Why read investment blogs? For the same reasons you read any blog - to be informed, to be entertained, to be provoked. But like any other kind of blog, it's reader-beware. You have to get to know a blog to understand its strengths, weaknesses and biases. But when you find a blog you like, it can be magic.
Here are five great blogs to get you started.
Who writes it: The blog itself is anonymous but its author is Ram Balakrishnan, an Ottawa-based software developer.
Who it's aimed at: Individual investors.
Philosophy: When Mr. Balakrishnan started the blog in 2004, he was an active investor but says he has since "evolved" into a passive one. "I'm not really stuck up about it though," he insists. Instead, he chooses to concentrate on two major challenges for investors - pay attention to costs and keep your emotions in check.
Why read it: Because everyone else is. Canadian Capitalist invariably makes everyone's top-blog lists. It's smart, accessible and informative on a variety of personal finance and investments topics. It's also Canadian, which means you don't have to fret about whether the information applies to you. Most useful is the weekly "This and That" postings that link you with Mr. Balakrishnan's picks of great financial journalism and blogs out there.
Feedback: While he says the most innocuous topics will sometimes get readers riled up, Mr. Balakrishnan points to several topics that are perennial favourites: anything to do with real-estate agents, group RESP plans and questionable rules for charity giving.
Who writes it: Tadas Viskanta, an American private investor. The blog was sold at the beginning of the year and Mr. Viskanta works on it full-time.
Who it's aimed at: Professional investors and sophisticated individual investors.
Philosophy: If there is one, it isn't apparent. Says Mr. Viskanta: "I try to avoid injecting a whole lot of my own opinion."
Why read it: Because Mr. Viskanta is a lot smarter than you are. This site is primarily what he calls "a linkfest" - links to all kind of U.S. bloggers and financial publications and journals. "I tend to focus on bloggers and individuals who are more willing to provide some sort of quantitative evidence for their viewpoint," Mr. Viskanta says. " 'Gold is going to $5,000 because the world is going to hell in a handbasket' is of no interest to me." The site links to impressive, if somewhat hard-core investing and macro-economic material, but it's very easy to pick and choose what you're interested in.
Feedback: "[Responses]are quite eclectic," Mr. Viskanta says. Sometimes the most popular links turn out to be for tidbits that have nothing to do with markets or the economy - just fun or interesting topics he adds at the end.
Humble Student of the Markets
Who writes it: Cam Hui, who was a quantitative equity manager on Bay Street but is now semi-retired and living in Vancouver.
Who it's aimed at: Institutional investors and sophisticated individual investors.
Philosophy: Mr. Hui describes his approach as "top down," which means looking at the big picture - macro-economics - as a blueprint on how to invest.
Why read it: Because it's provocative and you don't need an economics degree to understand most of it. Don't be put off by the complicated graphics: Mr. Hui's descriptions are usually easy to understand. How can you not be interested in a blogger who argues that "the big call of the decade is whether we're going to get inflation or deflation" and manages to be accessible doing so? If you want to really understand the impact of Greece's economic woes, read this blog.
Feedback: "Top down" is by its definition political, so Mr. Hui hears a lot about most of his posts. It goes with the territory. But he loves it: "Some guys work on their boats and I work on my blog."
The Dividend Guy
Who writes it: The blog is anonymous but it's written by Jeremy J. McNeil, a self-described "luckily married guy with two amazing kids."
Who it's aimed at: Investors who love dividends, particularly in companies that raise them consistently. Mr. McNeil says his readers tend to be individual investors who manage their own portfolios.
Philosophy: You know immediately where you stand with this blog. Mr. McNeil advocates that investors develop a core portfolio of index funds or exchange-traded funds for diversification purposes. Then they should supplement it with dividend growth stocks.
Why read it: For the dividend stock lover this is a treasure trove of information. It has links to other blogs and financial publications that write about dividends and investing trends. Mr. McNeil also sets out his 10-point plan of how to build a portfolio.
Feedback: Surprisingly, Mr. McNeil hears the most when he doesn't write about dividends. "The largest reactions always seem to come from the posts that cover the process of building a portfolio," he says.
Thicken My Wallet
Who writes it: The blog is anonymous and the blogger, who describes himself as a recovering lawyer turned entrepreneur, wants to keep it that way.
Who it's aimed at: People who want to thicken their wallets by building their wealth. In an interview, the blogger says his readers are mostly in their 30s and 40s and are trying to figure out the best investing strategy.
Philosophy: "Failure is the best of teachers," says the blogger, who readily admits his early failures in investing and personal finance. He writes the blog "as a way to keep myself on track" - by looking at sensible ways to build wealth.
Why read it: For variety. This blog covers it all - from how to pick a stock to how to save money to whether you should regift to successful negotiating tactics. Better yet, he provides a handy index of subjects up high so it's easy to refer back to earlier posts on a subject you want to read more about.
Feedback: Anything to do with bad customer service brings the most response, the blogger says, along with "the excesses of certain industries."
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