I can see that it’s the end of the year.

Literally – I can see it in my blog stats, which show a rapidly diminishing reader base. Of course, it could mean that I’ve become boring in the last few weeks (very possible – I’ve been distracted by the chaos of year end), but I’m choosing to believe otherwise.

So I thought that I’d do something different today, and get a bit reflective about my 2013 blog year.

Obviously, there are some posts that are more popular than others. And sometimes, I get a bit disappointed, because the posts that I’m most proud of are generally not at all popular. But I’ll deal with those another time. Today, I’m going to do a little scoring based on nothing more than popularity.

Number 10: The Economics of Rhino Extinction

big five

Okay – so despite my earlier comment, I was particularly proud of this one. We’ve all been shocked and appalled by the rapid increase in the number of rhino poachings – especially now that the poachers are practically swat teams with helicopters.

The question is: why the sudden increase?

The answer is an economic one. Vietnam’s medical treatment has not kept up with their medical diagnosis: each year, Vietnamese doctors diagnose 150,000 new cases of cancer, but there are only 25 radiation machines in the country to treat them. So when one popular politician claimed to have been cured of cancer by rhino horn milkshake, the demand for it soared…

Number 9: Unit Trusts: How They Work

invest in gin and tonic

Most of us, if we’re disciplined, have some kind of debit order into a unit trust account. This post was the first in a series that explained what unit trusts are, and how to pick one that works for you.

Number 8: Credit Card Charges: What You May Not Know


I wrote this post in pique. Delayed pique, admittedly – the incident that sparked it took place in early January, and I only got round to writing it in May. Nevertheless, it was one of those posts that just flowed onto the screen.

The key point: explaining how we came to have credit cards, and how American Express became that annoying credit card that’s not accepted in most stores. Except in the stores where it is – and in those stores, I can’t use my Visa.

Now that’s annoying.

Number 7: In A Manner Of Speaking…


This post involved an experiment with second language speakers: an experiment which demonstrated that you make better decisions when you don’t make them in your mother tongue.

Il faut parler français, m’sieur. Vraiment.

Number 6: The Petrodollar Wars


This series on the Petrodollar Wars was not particularly popular to begin with. I guess it doesn’t help that there were 7 posts in the series, making it more of a 10,000 word book than a quick read with a morning coffee.

Anyway – slowly but surely, this series of posts began to get regular daily hits off Google. Which was quite cool, because that meant new readers.

The fact that I spent 7 posts on the topic should tell you how interesting I found this particular piece of economic history. When America went off the gold standard in the early 1970s, the world should have come to a psychological crossroads. Only – it seems that the world just kind of shrugged it off and continued as normal.

One of the explanations for this reaction is the Petrodollar Standard: Henry Kissinger negotiated with the oil-producing Middle East, and denominated all international oil trade in US dollars.

America didn’t stop having a gold standard – it just moved over to a black-gold standard.

Number 5: Why Do The Middle Classes In South Africa Pay Their Domestic Workers Such Low Wages?


This blog post started featuring in independent news articles!

Here’s one from yahoo: “Should you be paying your domestic worker more?

True: the author in that article does make me sound like a douche. And she also misspells my name and accuses me of having a “BA” in Business Science.

But no such thing as bad publicity.

Number 4: Let What’s-Her-Name Hunt Lions

mb lion

If you haven’t already, have a glance at the comments section on this post.


Number 3: Why Executives Deserve To Get Paid The Big Bucks


This post was more of a rant than anything else, now that I sometimes get to sit on the other side of the management-employee table.

Number 2: Overpopulation and the new Dan Brown Novel


I’m not sure how many of you have read Dan Brown’s Inferno, but the “shocking” part of his book is this little graph showing population growth:


After reading it, I wrote a piece on how justified his concerns about were.

Turns out: not too justified.

Number 1: Rent vs Buy: The Problem with Home-Owning

cartoon housing punch

I still get people talking to me about this post.

The sum conclusion? It almost always makes better financial sense to rent.

Which means that for a rational and disciplined person, it’s almost always better to rent. But for a normal person, it makes sense to buy – because at least then, your saving scheme feels like you’re spending money.

And we do like to spend money.