My colleague Elia Levitin recently wrote, “newsletters are all the craze these days.”
Certainly for media relations professionals, the newsletter has all but taken over print as the prime real estate for direct exposure to a publication’s readers. Some newsletters have reached such levels of mystical popularity (like Fortune’s TermSheet or Axios Markets), their position of editor has become a badge of honour for aspiring journalists.
As a financial communications professional, having a daily dose of newsletters on a varied range of topics, is essential to how I got about my job. So I do my best to keep up with new newsletters launching to understand their different styles and tones, and what sorts of stories they focus on.
We’ve seen a range of notable newsletter launches in the last year or so, many with a financial focus or twist. Here are some of my personal recommended subscriptions from recent launches.
The FT has been better than most at harnessing the benefits of newsletter-first substantive content to grow subscriptions and revenue. One of the most notable to join its long list of newsletters this year was ‘Unhedged’ authored by seasoned columnist Robert Armstrong. Each day Mr. Armstrong offers up a detailed and humorous analysis of the big themes and trends impacting Wall St and the world of markets. There is barely a corner of finance that he hasn’t touched in 2021, ranging from the impact of inflation, Turkish monetary policy, NFTs, to Chinese junk bond yields, why a bitcoin ETF shouldn’t exist, and surging energy prices. Perhaps most notably, his deconstruction of Tariq Fancy’s essay on ESG investing which triggered widespread debate and a follow up article presenting the view of ‘Team ESG’.
‘The Long Game’ is not a dedicated finance newsletter by any stretch, but one that any finance professional interested in ESG and sustainability should be signed up to. Launched in 2020, and co-authored by former Bloomberg reporters Lorraine Woellert and Catherine Boudreau, the weekly newsletter positions itself as a sector-agnostic dive into the biggest stories shaping the future of society. When it comes to finance, the newsletter has covered such topics in 2021 as the price of pollution and carbon trading, the misconception of ESG-labelled investment portfolios, and BlackRock doubling its support for shareholder proposals geared towards corporate disclosures and greenhouse gases.
Sam Ro was an early-joiner at Business Insider, rising up to become the Deputy Editor of its markets coverage. He then had a long stint at Yahoo Finance followed by a short one at Axios earlier this year. He’s also a particularly humorous tweeter to his 50k followers. He’s rightfully highly respected among financial services peers. So when Sam announced he was leaving Axios to start his own Substack joining a growing list of notable journalists taking the same route, people took note. Launched in October, Sam’s newsletter TKer.co provides a daily dose of financial advice and markets analysis, promising to cut through the noise and provider critical context. You can subscribe through a monthly fee for $9 or sign up for free to receive occasionally (around once a week).
In June 2021, Fortune revived its newsletter on sustainability, climate change, and energy, formerly known as ‘The Loop’ but now rebranded as Green, Inc. The sort of new but not really new weekly newsletter is authored by Eamon Barrett and Katherine Dunn, who interestingly for a largely US-based readership, are located in Hong Kong and London respectively. It provides a distinctly global outlook all-things sustainability while remaining true to Fortune’s popular newsletter style and tone.
Michael Bloomberg launched the New Economy in 2018 to provide a forum for global leaders to coalesce and build a sustainable and inclusive global economy. Similar to some of its other multi-platform initiatives like Bloomberg Green, the New Economy now has a dedicated daily newsletter authored by some of Bloomberg’s senior economics reporters including Simon Kennedy, Chris Anstey, and Andrew Browne. The newsletter covers a range of global economics topics, and typically has one lead story covered in detail, followed by regular sub-sections: The Economic Scene, Today’s Must Reads, Need-to-Know Research, and On #EconTwitter.
The New York Times launched its newsletter project in July this year boasting 15 newsletters only available to subscribers. One of the more notable additions was Peter Coy, who ended a near 32-year association with Bloomberg/Businessweek to join the paper and write the eponymous new newsletter and provide his take on the biggest headlines impacting business and economics. Yet, if you were expecting regular deep dives on the impact of inflation or Fed tapering, you will be surprised. Peter’s writing often centers on the quirky. For instance, he has covered why it’s so easy to buy a used car today, what game theory says about China’s strategy, and what newly launched publication Alexander Hamilton would write for today.
Another Substack addition. Former Bloomberg, Financial Times, and Barron’s columnist Matthew Klein launched his newsletter in July with the goal of writing about economics for everyone who wants to be informed about the world. The newsletter is published 1-2 times a week and brings a data-first approach to macroeconomics. A subscription will cost you $18 a month or free for the occasional post and preview.
An honourable mention should go to Nathan Tankus’ Notes on the Crises, formerly a substack but now hosted through Ghost, another publishing service. Nathan and his newsletter gained fame in 2020 when he identified dislocations in the secured lending market, resulting in the Fed resuming its purchasing of Treasury bonds. What’s remarkable about Nathan and his newsletter’s impact, is his backstory. He has no degree and no established career in journalism. At the beginning of the pandemic he was, and still is, the Research Director of the relatively unknown Modern Money Network. Today, he is a regular guest on Bloomberg TV and contributor to such publications as the Financial Times and Business Insider, regularly cited by The Washington Post, Bloomberg, and Fortune among others, and a sought after speaker.
If Nathan’s achievement isn’t an example of the impact of newsletters and the democratisation of journalism, I don’t know what is.
This list is not exhaustive, and frankly it’s hard to keep up with the number of new launches. I’m sure the market for newsletters will reach saturation at some point in the near future. It’s already a tough assessment of which ones to sign up for and which to unsubscribe to.
If there are other recommendations, I would love to hear them.
Sam Barber is a senior vice president in New York