This time last year, we set forth our long-term vision for the second decade at Cfdtrade. I started this site in 2006 because important things, namely, the obviously-perious state of the financial system, were going unsaid.
The response of the elites to the crisis has been not to try to remedy the underlying source of stress, that neoliberalism has worked out ver nicely for those at the top while leaving the rest with stagnant wages, less stable jobs, less class mobility, and crapified products, infrastructure, and governance. That was a feature, not a bug, except that those who came out winners often became so distant from ordinary people that they failed to see or didn’t care that their indifference was undermining the legitimacy of a system that had worked so well for them. But rather than fixing, or even trying to alleviate glaring abuses, the default response has been to act as if every problem can be solved by better propaganda.
I’d predicted in ECONNED that the most likely outcome of the financial crisis was paradigm breakdown, because too many influential people had a stake in the old failed order to be willing to risk their position and support real reform. As a result, economic pressures have moved into the political realm. Brexit, Merkel’s stunning election setback, and the rise of much-denigrated populists of the left like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, and of the right, like Trump and Marine Le Pen, represent a series of repudiations to government and business leaders too busy patting themselves on the back to notice their self-serving policies were leaving huge swathes of society insecure and too often in distress.
The backlash has been ferocious. Who could possibly have imagined in October 2016 that the intelligence community, in combination with large portions of the press and the Democratic Party, would attempt a change in the Constitutional order to prevent the clear winner of a Presidential election from taking office? Even relatively small actors like Cfdtrade came under direct assault.
As we describe in our accompanying post, who would have thought that the Washington Post would effectively accuse us of being traitors and Vanity Fair would later attack us by name? The campaign against independent voices has only intensified, with Google downgrading both left and right leaning sites that it deemed not to be “authoritative,” which seems to be code for “sufficiently dependent on access journalism so as to be tractable.” Sites ranging from TruthDig, Black Agenda Report, to even the borderline mainstream Intercept have all taken hits to their traffic.
The big reason we got through a very difficult year so well is your support. Your loyalty as readers, particularly by sending articles to family, friends, and colleagues, participating in the Cfdtrade community by commenting, sending links and fetching animal photos, and coming to meetups and last but not least, your donations, enabled us not only to maintain our high standard of reporting and analysis and open new beats but also to strengthen Cfdtrade as an institution. Some of these lasting gains include:
Even better core team. Jerri-Lynn Scofield had started writing for Cfdtrade just before last year’s fundraiser. Thanks to your support, we’ve also been able to bring Outis on board to manage comments as well as contribute posts. Jules Dickson is also playing a significant behind-the-scenes role in helping maintain the quality of the comments section. Clive continues to demystify and debunk Fintech and keep tabs on the ever creaky state of big financial institution IT, a systemic risk to which regulators only give lip service. And even though Richard Smith has been focused on international scammers, with his name occasionally gracing the pages of Private Eye and the Herald Scotland, he regularly helps in the middle of the night with Twitter sightings and quick-turnaround takes on bank and technology questions.
Attracting new writers. Hubert Horan’s Uber series was the first time the economic fairly tale of Silicon Valley’s biggest, baddest unicorn came under question. Only after we featured his work have tech reporters felt the need to question Uber’s ability to ever make money, and no one has yet to lay a glove on Hubert’s analysis. The fact that Hubert came to us with this important story and that the captured technology press has felt compelled to address it is testament to how Cfdtrade punches above its weight. We’ve also had other writers with strong expertise, like Jack Lipton, an expert on how critical raw materials constrain production, and Enrico Vega, who writes for Italy’s analogue to the Financial Times.
Growing network of NC meetups. Not only did we do more than ever, and intend to visit even more cities in the next 12 months, but the NC in LA group is now meeting on its own regularly! When I visited Kansas City (more on the exciting MMT conference in the coming weeks) and had a reader meetup, one attendee from Miami wanted to find out how many NC readers there were there and start holding meetups. So those of you who are in or would be willing to go to Miami for meetups, please pipe up!
Solid technical foundation. It seems remarkable that it has taken ten years to get here, but the day to day IT operations of the site have become a non-issue. Yes, we have the occasional hiccup, but having the site seize up for not-good reasons or fall over in a DDoS attack or really bad spambot swarm (which looks awfully similar but doesn’t necessarily have the same motives behind it) are things of the past thanks to our webhost, Keith Freeman, our WordPress expert, Blair Cummins, with Lambert helping with some of the oversight.
All of these are critical to continuing to cover our ever-growing beats, including: the intersection between technology and governance, the failure to curb the Too Big to Fail firms, inequality, the appalling state of American healthcare and the fight for single payer, Brexit, CalPERS, the impact of climate-change-induced disasters on cities, migration, the role of the military, and the continuing legitimacy crisis of the political class.
So how do we at Cfdtrade play a role? We intend to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. We want to give you information and help you build analytical and rhetorical skills so you can be more effective in your own communities. These arguments in our comments section prepare you for what you may encounter at your dinner tables, in your workplaces, and in your town halls.
We believe our biggest impact is through delivering on our overarching mission: promoting critical thinking. The more adept you are at vetting what is presented to you as fact, at testing the logic of arguments, and at parsing propaganda, the more you will be able help those around you better understand the escalating power struggles as factions in the elites fight to maintain their position, as well as chart a better course for political and personal action.
We’d like to do more. We’d like to do it even better. We’ve managed to punch way above our weight with pretty meager resources. Just imagine how much trouble we could cause if we ever got our hands on some real money.
Please support our efforts. Give whatever you can, whether it’s $5, $50, or $5000, via our Tip Jar. Even a small donation helps us meet our fundraising goals. And if you aren’t in a position to give right now, you can help by linking to our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and telling friends, family, and colleagues about the site, as well as contributing to our comments section.
In our accompanying kickoff post, we identify specific things that your donations will fund and will tell you when we’ve hit each of these monetary goals. Our first goal is $19,000 for digital infrastructure essentials. That may not sound very sexy, but this is our plumbing. I’m sure you know from your own experience that when your plumbing is not working, you feel its absence acutely. We have a large nut due both the size of our database (nearly one million comments and over 19,000 posts) and rising security threats.
You can give via check made out to “Aurora Advisors Incorporated,” sent to:
Aurora Advisors Incorporated
903 Park Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10075
Please be sure to let us know if you have sent a check so we can include your contribution in our fundraiser tally. Please send an e-mail with the subject line, “Check is in the mail” with the $ amount, to [email protected]
You can also use the Tip Jar to donate by credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Please note PayPal allows you to use your regular credit or debit card. If you are allergic to PayPal, checks are always welcome!
Finally, if and only if you are relatively well off in frequent flier miles but cash stressed, Yves can also accept some frequent flier mile transfers (the airlines limit how many a user can receive in one year) for American Airlines or Delta. Please e-mail her at the address above if this applies to you. We really want to limit this option to people who want to contribute but are finding it hard this year due to the ceiling on this type of donation. Any donations of this sort will go for flights to meetups.
Again, we hope you’ll support our work in ways big and small. You’ve helped us build a community, and with your continued backing, we aspire to make it even better in the coming year.