The Markets ConversatION Podcast

Quick Takes: Our Top Blogs of 2023

January 24, 2024 | Duration: 11 minutes

Speakers: Amir Khwaja and Chris Barnes


In this episode, Amir highlights the most popular blog posts of 2023 and shares a few statistics on their performance.

Some highlights include the Top NEW Blogs in 2023, Top Blogs in 2023, Categories and Topics of Blog Posts and some thoughts on going forward in 2024.


Ali Curi: Hi everyone and welcome to ION Markets Quick Takes. I’m Ali Curi and every week along with my guests Amir Khwaja and Chris Barnes, we take a quick dive into the headlines on the Clarus blog. Let’s get started.

Hi Chris. Hi Amir.

Amir Khwaja: Hey Ali.

Chris Barnes: Hey Ali. How are you doing?

Ali Curi: I’m doing great. Happy New Year!

Amir Khwaja: Same to you.

Chris Barnes: Happy New Year!

Ali Curi: Amir, let’s start with you. What’s your Quick Take for this week? Which headline from the Clarus FT blog would you like to discuss?

Amir Khwaja: Sure, Ali. It’s called, “Our Top Blogs of 2023.” So each year, once a year, I cover the top blogs for the prior year. In 2023, we wrote 86 blogs between myself and Chris.

So we try and average two a week, obviously allowing for holidays. And really I cover stats on those blogs and there’s two main categories. Of the 86 new blogs that we wrote, what are the stats for those? The users, the views, et cetera, the top five had more than 8, 000 views. The top 15 had 20,000 views across them. So again, so we really follow the data to make sure people are reading the content that we write. And I highlight the ones that are in the top five, the top 10, the top 15. Of the new blogs we wrote, I mentioned we wrote 86 blogs in 2023, so they covered different types of categories.

Of those 86, we wrote 24 blog articles purely on the IBOR RFR transition. That’s a big topic for the market. LIBOR going away, replaced by SOFR, SONIA, etc. So we wrote 24 articles all about the nuances, what happened, what was happening. They got widely read. We wrote 14 blogs on clearing. Once a quarter we cover volumes in clearinghouses at Eurex, CME, LCH, JCC, as to what’s changing in trends. They’re widely read. We wrote 12 blogs on swap data repositories. So the trends we see in trading, primarily in US trading venues, et cetera, in dealer venues, dealer client venues. So again, so really the idea is to tell our audience what they’re reading and which are popular and which are not.

And then, while we had 86 new blogs in 2023, the Clarus website has been going since 2012. There are now 1,184 blogs on the website. So we have a different category, which is what are the most popular evergreen blogs, right? So while the 86 new ones, they get read in the first few days of publishing, the evergreen ones are read years after they’re published.

So that list has blogs that we wrote years ago, by myself or Chris or some of ex colleagues. They’re normally found on Google searches on a certain topic. They become the de facto standard to learn about that topic in our space. For example, while the top five new blogs we wrote had 8, 000 views, the top five evergreen blogs had 27,000 views, right?

So every day, every week, every month, someone finds them by doing a Google search on a niche topic in our space. So for example there’s one, our top blog by far for a few years now, has been one that Chris wrote many years ago called “Array Formulas in Excel.” And the second blog, which an ex colleague wrote is “SOFR and Fed Funds Rate Comparison.”

Anyone searching for that topic will find that blog years later. And then number three is one that Chris wrote, “Mechanics of Cross Country Swaps,” it’s always up there. So I think, so these are what people find when they’re learning, researching a topic. So really the two categories, new ones in a year, we rank those and the evergreen ones we rank.

And it just shows our readers what other readers are reading, what’s popular, also informs us what we should be writing more of in terms of content, which is well read, which is not. And that’s important for us. And being driven by data, we follow the metrics very closely on Google in terms of readership, views over a period, et cetera.

And that’s what I try and highlight each year. And then for the first time this year, we’re now doing a podcast as we’ve been doing now, this is episode 15 possibly of Quick Takes. So really we’re highlighting and trying to reach a wide different audience in a more informal way in terms of some of that content.

So to expand the readership and in the same way that the blogs are driven by data, we want to make public the metrics on those blogs for the audience. So that’s primarily what I wrote about. So again, a quick summary, there are now  1,184 blogs on the website. It’s hard to find those, but if you go to Google and you search for TB default risk charge, you will find a blog on our website or SACCR or something, right?

So of those, there were more than 60 that had more than 500 views this year. We know people are finding them and finding them useful because they’re coming back to them. And in the course of the year, the website had over 400,000 views, page views from 265,000 sessions of people reading the blog content.

So that helps us, right? Because we know they’re being read. It gives us motivation to write more. And we know which topics are trending and are popular, we want to focus on those, right? But then market structure, trading volumes, clearing volumes, new regulation, etc. So anyway, so that’s the blog.

Chris Barnes: I think it’s useful for our readers and our listeners to be aware that this data is also very pure in terms of the readership, right?

We don’t do any SEO on the blog at all. Whatever goes out on the newsletter generally is what drives the clicks and drives out the reads. There’s no layer of search engine optimization over the top of that, which could possibly drive particular traffic to particular blogs. This is really purely just driven by how interesting the content is.

Amir Khwaja: Yes, yeah, that’s correct. We do no advertising. Really, we rely on the Google PageRank algorithm to find popular content as it should, right? So provided the blog is popular and well read, it will show up on the search list, right? So we don’t do any advertising on Google, et cetera, because really the whole point of the algorithms is to find good content, or paid content. We’re not doing paid content.

Also helps us that if we know it’s being read and it’s being, linked to, et cetera, we know it’s a good article. So we should write something on those same sort of topics.

And that really is the point of the algorithms. As in each search, amazingly, Google is running a real time auction, to show paid research on certain keywords. We’re not part of that sort of, advertising still finding out content. And, and I find it amazing that of those 1,100 articles rather than search on our website, you go to Google and you’ll find it, right? So very often, I will just search for a topic that I know that I’ve written about, you’ve written about, Chris, but I’ve forgotten the title, and I will search on Google, and it will come up, right?

Which is amazing if you think about it, because that is doing a global search, including an auction, and finding something that we know is on our website, right?

Chris Barnes: Yeah, it’s true. I think Amir, if I look at the new blogs in 2023, obviously, probably the biggest event for us was LIBOR cessation, dollar LIBOR cessation.

It’s pleasing that it’s not 15 blogs on SOFR, there were a wide variety of things that people read about outside of that. It was nice that my “Bollinger, Greenspan, and Millennium Bug” got in there. That was probably the blog I most enjoyed writing in 2023. But then if you look at everything else it’s pretty varied, right? You’ve got China in there, you’ve got ESTER futures, you’ve got Brazilian swaps, there’s clearing of U. S. treasuries. I’m a little bit jealous that none of my series have got in there, and yet number one is one of our so called standardized blogs, which are the easier ones to pull out from the data and write about.

But it also shows that we covered everything big that happened, right? Whether it’s clearing houses, converting your swaps, whether it’s the regional banking crisis in Q1, there’s some data there on Deutsche Bank, whether it’s ISDA SIM still. There’s a wide variety of stuff just in 2023 that was attracting readership.

And then I go back and compare 2023 to our evergreens. I think two recent blogs that got in there was “Interest Rate Swaps Made Easy” that was written by one of our 17 year old interns in 2022, very impressive that someone can come in and write that and score a top 10. Very helpful.

Amir Khwaja: It’s a good one, that is a good one because, I think, these articles that are like what you need to know or mechanics and definitions. If they’re well written and they explain the topic very nicely with data and examples, folks will refer to those, right? And they’ll go back to those.

Chris Barnes: Yeah, as long as they’re in a niche. I think all of our lists always show that what we’re writing about and the titles tend to really direct you to a very specific niche. And those tend to be the blogs.

Amir Khwaja: No, I think you’re right. For example, the one you wrote on EMI Roles for Swaps, it’s up there years ago.

I think the one that Gary did for PCA for Swap Curves, again, a topic that is always there that people need to, you know, what is PCA and you can find some nice data, FRTB internal models. So there’s ones there that I think are good, it’s… I don’t know what the word is, it’s motivating that people read them five, six, seven years, eight years after we wrote those, right?

Chris Barnes: And do you still think it’s true that people read these blogs and it generates a goodwill towards Clarus in the market and people remember us?

Amir Khwaja: I think, yeah, definitely. Listen, as we’ve both been in many meetings where we’ve met people we’ve never met before. And they’ve referred to a blog that we’ve written and thanked us that they found it useful in their own learning or forwarding it internally or creating a PowerPoint. So again, we’re very keen to provide content that informs our readership and we get a lot of feedback when we meet people, right?

Chris Barnes: Yep.

Amir Khwaja: People that we’ve never met before, but know the Clarus blog, have read something, have found it useful. Often, as they will give us feedback that improves our own understanding. Because quite often, we will research a topic, we’ve covered 85 percent of it, but somebody who knows there are only 15 will reach out to us or we’ll meet them and we’ll understand more, right?

And that’s really the conversation. Anyway, so I just wanted to come back to you. So really Top Blogs in 2023, we use our data to highlight what our readers are reading on the website, both New Blogs in 2023, the evergreen ones. It helps us, it helps them understand, what other people are reading, what’s popular and we cover, as Chris says, a wide range of topics from clearing volumes, from clearing of US treasuries, from LIBOR going to SOFR, SONIA, banking crisis. We forget, but in Q1, in 2023, there were huge concerns with SVBs at Malibank. And, we covered bank capital, what that meant for UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, European banks, right?

So again because often you write so much, you forget, right? That’s really where Google is your friend, anyway, back to you.

Ali Curi: Great. Thank you, Amir. And please share again the title of your blog post.

Amir Khwaja: Sure. So it’s called “Our Top Blogs of 2023.”

Ali Curi: Great, that works. Amir, Chris, thank you both for sharing your Quick Takes.

Let’s do it again next week.

Amir Khwaja: Thank you, Ali.

Chris Barnes: Thanks, Ali. Looking forward to next week.

Ali Curi: And that’s our episode for today. You can read more about these topics on the Clarus blog, and you can follow ION Markets on X and on LinkedIn. Thank you for joining us.