Who The Hell Is Robert Wenzel From EconomicPolicyJournal.com Really?

clb note: Only readers of EconomicPolicyJournal.com will really find this post interesting, so I’ve snipped it in half. Click the link to read the rest.

Tim Swanson, author of Great Wall of Numbers: Business Opportunities and Challenges in China, has just e-mailed me the following:

Chris, did a lot more digging and investigation.  Robert Wenzel does not exist, his real name is Raymond Nize and he has several other aliases and a different life altogether: http://www.ofnumbers.com/2013/04/15/i-mayhave-the-drudge-formula-and-keyser-oze/

But first, here’s some context to what I’m about to post. When I first heard of Robert Wenzel and started following his blog EconomicPolicyJournal.com, and before I subscribed to his economic commentary the EPJ Daily Alert, I did background checks on him from my desktop. I could not find a single interview, either television, radio, or newspaper based, that he had ever done. He claimed he worked at a hedge fund on Wall Street for over 20 years, but again, no record of that. His avatar on his blog is also of a guy with his head cropped off. I found it a bit strange, but nevertheless, his economic commentary was solid and he was prolific at churning out analysis on the blog.

Following Wenzel’s “debate” with Stephan Kinsella on intellectual property, Stephan has repeatedly asked the question on his facebook page, who is this guy (Robert Wenzel) really, and is that even his real name? Well, clearly Kinsella is onto something. Beginning with the heading below, Part IV, everything is lifted from Tim’s website www.ofnumbers.com.

Part IV – unmasking the sock puppet

So who is this Robert Wenzel character (rw@economicpolicyjournal.com)?

  • There used to be a site called EconomicPolicyReview.com (2007-2008) run by Raymond Salter (rs@economicpolicyreview.com).  Here is a 2007 copy from TheWayBackMachine.  He wrote near identical copy to EPJ today.  The Phil Gramm post on EPJ (careful IP!) is identical to the one on EPR (same date even).  Here is aSS.
  • Prior to that was another similar site called EconomicsDaily run by Raymond Fuller (raymond.fuller@economicsdaily.com), here is a 2005 copy from TheWayBackMachine.  During this time, Fuller even was involved in a spat with Gene Callahan (who used to be affiliated with the LVMI).  Fuller also wrote similar copy and content as EPJ today.
  • From 2002-2005 another site, Menrohm.com was maintained by Robert Menrhom (rm@menrohm.com), here is a 2005 copy which discusses some of the same topics (Freakonomics) and quoting libertarians like Justin Raimondo.
  • In 2006 a Peter Stojan piece (SS) at LRC cites Raymond Keller (not Fuller) as a source of commentary.  Stojan’s company (montreauxadvisors.com) does not exist.  A 2006 copy of Raymond Keller’s site is up on TheWayBackMachine and Keller’s Blogger profile is expired but turns into (SS) Raymond Salter’s.  Keller also wrote about economics (Freakonomics) and talks about his letters to the late LRC publisher, Burt Blumert.

While it would be fallacious to connect those dots (guilt by association) consider the case of Los Angeles resident Raymond Nize, owner of Beacon Hill West and Nize Holdings.

In 2006 there was press release issued (SS) on behalf of Raymond Nize a supposed expert in economic forecasting who would be speaking at a World Economics Forecast Conference.  The conference did not exist nor was the book by the title that Nize supposedly wrote ever published (“Understanding Macro-Economic Forecasting: A guide for Business Executives and Investors”).  This same Nize may be the same poster at LVMI (see here and here and here).  If it is the same Nize (nize@nizenotes.com), then TheWayBackMachine also has a 2006 copy of yet another Blogger site that once again is written in similar style/copy as EPJ (e.g., macro economics).  Nize also commented onthis post (SS) about re-finance mortgages in California but later removed his last name.  Nize’s other Blogger profile (SS) leads to a dead end pointing to a non-existent site about the 213 area code of LA — a common theme through many of these domains and aliases is they are usually affiliated with LA.  Looking through Technorati a site originally dedicated to indexing and searching blogs), Nizenotes is claimed (SS) by a mont99.  One mont99 (located in LA — room730@gmail.com) also has a profile (SS) at LibraryThing that includes favorites along the same genres/topics of all the other blogs thus far (libertarianism/Austrianism).  (Note: this mont99 is probably a different room730.)

All of these sites have very similar look, feel and commentary to EconomicPolicyJournal.com and a few posts that are on all of the sites (with small changes) plus EPR also shows history going back to 2002 while it was really created in 2007.  It is very likely that the same person is behind all of the Blogger sites but nothing besides the spartan aesthetic looks, content genre (all libertarian/econ), content layout (short blurbs/block quotes) and email addresses (similar style) confirms that.  EPR seem to have been picked up in 2009 by other people and then dropped again, the domain is unowned at the moment.

The smoking gun however, is a lawsuit filed (SS) on January 14, 2008 where Ray was named as a defendant in a case filed in California: La Jolla Cove Investors, Inc vs Stomar Partners, Inc, Jim Miller, Raymond Nize and Does 1-10 (case no: 37-2007-000642640CU-BC-CTL).  While I cannot weigh on the merits of the case (the plaintiff’s site is just one side of things… install Quicktime/IE for his 2nd monologue here), the plaintiff was apparently friends with Ray and his ex-gf.  Here is a picture (SS) of Ray with the plaintiff (also seen at the top of this post).  Compare that with his alias (Robert Wenzel’s) videofrom the LVMI speech last month (see side-by-side comparison at the bottom).  Furthermore, if you do a WhoIs database search on EconomicPolicyJournal.com, it is registered to EPJ Holdings — to a Los Angeles address (5042 Wilshire Blvd) and the registered phone number (213-2593-55XX) is an area code for LA as well (SS).

Possible known aliases:

  • Raymond Nize
  • Raymond Sabat
  • Robert Menrohm
  • Raymond Fuller
  • Raymond Keller
  • Peter Stojan
  • Raymond Salter
  • Robert Wenzel

According to a friend of a friend who tipped me off on this, he suspects that there are many more aliases out there.  I think it is more likely than not that Robert Wenzel is not his original name and probably even not his actual current name.  And it seems like EPJ was his biggest success story so he stuck with that name because of that.  Furthermore, it is hard to verify his claims of working at a hedge fund or in Wall Street itself let alone corroborate his purported predictions of booms and busts like the 2008 financial crash when he seems to have a history of backdating posts.

And while I personally have no qualms with people reinventing themselves or even leading multiple lives this entire escapade is beginning to look more and more like the Libertarian Girl hoax (see here and here) with a dash of bravado from Catch Me If You Can, a dab of whodunnit from The Usual Suspects and a smattering of interconnected cast members from Cloud Atlas.

Is Robert Wenzel/Raymond Nize the modern-day Keyser Söze?  Or is he a mere internet sockpuppet?

Update: another source just emailed the following information, there are two more similar sites.  EconomicBriefing.com (copy at TWBM and SS) and EconomicsBriefing.com (copyat TWBM and SS). The last one was active 2005 and 2007, with two different authors.  All linked to the alias, Raymond Sabat and a new one, Robert Wallach (rw@economicsbriefing.com).  The latter has the same Blogger layout and the former is an already known alias.  Both cover the same genre/topics and writing format as the other Wenzel/Nize aliases.

Robert Wenzel, Ray Nize (middle), and an anonymous Marine