“Incomprehensible jargon is the hallmark of a profession.”
— Kingman Brewster Jr., former president of Yale University
John Newtson has proven to be one of my most controversial guests to date — at least internally.
No, it’s not about anything John said or believes. Instead, members of the staff have repeatedly questioned whether this week’s Session is valuable to anyone outside of the financial publishing industry.
Obviously I’ve argued that it is. Otherwise, we would have spent the last few days sending you updates of previous articles.
That didn’t happen because I know from first-hand experience that many of our readers are business owners. So John’s insights into a rapidly changing industry may offer perspectives of innovation or resilience to whatever challenges you might be facing.
Even if you’re not self-employed, my conversation with John offers another facet of the panopticon. Thanks to endless streams of data coming from all sides, everybody is watching everything all the time… but no one actually knows what’s going on.
It doesn’t stop us from trying, though. Here are all of our attempts to figure it out this week…
One of the things you’ll notice about The Day After is how the survivors keep pushing on, even when things seem so bleak. A family attends mass in a burned-out church. Doctors perform surgery by flashlight. With this heart-warming opening to our week, let me introduce you to John Newtson, who’s an inside player in our business. We’re going to take a detour down the yellow brick road so you can see how the newsletter industry actually works. Hope you enjoy and learn some things you didn’t know before.
As you may recall, the panopticon was first proposed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 1700s. The most well-known version was a circular prison with a single guard tower in the center. The inmates never knew when they were being watched and were therefore — at least according to the theory — more likely to behave. While only a few physical panopticons were ever built, the principle behind them has taken on more relevance in the digital age. Let’s take a look…
The Wizard of Oz is such a cultural touchstone that an entire mythology has been built around it — including the book. One of the most intriguing is that L. Frank Baum wrote it as an allegory for the idea of bimetallism. That is, basing money on silver and gold. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Keep in mind that in the book, Dorothy wears silver slippers instead of ruby ones. The yellow brick road could easily be a stand-in for gold. So Dorothy needs both silver and gold to get where she wants to go. From that lens, Baum’s characters can be seen as representations of major interest groups…
A business needs to connect with customers. That’s been true ever since Grog traded a rock hammer for some skins from Thrak in the cave next door. Today there are just so many more ways to advertise your wares. And in the case of the financial publishing industry, there are so many other voices to contend with. It’s something we’ve been struggling to figure out since the very beginning of The Daily Reckoning…
Questionable Business Decisions
In 2018, we had a plan to create a cryptocurrency that would help online advertisers sell ads in an effectively closed market. Here’s the thing about markets, though. They go up. They also go down. Crypto hit the skids in 2018. So the project never got off the ground… but at least we got our money back. Today, of course, cryptos are enjoying a resurgence, at least in a speculative sense. And other companies are jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, the Paris Saint-Germain soccer club has created a digital currency called the $PSG token for its fans. It seemed like nothing more than an interesting marketing gimmick — until one of the top players in the world accepted the tokens as part of an offer to join the Paris team…
You can catch our full interview with John Newtson, right here.
So, does my team have a point… or did you find something of value in this week’s conversation?
Just click on the picture above to watch the whole thing. Then share your thoughts with us using the social media links at the bottom of this page. You can also send us an email at Feedback@TheFinancialReserve.com.
There may be a six-pack of craft beer or a bottle of Malbec riding on your feedback. So please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Founder, Financial Reserve
P.S. Next week’s chat will prove to be a lot more straightforward. I’ll be talking to Charles Hughs Smith, author of 11 books and a frequent contributor to The Daily Reckoning.
We’ll be discussing big tech… student loans… and much more. I hope you’re looking forward to it.