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Cutting through financial noise: a wine tour

Updated: May 1, 2023

Do you feel ill-equipped to judge financial content quality?

There's an absolute flood of it out there, ranging from the scammy to the helpful to the downright profound. And because finance, like fine wine, has a history of clubby jargon, most people have some degree of self doubt or imposter syndrome when asked to evaluate something or make a decision.

Take it from a degenerate

Having spent years guzzling huge amounts of such online financial content, I feel like I've developed a fairly sophisticated "palate" for the stuff. And while I'm no winemaker (That is, I won't be starting my own investment research Substack, podcast, or hedge fund anytime soon), I think I might make an okay sommelier, or at least a wine country tour guide, to stretch the metaphor.

Nothing wrong with Kirkland wine (or index funds)...

So I'm here to ask: Do you ever feel small and lost in the online financial content aisle? Do you look for those "staff pick" labels or the ones that have numbers of points in the 90s from Wine Whatever magazine? Or could you honestly not care less, just go with the Kirkland wine and use a set-it-and-forget-it robo-indexing strategy in your 401k? And no shame if you do, because a lot of those Costco wines taste just as good to the vast majority of people as the $100 bottles. That's actually one of my first criteria for evaluating an online financial content creator do they loudly and frequently for claim that most people should be indexing (drinking the Costco wine and auto-investing the savings)? And actually one of my favorite investors to follow who is also a serious (and unpretentious) wine connoisseur, swears by many of the Kirkland offerings!

...But if you love wine / finance for their own sakes...

But there are those who want to become serious collectors (stock pickers) or at least take in a lot of tours and tastings (high-quality financial infotainment). If your ultimate aim is growing your own cellar (portfolio), or just to understand terroir (global capitalism) because it's inherently fascinating, you're going to need to develop that palate. Because unlike bad wine, bad financial content can actively harm your brain. Okay, maybe not so unlike bad wine, especially when either is taken in quantity. And in fact quantity is one of the main problems in both cases. Even a case of good wine is not good for you (whatever Joni Mitchell might say), and neither is bingeing even high quality financial content. One of the best things I've learned from studying finance is the value of focus and the art of subtraction.

With wine & finance content, less is more

But of course the urge to speak is irresistible for the obsessed, so here I am, offering yet another piece of financial content, and a meta one at that, offering to guide you through other financial content! But honestly, that's what a lot of education is. Educators are no longer gatekeepers at the Library of Alexandria, doling out precious bits of rare wisdom. We are much more like tour guides helping learners navigate the total sensory overload of a foreign city (an unfamiliar corner of the Internet, say, Fintwit or Finance Twitter and its sprawling hinterland of podcasts, Substacks and YoutTube channels of varying quality).

So, would you take this tour?

  • I'd fight for a spot!

  • Yeah, sure, why not?

  • Hm, maybe. What's the catch?

  • No way.

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