Data Analysis: Understanding Bankers Anonymous Readers

Data, Data, Everywhere, but Not a Thought to Think.

We live in a data-rich, analysis-poor world.

What do I mean by that?

TEDtalk-type folks tell us we create more data every moment than we know what to do with, that the data created in just the last 10 years overwhelms the data generated in the previous millennia of human existence.

The goal of thinking people, therefore, is not data-creation or even data-collection, but rather data-analysis.  How do we separate the signal from the noise?  How do we discover and connect disparate pieces of data to form a coherent narrative?  We have all this information, but what does it all mean?


Information, and revenue, collected by

You probably don’t know this already, so let me blow the lid off of a rich vein of data currently being collected by Bankers Anonymous, largely under the radar.

For your convenience, I’ve linked all my book reviews – positive and negative – to pages where you can buy those books on

At the same time, when you do buy something from after clicking through Bankers-Anonymous, I receive a small percentage of the sales revenue as an advertising affiliate of

In the past year Bankers Anonymous readers have purchased 160 items with a total retail value of $2,403.72.  As a result, in the past year of running Bankers Anonymous, I have earned $145.28 from referral fees.[1]

This information is not meant as disclosure – although you might as well know – and not even to encourage you to buy things on via Bankers Anonymous as a way of showing your appreciation for my attempts to amuse and inform – although you might as well do that too.

Instead, this means that after a year of tracking Bankers Anonymous readers’ purchases online, I can now definitively describe the profile of a B$A reader.

The Bankers Anonymous reader profile, based on your purchases

Based on my analysis of the rich vein of Amazon data, I’ll tell you what kind of person you are: Bald and nerdy.

Only one reader made a beauty product purchase in the past year.  That beauty need?  Baldness.

Amazon data shows a B$A reader purchased a 3-month supply of easy-to-use foam Rogaine for Men, Hair Regrowth Treatment, 5% Minoxidil Topical Aerosol.

So with that one purchase – 100% of the beauty purchases over the past year – I can definitively say that baldness is the silent aesthetic tragedy that stalks Bankers-Anonymous readers.

How do I deduce the nerdy part?

By far the biggest set of purchases made by readers are finance books, including a book on math for science and business that I reviewed last month.

The nerdiness doesn’t end there but is amplified by other purchases, such as one for doing magic tricks with math, interpreting financial statements, and how to do Jiu-Jitsu.  Seriously, a book on Jiu-Jitsu?
[2]  Are you getting the picture here?[3]

But that’s not the final set of data; the sartorial choices of Bankers Anonymous readers seals the deal.

One reader bought a pair of men’s Dockers, flat front pant.  Another reader (maybe the same one?) purchased Calvin Klein 3-Pack Boxer Briefs.  Most importantly, I’ve collected referral fees for three separate purchases of Gold Toe Men’s Canterbury Over the Calf Dress Sock, Navy, 3-Pack, Sock size 10-13.

It turns out my Bankers Anonymous readers are exactly like me, but somehow out there in the world.  I can’t express how comforting this is.

Anyway, here’s my promise to you, the readers of Bankers Anonymous.  If you keep clicking through and buying stuff to generate the data, I will continue to analyze the data and reflect back who you are, exactly, in the months and years to come.[4]

 Banana Slicer

[1] Yeah, that’s right ladies, $145.28 – but sorry, I’m married.  And fellas, don’t hate on me because I stack mad chips.  You don’t think this Hyundai pays for itself do you?


[2] I don’t know where to begin.  But first of all, in The Matrix, Neo learns Kung Fu, first.

[3] Upon seeing that particular data point I couldn’t shake the image of John Cusack in Better Off Dead, meeting his in-laws.  “Kick-boxing?  It’s a new sport, but it’s got a great future.”

[4] I was slightly disappointed to find no purchases of the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.  Can some reader please pick that thing up?

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On Housing, Part I – What we do when we invest in a house

houses and hotelsWhat housing is and is not

Housing, in a personal investment sense, is a confusing combination of necessity, consumption, and investment.  Separating and naming these functions can clarify for you exactly what you’re looking for in a house.

Your house is your roof and shelter from the earthly elements first, as well as the place where you lay your head at night, and where you store some physical possessions. The portion of payments you make for a roof and shelter rank in priority just below payments you make to acquire water and food on a regular – ideally daily – basis.

In that sense your house is a necessity.

To the extent your payments for a roof and shelter provides a personal feeling of comfort, luxury, prestige, identity, and aesthetic personality, then part of your house payments go toward consumption. 

You want these things, but you don’t need these things in a fundamental survival-type way.[1] 

In the meantime, you can have all of these necessity and consumption functions from housing without ‘owning’ the roof, without ‘owning’ the shelter.  What I mean is you can rent and fully satisfy the first two uses of housing.

Owning a home is not a requirement of happiness or middle-class achievement.  It should not be a substitute for the “American Dream,” or fulfilling your wildest childhood fantasies of belonging to some social group.

If you do choose the path of home ownership, your house may also serve as an investment. 

What does the Financial Infotainment Industrial Complex have to do with this?

If housing is partly an investment, then know that the Financial Infotainment Industrial Complex is seeking to mold your thoughts.

The nexus of the real estate and lending businesses – a powerful branch of the Financial Infotainment Industrial Complex – would have you conflate the necessity, consumption, and investment functions into fuzzy thinking.

I’m not saying housing is not a great investment – of course it is.  I’m just advocating for a clear-headedness about what we’re doing when you choose ownership over rental.  A clear-headedness not overly determined by powerful forces shaping your thoughts.

If all goes well for you, and housing inflation continues at a regular clip throughout the period of your home ownership, that fuzzy thinking will work out just fine for you.  But I want to take a moment to ponder what you’re really doing when you launch into the investment side of housing.

Housing as an investment

The good news

First, there’s no other investment vehicle which has done so much to foster middle class savings and wealth accumulation as home ownership.

With 4 to 1 leverage,[2] housing inflation, affordable and forced monthly payments, income tax breaks for mortgage interest, and generous tax exemptions for capital gains – I mean, this is one big, fat, middle-class birthday present for people who invested in housing over a long-term period of time, say, any time in the last 100 years.

To repeat: Nothing (nothing!) combines so many advantageous factors for middle class wealth accumulation.

The bad news

On the other hand, housing as an investment periodically punishes the individual, a municipality, or an entire country for over-exposure to housing and its parallel ill, over-indedebtedness.  Just ask your foreclosed ex-neighbor, the City of Detroit, or, for example, the entire Spanish nation.

So, yeah, there are risks. 

I  review some of the risks, and opportunities, in the next two posts.

See subsequent post On Housing Part II – The Risks

and On Housing Part III – The Opportunities

[1] When the vampire apocalypse happens, for example, you will settle for housing that fulfills a necessity, rather than insist on consumption.  And that necessity is keeping those scary scary blood-suckers outside of your four walls and roof.  Heavy duty reinforced steel and a panic room is my advice there.

[2] Assuming a 20% down-payment, 80% mortgage at inception, you are getting in financial terms 4 times the amount of debt ‘levering’ your down-payment.  Hence my financial lingo “4 to 1 leverage.”  Nothing else broadly available in the ordinary retail investment world comes close to that kind of financial gearing.

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