This research represents MindfulMoney.co.uk‟s state-of-play analysis of the most influential conversations about
investments on the social web.
The social network analysis was sponsored by MindfulMoney.co.uk as part of our ongoing initiative to help facilitate a more
mindful and social conversation about investments by embracing new and unconventional voices, channels and views.
3. TABLE OF CONTENTS
Background to the research .....................................................................................................................4
Methodology & Research Objectives.......................................................................................................5
Learning points for key audiences:
IFAs, corporate, UK Govt and regulators, Media & Mindfulmoney.co.uk.................................................7
Future Phases of Research.......................................................................................................................8
The Whole Network Map ..........................................................................................................................9
How to read the map ................................................................................................................................10
The Whole Network Map: Insights............................................................................................................11
4. Background to the research The view from the UK
During 2010 the findings of two influential reports In the UK the reach and influence of socially networked
demonstrated unequivocally the importance of the web conversation was found to be equally pervasive with 43 per
in shaping investors‘ investment decisions in the UK cent of people having bought financial services as a result of a
and the US. recommendation via social networking friends.
Furthermore, the UK-based study found that, amongst a range
The view from the US of other products and services recommended by friends on
social networks, financial services were the most trusted
In the US financial websites, blogs and friends on referral, leading to the most frequent purchases with 43 per
social networks were found to be the top influences on cent of referrals leading to financial services purchases
individual investors, especially amongst so-called compared with clothing (26%) and car hire (25 %).
―Generation Y investors‖ with ―those under age 40 While the reports highlighted the centrality of the social web to
more heavily influenced by family, friends and work investment-related influence and decision-making they
colleagues than are older investors. (Harris interactive focussed mainly on friend and family networks typically with no
2010) more than 150 members.
But commentators and researchers such as Malcolm Gladwell
and Jakob Nielsen have argued that socially networked
conversations are driven by the law of the few and all voices
are not equal.
MindfulMoney set out to discover if their claims were valid.
Could we identify super-connected influential's who influenced
the ‗local influencers‘ on the many hundreds of thousands
friend and family-based networks that constitute the ―small
pieces loosely joined‖ of the social web?
Could Gladwell and Nielsen‘s claims be validated for
investment-related conversations on the social web?
5. Methodology & Research Objectives
The impetus for this research was provided by Josh Brown aka The resulting cartographic landscape was created using co-link analysis
The Reformed Broker (recently dubbed by the NYT as the software, which from a starting point of 25 bloggers generated a map
‗merchant of snark‘) whose blog offers a practicing financial which includes 84 separate sites.
advisors take on current market events, heavily laced with
sarcasm and mordant irony. In producing this network map we were not necessarily interested in
establishing a hierarchy amongst blogs (although this was one output of
His periodic table of top blogs and bloggers was the starting point the research) but more in understanding their relationships with each
for our attempt to begin mapping the new influential‘s in the online other, and specifically, how they relate to the mainstream media.
Josh‘s Periodic Table is witty and fascinating because it gives a
clue to how he thinks but this set us thinking about how we might Do super-connecters really exist?
set out to create a visual map which wasn‘t based on personal
preference, no matter how fascinating and insightful such If so, what accounts for their extraordinary reach and influence?
preferences happen to be. Who are they and where (geographically, professionally,
psychologically) are they coming from?
The purpose of this network map is to provide a visualization tool
in order to better understand the relationships between financial Are the super-connectors themselves connected to one another?
bloggers and the mainstream media, and to allow readers to get a
sense of the online financial conversational space. Who it‘s key Are they functioning as individuals or do they constitute an executive
players are and who links to whom. level social web all of their own?
The UK is a leading financial centre, is it a leader in the financial
6. Key Findings
The research confirms the existence of a network of investment super- In the UK the situation is reversed with UK bloggers ‗hanging off‘
connectors with extraordinary media influence and reach established media players (the Economist and FT)
These super-connected new influential‘s are, for the most part, not
established voices in the media but individual bloggers who fiercely UK the new influential‘s not connected to government nor to the
champion their independence. mainstream media nor the city.
However, these individuals operate as a connected network, influencing The collective intelligence displayed by the network has proven its
one another as they debate and discuss key topics, issues and themes. anticipatory sense-making capacity and has demonstrated predictive
capability in relations to the market in both the short and the long term
The network has both influence (links to the mainstream media,
government, thought leaders) and reach (38million) however the The network covers the issues in depth in a way that the mainstream
mainstream media is not at the heart of the network where the most can‘t by drawing historical parallels and analogies to current events
influential super-connectors are located. and picking apart complex cause-effect relationships.
The top 20 network is international with a strong US>UK bias The network has been credited with helping investors respond more
The network is heavily weighted toward the US (10% UK/90%US) mindfully to market developments than coverage by the mainstream
In the US, the network functions as the unofficial voice of Wall Street & the media and trades.
US federal bank with no mainstream media players at the centre of the
"Financial blogs have covered the events leading up to the credit
crisis much better than mainstream media. Thanks to them, I
have made good money from the crisis!"
Björn A Jörgensen. Private investor
7. Learning points for key audiences Corporations
INVESTORS For corporate providers of financial services following new influential‘s
conversations on the social web can provide insights into how to frame
Investors can usefully glean news and data from mainstream communications in such a way that they resonate with the current
media coverage but following new influential‘s on the social web preoccupations and informal style of influential‘s and those that follow them
can offer ‗the story behind the story‘ with more in-depth,
consistent expert coverage as well as covering stories before they
break in mainstream media. IFAs
Some investors credit the social web with an anticipatory function For IFAs the new influential‘s offer a source of expert knowledge and an
which has offered them novel investment opportunities opportunity to make new connections.
Mainstream media IFAs could usefully follow the new influential‘s to tap into the social web and
reverse the decreasing influence of financial advisors on the social web.
For mainstream media following the new influential‘s can help to Understanding the role of new influential‘s and how information is shared
supplement commentator‘s technical knowledge and offer an between friends on social networks can enable IFAs to become strategically
alternative source of non-mainstream viewpoints. important to investor relations professionals.
8. Future phases of research
In New Influential‘s release 1.0 we are offering a map of the territory. In What is the appropriate role of regulators to the burgeoning
future releases we will be data-mining the map to shed light on single blogosphere and what role could the network play in TCF
issues, creating alternative maps with different starting points and initiatives?
probing deeper into some of the questions and issues brought to light by
New Influential‘s 1.0 What are the risks of increasing levels of correlation (or
groupthink) and contagion across social networks as ordinary
Questions we will be exploring in future research releases and news investors mirror the new influential‘s?
stories on the MindfulMoney.co.uk website include:
Trust is migrating from established intermediaries, advisors and
Why such a disparity between the UK and the US investment institutions to New influential‘s on social networks but are
blogosphere? maverick voices to be trusted?
Is the blogosphere a better guide to investing than the mainstream
media commentators? Where are the controls, the rules, the norms in an era when
everything is up for grabs?
Can the investment blogosphere help to alert us to early signals of
another financial crisis? If you would like to receive social finance research updates
let us know.
How should established institutions, ordinary investors and IFAs relate to
the unofficial voice of finance?
10. HOW TO READ THE MAP
WHAT ARE THE NODES ON THE NETWORK? HOW IS THE SIZE OF THE NODES IN THE NETWORK MEASURED?
The map shows the top 20 blogs in the context of a wider network which The size of the nodes is drawn by the in-degree count.
comprises 50 sites in total.
BY WHAT MEASURE ARE THE CLUSTER MAPS GENERATED?
WHAT DO THE COLOURS MEAN? Maps are generated on the basis of in-degree centrality.
Blue nodes are dot.coms, green nodes are dot.orgs and red nodes are
dot.govs and the links between them show relationships between WHAT’S IN-DEGREE CENTRALITY?
commercial, not for profit and governmental organisations. In-degree centrality: An actor who receives many ties are characterized
as prominent. The basic idea is that many actors seek to direct ties to
them—and so this may be regarded as a measure of importance.
11. THE WHOLE MAP: INSIGHTS
The shape of the map: central and peripheral patterns The whole map: a complex, adaptive system
At the centre of the network map are the financial blogs with the Although the sites on the map can be divided into mainstream
mainstream media on the periphery. media and blogosphere with ‗rankings‘ for each the map itself is
best approached holistically as an interconnected online social
Key insight: individuals are the New Influential’s system with diverse players where the whole is greater than the
sum of its parts.
It‘s notable that the core of the network are neither established
media players nor established financial institutions but individuals Network functions: the role of the mainstream media
or clusters of individuals.
The map shows the top 84 sites. Mainstream media draw on network for source material and
Profiles of the top 20 blogs with visual connectivity maps follows. include some surprises including radical voices such as the
Huffington Post and Colbert Nation.
Key insights: mainstream media voices
Network functions: the role of the blogosphere
• Huffington Post
• New York Times The mainstream media provide breaking news and fact-based
• Bloomberg reportage whereas the blogosphere provide the context and
• FT background which is necessary to make sense of the news and of
• CNBC the facts.
• Colbert Nation The relationship between the two is symbiotic and generative and
not oppositional and hostile as is often supposed.
12. THE WHOLE MAP: INSIGHTS
A whole-systems view: no boundaries A place where dotcoms, dotorgs, dotgovs and the people converge
Viewing the system-as-a-whole we can see information, The network is remarkable for its pluralism, welding together and
knowledge, links and traffic moving across boundaries which are embracing not only A-list bloggers, and individuals-as-their-audience but
often impassable in the offline world. corporations (.coms), government (.gov), not-for-profits (.org) and the
Information crosses institutional, professional and political mainstream media in one dynamic, expansive and inclusive wide area
boundaries as well as disciplinary boundaries and boundaries of conversation about economics, finance, politics and investing.
geography and political affiliation.
A carnival of genres The place of the UK on the network
In so doing the network hosts a carnivalesque conversation which The above observation holds for the US and the network as a whole but
mashes up genres such as news and reportage, blogs, satire, not for the UK where the conversation is limited to established media
polemic, academic research, data visualisation and complex voices and where government agencies, mainstream media,
information processing. corporations, radical media and not-for-profits are absent and
disconnected from the conversation.
Lessons for the offline world?
The pluralism and openness of the whole network constitutes a model of
participative democratic dialogue which embraces civil society
institutions, the media, corporations, government and the public.
13. Profiles: The Top 20 Financial Blogs
1. Naked capitalism 11. The Market Trader
2. Infectious Greed 12. WSJ Blogs
3. The Big Picture 13. The Epicurean Dealmaker
4. Jesse‘s Cross Roads Cafe 14. Credit Writedowns
5. Zero Hedge 15. Dealbreaker
6. Mish‘s Global Economic Analysis 16. China Financial Markets
7. Calculated Risk 17. Max Keiser
8. Paul Krugman‘s Blog 18. Angry Bear
9. FT Alphaville 19. The Economist
10. Ludvig von Misses Institute 20. Jr. Deputy Accountant
14. 1. NAKED CAPITALISM
Described by the New York Observer as „a razor-
tongued chronicler‟ Yves Smith‟s blog Naked
Capitalism is one of the most highly regarded and
highly read financial blogs you can find.
You should check out: her nonsense
commentary in articles like „Why MERS need to
be taken out and shot‟
15. 1. NAKED CAPITALISM
Who links to Naked Capitalism
16. 2. INFECTIOUS GREED
Written by Paul Kedrosky, who describes himself as „an
investor, speaker, writer, media guy, and entrepreneur. In
his spare time he is a dangerous Twitterer,
columnist/contributor for Bloomberg Media (formerly for
CNBC), and the editor of Infectious Greed, one of the most
popular financial blogs available over the Interweb.‟
You should check out: Thought provoking articles like
‘Everything I know about how I feel about the
Economy I learned on TV’
17. 2. INFECTIOUS GREED
Who links to Infectious Greed
18. 3. THE BIG PICTURE
When Nouriel Roubini describes you as ‗a beam of
enlightened thinking in a sea of delusional complacency‘
and New York magazine calls you ‗a level headed bear
with a knack for seeing through the statistical fog of
economic data‘, it ‗s hard to go wrong with Barry Ritholtz‘s
You should check out: The entire site, but the Macro
notes are great: ‗succinct summation‘s of the weeks
19. 3. THE BIG PICTURE
Who links to The Big Picture
20. 4. JESSE’S CAFE AMERICAIN
A reflective take on market coverage, with quite a lot of
charts and vintage posters. An antidote to the break neck
real time financial news.
Check out: His daily charts.
21. 4. JESSE’S CAFE AMERICAIN
Who links to Jesse’s Cafe Americain
(no longer links)
22. 5. ZERO HEDGE
This blog doesn’t have an ‘about’ section, it has a
manifesto. So it’s no surprise that it has a strong point of
view. It’s mission is to ‘ widen the scope of financial,
economic and political information available to the
professional investing public’.
Check out: Among their highly critical articles, their forum.
23. 5. ZERO HEDGE
Who links to Zero Hedge
24. 6. MISH’S GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
With over a million visitors a month, this is one of the most
widely read economic blogs on the web.
25. 6. MISH’S GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYSIS
Who links to Mish’s Global Economic Analysis
26. 7. CALCULATED RISK
They built a cult following as an early predictor of the US
27. 7. CALCULATED RISK
Who links to Calculated Risk
28. 8. KRUGMANS BLOG
Nobel Prize winning economist blogs at the New York
Times. This is why: ‗Many of the posts will be supplements
to my regular columns; I‘ll be using this space to present
the kind of information I can‘t provide on the printed page –
especially charts and tables, which are crucial to the way I
think about most of the issues I write about.‘(Krugman)
Check out: His rows with other economists and
newspapers ‗ I‘m gunna haul out the next guy who calls
me ‗crude‘ and punch him in the kisser‘
30. 9. FT ALPHAVILLE
An influential and widely read blog which has been touted
for it‘s apparent predictive abilities. Here‘s why: „On
average, good news on FT Alphaville is associated with 1-
week ahead outperformance. Conversely, on average, bad
news for a company on FT Alphaville is associated with 1-
week ahead under-performance. The same effect is not
evident in our database as a whole, indicating that there is
something “special” about the news that comes from FT
Check out: Market Live, a daily real time discussion of the
31. 9. FT ALPHAVILLE
Who links to FT Alphaville
32. 10. LUDWIG VON MISES INSTITUE
The Ludwig von Mises Institute is the research and
educational centre of classical liberalism and the Austrian
School of economics. Its mission is to promote the tradition
of thought represented by Ludwig von mises. The Wall
Street Journal covered the institute in a piece entitled ―
How did a world class think tank end up in Alabama?‖
33. 10. LUDWIG VON MISES INSTITUE
Who links to Ludwig von Mises Institue
34. 11. THE MARKET TICKER
The Market Ticker is written by Karl Denninger, who
received the Reed Irvine Accuracy In Media Award for
Grassroots Journalism for his coverage of the 2008 market
meltdown. This is why one reader follows his blog:
“You can go to the major financial media like CNBC.com
and read an article. Then you can visit Karl‟s site and read
exactly why CNBC‟s article is flawed in many ways.”
35. 11. THE MARKET TICKER
Who links to The Market Ticker
36. 12. WSJ BLOGS
A wide ranging selection of blogs from Wall Street Journal
editors and reporters who provide real-time news and
analysis around the clock, with contributions from outside
37. 12. WSJ BLOGS
Who links to WSJ Blogs
38. 13. THE EPICURIAN DEALMAKER
Written by a New York investment banker who offers an
insider ‗commentary on Wall Street, global finance,
markets and their participants‘. The Epicurean Dealmaker
was recently referenced in the New Yorker.
39. 13. THE EPICURIAN DEALMAKER
Who links to The Epicurean Dealmaker
40. 14. CREDIT WRITEDOWNS
A news and opinion site dedicated to bringing a well-
informed view of finance, economics, markets, and foreign
policy into the mainstream consciousness.
Contributors include Marc Chandler, former chief currency
strategist for HSBC and Marshall Auerback, economic
consultant to PIMCO.
42. 15. DEALBREAKER
DealBreaker is an online business tabloid and Wall Street
gossip site that covers the personalities and culture that
shape the financial industry, offering original commentary,
news and entertainment.
43. 15. DEALBREAKER
Who links to Dealbreaker
44. 16. CHINA FINANCIAL MARKETS
Written by Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking
University‘s Guanghua School of Management.
46. 17. MAX KEISER
Max Keiser is a film-maker, broadcaster and former broker
and options trader. His site is heavily critical of the finance
industry, with articles published in the Guardian entitled
‗Want to crash JP Morgan? Buy Silver‘.
48. 18. ANGRY BEAR
One of 24/7 Wall Street’s top 20 blogs, Angry Bear is ‗Half
a dozen professionals, including a tax law expert, a
historian, PhDs in economics, consultants and financial
professionals provide perspectives on the financial
world. Despite their expansive coverage of economic
issues, their articles are as deep as their coverage is
extensive. Topics include world trade, industrial
production, U.S. Government programs, and major
49. 18. ANGRY BEAR
Who links to Angry Bear
50. 19. THE ECONOMIST
The Economist‘s range of 17 blogs supplements the
newspapers weekly coverage , offering regular updates on
politics, culture and business.
51. 19. THE ECONOMIST
Who links to The Economist
52. 20. JR. DEPUTY ACCOUNTANT
Cited by blogs from FT Alphaville to The Reformed Broker,
JDA writes predominantly about the FED. This is how she
describes herself and gives you a flavour of what to
“I'm 29, tattooed, potty mouthed, OMG a girl! and an
accidental Fed savant hiding out somewhere in San
Francisco since 1999. I can't tell you why I understand
what the Fed is saying 97% of the time, nor why I nerd out
on Fed banks (except this one) but I do and you get to
bask in it here on Jr. Deputy Accountant.”
53. 20. JR. DEPUTY ACCOUNTANT
Who links to Jr. Deputy Accountant
54. About Mindful Money What's a knowledge network?
Mindful Money is a social news and knowledge network for the investment Knowledge about investing - why, how, where and when to invest - is
community and it's published by the Social Business Group. currently the privilege of a few. Mindful Money's knowledge network is
about sharing the knowledge and information of those in the know with
What is social news? those who aren't - yet
Mindful Money's social news is editorial content that mirrors the viewpoints,
interests and conversations of the online investment community. We will be calling on some of the smartest minds, both inside and
It's editorial that's focused more on you and your interests and the things outside the industry, to help clarify, decode and demystify the
that matter to you. And less on the comings and goings of fund managers, investment scene.
irrelevant product launches, banal industry awards and so on - unless of
course we know they are important to you. So, in a nutshell, we're about knowledge, we're about news, we're
about community and we're a bridge between the professionals and
When it comes to Mindful Money, we look for new triggers for headline- every other type of investor.
breaking topics, the 'story behind the story' and new frames for investment
news. What's mindful about Mindful Money?
Mindfulness is about making the links that others don't, paying
Mindful Money also aims to help investors actually solve problems; whether attention to history and voices from outside the industry, making the
that's through access to information or unconventional points of view. effort to speak in ordinary language, taking the long view, paying
In that respect it's a little bit like citizen journalism, but with an investment attention to contrarian insiders and keeping an eye out for black
So, as well as adding value to the stories and issues you're discussing We're taking a stand against fads, groupthink, short-termism, scape-
wherever we can we'll provide you with resources (step-by-step guides, goating, media bias and FS jargon. A final thing about Mindful Money
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Welcome to Mindful Money. www.mindfulmoney.co.uk
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55. All Work in this document remains the copyright of the Social Business Group as of 2011,
publishers of MindfulMoney.co.uk
Stewart Conway Managing Director, The Social Business Group, Centro 3, 19 Mandela
Street, London NW1 0DU