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

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UK Financial Regulators Probe Interest Rate Swaps

The Financial Times reported yesterday that the Financial Services Authority -- the counterpart of the SEC in the UK -- will investigate the possible mis-selling of interest rate swaps by banks, including Barclays. The regulator decided to look into the issue after The Telegraph provided detailed information about the potential misconduct of banks when selling interest rate swaps to small businesses.

In one of its reports, the Telegraph details a situation in which a manufacturing company...

Greg Smith Leaves Wall Street

The New York Times published an op-ed by Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs' Executive Director who is resigning from his job after almost 12 years with the firm because, as he puts it, the firm's culture has veered far from what it was when he first joined the firm. He says in spite of the firm's recent scandals "the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money." At SLCG, we have come across many examples of the issues raised by Mr....

WSJ on Innovation in Commodity ETFs

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran an article about recent innovation in the commodity ETF space. Our work on commodity ETFs has focused on their use of constant-maturity rolling futures strategies, which incur a roll yield depending on conditions in the futures markets. Now, according to the WSJ, many ETF issuers are choosing more complex strategies to try to mitigate these and other effects in commodities markets:

Some of these new products use complex formulas to identify commodities...

More SEC Charges Coming Related to MBS Disclosures

According to the Wall Street Journal today, several banks may soon face charges related to the disclosure of risks related to their sales of mortgage-backed-securities in 2006. The SEC is reportedly concerned about whether these banks "misled investors about the underlying pool of assets."

We have several posts lately and a research paper on similar disclosure issues for both collateralized loan obligations and mortgage-backed-securities, in which we describe how the warehousing of assets...

WSJ: Private-Equity Fund in Valuation Inquiry

There is an article in the Wall Street Journal today concerning the alleged exaggeration of an asset's value in a private-equity fund. From the article:

The potential exaggeration in the [Oppenheimer Global Resource Private Equity Fund LP] grew to more than $4 million, according to documents shared with Oppenheimer investors. The bulk of this markup came as the fund was reaching out to potential investors in the fall of 2009, and helped push the fund's reported internal rate of return to 38%,...

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,...

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...

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...

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