Prof. Jayanth R. Varma’s Financial Markets Blog

A blog on financial markets and their regulation

Reflections on tenth anniversary

My blog reaches its tenth anniversary tomorrow: over ten years, I have published 572 blog posts at a frequency of approximately once a week.

My first genuine blog post (not counting a test post and a “coming soon” post) on March 29, 2005 was about an Argentine creditor (NML Capital) trying to persuade a US federal judge (Thomas Griesa) to attach some bonds issued by Argentina. The idea that a debtor’s liabilities (rather than its assets) could be attached struck me as funny. Ten years on, NML and Argentina are still battling it out before Judge Griesa, but things have moved from the comic to the tragic (at least from the Argentine point of view).

The most fruitful period for my blog (as for many other blogs) was the global financial crisis and its aftermath. The blog posts and the many insightful comments that my readers posted on the blog were the principal vehicle through which I tried to understand the crisis and to formulate my own views about it. During the last year or so, things have become less exciting. The blogosphere has also become a lot more crowded than it was when I began. Many times, I find myself abandoning a potential blog post because so many others have already blogged about it.

When I look back at the best bloggers that I followed in the mid and late 2000s, some have quit blogging because they found that they no longer had enough interesting things to say; a few have sold out to commercial organizations that turned these blogs into clickbaits; at least one blogger has died; some blogs have gradually declined in relevance and quality; and only a tiny fraction have remained worthwhile blogs to read.

The tenth anniversary is therefore less an occasion for celebration, and more a reminder of senescence and impending mortality for a blog. I am convinced that I must either reinvent my blog or quit blogging. April and May are the months during which I take a long vacation (both from my day job and from my blogging). That gives me enough time to think about it and decide.

If you have some thoughts and suggestions on what I should do with my blog, please use the comments page to let me know.

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3 responses to “Reflections on tenth anniversary

  1. Gopal March 28, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Dear Prof. Varma
    Your blog is a great source of nuanced information for those of us who may not be researchers but perhaps practitioners. I find myself quoting anecdotes and stories from your blog more often than I do from any other blog or articles. As for the commercial aspect. I do believe that your content needs to reach more people. And this is one place you are perhaps not doing a good job. And while you may argue that it is not your intent to be famous I would counter that by saying that the more people you reach the more followers and comments you are likely to garner. And comments are not always pointing in the same direction.

    Suggestions:
    1. You are a professor at one of THE institutions of India. Its old grand and well recognized. You should look to mention that and bring in experiences from the institute and students who have stupid and sometimes brilliant ideas (fine line)

    2. You have been working with the foremost regulator of security markets in India, both from within and outside as an advisor and also as a concerned citizen. Your opinion of these matters are as important as your commentary on the facts and flaws.

    3. Use of social media. While wordpress is good you also need to use your twitter account and perhaps even a facebook page to get the word out. Most of your posts are easily understood and have a wealth of knowledge embedded in them

    4. As there is a renewed sense of interest in India you could perhaps invite guest posts on your blog from some bloggers and researchers you like in exchange for doing the same on their blogs.

    Please bear in mind that I haven’t rigorously vetted my suggestions so feel free to reject them all.

    I do hope you consider a few though.

    Warm Regards,
    Gopal Balakrishan
    PGP 2013

  2. Samir Shah March 28, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Dear Professor Varma

    Your blog makes fascinating reading and whether one agrees with your views or not is not the point. The point is that it creates discussion and thought on very important aspects of economy and markets in a world that is otherwise cluttered with shallow media coverage and no real insight. So, I beg to disagree that this space is too crowded. It is not. What is crowded is noisy, shallow media. What is not crowded is the world of insight, discussion, thought and reflection. I urge you to remain interested and lead this space.

    I also disagree that the world of economics and markets is not that interesting. The need more now than ever before is to evangelise the transportation of markets into the outback of physical markets where no market structure exists and apply all our collective insight into these markets. Perhaps if you put your attention to such matters, the world will become interesting once again. For example, we should be looking to answer questions like how can agri futures and derivatives markets provide the answer to food inflation, food security and bring about a balance between the conflicting priorities of fiscal prudence and social welfare? Perhaps, we should ask questions like how can markets help in determining efficient pricing and allocation of resources like coal. As I look around, the world is still very very interesting, the obvious areas of interest rates, equities and perhaps even currencies may have become boring, but the commodities and resources markets are very interesting and need thought leaders, academicians, economists and practitioners to think together in these ‘outback’ areas.

    I wish you a refreshing vacation and I hope you find time to reflect on such areas.

    Looking forward to you being back blogging with new energy.

    Thank you for your very valuable insights.

    Regards

    Samir

    Samir Shah
    Managing Director & CEO
    NCDEX

  3. Richard Careaga (@technocrat) March 28, 2015 at 11:47 pm

    Dear Professor Varma,

    One of the hazards of blogging is finding a satisfactory level of engagement with your (mostly silent) readers. The author can never tell if he has succeeded effectively communicating something that the reader has found valuable. In a different online writing context, on quora.com, I have written answers to questions that have received in aggregate more than a million views. About 1% receive any sort of response and only a tiny fraction of those responses are substantive.

    The alternatives to blogs that don’t catch fire are to find another forum or to keep a private journal. A journal isn’t a satisfactory alternative unless the author has the rare knack of writing to a future self as if that self were a stranger with no private insight into the author’s thought processes. Finding another public outlet, however, can be difficult. Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong and some of their colleagues quote and discuss each other, but that is rare.

    For the small number of bloggers who have no interest in picking up small coins through advertising, the only reason to blog is that it is a rewarding way of clarifying the author’s thoughts by knowing there is at least some audience reading and trying to understand those thoughts.

    I hope that is a motivation that you will find sufficient to continue.

    Sincerely,

    Richard Careaga
    Forcibly retired RMBS lawyer/former defendant

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