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The top of this cycle for ASX200, cash is king ?


kahuna1

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Hi Mags,

 

Unknown .... all of it.Speculation on my part.

 

I do of course hope for the best, but Biden is inheriting a mess. That he says 100 million injections in 100 days is a wish I hope they achieve.

That said, two injections needed per person for the vaccine, a mere 50 million say by end of April full vaccinated.

 

I do hope the effort doubles .... by then and 200 million shots end of July added to this and another 100 million added. So they will be close.

I wish ... I had some confidence in this since the stupidity displayed of late in the USA has no bounds.

 

Photo I have attached is Hogs Breath in Florida as of 16th January 2021.

 

It was more crowded the night before .... and the night after.

Florida is reporting basically all the infections Australia had EVERY 2 days.

 

Florida openly had deliberately under reported both infections and deaths. Look at all those masks !! NONE .... or around chin

 

Photo taken from live web camera ....https://www.webcamtaxi.com/en/usa/florida.html

 

What Florida is ... is about average for the USA .... Tennessee and Nashville vi same camera on a Saturday night NOW is insane. It's about 150% worse than Florida. No masks, no social distancing other than, well ... Neo liberal stupidity.

 

 

I can make one prediction sadly for 2021 and the govt preferred site that gates funds, and its 567,000 Covid Deaths by April 1st 2021 for the USA will sadly pass 800,000 during 2021 and unlikely not to hit 1 million in 2021.

 

Biden may of course mandate compulsory mask wearing, but its likely to be ignored as you can see in the picture.

 

Vaccine wise, I suspect its only going to give about 8 months immunity, this from a lot of scientific papers. The vaccine if you have it likely will require booster shots, one ... maybe 2 every year.

 

USA is so fractured right now this link to the recent riots is worth your time watching. No commentary, just a reporter following with camera and this is just the tip of the iceberg in the USA.

 

 

Yep its 12 minutes long. I suspect with cause that any vaccination effort is tied up with acceptance by the greater community in any society. USA sadly has so many factions of people one can see from the video that ... at best one can dream the vaccine is taken up by 80%, likely 50% and I hope and pray they sort out the issues which has seen a mere 13 million shots in the first Month. Only 1.97 million so far having got the two shots .... included in that 13 million total.

 

To get to say 200 million people for 2 shots at even 50 million shots a month .... so 400 million will take time. Then repeat over and over until the virus is gone which seems sadly again unlikely with what one must expect an uptake of say 60% in the USA leaving the virus to fester and fester as it does.

Best wishes to all for 2021.

 

Sobering that its unlikely for the USA to stop till 800,000 dead likely a million. Absurd as it sounds, infected went from 200,000 a week in the USA to 1.8 million and its NOT going down. Look at the picture and wonder if they are out of their scones.

 

Mark

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From Zero hedge

 

With dozens of heavily shorted (by hedge funds) stocks exploding higher in recent days, it was only a matter of time before the first casualty of said bull raid emerged, and thanks to the WSJ we now have the first name.

 

Melvin Capital, which we learned last week had suffered massive losses on its shorts, is set to receive a $2.75 billion capital injection from hedge fund giants Citadel and Point72 and investors (in what appears to be a bailout so Mevlin Capital founder Gabe Plotkin, a former star portfolio manager for Steven Cohen, could pay his margin call). The bailout loan investments are for non-controlling revenue shares in the hedge fund, although it wasn't immediately clear how much of Melvin's revenue the two funds would get.

According to the WSJ, the influx of cash is expected to help stabilize Melvin, which lost a staggering 30% in just the first three weeks of 2021. While Melvin started the year with $12.5 billion, and had been one of the best performing hedge funds on Wall Street in recent years, it saw huge losses (and margin calls) as a result of numerous short bets against companies and have stunned clients and other traders.

 

In other words, 16-year-old Robinhood traders 1 - "star" hedge fund portfolio manager 0. In yet other words, hedge funds are now bailing out other hedge funds (in which they have invested money), who have been steamrolled by the Robinhood Gen-Z "buy everything" juggernaut.

 

The $2.75 bailout is effectively a rights offering for Citadel and SAC, as they had more than $1 billion invested in Melvin as of 2019. Melvin founder Gabe Plotkin was a top portfolio manager at Point72’s predecessor firm, SAC Capital Management, before he left to start Melvin.

 

An interesting question here is how it is legal that Citadel, which buys the bulk of retail orderflow and is intimately aware of which institution will get crushed as a result of historic short squeeze bull raids, is also allowed to bailed out its investment in Melvin, which got hammered precisely because of said orderflow. The answer, sadly, is beyond our pay grade.

 

As the WSJ reported last week, "Melvin is known for running an expansive and aggressive short book that has sometimes made up the bulk of the fund’s gains, an uncommon dynamic in the industry. The firm has returned an average 30% a year since it started in 2014, despite charging performance fees that range up to 30% on investment gains."

 

The gains came to a jarring end once teenage traders realised that with the Fed at their back, they could steamroll any bearish hedge fund in their way.

 

Ha ha, wouldn't it be just perfect if the teenagers of the US turned the tables on the establishment gurus and their fixing ponzi schemes. If this keeps up, the FED will find themselves in a quandary where supporting the market or supporting their friends and peers becomes a hobsons choice.

 

We can expect more of this, as Zero Hedge goes on to point out that GME FOIZZ, EXPR, AMXT and a few other small caps are going the same way.

 

.. this morning Bloomberg points out that in addition to the buying frenzy among the most shorted stocks - which we have said ever since 2013 is the only "strategy" that makes sense in this insane market - the retail daytrading horde is now also ramping penny stocks, starting with BlackBerry, the maker of the once ubiquitous smartphone, and retailer Express, which were some of the better-known names rallying after plugs on social media stock trading forums.

 

To wit, BB surged as much as 41% on volume already more than double the three-month daily average and gaining for a seventh session; the stock soared past a nine-year high (this happens just days after company insiders unloaded a boatload of shares).

 

Shares of lesser-known small cap health-care companies were also soaring, including Vyne Therapeutics, Atossa Therapeutics, Senseonics Holdings and Zomedica all climbed in Monday’s trading.

Mick

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Chuck Butlers Daily Pfenning has some interesting stats

"I had earmarked a story in the St. Louis Post Dispatch from last week that said that "Thousands of eviction filings are piling up in St. Louis and St. Louis County, leaving landlords and tenants frustrated, and advocates predicting a tidal wave of homelessness to come." 5,000 eviction notices have been filed since March 2020.".

And to back that up, from CNBC ?

 

About 18% renters in America, or around 10 million people, were behind in their rent payments as of the beginning of the month.

 

It is far more than the approximately 7 million homeowners who lost their properties to foreclosure during the subprime mortgage crisis and the ensuing Great Recession. And that happened over a five-year period.

In one of his first executive orders, President Joe Biden extended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current eviction moratorium through the end of March, but that is unlikely to be long enough.

 

A new analysis from Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, and Jim Parrott, a fellow at the Urban Institute, shows the typical delinquent renter now owes $5,600, being nearly four months behind on their monthly payment. This also includes utilities and late fees. In total, an astounding $57.3 billion is owed. This includes all delinquent renters, not just those suffering financially due to the Covid pandemic."

The big question though, how does 18% compare with past levels of delinquincies??

How many of these landlords have a mortgage? If the mortgage is not being paid , what happens then?

And of course so many of these mortgages have been taken of the original lenders books by being sold on and sliced and diced into investment grade bonds and sold to unsuspecting suckers in the world.

This can't end well.

Mick

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Ok, get ready for a rocky time.

Has Robinhood become the new Lehman bros?

From Zero Hedge

Something bad is about to go down at Robinhood.

 

One day after the company drew down on its bank lines and obtain a $1 billion rescue capital investment, the company found itself in lockdown mode, allowing just a handful of shares to be bought at a time, effectively shutting down in all but name (it couldn't risk another day of furious public outcry and massive client departures if it blocked trading completely).

 

However, just before the close, things got downright surreal when in a blog post the broker - which should probably change its name from Robinhood to Suit - made a shocking announcement: going forward, customers will be subject to maximum aggregate limits in 51 securities of which 14 are capped at position limits of just 5 shares, while allowing total holdings in 36 securities to be just one share!

 

In other words, as of this moment, no client is allowed to one more than 1 share in names like GME, AMC, AG, BBBY, BYND, WKHS and many others. Even boring, low vol names like GM and SBUX are limited to just one share.

 

This is what the blog post said:

 

"The table below shows the maximum number of shares and options contracts to which you can increase your positions. Please note that these are aggregate limits for each security and not per-order limits, and include shares and options contracts that you already hold. These limits may be subject to change throughout the day."

Why is this happening? The most likely reason is that between DTC, clearinghouses and other regulatory entities, Robinhood was found to be in another capital deficiency position - even with the billions raised overnight - and it is being forced to delever.

 

This likely means that Robinhood is as of this moment, scrambling to obtain even more capital, although we somehow doubt it will be just as easy to "take from the rich" as it was late last night especially since the client exodus is surely accelerating.

 

It also means that we may have to have another "Lehman Weekend" situation on our hands, only this time it will be a "Robinhood Weekend", and an urgent acquisition from a strategic buyer may be required to prevent the worst case outcome. We only hope that the billions in funds held in custody for clients is segregated should the company collapse (pinging Jon Corzine here).

 

In any case, expect a lot of Robinhood related news over the weekend.And as a postscript, while we expect that the turmoil will be contained at Robinhood, whether in the form of new capital infusion, a takeover, or bankruptcy, there is the possibility that the liqudity shortfall goes as far as the clearinghouses. What happens then?

This will not end well.

It will make the little rebellion in the Capitol buildings look like a kindergarten. There are literally millions of Robinhooders, and they won't be happy.

Mick

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Has it been a month?... Actually less

 

...These great bubbles are where fortunes are made and lost .... and where investors truly prove their mettle. For positioning a portfolio to avoid the worst pain of a major bubble breaking is likely the most difficult part. Every career incentive in the industry and every fault of individual human psychology will work toward sucking investors in.

 

But this bubble will burst in due time, no matter how hard the Fed tries to support it, with consequent damaging effects on the economy and on portfolios. Make no mistake – for the majority of investors today, this could very well be the most important event of your investing lives. Speaking as an old student and historian of markets, it is intellectually exciting and terrifying at the same time. It is a privilege to ride through a market like this one more time.

Jeremy Grantham

 

If we ever needed a signal, a ringing of the bell, the last week would have to be the definitive event.

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Terry McRann adds a little Tax background to the short selling saga in Australia,

From the Weelend OZ

As with most implosions on Wall Street — think Bernie Madoff, think Lehman Bros, indeed think the whole goddamned GFC — there’s always major components of market and regulatory failure and just good-old fashioned stupidity. The greed, of course, is taken as read.

 

It seems clear that the basic rules of shorting were ignored. It appears that over 100 per cent, perhaps as much as 150 per cent, of GameStop was sold.

 

This means there’s been naked short-selling — when you sell a stock without having borrowed scrip — as you self-evidently cannot borrow more than 100 per cent of a company’s issued stock, and naked short-selling is illegal, even on Wall Street.

 

Apart from anything else, this “over-shorting†superchargers the power of counter-buying, as it means there’ll be buyers desperately trying to buy well over 100 per cent of a stock. This in turn was instantly leveraged into even more buying power because of the digital dynamics.

 

We saw exactly the same thing happen in Australia nearly 50 years ago, in a much more primitive (both regulatory and operational) context when shorters sold close to 150 per cent of the stock in a penny-dreadful called Antimony Nickel. It led to the banning of naked short-selling, but so-called “covered†short-selling is allowed. This is where the seller borrows the stock from an institution.

 

Except the stock isn’t borrowed. It is not well known — and those, seemingly few, who do know don’t want to talk about it for obvious financial self-interest — but short-selling is only possible in Australia because in 1990 the (Hawke Labor) government specially changed the Tax Act.

 

When you sell a share, you have to be able to deliver title in that share to the buyer; and you can only do that if you “own†the share. You can’t sell a “borrowed†share on the ASX; and a short-seller doesn’t. They sell a share they have acquired from an insto — albeit in a complicated “form†contract where they are obliged to sell it back. But there’s the problem: the insto has disposed of the share to the short-seller; it has disposed of an asset and has thereby triggered a tax event.

 

Enter the — happy to scratch the big end of town’s collective backs — government to change the Tax Act. So when an insto disposes of a share under a buyback contract, it is generously and uniquely deemed not to have disposed of the share. Thus, apart from anything else, is how we get a Tax Act passing 100,000 pages.

 

When it comes to Governments, even ones that are generally considered at the better end of the spectrum, ya always gotta look after your mates.

People with lots money always have influence and power.

Bad luck about the ret of the citizens.

Mick

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  • 2 weeks later...

Following on TLS ...

but encapsulates views for now. Rates zero for a long time .. covid around fora long time. Blah blah blah ....

 

Ho hum ...

Best case results TLS confirmed and 16 cents dividend for 2021.Outlook far better than I hoped. Actually confirming the second half dividend for 2021 ... what they expect highly unusual ... of course ignored on the main by idiots buying banks who reported, well ... CBA was not inspiring nor many other old high yeilding stocks now in tatters. AGL actually looks lke a train wreck on forward stuff yet market did not hammer it too much..

 

As to selling towers, its likely to occur and will only add to the picture.

 

No reason for me to sell at this stage despite a bit higher. Market seems to love banks for some mythical longer term dividends. Reality is that they are unlikely to go above 70% of pre Covid and cap raisings diluting the shares. Bottom line, say for CBA its unlikely to even get to $4- in total a share by 2022 let alone 2021. Its just paid $1.50 .... for the half and whilst the final likely better ... suspect its at say $3.70 for 2021 so well under 5% and in fact 4.25%.

 

TLS well its a frog, I know its a frog ... but its price and outlook next 2 years compelling. Yield at 5% .... compared to CBA at 4.25%.

Banks paid out far too much in dividends and did not retain enough capital ... so looking forward the payout ratio will be LOWER and they must maintain higher capital adequacy rates than previously.

 

Market of course, as always disagrees with this for now. They love the banks, ignore the reality that ... the cost of lending and maintaining adequate reserves massively changed in the last 2 years. I have no idea the impacts of Job-keeper and seeker being reduced but unlikely to be good for banks or TLS .... the risk being more bank wise verses TLS.

 

As vaccines roll out, disturbing to say the least some reactions occurring Moderna and Pfizer and yep being reported ... but swept under carpet by USA based vaccines whilst attacking all others .... Well J+J vaccine single shot seems fine with far less reactions. Oxford .. whilst not perfect, it does seem to prevent 100% of very serious cases less so for moderate ones with new variants of Covid 19 emerging ... only time will tell. Same for the other one approved as well, less hassle and reactions than RNA based ones.

 

I suspect we have an Endemic ... not a pandemic and will be dealing with covid 19 for years. More papers coming out with strong evidence of lack of immunity to covid 19 and reinfections in the thousands ... clearly documented. Much like a bloody cold ....

 

Again .. unknown but ... for banks which market seems to love, massive fiscal support is going away. Not sure any form of meaningful overseas travel or migration occurs for some time.

 

Bottom line, I suspect the market has it all arse about face as per normal and whilst its having a hate affair with many high dividend payers such as TLS and say utilities and many other REITS which are less at risk even with ongoing covid flareups paying say 6% or so .... keeping pace with inflation if that occurs and preferring to back the banks in dreams of some magic recovery when fiscal support is already drying up.

 

Lastly RBA has made it as clear as one can be. We are at 0.1% for a very very very long time. 2024 and honestly likely beyond that.They are not happy about the currency. Not worried about bubbles .... inflation or anything else. As Lowe pointed out the ASX is below where it was, house prices are merely back to 2 year ago levels.

 

Wages growth ... virtually impossible right now to see with a lot dislocated and more happening as Job keeper evaporates .... job seeker already cut and likely even more in coming months not say to the $40- a day level but say $50-.

For me, yield and safety .... boring but ... as in say 2011 same thing, different times but being paid massively above the cash rate to hold an asset over time is the only course. Sure USA so full of hot air may pop ... or flop a bit. Some techs at insane levels If I close my eyes and take the 16 cents plus franking credits .... so 20 cents effective verses 0.1% ...

 

Time will tell.

 

Enjoy. Will think about TLS if and when its say 15% higher and by then possibly Optus has stopped discounting its third rate mobile service outside the CBD and TLS did actually sneakily raise its plans by $5 a month of late not yet reflected in the numbers. Sounds small buts its one hell of a whack given the low inflation environment outside the idiots buying bitcoin or Game stop.

 

Cheers

PS ... I note many analysts were calling a 13 cent dividend ... TLS came out and actually said 8 cents now and they believe 16 cents for 2021, market of course ... did not a lot considering this. Made the valuations in the $3.70 range more likely.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Four years ago, Wall street on Parade wrote the following

When we created the website for Wall Street On Parade, it took us about 30 minutes to add a free plug-in function so that our readers could search the text of every article we have ever written. (See Search box in upper right-hand corner of our menu at the top of this website.) But at Wall Street’s top cop, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), if one wants to search corporate filings, one is limited to a four-year text search. This bizarre restriction inhibits investigative journalists from capably doing their job and connecting dots.

 

This might sound like a small complaint were it not part of a larger pattern of technological failures by the SEC which have allowed Wall Street firms to run amok for decades.

 

The biggest technological failure, of course, is the SEC’s inability to launch a Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) over the 83 years of the SEC’s existence in order to spot manipulative or illegal trades by some of the most highly sophisticated trading houses in the world. While JPMorgan brags about having “more software developers than Google, and more technologists than Microsoft,†and Goldman Sachs is hiring the best Russian coders, Wall Street’s top cop is still driving a horse and buggy.

 

The CAT, if it is ever implemented, would show every trade in U.S. stock and option markets, including when it occurred and at what firm it originated. But don’t hold your breath.

 

Adding to the evidence that the SEC is technologically incompetent by design is what its own attorneys have said about its seemingly intentional failure to prosecute.

 

James Kidney retired from the SEC in 2014 following a quarter century as a trial lawyer there. He delivered a blistering speech at his retirement party on how SEC leadership functions. Not long thereafter, American Lawyer published excerpts from 2,000 pages of documents it had obtained from the SEC under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which indicated that Kidney had pushed the SEC to investigate up the chain of command in the Goldman Sachs Abacus 2007-AC1 investment scam. (Goldman Sachs had allowed a hedge fund, John Paulson & Co., to bet against the Abacus deal despite knowing that Paulson had helped to select investments in the deal that were likely to fail. Goldman then recommended Abacus to its own clients without disclosing this information.) The SEC only went after a mid-level employee in the matter, Fabrice Tourre, while settling with Goldman Sachs for $550 million.

 

In the documents obtained by American Lawyer, Kidney is quoted as stating that “This was not a case where there was only one low-level vice president involved.â€

 

In April of 2014, Kidney spoke with NPR on the demoralization of public servants at the SEC. Kidney said: “Washington has become — and I think everybody knows it — a bathtub full of cash. As long as you just go in the bathtub you’re going to come out with cash stuck on you – if you’re at least a certain, have certain jobs and have certain roles. And that’s why the revolving door is such a problem. It’s cultural, it’s the culture of Washington, it’s the culture of Wall Street and it hollows out the civil service…â€

 

Before Kidney, there was SEC attorney Darcy Flynn. In 2011, Flynn had explained to Congressional investigators and the SEC Inspector General that for at least 18 years, the SEC had been shredding documents and emails related to its investigations — documents that it was required under law to keep. Flynn told investigators that by purging these files, it impaired the SEC’s ability to see the connections between related frauds.

 

The SEC knows that since the late 1920s, the biggest Wall Street firms have been engaging in collusion and cartel activity with each other. What possible honorable motive would there be for shredding the history of these crimes? In fact, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has taken just the opposite position. It has archived on its website known as Fraser the thousands of pages of hearing transcripts and exhibits from Wall Street’s prior crime of the century, the collusive corruption that led to the 1929 crash and the Great Depression.

 

Before Darcy Flynn there was Gary Aguirre, also a former SEC attorney. On June 28, 2006, Aguirre testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Aguirre explained that during his final days at the SEC, he had pushed to serve a subpoena on John Mack, the powerful former official at Morgan Stanley, to take testimony about his potential involvement in insider trading. Mack was protected; Aguirre was fired via a phone call while on vacation — just three days after Aguirre had contacted the Office of Special Counsel to discuss the filing of a complaint about the SEC’s protection of Mack.

 

So four years later, we still have no CAT, the Wall street firms are still screwing everyone and everything, and still the regulators drag their collective feet. And we still have the toxic bipartisan useless political class baying for each others throats while 75% of their constituents wallow in comparative poverty. Bring on the revolution.

 

Mick

 

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How Corrupt is Wall Street?

About as corrupt as you can get.

From Wall Street on Parade

Better Markets and Public Citizen, two of the most informed Wall Street watchdogs, provided written testimony for last Thursday’s hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on the structure of Wall Street. And, to put it mildly, their assessment of the state of affairs on Wall Street does not align with what hedge fund titan Ken Griffin of Citadel told lawmakers at the same hearing. Griffin testified, under oath mind you, that: “The U.S. capital markets are the envy of the world. Our nation’s ability to allocate capital to its best and highest use cr­Â­Ã‚­Ã‚­Ã‚­eates jobs, drives innovation and fuels our economy.â€

 

In reality, foreign regulators have repeatedly filed enforcement actions against the largest banks on Wall Street for engaging in fraud and rigging markets. As for allocating capital “to its best and highest use,†Better Markets describes the prospects for GameStop, one of the hot meme stocks today, as follows:

 

“A rudimentary review of GameStop’s financial and business prospects (before the meteoric rise of the stock price) would have yielded the following unmistakable conclusions: GameStop was bleeding revenue in 2019 and 2020; it was closing stores with little to no prospects of re-opening them (even before the COVID-19 pandemic kept people away from shopping malls where many of GameStop’s stores are located); and its most basic business—that of selling and renting hard-disk video games—was under threat from the new generation video game consoles that were no longer equipped with hard-disk readers and instead required gamers to digitally download or stream the games. Yet, none of this prevented millions of investors who were hyped, misled, or manipulated into pouring their hard-earned money into GameStop and similar stocks. And none of this seems to have mattered to Robinhood (and others) who peddled, facilitated, and enabled leveraged and margin investing that some now believe has become so widespread as to have systemic risk implications.â€

 

Better Markets goes on to explain that only the particular context for last Thursday’s hearing is new, but the “trading practices, and obvious vulnerabilities of the U.S. financial system are not.†Better Markets points out the following areas where ongoing abuses are occurring:

 

“Market participants at the center of these events have for years taken advantage of market fragmentation, order routing schemes, questionable execution practices, and leveraged trading strategies. And even in the current saga, there are reports that some sophisticated participants made hundreds of millions of dollars momentum trading (exacerbating volatility both as the price went up and as it crashed). And yet, for years, the financial regulators have failed to fully and properly examine, much less remedy and responsibly limit, these questionable if not abusive, predatory or illegal practices.

 

“Furthermore, for years, a handful of Wall Street’s biggest banks have ‘danced while the music was playing.’ They have facilitated many of the trading practices at the center of the events and bent the rules of the markets to their advantage using their roles in the governance, operation, and resiliency of clearinghouses, exchanges and trading venues, data repositories, and more. Those banks also remain (a) the prime brokers for most sizable hedge funds, including those involved in the GameStop events; (b) the dominant derivatives dealers with 87.3% of U.S. derivatives exposures; and © significant lenders in various capacities, including as securities lenders.â€

 

Public Citizen’s written testimony also challenged the idea that the structure of today’s markets are conducive to prudent capital allocation on Wall Street. Public Citizen made the following points on the issue of high-frequency trading:

 

“Most trading today is executed not by individuals making deliberate decisions about the value of a stock based on fundamental analysis of a firm’s prospects, but by computers programed with algorithms that detect patterns…

 

“Globally, high-frequency trading has been shown to increase costs for investors by $5 billion annually…

 

“Public Citizen has long called for a financial transaction tax that would bridle high frequency trading that otherwise acts as a tax on average investors without providing any of the societal benefits that would come from the government taxing trades. A financial transaction tax of just 0.1% (10 cents per $100 traded) would raise nearly $777 billion over 10 years that could be reinvested in American communities through increased funding for health care, education, infrastructure or other priorities.â€

 

Both Better Markets and Public Citizen criticized the preposterously stalled rollout by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Consolidated Audit Trail. Better Markets wrote as follows on the subject:

 

“The SEC must have access to timely, accurate, and complete information on trading activities across markets to effectively supervise and police markets as well as to consider policy improvements in light of trading activities, developments and anomalies, such as those we witnessed in recent weeks. This common sense proposition has been understood since at least the ‘Flash Crash’ in May 2010, after which the SEC commenced plans to create a consolidated audit trail (‘CAT’) on all trading-related activities in the securities markets. Once fully operationalized—with needed upgrades and appropriate oversight— the CAT will collect granular order, cancellation, modification, and trade execution information and enable the SEC and other regulators to reduce, manage, and better understand market disruptions, distortions, and crashes—including anomalous trading events like the GameStop frenzy—and identify, deter, and punish manipulative, disruptive, or other illegal trading activities.â€

 

For our take on what’s holding up the CAT, see Technological Incompetence Appears to be Intentional at Wall Street’s Top Cop.

 

Both nonprofit watchdogs also criticized the ability of Wall Street to run its own private justice system called “mandatory arbitration†or “pre-dispute arbitration,†which effectively closes the nation’s courthouse doors to customers and employees. Better Markets wrote as follows:

 

“…it is well-established that arbitration is a biased forum that favors industry respondents and affords wronged investors very little meaningful relief. Moreover, it is highly secretive, providing neither the public nor regulators any insight into the nature of the claims being lodged or the manner in which they are resolved. And it lacks the procedural protections provided in court proceedings, including the right to appeal an erroneous decision or to even have a written decision stating the facts found and the basis for the decision. Accordingly, these recent events represent yet another occasion for examining the pressing need to ban or limit mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in financial services agreements.â€

Mick

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