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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...

A Wipeout That Didn't Have to Happen

This weekend the New York Times' Gretchen Morgenson wrote an article about the recent FINRA award against Banc of America Securities for their LCM VII CLO. We have blogged about this case before, and have put together a research paper describing the underlying issue of warehousing assets in structured credit derivatives. We are very grateful to the New York Times and Gretchen Morgenson for giving this story the attention it deserves.

The fundamental problem with structured credit and many...

Schwab Sues FINRA RE: Class Action and Consolidated Claims

There has been some buzz on the blogosphere concerning the ongoing dispute between Schwab and FINRA concerning the issue of class action waivers attached to securities products.

FINRA recently alleged that Charles Schwab & Co. violated FINRA rules by including class action waivers in their customer agreements. From their press release:

FINRA's complaint charges that in October 2011, Schwab amended its customer account agreement to include a provision requiring customers to waive their rights...

Freddie Mac, complex derivatives, and one huge conflict of interest

There have been many news reports lately describing the difficulty homeowners have had in refinancing their mortgages. Many decry the strict requirements imposed on them by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the massive taxpayer-owned-but-ostensibly-nongovernmental mortgage financing firms. Well today, NPR and ProPublica are reporting that Freddie Mac bet billions that many homeowners would not be able to refinance their mortgages.

Now that's a conflict of interest. Other outlets have begun to...

President and CIO of Direxion admits that leveraged ETFs are not appropriate for most investors

Today Seeking Alpha posted an interview with Dan O'Neill, President and CIO of Direxion, one of the first and best known issuers of leveraged ETFs. Readers familiar with our work on leveraged ETFs know that we feel these products are almost always unsuitable for retail investors.

Surprisingly enough, Mr. O'Neill agrees completely:

The leveraged indexed ETFs are used by very tactical investors, and so there we have bull and bear funds. They have daily betas, which means that essentially...

WSJ on the 'sophisticated investor' defense

The Wall Street Journal's Financial Advisor blog has a new article on the 'sophisticated investor' defense in securities litigation. This defense is typically used by defendants (usually banks or investment houses) in response to claims against them related to suitability of complex investment products. It boils down to the assertion that because a claimant has a high net worth, he or she is capable of understanding and willing to assume the risks of even extraordinarily complex strategies....

NY Times on the Hosier decision

The New York times has an article about the MAT and ASTA products sold by Citigroup that were the subject of a $54.1 million award in Denver last April. SLCG provided expert testimony and analysis for the claimants in this case, including assessing the MAT/ASTA products at issue, and we are excited that the Times has drawn attention to these highly risky investments.

The MAT and ASTA products were hedge funds that implemented a leveraged municipal bond arbitrage strategy. Essentially,...

In the News: UBS & Morgan Stanley Subpoenaed over Reverse Convertibles

UBS, Morgan Stanley Subpoenaed Over Reverse Convertibles

Bloomberg news reported today that the state of Georgia had sent subpoenas requesting for data and other information from UBS AG, Morgan Stanley and Ameriprise Financial Inc.. The state is investigating whether these brokerage firms violated the securities laws of Georgia in their sale of reverse convertibles to investors of Georgia.

Sales of reverse convertibles have grown, and investors who are being sold these structured...

In the News: Auction Rate Securities Purchased by US Airways

Forbes' blogger Bill Singer narrates the story of US Airways. Registered with Lehman Brothers at the time, three individuals were ordered to pay US Airways $15 million in damages for making unsuitable recommendations and unauthorized purchases of auction rate securities (ARS) and for the failure to provide proper supervision over the transactions of ARS made on behalf of US Airways.

ARS are long-term floating rate securities whose coupon payments are determined at auctions that are...

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