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SLCG Research: Abuse of Structured Finance

SLCG released today 'Regions Morgan Keegan: The Abuse of Structured Finance'.

Six Regions Morgan Keegan (RMK) bond funds lost $2 billion in 2007. In the paper, we argue that the loss was not due to 'flight to quality' or 'mortgage meltdown' but to RMK's portfolio concentration in subordinated tranches of asset-backed securities.

We also find that RMK misrepresented to investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in several ways. Firstly, RMK did not disclose to the SEC...

FINRA Investor Alert: Auction Rate Securities

Auction Rate Securities: What Happens When Auctions Fail

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published an Investor Alert on auction rate securities (ARS). This provides quite a thorough background on ARS, their auction mechanism and risks of failure, alternatives to ARS, and redemption and liquidity issues.

ARS are issued widely by institutions ranging from closed-end mutual funds, municipalities to student loan trusts. ARS are long-term floating rate securities whose...

SLCG Research: Equity Indexed Annuities

SLCG released today 'An Economic Analysis of Equity-Indexed Annuities'.

On June 25, 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a rule proposal to exclude equity-indexed annuities from exemption from Federal securities laws. By requiring registration of equity-indexed annuities under Federal securities laws, the rule gives investors of equity-indexed annuities the same protection as it gives to investors of other securities similar to equity-indexed annuities.

In this...

FINRA Investor Alert: Cat Bonds

Catastrophe Bonds and other Event-Linked Securities

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published an Investor Alert on catastrophe bonds, or 'cat bonds'. Cat bonds pay higher interest rates compared to the equivalent corporate bonds.

However, there are risks involved in holding cat bonds. Investors of a cat bond can lose interest and principal if the catastrophe, to which the bond is linked, occurs. Cat bonds are quite illiquid, the pricing information are generally not...

SLCG Research: Collateralized Mortgage Obligations

SLCG released today 'A CMO Primer: the law of Conservation of Structured Securities Risk'.

Recently, the finance industry witnessed the bailout of two Bears Sterns hedge funds and the collapse of Brookstreet Securities. Both had portfolio holdings of collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) and suffered huge losses thereof. We have seen such CMO losses before, when in 1994 interest rates rose, CMOs fell in value and bond mutual funds suffered unexpected losses.

In this paper, Dr....

SLCG Research: Closed-end Fund IPOs

SLCG released today 'Closed-end Fund IPOs'.

In this paper, Dr. Edward O'Neal explains how closed-end funds trade at a discount to their net asset value (NAV). Dr O'Neal finds that at the initial public offering (IPO), a closed-end fund's offering price is set at its NAV. Yet during the year after the IPO, a closed-end fund's price drops as much as 5% from its offering price at the IPO. Furthermore, investors pay huge commissions on the sale of the closed-end fund, generating a premium...

Registered Rep.: A Tempest Over Structured Products

A Tempest Over Structured Products

Registered Rep. issued a news release today reporting on the state of the structured products market. The sale of structured products has grown by an estimate of 33% from 2005 to 2006. Yet the general features of structured products seem to make these products unattractive: complex, expensive, and illiquid. Financial advisors might favor structured products for it enables portfolio diversification and for its ability to tailor to the specific needs of...

Forbes: Guaranteed to Go Up

Guaranteed to Go Up

Forbes published an article examining structured products sold to retail investors around the world. It describes how a structured product works, the payoffs and risks, using an example of the principal protected note. It then explains how the principal protected note is equivalent to and can be replicated by a combination of traditional securities and derivatives.

A principal protected note returns at least the face value of the note at maturity. If the reference...

FINRA Investor Alert: Variable Annuities

Should You Exchange Your Variable Annuity?

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published an Investor Alert on how to determine if investors should exchange their variable annuity for another model. An annuity makes periodic payments to the holder of the annuity. There are fixed annuities that make fixed payments and variable annuities that make variable payments.

While equity-indexed annuities have become increasingly popular, some have questioned their value and...

FINRA Press Release: Structured Products

NASD Provides Guidance Concerning the Sale of Structured Products

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published a NASD Notice to Members 05-59 providing guidance to members concerning their sales practice obligations when selling structured protects to retail customers.

The complexity of structured products can often obscure their risks. It is therefore important that investors are protected from unscrupulous sales practices that might arise in an unregulated...

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