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Our experts frequently write blog posts about the findings of the research we are conducting.

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Should You Cash Out Your Home Equity to Find Your Missed Fortune? Careful! A Scam Might Be On the Way

As a result of a lifetime of thrift, many homeowners find themselves in their 50s and 60s with considerable equity in their homes. Some investment advisors and insurance salesmen have been recommending that these homeowners refinance their mortgages to take the equity out of their homes - sometime called "equity harvesting" - to purchase high cost insurance contracts or investments. Whether insurance contracts or high cost investments are being pitched, the advisors and brokers get a big pay...

Home Equity: Changing Perspectives

We wanted to write a quick post highlight the changing perspectives of industry experts concerning something as mundane as home equity. The LA Times reported in August 2005 that, due to the rapid appreciation of real estate values and perceived wealth accumulation, consumers were beginning to spend more freely. In fact, at the time it was becoming commonplace (and even suggested by experts) to cash out equity in your home to finance otherwise unobtainable, and sometimes transient, purchases...

In the News: Structured CDs

Bloomberg News reported this week that FINRA is investigating a relatively new type of product that ties the returns of certificates of deposit (CDs) to derivatives. These products are known generally as 'Structured CDs' (SCDs) but also go by 'Index-Linked CDs', 'Equity-Linked CDs' or 'Market-Linked CDs'. There have also been news stories concerning Market-Linked CDs issued by Wells-Fargo and Equity-Linked CDs issued by Goldman Sachs in recent years.

SCDs have existed since the late 1980s,...

An Introduction to Non-Traded REITs

Both FINRA and the SEC have started warning investors about non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), which are growing in popularity but expose investors to very serious risks. We at SLCG have had a variety of cases involving non-traded REITs and would like to describe our experience analyzing these investments and what they mean for regulators and retail investors.

In the most general sense, REITs are simply companies that hold almost entirely real estate assets. These companies can...

Massachusetts Security Regulator Latest to Take Action on BoA CLOs

The Wall Street Journal today reported that Massachusetts is investigating Bank of America for their role in the LCM VII and Bryn Mawr II CLOs. Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin is leading the investigation as to whether the two CLOs priced their underlying assets truthfully at the time of sales to investors. The subpoenas have also been picked up byBloomberg, Fox Business, and Reuters, amongst others.

SLCG initially reported the mispricing of these CLOs in a research paper earlier...

SEC Litigation Releases: Week in Review - February 10th, 2012

This is the first post in what will become a weekly tradition on the SLCG blog.

SEC Charges Kenneth A. Dachman for Orchestrating a Misappropriation Scheme and Offering Fraud
February 6, 2012 (Litigation Release No. 22254)
The SEC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois alleging that Kenneth A. Dachman had misappropriated nearly $2 million of investors funds by making false and misleading statements concerning the offerings of three companies for which...

Could Credit Rating Agencies be Held Accountable This Time?

A recent wall street journal article reports that U.S. lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would require top credit-rating firms to review their credit ratings on a quarterly basis, hoping that more frequent reviews would increase the accuracy of their ratings and help identify potential problems.

According to Wall Street Journal, the bill would "amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require the chief executive officer of each [credit-rating firm] to attest, quarterly, to the...

ETFs' Asset Value is Increasing, Trading Volume Remains Stable

Financial Times reports that the daily trading volume in the 50 most traded US ETFs in this January and last December was at its historical lows, dropping to the level of the end of 2007. This is surprising since over the past decade the total asset value of ETFs have increased from its 2002 level of $102 billion to just over $1 trillion in 2011 according to the Investment Company Institute. Below we plot the ETF total asset value over the last decade.

A figure showing a bar graph demonstrating the total asset value in USD Billions for ETFs from 2002 to 2011.

Intuitively, one would expect as asset...

Reserve your Clever ETF Ticker Before it's Too Late

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that descriptive and catchy tickers for Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are getting harder and harder to come by these days. From the article:

But finding a catchy symbol can be tough these days. Many have already been taken: 1,350 symbols are in use on the NYSE Arca alone, the biggest U.S. market for exchange-traded products. That's up 108% over the past five years, says Ms. Morrison. In addition, fund firms have reserved 2,446 symbols for future...

Dealbreaker on the Hayes award and LCM VII CLO

Matt Levine at Dealbreaker posted last night on our work regarding the Hayes award and the LCM VII CLO. He interpreted some of the facts of the case differently, but we think he did touch upon the key issue: the proper disclosure of the decline in the market price of collateral on the closing date. We wanted to directly address a couple points he raised.

To be clear, at least by the closing date the CLO did track the daily mark-to-market value of the loans in the LCM VII portfolio using...

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