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Big Wall Street Firms Pressure Their Salesmen to Favor House-Brands

Financial advisors and brokers are bound by ethical guidelines to analyze and recommend investment products that are suitable and appropriate for their clients' investment objectives and tolerance for risk. In general, they are obliged to put their clients' best interests ahead of their own.

The New York Times reported Monday on the recent admission from a former JPMorgan mutual fund advisor that he sold JPMorgan funds over similar offerings from outside JPMorgan for no other reason than to...

LIBOR Manipulation

An ongoing investigation into the manipulation of LIBOR has exploded recently with the revelation that Barclays was actively manipulating LIBOR since 2005, possibly at the behest of Paul Tucker (a leading candidate to become the next governor of the UK central bank). As evidenced by several forms of electronic communication, some employees were submitting false data to boost profits.

Such accusations of LIBOR rate manipulation are not new. In 2008, the British Bankers Association (BBA) ...

The "New" Non-Traded REITs Look a Lot Like the Old Ones

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an article describing the "new versions" of non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), which purport to solve some of the transparency issues which have made non-traded REITs the subject of regulatory scrutiny. In particular, several non-traded REITs are now offering daily updated net asset values (NAV) in an attempt to calm concerns regarding the lack of transparency in the pricing of non-traded REITs.

However, a review of the prospectus for...

Bill Luby on VIX-Related Exchange-Traded Products

Bill Luby, who writes at the VIX and More blog and Expiring Monthly: The Options Traders Journal, is one of the most respected voices on all things related to the CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index, also known as the VIX. We highly recommend anyone interested in the VIX and volatility-related derivates check out his blog, which has a variety of useful analysis and commentary.

Recently there has been a lot of coverage related to TVIX and otherexchange-traded products linked to the VIX. Here at...

TVIX Explodes...Then Implodes

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the rollercoaster ride that TVIX, a volatility-related ETN, has been on recently. [UPDATE 3/31/12: there is now a second WSJ article]
TVIX is a leveraged ETN issued by VelocityShares, which is Credit Suisse's ETF/ETN brand. Contrary to popular belief, TVIX and other volatility products do not track the CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index (the VIX); instead, TVIX tracks a daily rolling portfolio of first and second month VIX futures with an average...

Junk ETFs

The Wall Street Journal ran a great piece earlier this month concerning Junk ETFs. For another recent prospective, see the recent blog postby Michael Aneiro. We have discussed exchange traded funds (ETFs) a great deal on this blog, but we haven't yet addressed the issue of Junk ETFs. A Junk ETF is an ETF that invests in high-yield bonds in an effort to garner high returns. Of course high-yield is just an industry euphemism for low-quality (or high-risk) since, generally speaking, investors...

Regulating the Derivatives Markets

The New York Times had an excellent editorial last week titled "A Long Road to Regulating Derivatives," which discusses the progress made in regulating the types of complex securities which have been implicated in the recent financial crisis. We at SLCG feel that investors should pay close attention to the changes taking place in securities regulation as they could have a significant impact on the entire market.

Traditionally, derivatives were regulated relatively lightly, especially...

$85 million and Counting: What Price Will Citigroup Ultimately Pay for Its MAT/ASTA Deception?

On March 13, 2012, Bloomberg published Citigroup Ex-Manager Islam Has No Regrets After Funds Crash. Then on March 21, 2012 USA Today published Investor hedge fund claims cost Citigroup $85M and counting. These two stories deal with MAT/ASTA hedge funds Citigroup sold to retail clients which suffered staggering losses in early 2008. Both recent stories discuss the $54.1 million award in Hosier et al v Citigroup covered in the WSJ, Citigroup Loses Muni Case in April 2011.

Craig McCann has...

Problems Surrounding the Complexity of Annuity Products

On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported the felony-theft conviction of Glenn Neasham who had sold a complex annuity to an elderly woman. The conviction -- which comes with a 90-day sentence -- was handed down by a state-court jury in Lake County, CA. From the article:

The case underlines authorities' continuing discomfort with "indexed" annuities, savings products that pay interest tied to the performance of stock- and bond-market indexes. Insurers guarantee that buyers won't lose any of...

Abuse of Municipal Finance in Wisconsin

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Stifel Financial has settled with five Wisconsin school districts on charges that they misled these municipal investors with their sale of several complex CDOs. This is just another example of the situation outlined in a previous postwherein a municipality or institutional investor was taken advantage of through the sale of inappropriate investments. The settlement involves $22.5 million in cash, plus $154 million in debt forgiveness. SLCG has been...

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