Doris Dungey was "one of the best financial writers in the world," able to explain "complex ideas with wit and great clarity," financial journalist and blogger Felix Salmon said last year at Cond

Doris Dungey was "one of the best financial writers in the world," able to explain "complex ideas with wit and great clarity," financial journalist and blogger Felix Salmon said last year at Condé Nast

Until Dungey died Sunday at the age of 47 — her life cut tragically short by ovarian cancer — she was known to readers of the financial blog Calculated Risk only by her pseudonym, "Tanta."

Tanta’s insight into the world of mortgage banking and finance came from working in the industry for 20 years, said Calculated Risk founder Bill McBride in a post on the site. McBride said Tanta began writing for the blog after she was diagnosed with late-stage cancer and went on an extended medical leave in 2006.

When McBride first invited Dungey to blog with him, she declined because "her prognosis was grim and she didn’t expect to live very long," McBride said. "To her surprise, after aggressive treatment, her health started to improve and she accepted my invitation."

According to a New York Times obituary, Tanta wrote anonymously because she hoped to go back to work in the industry she sometimes pilloried and other times defended in her blog posts.

Calculated Risk has gained a wide readership by conducting its own analysis of statistics, and questioning the assumptions of financial industry, government and academic sources typically relied on by the mainstream media.

"The great thing about this age of blogs is the way people who really know something about a subject can quickly weigh in, without being filtered through Authority," said economist and Times columnist Paul Krugman in one of several blog posts in which he expressed admiration for Tanta’s work.

While Tanta was not one to take industry claims at face value, she was also a frequent critic of the media’s reporting of the credit crunch. She would often point out stories when she thought reporters were guilty of oversimplification or exaggeration, either because of laziness or ignorance.

Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson was a frequent target, with Tanta observing at one point last year that, "I don’t know how many posts I’ve written on [her] terrible reporting. I guess I’m going to have to start keeping score."

Morgenson, a former stock broker who previously wrote for Money and Forbes, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her coverage of Wall Street.

Tanta wrote a series of 13 posts on mortgage origination, mortgage-backed securities and foreclosures — "The Compleat UberNerd" — which the Times called "a definitive word on the subject."

The insight Dungey provided in one "UberNerd" post, "Mortgage Servicing for UberNerds," even earned her a footnote in a Federal Reserve research report, "Understanding the Securitization of Subprime Mortgage Credit."

Dungey was mourned on countless blogs, including those maintained by news organizations such as the Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio.

NPR was long a favorite of Tanta’s, McBride said in a post providing links to causes Dungey had suggested as recipients for donations in her memory. In addition to a local NPR station, Dungey’s causes included cancer centers in Maryland and Ohio where she received treatment, a rape crisis center at Illinois State University, and the drama club at the high school she graduated from in Normal, Ill.

McBride’s first post on Dungey’s passing generated more than 1,200 comments from readers, some of which he collected in a subsequent post published Monday, "Remembering Tanta."

"Tanta was our teacher," McBride himself said on the blog. "She generously shared her knowledge with all of us. I doubt she knew how many lives she touched; her insights, spirit and passion lives on in her writings — and in all of you."


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription