Manipulation of Equity Markets: Helicopter Ben, Pinocchio Tim and Arthur Levitt / California Misses Budget Deadline

RCM Editorial

While the mainstream media is busy rolling “green shoots” and smoking them, I thought I’d compose a post today to help you ‘JUST SAY NO.’

Ben “Helicopter” Bernanke and his side kick Tim “PinocchioGeithner (honestly, watch him speak, I swear his nose looks like it grows) have been dealing some pretty potent D.C. “trip shoots.” Of course, they are not alone. A vast network of dealers have combined to create the hallucinogenic state in which the mainstream media floats.

Perhaps the most dastardly dealers in the cartel are those who manipulate the equity markets. They claim to be champions of the free markets and providers of liquidity when they are anything but. They team up with big brokerage firms who love the gravy train of fees and drive up the cost of doing business for the rest of us.

I’m going to take a leap so try and stay with me. If you would like someone to blame for the predicament we are in today look no further than Arthur Levitt. Levitt, an ex-head of the SEC and beloved blatherskite of news outlets everywhere, spearheaded the ruination of Wall Street with the move to decimalization. In his infant wisdom, he believed that the spreads between the bid and ask on equities were too large and therefore hurt the small investor. His stupidity prevented him from realizing that spreads were and are necessary to create real liquidity. As an investor I’d rather see a .25 cent spread on a stock and know I can trade real volume at the price than a .01 cent spread with no volume. In today’s market of decimalization an investor may have to bid a stock (all but the most liquid) up $1 or more to find the real volume that would have been there a 1/2 point lower in a spread environment.

The advent of decimalization murdered a major profit center for the brokers and forced them to find other means of revenue. We all know how that worked out. The profit center of spreads for brokers was not a gift. It was earned by way of creating real liquidity. Decimalization has led to a serious disease of manipulation in the markets today. The blog post below by Joe Saluzzi and the clip from CNBC should further illuminate this argument:

Joe Saluzzi Themis Trading:

Our equity market is being controlled by machines that are nothing more than two bit, SOES bandits. They cloak themselves under the mantra of liquidity providers but they are really just locusts and are feeding off the equity market until it doesn’t suit them anymore. Once their profit margins are squeezed to almost zero, they are likely just to move on to a new market. But what damage would they have done? We will be left with a shell of a market that is used to being led around by computers. Real people and real capital are a scarce resource in today’s market. Read more…

And Here It Is On CNBC: Manipulation

(I’d like to take this moment to commend Rick Santelli whose voice is a true beacon of light on this otherwise wasteland of a network.)

RCM Comment: This California story is not getting much news coverage but should be on the top your watch list. California’s slow sinking into the financial abyss could destabilize the credit markets and in turn the equity markets…

California misses budget deadline, readies “IOUs” – : reports California’s lawmakers failed to agree on a balanced budget by the start of its new fiscal year on Wednesday morning, clearing the way to suspend payments owed to the state’s vendors and local agencies, who instead will get “IOU” notes promising payment. The notes will mark the first time in 17 years the most populous U.S. state’s government will have to resort to the unusual and dramatic measure. Democrats who control the legislature could not convince Republicans late on Tuesday night to back their plans to tackle a $24.3 billion budget shortfall or a stopgap effort to ward off the IOUs. The two sides agree on the need for spending cuts but are split over whether to raise taxes. Democrats have pushed for new revenues while Republican lawmakers and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, also a Republican, have ruled out tax increases. They instead see deep spending cuts as the solution to balancing the budget, but Democrats say that would slash the state’s safety net for the needy to the bone.

About Bret Rosenthal

Interpreting the news that moves markets. Principal of RCM, LLC, and founding partner of the Fortune's Favor Family of Funds
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