Not too long ago, the challenge for individual investors was gaining access to information. Wall Street used to be the gatekeeper to the research that investors desperately needed, and they only sold to institutions who paid big bucks each year.
Fast forward the clock to today, and thanks to the advent of the Internet and regulation, there is now so much content available that the challenge has become finding the material that actually matters.
There’s also a lot of fearmongering and illicit tactics at work. They tend to be the ones preaching the end of the world and trying to get unsuspecting victims to buy their book and/or newsletter. This makes finding trusted sources incredibly difficult.
Hence, I compiled a list of resources that meet five criteria for those investors who want to stay informed:
- Inexpensive: Either free or offer some of the content at no charge.
- Unbiased: Can’t promise all bias has been filtered out, but I feel like it’s close.
- Prolific: This indicates true passion, and it’s hard to invest without it.
- Coherent: Investing doesn’t have to be arcane and confusing.
- Expertise: Demonstrated success in their respective field because what is taught in school and what works in the real world are often different.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it’s a starting point.
This is an outstanding resource for investors at all levels. He typically publishes over the weekend, and I make it a point to read it every Sunday to prepare for the week ahead. He is thoughtful, analytical, and not afraid to call out pundits and fearmongers that toy with data. Mr. Miller is also great about referencing what he’s been reading that week, and I use these links as resources for further information on various topics.
Mr. Elfenbein is a portfolio manager and blogger that gets to the point. Most posts can be read in less than a minute, and his insights have helped me greatly over the years. He is a value investor who thinks long term but has a good pulse on the daily market activity. He also posts what he is reading daily, so it’s a great starting point each morning to find interesting research and articles.
I haven’t found a better financial news aggregator on the internet. Each day is a specific theme, and articles around the web get posted for that topic. For example, Wednesdays are about personal finance. This is a daily read for me.
Mr. Marks is one of the most successful and well-respected investors today, and he publishes his memos throughout the year. These are free and rival anything that I’ve read out of the top firms on Wall Street.
He’s also written several books. All of them are must reads for any aspiring investor:
But don’t take my word for it. Warren Buffett said it best1:
“When I see memos from Howard Marks in my mail, they're the first thing I open and read. I always learn something.”
Mr. Housel is an outstanding writer. He does a great job using non-investment related subjects to explain investment concepts. In doing so, the parallels he identifies often make investing more approachable. I read his work more for behavioral and psychological lessons than a source for idea generation, and I always feel smarter after reading it.
Mr. Wesbury is the Chief Economist for First Trust, and I never miss a post. He’s a big believer in free markets and is one of the better communicators in this business. He’s also not afraid to be the contrarian, and this has earned him a reputation for being controversial at times. But his process is sound and supports conclusions with data.
Ritholtz Wealth Management
Barry Ritholtz and his team rely heavily on social media for their financial advisory firm. Here are some of the blogs that cover markets and finance. Keep in mind that some can get opinionated on current events, so try to ignore that if it doesn’t align with your beliefs. Focus on the content because you’ll learn a lot from this team.
Mr. Levine is without question the best financial writer I’ve found. Not only does he really know markets and finance, but he also writes in a humorous and informative manner. Sign up for his free newsletter using the link above.
Most of his subjects are based on what he’s reading that day, so it’s timely and provides deeper context into current events. Be sure to also read his footnotes. He has a thing for footnotes, and a lot of really good information is in them.
I can count the number of financial journalists I follow (trust) on one hand, and Mr. Zweig is at the top. He is rooted in patience, fundamentals, and the dangers of behavioral biases. He is very well respected in the industry, and his style is unique in that amateurs and professionals can equally gain insight from it.
This is just an overall great learning resource. It’s less about markets and finance and more about behaviors and mental models. These insights have helped me structure better analysis, and more importantly, identify when I am falling victim to biases. This is one of the very few blogs that I pay for access to the premium content. The podcasts are also top tier and draw a large following.
This is an all-around solid blog. Great writing, good data analysis, and no fluff. It’s more macro focused, and he’s helped me spot trends developing in markets that I don’t know if I would always see on my own.
This is a great macroeconomics blog, but Mr. Roche also does deep dives into various subjects with extensive research available on his website.
This is an outstanding economic blog with a particular focus on housing data. Mr. McBride is closely followed because his track record on major calls has been scarily accurate through booms and busts.
Prolific writer and very well-respected in currency markets. His macro views are always worth considering, but he can get technical at times. Be patient with this one and don’t kick yourself for re-reading his posts. I find myself reading posts more than once, but the content is worth the effort.
Sean Connery famously said in The Untouchables:
“If you're afraid of getting a rotten apple, don't go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.”
If you’re having a hard time finding trusted resources, you can always do-it-yourself. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis provides a free resource to compile and analyze data. I’ve been using FRED for almost two decades because it helps me formulate views on the economy and spotting trends develop over time.
Bringing It Together
Since I don’t want to risk financial news networks fueling my investment decisions, I take a different approach to staying informed. I start each day with The Wall Street Journal, but I don’t read it cover to cover. Some of the articles are either too long or dramatic, so I skim the headlines to see what’s being reported. I will read a handful of the stories that look interesting.
Next stop is the Financial Times. There is admittedly quite a bit of overlap with the WSJ, but their articles are shorter and have less of an American influence. This is important because its global focus offers a different perspective. Not everyone views the U.S. as the greatest country in the world, and it’s helpful to consider the other side of a story (when there is one).
Third, I check many of the sources listed above. I generally begin with these two because they suggest other articles to read:
Then, through the use of a news aggregator, I read anything that was posted on the others. Shortly thereafter, my brain feels pretty full, so I take a break and wait for Matt Levine’s email to hit my inbox around noon eastern. Any reports that require more than 30 minutes to read almost always get pushed to the weekend.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect, either transactions in securities or the rendering of personalized investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other financial advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, financial, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. Asset allocation and diversification do not guarantee a profit or protect against a loss. All references to potential future developments or outcomes are strictly the views and opinions of Richard W. Paul & Associates and in no way promise, guarantee, or seek to predict with any certainty what may or may not occur in various economies and investment markets. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.