicking on linkbacks in articles that were reposted from other sites. What I found was that of the nine sites I ended up perusing, they were all just a collection of each other’s articles! It was a linkback fest with the same damn articles posted on each site. F*ck that. Why do I want to read the same article on nine different sites? It’s a blatant example of cheap traffic boosting and worse, it represents intellectual laziness in the extreme. I’m open to other sites reposting my content if they like, and I certainly enjoy posting excerpts from other sources when I think they are relevant and when I think I can add a little something or make a connection to one of my previous pieces, but I’m not going to be in the business of reposting entire articles from other sites just to fill up space and sucker you into giving me clicks for an article that’s also posted somewhere else. (Note: cartoons and charts a little different in that they’re just designed to give you a quick laugh or a quick “hmmm” moment)
By now you’ve probably noticed I label cartoon and chart posts. I do “Cartoon Breaks” and “Chart Checks.” That’s so you know before you click what you’re going to get. If you only want to read prose and aren’t interested in a quick chart or a cartoon, you can tell by the title whether you should click or not.
Next week, I’m going to add another category called “Key Calls.” These will be quick posts with key analyst calls. I think they’ll be particularly useful for those looking to stay abreast of markets.
I’ve had some questions on “op-eds.” First of all, let’s just call them what they are: submissions. If you have something that you think readers would enjoy and you want to send it over to me, then send it: firstname.lastname@example.org
I can’t guarantee I’ll post it, but I’ll have a look.
So that’s the site update. Below (because some people have asked) is my quick take on the political journey we’re all about to take.
It’s Saturday and Donald Trump is President of the United States. Friday’s inauguration speech sounded more like a battle cry than it did anything else and quite honestly, I think that’s probably all that need be said about it. I’m not going to waste my time or yours parsing it because you invariably watched it live and if you didn’t, God knows there are plenty of places you can watch the replay.
Clearly I’ve been an outspoken critic of the Trump campaign. And it’s not so much Trump that I’m concerned about. It’s the fact that large swaths of the American public seem to have no critical thinking skills whatsoever. As I wrote in my inauguration night letter, it’s truly astonishing that it took so little to dupe millions upon millions of people into throwing their full support behind a campaign that was built on nothing but bullsh*t. That’s far scarier than a 72-year-old man with a big ego and delusions of grandeur.
The saving grace for the country is that Trump isn’t very smart. People ask me if the political scientist in me is scared. The answer is “not really.” The comparisons to Hitler and fascism are exaggerated (in the US anyway). Hitler was a lot of things, but stupid wasn’t one of them (well, it was pretty stupid to invade the Soviet Union in the middle of winter, but you get the point). Trump is capable of inflicting irreparable damage only by accident. You may disagree with that, but I can promise you that a man who has benefited so much from stability and luxury isn’t going to intentionally bring about the end times.
What is scary however, is that if the people can be so easily swayed by an idiot, just imagine how they might react to someone who’s actually dangerous. That’s the situation Europe finds itself in going into a series of elections this year. In short, it’s not Trump that worries me. Rather, it’s the person whose name we don’t yet know who, thanks to Trump, now realizes how easy it is to take power.