Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Michael Santoli Leaves Barron's Magazine

What does a financial advisor do when his favorite financial author (Michael Santoli) leaves his favorite financial publication (Barron's)? I'm still in the process of figuring that out. 

Michael Santoli wrote the "Streetwise" column in Barron's for many years, but several months ago he quietly up and left for Yahoo Finance.

I've been a reader of Barron's since 1997, but I became an avid reader during 2008. I thought Barron's had some of the best coverage out there on the Great Recession.

Barron's had a winning formula. Each weekly edition began with commentary by Alan Abelson. Abelson's editorials are notable because of his cynicism and bearishness, as well as his literary writing style. (Sometimes when reading Abelson I feel like I am reading Hawthorne.)

Abelson is also one my favorite writers, and one reason is I can never get through one of his weekly commentaries without being made aware of the many problems in the financial world. I find it a healthy exercise as it protects against overconfidence.

Michael's commentary used to follow, and it featured a more middle of the road, open minded sentiment. So Barron's had a sort of one-two punch going with the Abelson and Santoli team. The sum was more than the parts, which is the hallmark of a good team.

Santoli's articles were insightful. Although you would need to read him for a while to get a feel for his work, one example would be the time he pointed out the popular Drudge Report often functioned as a contrarian indicator - a useful concept since the influential online site is inevitably one of the first to jump on the "sky is falling" bandwagon and fan the flames of panic whenever the market acts up a bit.

With so many financial writers out there, why does Santoli's exit matter?

Look at different leading writers and you'll notice they all have different opinions. If you read ten articles, five may be bullish and five bearish. It is easy to end up more confused than when you started. It's hard to find a writer you trust, and it was nice following Michael's insights every week. I'll keep reading Barron's, but I reckon it's also time to bookmark Yahoo Finance.

Still, Saturday mornings with Barron's just won't be the same.
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