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Constructive Criticism

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  • 6 min read

I appreciate the fact that American Thinker (AT) saw fit to post my “Federal Reserve playing chicken with financial markets” article (and that Zerohedge reposted it). Responses to this post triggered this constructive criticism (I hope) regarding American Thinker’s move to a subscription site.

I believe in AT! I think their site is and has been for years one of the finest on the internet. It is long overdue for monetization via subscription! It is the manner in which this has been achieved that is a bit troubling, at least for me.

Over the years, I have published about 150 articles (my first in 2009) plus some unknown number of blog posts. My concern is regarding the problems like non-subscriber authors like myself. (I know, I know—”just subscribe and your problems go away!” However, we octogenarians can be overly principled, ornery and especially cheap!)

I enjoyed reader comments on my posts. They made me a better contributor as they provided feedback which is no longer available. Even for my own posts, I am unable to view the comments. (Apparently, I may see the first few only, but cannot respond to even those few.)

I consider that a problem. Feedback is important in the sense that you learn whether you are communicating properly and at the right level with your readers. That feedback is no longer available.

I will not miss the inability to comment on other author posts, which I rarely did via AT’s comment system. In the past, I contacted authors directly via the website information provided. My thinking was that if I am to make a fool of myself (or another author), I would rather do it with one witness rather than thousands! Direct contact remains available and I believe is mutually beneficial to both authors, especially when neither has to play to an audience.

Undoubtedly, AT had constraints regarding the decision to monetize. Perhaps some “tweaks” could improve matters, at least for cheap, ornery and ancient contributors like myself. Feedback between author and reader is important!

Recent Article Comments

I saw a few comments on my most recent “Federal Reserve – game of chicken” article. I really don’t know what to make of them. I would have liked to have seen more to make a better determination whether these few reflected inadequate communication on my part or just a few disgruntled readers.

Disagreement is fine, normal and healthy. But the tone and implications of these seemed harsh. Here are some of the comments (in quotes) and the hypothetical responses (emboldened) that could have been made:

  • ·       “… he quotes the indexes [should be indices] in the first table in dollars, when in reality they are quoted in points” Only the first is an index. The other three are ETFs and correct as quoted.
  • ·       “… gold did not close at $153.01 per ounce” I never made that claim; GLD closed at $153.01 per share.
  • ·       “Raising rates to 6% would likely drive the inflation rate below 6%” The commentator may be correct in his assertion, although I included a table by Bianco Research in the article which showed that prior inflationary episodes required interest rates higher than the peak inflation rate for the Fed to regain control! Often that rate was 3% points or more, higher! I do not consider an inflation rate of 6% satisfactory (and suspect the commentator does not either). Nor am I able to forecast what stopping at 6% means.
  • He fails to mention whether he is currently short the market.” AT is not a financial website. I don’t recall any prior articles generating such an objection. Frankly, if I were to engage in such unethical practices, I would publish on financial websites where this shady behavior might have some effect.

Regarding this last comment, I have never recommended short-selling as a market strategy. Markets have an upward drift of about 8% per year, on average. Going short is like trying to beat the “house” at a casino. (I also don’t recommend trying to increase your wealth in casinos!)

Recently I finished a free book entitled Wealth If You Want It (which you can read/preview here). The book is for “newbies” and experienced investors. (If you are in the latter category, you need to read half the book.) There is nothing in the book about “shorting” or “short-selling.” However, there is a simple, flexible system involving only four assets which anyone can use to reasonably protect themselves against market cycles.

The book is 250 pages, free to anyone who requests it. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a workable download link on my website. You may read it there, although that is likely not practical, especially when data are involved. If you are interested in receiving a copy, drop me an email (montypelerin@gmail.com and please put “BOOK” on the subject line). I will send you a PDF copy.

Or, if you have a website with this capability and would like to help in distributing it free, I would be happy to provide you a copy and the permission to distribute it from your website.

My only interest is to provide easy access and widespread availability to this information. (At least 50% of this country does not understand the need for saving, never mind the concept of investing.) In a time when governments around the world appear to be headed toward insolvency, it is critical that neither you nor your family depend on government “promises.”

Possible Solution

I would be happy with a 7-day subscription window for each article I publish. This window should be available to any author/non-subscriber. I do not care or need to read or comment on other articles! That accommodation would allow us cheap  and cantankerous types to receive proper reader feedback.

Sorry for the criticism. I still think your site is among the best on the internet.