I, like you, owe this wonderful website a big debt of gratitude.
I remember a former editor at a business journal once telling me that headlines with lists in them are the epitome of cheap, lazy, reductive journalism. But they are also highly effective at generating clicks, he said, particularly among the MBAs who made up most of the journal’s readership. So every now and then we would hold our noses and publish such an article. In my 22 months of writing for Naked Capitalism I have published just one (this is now my second), and that article was “Seven Reasons Why a Vaccine Passport, Pass, Certificate (Or Whatever They Want to Call) Should Give Us Pause,” posted in April 2021.
I thought long and hard before deciding to write that article. I knew it was a risky subject at a sensitive time. Digital COVID-19 passports were being marketed by just about every media outlet as perfectly innocuous digital upgrades of the paper vaccine certificates that have been around for aeons. Also, the COVID-19 vaccines themselves seemed to be working pretty well, as cases of the virus were plunging in both Israel and the UK, two of the countries leading the vaccine charge. They were also being marketed as exceedingly safe.
Today, 17 months on, I do not have the slightest regret about writing that article. As luck would have it, it came to the attention of Vermont-based independent publishing company Chelsea Green, which contacted me three months later with an offer to expand the article into a short book about the risks posed by vaccine passports and digital identity. That book, published in March this year under the title “Scanned”, has sold thousands of copies and has been translated into German and, remarkably, Bulgarian.
But if I hadn’t been writing for Naked Capitalism, that article – and by extension the book it inspired – would never have happened. Most publishers, mainstream or independent, would not even touch the topic. Many of them were too busy blaming the unvaccinated for the ongoing pandemic. In fact, it wasn’t until early 2022, long after the arrival of Omicron, that some media outlets began, tentatively, to question the logic of mandating vaccine passports for vaccines that offer such scant protection against infection or transmission.
In other words, I, like you, owe Naked Capitalism a big debt of gratitude, which I hope to repay by doing the occasional article on the house. As for you guys, here are seven reasons why I believe Naked Capitalism deserves your money (or you can take a detour to the Tip Jar, which tells you how to give, and come right back):
1. Accurate, honest reporting is a scarce resource, especially in these times. As Yves and Lambert remind readers at the top of every links page, we are living in the toughest informational environment ever. And it is getting tougher, as propaganda, often in its crudest form, substitutes for news analysis. The fog of war — and the fog surrounding many other vital issues, from public health to vaccine safety, to the economic war on Russia and its consequences for the global economy — is growing fiendishly thick. By sticking to the raw substance of stories and shining a light on their implications for the world around us, Naked Capitalism has done an admirable job of navigating its readers through that fog.
2. NC has a habit of getting the important things right. The Economist finally admitted in the last week of August that “the sanctions war is not going as well as expected.” Any regular visitor to this site could have guessed as much even before Russia began its invasion. You see, reading Naked Capitalism on a daily basis is like having a cheat sheet for the future. Here is a list, more or less off the top of my head, of some of the big things NC’s writers called correctly in recent years (feel free to add your own):
- The Global Financial Crisis and its discontents
- The betrayal of Barack Obama (h/t Jerri Lynn)
- The inevitable impossibility of Grexit, largely due to technical issues
- The UK government’s woeful mishandling of Brexit negotiations
- The scale of the threat posed by COVID-19, not just to human health and life but also to the long-term health of the global economy
- The disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic by our vaccine-fixated governments
- The importance of mask-wearing and ventilation and the limited efficacy of the vaccines
- The dangers and logical insantity of the COVID-19 vaccine passports
- Russia’s slow, grinding progress in Ukraine
3. NC is not compromised by partisan loyalties or oodles of advertising money. This is another important arrow in Naked Capitalism’s quiver. Thanks to the generous donations it receives each year from its readers and its resulting limited dependence on advertising revenue, NC is able to provide news coverage, insights and opinion free of outside influence. And in today’s largely co-opted media landscape, that makes it a bit of a freak. It also makes the following advantage possible.
4. It is willing to take on the thorniest of topics. From day one Naked Capitalism’s guiding mission has been to provide “fearless commentary on “Finance, Economics, Politics and Power.” And it has stuck to that mission, often going where most other publishers won’t.
5. For a US blog of its size, NC’s focus is surprisingly global. The inhabitants of the five-eye countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) are not exactly famed for their interest in the non-English speaking world. NC readers are an exception to this general rule. In the past couple of months alone Naked Capitalism has published exclusive articles on India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Ukraine, Russia and Sri Lanka, while also covering, often in minute detail (Lambert, take a bow), the most important developments in the United States.
As if that wasn’t enough, NC offers a comprehensive roundup of global news stories and developments on its links page, which are then often expounded upon by people living in the parts of the world featured in the stories. The site’s global focus is, if anything, set to grow thanks to the recent drafting onto the team of John McGregor and Conor Gallagher, whose bailiwicks include Europe, Turkey and the Asia Pacific.
6. Despite expanding the scope of its coverage far beyond economics and finance, NC is still one of the best financial news websites out there. Let’s not forget why NC was founded in the first place, almost 15 years ago. As Yves says, it was an attempt to counteract the “obvious underreporting in the US of the severity and extent of the underpricing of risk in all credit instruments… It’s hard to state emphatically enough how obvious it was to someone with reasonable financial markets experience who simply read the Financial Times and Bloomberg that the official narrative was a crock.”
Today, the official narratives surrounding most areas of public policy are no better, which means NC has to cover a vast terrain, including foreign policy, war, climate change, energy policy, education, and, of course, public health. Nonetheless, the blog remains an authoritative source on financial and economic matters. Yves’ dogged coverage of CalPERS’ ongoing shenanigans is one such example. So, too, is Hubert Horan’s exhaustive investigation into Uber’s almost god-like ability not to turn a profit.
As Mark Ames wrote way back in 2011, Naked Capitalism is “our online university in finance and politics and ideology”:
Whereas other online universities are set up to turn millions of gullible youths into debt-shackled Wall Street feeding cows, Naked Capitalism is the opposite: Completely free, consistently brilliant, vital, and necessary, making us smarter, teaching us how we might one day overthrow the financial oligarchy.”
7. It boasts one of the best-informed commentariats on the World Wide Web. Naked Capitalism wouldn’t be what it is without the contributions of the sharp-minded critical thinkers that comment on this site day in, day out, come rain or shine. Both the depth and breadth of the knowledge on display continues to astound me. Put simply, Naked Capitalism’s commentariat is a significant source of its added value.
Every time I post an article, whatever the topic, I learn something new from the comments below the byline. This symbiotic relationship between the writers and the readers is one of the things that sets Naked Capitalism apart. I do now know of another website that consults its readers to the extent that Yves and Lambert do. Through the constant back and forth, often on matters of huge import, NC has honed a process of synthesizing ideas and knowledge that is, to my knowledge, unique in the blogosphere.
But what most impressed me in the past year was the way in which the commenters responded to the news of Jerri Lynn’s departure. The outpouring of gratitude, affection and support was truly something to behold. Many readers expressed a genuine interest in her future endeavors, promising to buy a copy of her crime novel when it is published. I know from having spoken to Jerri in recent months just how much those remarks meant to. The loneliness of the long-distance blogger can be tough at times, but on Naked Capitalism you never feel alone.
And this is arguably the greatest testament to Yves and Lambert’s creation: with the help of other writers, support workers, and the commentariat, they have built, from the ground up, a close-knit community of fellow travellers from far-flung places that continues to flourish even during one of the worst periods of economic, political and social division of recent history. And for that reason alone it deserves your money. So give generously! The Tip Jar beckons!