Favorite Big Picture Posts of 2020

Photo by Vintage RS from StockSnap



2020 was both a productive and frustrating year of writing. I worked on a number of big projects, revamped the company website, reworked a longstanding idea for a book, and cranked out a lot of columns, pods and posts.

Way back when, it was easy to see what the most significant posts: Look for the ones with the highest traffic and/or the most comments. Today, it’s a little more complicated, with comments gone, replaced in part by social media.

As I put together my annual mea culpas, I also came across a few that were standouts. Here are some of my favorite post from my least favorite year:

15. The 10 Most Useless Phrases in Finance (September 25, 2020)
Its good therapy to get off of my chest those trite, cliched or just plain wrong things we hear all the time.

14. Polls Were Wrong (again). They Often Are (November 4, 2020)
Ever get something right and wish you had been more emphatic? That’s what drove this post: Political polling’s flaw is it uses sentiment to predict future behavior.

13. Understanding the Appeal of Conspiracy Theories (October 8, 2020)
There have always been people susceptible to believing nonsense. I enjoyed writing this, even if it won’t change anyone’s mind.

12. How Much Has the World Changed? (Not much) June 16, 2020
Always greet the phrase “This changes everything!” with skepticism. What happened was not a societal reboot but an acceleration of pre-existing trends. That’s become accepted today, but 7 months ago it was more radical.

11. Thinking About Buying: Making Better Purchases (October 6, 2020)
Another anti-scold column, focusing how to be smarter about spending your money.

10. What is a Recession? (November 25, 2020)
How are there still professionals in finance who do not know what a recession is?

9. Don’t Like USPS Losses? Blame Congress (April 4, 2020)
The USPS disaster is a self-inflicted legislative wound, imposed by those who cannot eliminate the US Post Office as a competitor so they chose to mortally wound it instead.

8. The Hidden World of Failure (October 23, 2020)
The idea that everything we see is the result of survivorship bias fascinates me. It was one of those loose threads in a column that space did not permit expansion of, so I addressed it in here. I will definitely revisit this again.

7. FAANMG Stock Prices Reflect Global, Not US Recovery (July 17, 2020)
The first in a series of columns explaining why the markets were rallying in the face of an awful economy. One aspect: Big tech stocks derive half or more of their revenue from overseas.

6. The K-Shaped Recovery (September 4, 2020)
A simple explanation as who was doing well, who was not, and why. Multiple readers emailed me this was subsequently quoted by then candidate Biden that weekend. (color me skeptical)

5. Why Markets Don’t Seem to Care If the Economy Stinks (August 7, 2020)
Recall over the summer when it seemed no one could figure out WTF was going on with the markets decoupling from the economy. The answer, it turns out, was to look at it not from personal experience but by cap weighting. Huge assist from Michael Batnick on this one.

4. BusinessWeek: It’s Time to Go Big (April 30, 2020)
My giant, 3,000-word piece for business week on what we should do to expand the recovery for the next decade. I was pleased with how this came out. Here is the TL;DR version.

3. RWM: Upside Surprise (September 15, 2020)
I don’t use this space to shill RWM, but on the occasion of our 7th anniversary, I had to share some thoughts on the things that surprised me since launch.

2. The Halfway Point (November 20, 2020)
As the vaccines began to get approval, I came to a shocking conclusion: From the March 2020 lockdown to a June 2021 re-opening, we were precisely at mid-point. What should you do with the next 8 months of remote work? I was surprised how much this resonated.

1. End of the Secular Bull? Not So Fast (April 1, 2020)
My most intensely disliked column (Is this an April Fool’s joke, or are you just an idiot?). It is everything I want in a column: Contrarian, historically based, insightful, and a money maker. Also, the biggest surprise for readers was that it turned out to be absolutely correct.

A few honorable mentions also include The Spock Market, “Unprecedented” Uncertainty, You Are Not Jim Simons, Return of the Inflationistas and lastly, American-Style Capitalism is a Joint Venture.

That is my list for 2020. I hope to get to a few other lists — best of MiB, 20921 books to read, and of course the mea culpas. Here is looking forward to 2021!


UPDATE Dec 31, 2020: 2:52pm

Posts suggested by readers: Watching From Afar (March 2); Off the Charts (July 31); Don’t Panic! (with apologies to Douglas Adams) (March 9);

Thank you!


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