Top 25 Most Dangerous People in Financial Media

KRISTI KIRK (PATRIOTSANDPAULIES.WORDPRESS.COM) – Blogger, author and New York City based financial advisor, Josh Brown, The Reformed Broker, recently came out with a list naming 25 financial media players who he feels are today’s most dangerous. “Dangerous in a good way,” says Brown. Beyond ranking at the top of their fields, Brown says these financial journalists are the movers and shakers who pose a danger to the status quo.

“We tried it [the establishment’s] way, allowing the banks and other corporations to write the laws and make all of our decisions for us. Turns out, that’s not true democracy or capitalism, it’s something else entirely, and we’ve all had enough,” Brown says,

“These are the folks leading the charge to take it back.”

The 25 Most Dangerous People in Financial Media

— Josh Brown

1. Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert (The Keiser Report)

The Keiser ReportWhile other news personalities report on the Greek riots from the shelter of a luxury hotel’s rooftop, Max and Stacy and down in the square with flak jackets, gas masks and a camera rolling despite the bedlam taking place all around them. When other pundits lament the lack of regulation, Max and Stacy call for the bank executives’ heads to roll. No one speaks with more candor and no one speaks with more courage on behalf of all of us – the victims of the most infamous unpunished heist in world history.

2. Tyler Durden (Zero Hedge)

ZeroHedge.comThe original comic book supervillain of the financial web, complete with mysterious origin story and an evil intellect that literally defies you not to pay attention. Durden’s work is cited everywhere from Tom Keene’s radio show on Bloomberg to anarchist meetings taking place in parking garages and vacant lots across America. Whenever I meet people and tell them I’m a blogger, the very first question they ask (in whispered tones) is whether or not I know Tyler.

3. Teri Buhl

TeriBuhl.comTeri does smashmouth investigative journalism, she is so fierce she even scares other financial journalists who would never go to the lengths she goes to in order to secure a story. Teri’s made all the right enemies from NYC to Greenwich, picking up a ton of street cred in the process. Believe me, if you’re up to no good in the financial services biz, you want Teri and her instinct for fraud-busting to be as far away from you as possible.

4. Stephanie Ruhle (Bloomberg TV)

Bloomberg TVThe last thing the i-banks ever expected was that one of their own would become a major fixture in the financial news media – but Stephanie has done just that. A former Deutsche Bank managing director, Stephanie has been in the center of a major capital markets operation catering to hedge funds and she knows exactly more than most about the inner workings of The Street. Her connections even helped her uncover and blow up the JPMorgan London Whale story this spring. And did I mention that she’s gorgeous and as cool as the other side of the pillow in person?

5. Jesse Eisinger (ProPublica, DealBook)

ProPublica.orgOne of the common complaints of the public is that the media didn’t do anything to warn them about the crash of 2008. Anyone saying that was apparently not aware of Jesse’s work at Conde Nast Portfolio in November 2007 – his piece “Requiem for Wall Street” literally predicted the demise of Bear and Lehman, an impossible-to-imagine concept that this particular reporter absolutely nailed. Jesse’s gone on to win a Pulitzer for his work on the Magnetar hedge fund scandal and he is truly one of the last uncaptured, uncompromising journos in all of finance.

6. Herb Greenberg (CNBC)

CNBC.comIt’s one thing to be a skeptic or a cynic. It is entirely another thing to actually read the filings, call up company representatives and take the whole mess to the airwaves when a stock looks shady, braving the slings and arrows that are so inevitable when you express a contrary opinion in the financial media. Herb is the anti-hype, the guy who actually reads the fine print before the cameras come on.

7. Francine McKenna (re: The Auditors)

re: The AuditorsIf you were reading Francine in 2008, then you didn’t own Lehman Brothers, it’s as simple as that. Francine writes tough and truthfully, and in person you know right off the bat that she knows her stuff and means business. Traders love her, investors love her and the certified public accountant community respects her work.

8. Max Abelson (Bloomberg)

Bloomberg. Max has taken the torch from the New York Observer’s now-retired George Gurley and has made an art form out of giving his subjects just enough rope to hang themselves with the inanity of their own words. Take, as a case in point, the government-coddled bankster CEO who believes the American public is furious “because they hate rich people.” Or the finance industry frat boys who think they’re staging a comedy event, complete with jokes about poor people, behind closed doors. Think again, you never know when Max will be there.

9. Heidi Moore (Marketplace Radio) Heidi knows where all the bodies are buried from her news-breaking days at the Wall Street Journal at the height of the financial crisis and she’s committed herself to using her powers for good. As the New York bureau chief for American Public Media’s Marketplace radio, Heidi excels at taking the purposefully obfuscated complexity of modern finance and distilling it down to its basic truths for the rest of America to debate and decide on.

10. Williambanzai7 Mr. Banzai7 joins the ranks of Arlo and Woody Guthrie, Banksy and all the rest of our favorite protesting folk artists with his almost daily blizzard of photoshop masterpieces on Flickr and throughout the financial blogosphere. Whether he’s welding the heads of our most reckless bank CEOs onto the bodies of mythological villains or fusing the most despicable politicians into a Sergeant Pepper’s album cover tableau, the man instinctively gets the concept of being both evocative and impactful with each new jpeg creation.

11. Neil Barofsky (Neil Barofsky’s book “Bailout”)

Neil Barofsky’s book “Bailout”. Just so we’re all on the same page, once upon a time there was a $700 billion government slush fund for the Too Big To Fail banks that took this country to the brink of social and economic chaos – it was called TARP. This money was supposed to ensure that these systemic banks would be back under control and on the straight and narrow. Instead, they turned around and spit in our faces with lawsuits choking off efforts to regulate them, a return to record bonuses and a continuation of reckless trading as though nothing ever happened. Neil was Inspector General for the TARP program, knows where all the bodies are buried, and is out in the media telling us the true story.

12. James Koutoulas (Commodity Customers Coalition) Last fall, James was minding his own business running a commodities-trading firm when the collapse of MF Global began and one day 50 of his clients had their accounts frozen by the scrambling morons who were at that sinking ship attempting to clean up the multi-billion mess created by CEO Jon Corzine. Koutoulas was so infuriated by the blatant screwing over of his customers that he became a fixture at all of the bankruptcy hearings, not to mention a fixture in the dumbfounded media who worked overtime to explain exactly what went wrong at the brokerage firm and why it never should have been permitted to happen.

13. Roddy Boyd (The Financial Investigator) Roddy does what he calls “document-driven investigative journalism” – and he’s one of the few out there with the patience and the eye for detail that this type of work requires. His high profile bouts with the brass at are now legend. If Roddy is writing about a stock you own, you may want to hear him out before buying any more.

14. Sam Antar (White Collar Fraud) The former Crazy Eddie book-cooker became a convicted felon, did his time, paid his debt and now is back to save us from guys like his former self. Antar calls out Fortune 500 CFOs, brokerage firm bad guys, willfully blind analysts and everyone in between when he sees accounting chicanery that could potentially hurt investors.

15. Ron Rhoades (NAPFA) The world of finance is not immune to the age old question of “Who’s watching the watchers?” Ron Rhoades is the contentious and principled incoming chair of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and he is fighting mad at the prospect of FINRA, the hated brokerage SRO, taking over the supervision of the investment advisory channel. Rather than hide behind interest groups and lobbyists, Ron has taken the battle public with a scathing Twitter feed (@140Limited) and a series of op-eds and articles in the industry trades. We’ve got a non-conflicted, beautiful model in the RIA community and Rhoades will be damned before he allows it to be co-opted and contaminated by the anachronistic foulness of the broker-dealer machine.

16. Bess Levin (Dealbreaker) The most badass financial blogger in financial blogging history. CEOs quake at the thought of her uncovering an errant email, billionaire hedge fund managers quiver at the mere mention of her name. If there is news (or a juicy rumor) concerning the Titans of Wall Street, many others will have their say, but Bess’s take will crush them all.

17. The Fly (iBankCoin) It could go either way with The Fly: He could take you under his wing and teach you the ways of a real trader, or he could obliterate you with his ray gun on his way back out to the crab nebula. You are advised to tread lightly and watch yourself around The Fly, aka Senor Tropicana, aka the Space Alien Magician of the markets.

18. Downtown Josh Brown (The Reformed Broker)

TheReformedBroker.comYes, it’s my list but I mean, come on! If there’s a more subversive, enemy-making person talking about the wealth management biz in the world today, let me know and I’ll gladly replace myself here. Yeah, I didn’t think so.

I’ve always fancied myself a bit of a renegade and I find myself drawn to others like me – There are rules put in place to protect and better society, and there are those who would subvert those rules or pay to have new ones written that protect and enrich their own little fiefdoms.  I’m of the opinion that the status quo sucks and needs to be disrupted.  These are the people in the financial media who are doing the disruption, so in this case, the term “dangerous” is complimentary.

Josh Brown’s book, Backstage Wall Street: An Insider’s Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize Your Investments,  is available at

19. Joe Saluzzi and Sal Arnuk (Themis Trading) Joe Saluzzi and Sal Arnuk are veteran traders who are disgusted with what the for-profit structure has done to the exchanges. They are far and away the foremost critics of HFT. Their new book Broken Markets will surprise you with the picture of modern trading that it paints.

20. Lauren LaCapra (Reuters)

Reuters. Let me tell you something about Lauren: The most dangerous place on earth to be is between her and a genuine scoop on Goldman Sachs. Lauren covers the big i-banks for Reuters, worked her tail off to get that beat and does it better than anyone I know.

21. Kayla Tausche (CNBC)

CNBC. The Street was probably not ready for this – a knockout beauty TV newser with both the chops to deliver a well-researched story and the stones to chase Jon Corzine down a courthouse hallway. Kayla’s a throwback to the hardnosed stuff most television journalists have forgotten how to do.

22. Barry Ritholtz (The Big Picture)

The Big Picture. Someone once asked my boss Barry Ritholtz about how he chooses which topics to blog about at The Big Picture. “Simple,” he says, “you know you’re about to write something important when you’re so pissed off that you can’t even take another second of the lying and stupidity.” Barry’s blog is perhaps the most well-known oasis of economic straight talk on the web, and his book Bailout Nation has made an impact from the chambers of Congress to the once-impregnable citadels of the financial district itself.

23. Chris Whalen (Institutional Risk Analytics)

Institutional Risk Analytics. Chris is probably one of the most credible voices in financial media today when it comes to our failed and failing bank system, calling BS on the financial reporting and chipping away at the culture that’s kept zombie banks from the graveyard where they belong.

24. Yves Smith (Naked Capitalism)

Naked Capitalism. One of the original blogger-muckrakers, Yves has a a massive readership and reach along with an insider’s command of the nexus between moneyed interests on The Street and the regulations that are supposed to protect us from them.

25. Michelle Leder (footnoted)

Footnoted. Michelle and her team rip through tens of thousands of corporate SEC filings each quarter and shine a light on scores of shareholder abuses, some of which you have to see for yourself to believe.


3 thoughts on “Top 25 Most Dangerous People in Financial Media

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