Fan mail to Aaron Task, Henry Blodget, John Mauldin, the Planet Money gang and Felix Salmon

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I’m not an unalloyed fan of Henry Blodget as a business journalist. He’s a smart guy and a good writer, but he has a tendency to go for bold statements that represent not so much the sum total of his thinking as the sum total of his desire to make an impression (this was true when he was an analyst, too, of course). I have become a huge fan, though, of the interviews that Blodget and Aaron Task do every day at Yahoo Finance’s Tech Ticker (no, the name makes no sense, but whatever).

They talk to lots of people I’d like to talk to, ask questions I want asked, and then let their guests respond in some depth. Maybe I should just outsource all my interviewing to them.

Today’s guest is investment guru John Mauldin, who says smart things about Europe’s big financial problems (they’re now all coming from the east) and the medium-term future of the stock market. And while I’m gushing, let me gush about Mauldin, whom I discovered on CalculatedRisk a couple of months ago. As he tells it in a charming autobiography on his Website, he’s a self-taught product of the investment newsletter world of the early 1980s (having arrived there via a printing business he owned). Unlike most of the people he consorted with, he didn’t latch on to one oversimplified explanation of the world (Elliott Wave, Dow Theory, Rothbardianism, etc.) and make a career of that. Instead, he basically became (and remains) a searcher for investment truth: A smart, insatiably curious guy with a knack for avoiding both dogma and nuttiness. I get his free Thoughts from the Frontline and Outside the Box e-mails now, and while I can’t say that I read them all to the end (brevity is not what Mauldin’s about), I never delete them without opening them either.

Continuing with the panting praise: I only have a 20-minute commute to work, and I download about ten hours of podcasts a day. That means I only get around to listening to Planet Money about once a week (this morning it lost out to the Deutsche Welle Nachrichten and the Guardian Football Weekly Champions League Extra), but it’s usually brilliant, and usually teaches me things I didn’t know even though it’s supposedly aimed at an audience new to economics and finance. Anyway, the Planet Money crew put together a now semi-legendary broadcast on the financial crisis for All Things Considered and This American Life last spring called The Giant Pool of Money, and this weekend they’re doing it again with Bad Bank on This American Life. Check your local listings. Or just wait until they put the broadcast online.

Finally, Felix Salmon has the cover story in the March Wired. It’s about the Gaussian copula function. Need I say more?

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