Great Investing Secrets Revealed

by | Jan 25, 2004

Successful investing all about having the right information. That must be why I frequently get emails from readers asking me what sources of investment information I like best, or where on the Web to locate this or that specific piece of data. So today’s column is going to be my own personal “best of the […]

Successful investing all about having the right information. That must be why I frequently get emails from readers asking me what sources of investment information I like best, or where on the Web to locate this or that specific piece of data. So today’s column is going to be my own personal “best of the Web” guide — the sites I use every day.

First, of course, let me get the obvious self-promotions out of the way. If you are reading this column, then you’ve already discovered one of the best investment information resources on the Web — SmartMoney.com. It would be immodest of me to say anything about the superb columnists here, so I won’t (oops — I just did). But I will point out that there’s no place on the Web that can beat SmartMoney.com for cool investment tools and personal finance calculators.

Now be patient — I’ll get objective about all this in one moment. But before I do, let me say that my favorite technical analysis resource on the Web can be found on my own site — Dr. Fred Goodman’s daily “Technical Excellence” report. Fred’s the best. OK, now on with the show.

My single overall favorite site for pure information — the one I go to all day every day — is Briefing.com. It’s a need-to-know headline service — alerting you in real-time with crisp one-liners on economic news, earnings announcements, analyst opinions, company news, unusual market action and the latest rumors and innuendo sweeping across Wall Street’s trading desks. You can click on any headline to learn more.

Some people like to have CNBC chattering in the background all day, but I’ll take Briefing.com any day. It’s stripped-down information, pure and simple — without sexed-up graphics and music, without self-aggrandizing anchor people, preening CEOs and know-it-all analysts (and, mercifully, without commercials).

Briefing.com’s the best for business news, but what about general news? That can be important for investors, too, especially if you believe, as I do, that politics moves the market. But for investors, not just any news will do — you need a unique angle.

One general news source with a unique angle is “Daily Papers” at Slate. Every day it tells you how all the major American newspapers are positioning and spinning major stories — which are mostly about politics. Who’s putting what on page one (and who else is burying it) — and what angle are they taking on it? Presenting the news this way has two major advantages for investors. First, you get the essence of the entire nation’s news coverage on a single Web page (without having to sully yourself by reading the actual papers). And you learn something much more important for investors than the news itself — you learn exactly how the news is seeping into the public consciousness.

So much for news. How about analysis and opinion? Here, too, an investor should be looking for a unique angle. Fortunately, the Web is full of unique angles because the Web makes it possible for anyone to stand up on his electronic soapbox and express his or her opinion.

The most highly evolved form of opinion on the Web are sites known as “web logs,” or “blogs” for short. They are running diaries of personal commentary, often rich with links to other online sources and other blogs. One of my favorites right now is called “EconoPundit,” run by Steven Antler, an economics professor at Chicago’s Roosevelt University. Antler interprets economic and political news with skepticism and clarity, cutting through the pretensions that keep ordinary people from being able to grasp principles and applications of economics.

One frequent feature of Antler’s blog is the ongoing results of an econometric simulation of the US economy, which he runs on yet another economics professor’s Web site — that of Yale’s Ray Fair. As economic news comes in, and new policy proposals are made by the administration or the Democratic presidential candidates, Antler sticks them in the model and reports on the results. Right now, by the way, Antler’s a bull on the economy. And he’s looking for millions of new jobs to be created by election day.

Another great blog for investors is “Capital Spectator,” run by Jim Picerno, a writer for Bloomberg. Every day Picerno locks onto the lead market-oriented story of the day, and offers a thoughtful analysis and links to valuable source materials. And check out “The Knowledge Problem,” a blog specializing in the economics of oil and energy, run by Northwestern University economist Lynne Kiesling.

It’s no blog — quite the opposite! — but be sure to visit Morgan Stanley’s Global Economic Forum site. It’s a chance to take a free peak at the kind of economic research and opinion that’s normally only available to large institutional investors, including daily commentaries by Morgan’s celebrated global economist Steve Roach. I disagree with Roach on almost everything — but it’s invaluable to know the kind of thing that America’s biggest investors are being told.

Some of my most frequently visited Web sites are direct sources of economic data that used to be virtually unavailable to ordinary people. Now, if you want to read what Alan Greenspan really said in some speech — rather than what some talking head says he said — just go to the Federal Reserve’s Web site and read it yourself (try it — you’ll probably understand it a lot more deeply than the talking head did). Want to know what’s really going on with the consumer price index or with the unemployment rate — not what some politician says is going on? Just go to the Department of Labor’s Web site11 and download the statistics yourself — they’ve got a gizmo that helps you slice ’em and dice ’em any way you want. GDP? National income? No problem — just drop by the Department of Commerce’s site, and it’s all there waiting for you.

Put it all together and you’ve got an information revolution for investors. The breadth and depth of information, opinion and data that you can now call your own — most of it for free or at very low cost — it far greater than even top professionals could get their hands on just a decade ago.

It’s a lot of empowerment, but it’s a lot of responsibility, too. There are no excuses anymore. No one can say “I can’t compete in these markets — the big guys have so much more information than I do.” Like they say on TV, the truth is out there. Now the only question is: Are you going to figure out how to use it?

The above is an “Ahead of the Curve” column published January 16, 2004 on SmartMoney.com.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE
Don Luskin is Chief Investment Officer for Trend Macrolytics, an economics research and consulting service providing exclusive market-focused, real-time analysis to the institutional investment community. You can visit the weblog of his forthcoming book ‘The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid’ at www.poorandstupid.com. He is also a contributing writer to SmartMoney.com.

Related articles

Keep Governments Out of Data Debates

Keep Governments Out of Data Debates

There is a role for the law in consumer data privacy, but for the most part, rather than looking for ways to regulate and punish, states should stay focused on actual violations of individual rights, such as when personally identifiable data is used to commit identity and financial theft.

Mr President, End These Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Now!

Mr President, End These Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Now!

For almost three years now, many wonderful artists, intellectuals, students, business professionals, and musicians have been locked out of US borders, even just to tour around and see this great land and meet up with friends. It’s simply barbaric and yet there it is. 

Voice of Capitalism

Our weekly email newsletter.