I intended to write this post about high frequency trading. The idea was to link to a very enlightening podcast that aired Friday on “Taking Stock” with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Radio. Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge was on the program talking to Pimm about what High Frequency Trading is, who the participants are and why it is or why it is not a good thing. I found Durden, who spoke with a slight accent, to be very knowledgeable about the topic and fairly even-handed in his analysis (he is anonymous and uses a pseudonym from the cult film Fight Club, so I do not know his true identity. I reckon he is foreign-born based on his speaking voice).
But the podcast and any mention of Durden disappeared from Bloomberg’s site. Here is my iTunes list of podcasts with Durden sandwiched between a segment with John Taylor, a professor at Stanford, and a report on Jack in the Box.
Here is a list of the podcasts on Bloomberg the last time I checked right before I wrote this post.
The Durden podcast is missing. And Durden is nowhere to be found on Bloomberg’s site even though he did a show with Pimm Fox just Friday.
Why is that?
Here’s what I think. Tyler Durden became radioactive overnight due to a post in the NY Post and Bloomberg scrubbed him off their site. Here’s a blurb from that article.
A 30-year-old New Yorker who was barred from the securities industry last year may be behind an increasingly popular financial blog known as Zerohedge.com, which is catching flack for its obsession with anonymity.
Daniel Ivandjiiski, whose most recently listed address is on the Upper East Side, was barred last September by the financial industry’s self regulatory authority, FINRA, for insider trading.
Ivandjiiski is also suspected of being one of the founders of controversial financial blog Zerohedge.com, sources tell The Post.
So, can you see why Bloomberg decided to scrub him? I reckon Bloomberg are now wondering whether Tyler Durden is a good source of information and have decided to treat him like a pariah until his true identity (and those with whom he is affiliated) is well-established.
This issue has unleashed a debate in the blogosphere about anonymous blogging and the relationship between established mainstream media sources like Bloomberg and bloggers like Durden. Both Felix Salmon and Yves Smith have picked up on this story. Read their posts. To date, Dennis Kneale, a host on CNBC, has been the one most vociferous about econobloggers and their credibility or lack thereof. He has made it known on a number of occasions that he sees Zero Hedge and Durden in a negative light.
My personal view is this: If one is going to write a blog that points fingers and names names, to the degree one can, one should be as transparent as possible about one’s identity and reveal all relevant information publicly. To my mind, this enhances credibility.
Zero Hedge is a site replete with copious information on finance and the economy and is often a necessary voice of scepticism in the blogosphere that keeps the mainstream media honest. We need outlets like that. And Tyler was on Bloomberg Radio in the first place because he has something to say that is different, interesting and adds value. However, the hyperbole, tone, anonymity and confusion as to which writer is using which pseudonym at Zero Hedge has long become a liability which reduces the credibility of the site.
My preference would be to see Tyler Durden come out and reveal his identity and the identity of those with whom he works or indicate on some basic level why he cannot do so. If not, instituting a one blogger/one pseudonym policy would be advisable. And tone it down, please. As to whether one can glean important information from sites whose authors remain anonymous and whose agenda is unknown, it is a complicated issue. I tend to think it is the message that is important and not the messenger. But the message in finance is often complicated and many can become confused as to who is real deal and who is a charlatan.
As things stand now, Durden and Zero Hedge are losing credibility – so much so that it does seem they have been scrubbed off of Bloomberg’s website and podcasts. This is a loss for all of us who follow Zero Hedge, especially for those of us who write in the financial blogosphere. And that’s also why this post is not about high frequency trading.
Update 11:00PM: A commenter on naked capitalism found the link to the Bloomberg podcast with Pimm Fox and Tyler Durden. I am posting it here for as long as it remains live.