"Do You Read Zero Hedge?" A Review of Zero Hedge's Most Popular Articles of [All Time|2009]
True, the decade is not really over, but no one called 1930 the "last year of the 20's," and given the reflective mood that seems to grip all of Western society whenever a year ending in "9" draws to a close, well, we thought we'd better embrace the trend now so that when some idiot with a pair of glow-in-the-dark "2010" glasses with holes in the zeros for his eyes tries to convince us to watch Roy Scheider over and over again in a celebratory, all-day, marathon screening of "2010," well, we can say we gave at the blog.
Instead, and in conjunction with your many suggestions, we took the opportunity to go back over Zero Hedge's posts and see what moved you, with an eye towards getting a sense of what Zero Hedge wants to read. The results were quite interesting. We thought readers would find it engaging both as a sort of "year in review" post, and, perhaps, in finding old material missed the first time around (or before the discovery of Zero Hedge).
Though this is by no means a comprehensive list, and we have omitted a number of "big hit count" posts that may have repeated the subject matter of those listed here, or otherwise be dull (what weighty relevance could our T-Shirt post have?) the list below represents a good sampling of some of the most popular articles, reproduced here in (very rough) ascending order of popularity:
One thing we learned very quickly is that, as often as not, title is a strong determiner of post popularity on Zero Hedge. "Tiny Mauritius Tells US To Shove Its Dollar, Buys 2 Metric Tons Of Gold From IMF At $1,115 An Ounce" was one such. The news that a small island was buying gold en masse hit all the hot buttons: Gold. Banana republics. The dollar as a reserve currency. (The swimsuit picture might have helped too).
Obviously, the FDIC has been a frequent target of our curiosity. Along with increasingly obvious signs of an impending nervous breakdown in Sheila Bair's on-camera appearance, the recent dip of the Insurance Fund into red ink prompted "FDIC Discloses Deposit Insurance Fund Is Now Negative," which, while unsurprising to those of us who have been watching for some time, was a good reminder that when you base insurance rates on something other than real actuarial data (like say, the impact those rates might have on a bank's bottom line) you get bankrupt insurance [companies|funds]. Of course, since the FDIC can "literally never run out of money," none of that really matters. Right?
One thing leads to another, so it's not surprising that "Peter Costa: 'The US Government Will Be Totally Bankrupt In A Year And A Half'" ends up right next to Sheila in the popularity list. Government spending is, of course, an important topic to Zero Hedge readers. (Also, you seem to like videos from CNBC. We aren't sure what to make of this).
We were amused to no end on discovering that a CNBC video re-post was just below "CNBC Viewership Plunges 50% In October" on the popularity list. To be fair, Zero Hedge has relentlessly hounded the bag of schnitzel that is CNBC on the ratings issue. This particular post prompted an angry call from a fairly senior executive in CNBC's public relations arm to our never-complaining but often beleaguered (and uncompensated) Executive Vice President of Answering the Hot-line wherein the CNBC exec berated our hero for not calling him directly for comment before printing and accusing Zero Hedge of being a shill for the Fox network. When asked if the figures discussed in the post were inaccurate CNBC exec reportedly paused before intoning: "Well, that's not the point, is it? You are comparing against our biggest ratings ever at the beginning of the crash!" Yes. And?
Huge selloffs often result in the dusting off of some version of "The 'Money On The Sidelines' Fallacy." As a bit of silver lining lore, it is looking pretty tarnished. That didn't stop our examination of it from being one of the top posts of the Summer.
A constant and early debate at Zero Hedge was the viability of a philosophy that included a wealth of Deep-dive analysis as a mainstay of our editorial strategy. Would an audience entertain repeated and highly technical postings day after day and keep coming back for more? Or would we drive away the interest if we did not dumb down the content. As "deep-dive" goes, and begging the audiences pardon for the shameless self reference, my occasional pairings with Geoffrey Batt tend to peg the Zero Hedge complexity meter into the red with a combination of legal and financial wonkism. "Is The Fed Facing Margin Calls From European Banks?" was no exception. A hybridized subject matter including AIG, the circumventing of banking regulation, margin calls and backstopping by the Federal reserve combined to propel what was otherwise a highly technical post to one of the top 25 in Zero Hedge history, despite it being less than a month old. Apparently, you Zero Hedge readers don't need "dumbing down" to remain interested.
It would be entirely impossible to catalogue a list of popular (or influential) posts at Zero Hedge without including "Is A Case Of Quant Trading Sabotage About To Destroy Goldman Sachs?" in a prominent spot. Again, a combination of some classic Zero Hedge hot buttons (Goldman Sachs possibly influencing a young and impressionable U.S. Attorney, High Frequency Trading and the term "market manipulation") conspired to stress our servers.
Gold is a consistently popular theme at Zero Hedge so, in last month's runup, it wasn't hard to make some predictions a la "Is Gold Set To Hit $1,200 Within 24 Hours?" Alas, we missed our call by 10 days.
Direct intervention in the equity markets by the Federal Reserve is a big "no-no." But who cares when easy credit from the Fed can be used by primary dealers to go on a equity buying spree? We explored the answer to that question in "An Overview Of The Fed's Intervention In Equity Markets Via The Primary Dealer Credit Facility." It was another highly technical (and yet highly popular) posting. Kudos to you, oh, Zero Hedge reader of great complexity thirst.
We loves us some Janet Tavakoli. So do you apparently, as the widespread interest in "Janet Tavakoli On Why Meltdown Risk Now Is Greater Than It Was In 2007" aptly demonstrated. But then, who can fail to enjoy a firebrand like Tavakoli when she prompts the likes of Goldman Sachs to distraction?
One measure of Zero Hedge's success is the almost daunting stature of the many collaborators and guest posters our pages attract. Articles with the likes of David Rosenberg as collaborators are, as one would suspect, intensely popular. "The End Of The End Of The Recession" was no exception.
Need we insult you by explaining the popularity of "A Zero Hedge Petition: Break Debt Habit, Freeze The Debt Ceiling"?
It probably isn't a surprise that an article about phantom Treasury purchasers would be among Zero Hedge's top posts of all time. That an article less than a week old would top many others with months of clicking under the belts already is, however, impressive. Witness the massive click fest that was "Sprott Calls The Fed "A Ponzi Scheme" As Half A Trillion In Treasury Purchasers Are Unaccounted For".
The difference between real and nominal returns is oft ignored when the mainstream media engages in economic analysis based on equity prices. Hence, our "DOW 10,000!!!! Oh Wait, Make That 7,537" got quite a lot of attention. Never to be left out of the fun, the mainstream press has seemingly adopted the theme (10 weeks later). We aren't holding our breath for attribution.
The Swiss Franc was redeemable in gold up until the year 2000. Whatever else they are, the Swiss are stability obsessed. Unsurprising, then, that "From Switzerland With No Love - Wegelin Bank Says Goodbye," a review of Wegelin's decision to abandon investment in the United States, drew so many Zero Hedge readers in.
As you might imagine, we hear a number of theories on why the Dollar is in a secular decline. Still, our own analysis "Here Is Why The Dollar Is Now Effectively Worthless," used the apparently winning combination of QE and reserve analysis to wonder how anyone could ascribe a positive value to the fiat currency any longer. Like it or not, you apparently enjoyed the discussion, as this post sailed effortlessly into our top ten of all time.
Closely behind was "Thousands Of Rusting Ship Hulls Are A Fitting Tribute To The Speculative Market Bubble," a bit of analysis that seems to have prompted a gaggle of writers worldwide to take a keen interest in satellite photos of idle shipping and GPS tracking sites for the world's mercantile fleet. Of course, the obligatory flood of copy-cat analysis by more mainstream outlets followed hard upon.
My personal pick for best Zero Hedge post of all time "How The Federal Reserve Bailed Out The World" is also in the top five. I cannot imagine a forum in which this sort of analysis would ever find a public airing, or a place where readers could obtain a deeper understanding of the global interplay between central banks than is exemplified in this post. Again, the fact that readers had a voracious appetite for the piece is a reminder than depth is not anathema to readership.
There is no way that, after a mere three days (and over the holidays no less), "Brace For Impact: In 2010, Demand For US Fixed Income Has To Increase Elevenfold... Or Else" should be in the top four. It is a deep, highly complex and analysis laden post. True, there are colorful graphs, but even repeated readings by CNBC's color addled anchors could not explain the massive readership that hit this post on the afternoon of Christmas Day while the Christmas Ham (or non-denominational family dinner) was cooking in the other room. Just, wow.
"Goldman Sachs Responds To Zero Hedge." Yeah, so that was kind of popular. Modest prevents us from further comment.
Arguments for the secrecy of the Federal Reserve, and pleadings for its continued independence, are always a big draw. Still, we were surprised by the absolutely massive response to "Racketeering 101: Bailed Out Banks Threaten Systemic Collapse If Fed Discloses Information." Massive enough, in fact, to make it the second most popular post on Zero Hedge. Ever.
Number one "Shadowstats' John Williams: Prepare For The Hyperinflationary Great Depression" probably bears no further comment.
It has been a dauntingly popular year. We look forward to the next one. Join us? (Or die).