Blogs to watch (part 2): LT3000

Blogs to watch (part 2): LT3000
15 November 2019

Whenever I receive an article notification from "LT3000", I tend to drop everything and read it right away. It's a blog written by one of the smartest thinkers of the investment blogosphere, and also a very valuable publication financially, even though you can read it for free!

When I wrote about Lyn Alden's blog a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to meet her in person before putting pen to paper. For today's column, the opposite was the case. I have never met or spoken to LT3000's author, Lyall Taylor (whose initials and nickname "3000" form the name of his blog). You can't email him via the blog and I can't message him on LinkedIn either, as he is too far removed from my own network. I also can't reach out to him on Twitter as I don't have a profile on there.

Not having had any contact with LT3000's author made it a fun exercise to come up with the right angle for my article. I concluded that a list of observations why I love and respect his blog so much is probably most useful to you.

1: Long-form content

Articles on LT3000 tend to drill deep into individual issues. Pieces can run 10 to 40 pages if you print them out (as I do when I am near a printer).

The blog's "Welcome" page states that Lyall writes because "putting one's thoughts into writing is also a useful discipline".

He has a talent for analysing a subject in great depth, looking at it from different perspectives (including topics that are contrary to his existing beliefs), and getting his observations across in such a way that others can easily follow him.

Given the apparent similarity to my blog, I suspect many of my readers will enjoy this particular feature of LT3000. This point deserved to be listed first.

2: Mixture of content

The LT3000 blog features:

  • Discussions of individual stocks
  • Analysis of entire markets
  • Lengthy essays about any subject that the author happens to take an interest in. Virtually all of them have an angle involving markets, economies and investing but its author also isn't afraid to stray into politics or what Brits like to refer to as "life, the universe, and everything".

I particularly appreciate the latter. E.g., a recent article was about "freedom of speech, Mark Zuckerberg, and online misinformation".

Lyall previously wrote about why the market currently had misconceptions about electric vehicles, why it was worthwhile to follow the Turkish stock market, and what he sees as the real reason why populism is rising in the West.

LT3000 often takes deeply contrarian positions. It doesn't do so purely for the sake of doing something different, but backed up by in-depth analysis, such as in this November 2018 article why Greek (!) banks were a buy. Back in the days, no one would have touched one of the most toxic asset classes in Europe. Lyall, however, clearly explained why there was a large gap between the prevailing media narrative and the facts.

It turned out his analysis was well-timed. During 2019, Greek banks weren't just a good investment, but they ranked among the world's best performing stocks:

  • Piraeus Bank: +300%
  • National Bank of Greece: +190%
  • Eurobank Ergasis: +90%
  • Alpha Bank: +68%
  • Attica Bank: +300%

(All figures since January 2019 to now. LT3000 had bought into Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.)

I find it incredible that such high-quality investing ideas and analysis are available for free.

By the way, talking of Greek banks: If you missed out on them, you might get a second chance with Italy! I've just looked at one Italian bank which stands out as an attractive value play with clear catalysts on the horizon. The company has already confirmed some of my projections, and the stock has started to move up. Clearly a case of "get in while everyone thinks you are crazy"…

3: A view from a different part of the world

Where you live shapes your worldview.

Lyall lives in Singapore, which, naturally, makes him view the world from a different perspective. Living in Asia's richest city-state exposes him to media, opinions, and opportunities that are very different compared to those in Europe or the US.

Asia is a part of the world that I don't tend to visit often enough in my travels.

I appreciate reading from someone who is on the ground in a part of the world that I am not sufficiently familiar with. (If any of my readers know of other investment blogs that are based out of Asia, I'd be keen to hear about them.)

4: Heretical viewpoints

Lyall used to work in the financial services industry but now manages money for himself and friends – a position which gives him the necessary independence to write without restrictions.

He recently wrote a piece where he analysed what it takes to be an actual contrarian:

"So why is contrarianism so rare? It is rare not only because it is intellectually hard (it requires constant, active open-mindedness), but also because of incentive problems, and the personal costs involved in invoking the ire of the tribe.

I feel extremely fortunate to work in a job where I get rewarded for discovering truth. As I work for myself, I also need not fear being fired for the expression of politically unpopular or controversial beliefs. I feel extremely lucky … (because) I could easily have found myself …. alienated, condemned, and ejected by the tribe for espousing unpopular views. It is partly for this reason that I feel a responsibility to share some of the politically unpopular insights I have, because if it's not people like me, then who can we rely on to do so?"

So much of stock market success depends on being able to see what others aren't seeing yet. Sometimes, some of your readers will dislike your viewpoints (e.g., my recent column about investing in Saudi Arabia upset a few people for different reasons). If you want to be good at investing your own money, you cannot be afraid of holding an outside opinion.

The LT3000 blog is not only an excellent source for such viewpoints but also a good training ground for yourself. You can use it to steel yourself in the art of holding contrarian views – backed by solid analysis!

5: Reader feedback is actively invited

As Lyall wrote at the end of one of his more "controversial" pieces recently:

"On a final note, I wish to emphasise I could well be wrong in some or all of my analysis. These are complex issues. I always consider all of my opinions provisional, and open to change in the face of new or better evidence/arguments/insights. If someone is able to convince me I've made a mistake, I'll be more than willing to change my mind."

One of the most significant upsides of writing a blog with quality content is that you tend to get interesting input from equally interesting readers.

In the politically charged environment that we now live in, I tend to divide people into two groups. Those who have an open-enough mind to be able to respect other viewpoints and occasionally amend their own; and those who do not respect other viewpoints and are only consuming information that originates from their tribe. Obviously, the former are generally a more useful group of people to receive feedback from.

Like myself, Lyall seems to use his blog to what I call "test your own BS". Publishing your viewpoints and conclusions is the single toughest test you can put them through. And it's fun for the readers, too, when the author engages in conversations with them.

6: The arrogance of publishing long, dense text

The LT3000 blog comes with few illustrations and very lengthy text.

Its layout would have been outdated 20 years ago. It doesn't even have a standalone web domain but is hosted on Blogspot.

I love the fact that its author has the self-confidence (if not arrogance) to disregard much of the modern thinking about web design, user experience and similar subjects. He seems to think that for as long as your writing is useful, people will read it anyway.

Which reminds me of an old joke that made the rounds among my fellow investment newsletter writers during the 1990s: "If the investment analysis is good, then you can print it on the back of a stamp. People will read it anyway."

As I know now, LT3000 was read by several of my personal friends before I discovered it. It's safe to assume that its readership has grown nicely despite the lack of fancy design.

I appreciate this attitude as something refreshing.

7: No fixed schedule

Any "expert" in blogging will tell you that it is essential to publish regularly and reliably. They'll cite readers' expectations, search engine optimisation etc.

There is one significant downside to having a regular publishing schedule. As an author, you can quickly end up with mediocre content just because you HAVE to deliver something on a particular date. It's tough to churn out new ideas and original thinking based on a fixed schedule. The muse either kisses you, or she doesn't. When she doesn't, there is no point to attempt writing.

LT3000 doesn't have a fixed schedule. New articles appear whenever the author feels like writing.

In January 2019, he published 10 articles. In December 2018, he published zero articles.

It adds to a blog being genuine and high-quality if the author only publishes when he feels that he has something truly worthwhile to say.

(The more quick-witted of my readers will point out that I am not sticking to this for my own blog. There are several specific, carefully considered reasons for that, such as my desire to learn something new every week by writing my Weekly Dispatches. None of this prevents me from saying that the lack of a publishing schedule is something I appreciate about someone else's product.)

8: The lack of focus as a feature, not a weakness

I take an active interest in the media industry and, in particular, the fast-growing "alternative media" sector. I consider large parts of the mainstream media a dying system, and see tremendous commercial potential for new, different media operations throughout the 2020s.

Experts will mostly tell you that a publication, such as a blog, needs to have a clearly-defined focus.

LT3000 is breaking that rule, and it seems to be doing very well on the back of it. Subjects such as the author's view of the reason for the rise of so-called populism or his opinion on freedom of speech don't seem to be an immediate match for an investing blog. However, in the case of LT3000, this mixture has come together to a product where you check any new article because you want to see the world through the prism of an author who has a broad, different perspective. I appreciate such diversity in writing because I believe that no one can reliably judge investments without a view on where the world is heading. Also, I like to get to know an author from different perspectives. What can appear as "off-topic" articles add nicely to the overall value I attribute to LT3000.

The author very cleverly dubbed his blog: "Eclectic musings on value investing, business, economics, and life".

I don't know if he did so consciously, but he latched on to a new trend in media. Many readers are looking for something that doesn't fit into boxes. Lyall turned not being conventional into a feature. He could never pursue this approach at a corporate media publication, but I assume it serves him well for his blog.

9: It's for free

Did I mention already that Lyall's blog is free?

Where to find him…

You can find LT3000 at https://lt3000.blogspot.com (and sign up for an email alert for new articles).

Lyall's Twitter account is worth the occasional look (I am a Twitter lurker, which doesn't require an account).

If this article sounds like his fund management expertise might be of value to you, you can look at his LinkedIn profile. I have no idea if he accepts any mandates or how he operates.

If you happen to know Lyall personally, please do give him a nudge about this article. Not that it makes much of a difference, but he might enjoy knowing that he got featured.

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