Officials today announced they can trace May’s stock market flash crash to a single transaction. On May 6, 2010, at 2:32 pm, Waddell & Reed Financial of Kansas initiated the sale of 75,000 E-Mini Standard & Poor’s 500 futures contracts. A sale of this size, about $4.1 billion worth, would usually happen over five hours, but instead the trading algorithms sold them within 20 minutes “without regard to price or time.” At 2:42 pm, markets starting plunging 5% in five minutes.
As of yesterday’s 3-2 SEC ruling, the little guy just got a little more power in the boardroom. When shareholders want to nominate people to the board, the company now has to include those names on the regular ballots passed out to everyone before the annual meeting, even if the company doesn’t like them.
To avoid a costly and extended legal process and staunch further image degradation, Goldman Sachs is talking to the SEC about tying up their big probe and all their little probes in a little bow.
While some SEC employees were up to their eyeballs in porn during office hours in recent years, apparently some have continued to do their job, as Dell announced today that it is nearing a settlement to a prolonged SEC investigation that could cost the computer company upwards of $100 million.
Might there be more to last week’s crash than a “fat fingered” trade, or someone mistakenly entering a “billion” instead of a “million?” An online stock trader has a video showing an unusual spike in trading volume, followed by a very quick sell-off, by funds at large investment firms BlackRock and Vanguard and some other funds 30 to 15 minutes before the big crash. Prescience? Watch the video, check the logs, and decide for yourself.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner will meet with federal regulators and top officials from the NYSE and other exchanges to dicuss whatever the hell happened last Thursday that caused the stock market to completely freak out.
The AP says that a computerized selloff that may have been caused by a typo (the theory is that someone typed $16 billion when they meant $16 million) caused the biggest ever drop during a trading day. How could one typo result in such massive turmoil? The idea is that the erroneous trade triggered other computers to sell.
Bond markets slammed Goldman Sach this week, making the firm pay more for cashizzle then even the bailed-out Citigroup. Goldman’s yield rose to 2.79 percentage points over Citigroups’ 2.29. At the end of March, before the legal and regulatory headaches began, Citigrouop’s spread was wider than Goldman’s by .45 percentage points. Higher yields on debt usually indicate a higher risk of default or other negative credit events. Concerns continue to mount over how long and how deep the firm will be tainted by the SEC’s civil lawsuit and the investigation by federal prosecutors, and what other skeletons the scrutiny might shake out.
The Washington Post is reporting that the porn-lovin’ employees of the SEC have not been fired. Here’s the breakdown:
When the SEC announced its fraud complaint against Goldman Sachs, people noted that the penalties involved would involve money, not jail time. But an attorney writing for seekingalpha.com argued over the weekend that John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who worked with GS to create “synthetic derivatives,” accessed FICO scores to create his financial product and therefore violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)–which could mean a penalty as high as $1 billion, and even jail time if the FTC or Justice Department decides to go after him.
It’s not exactly Bernie Madoff’s $65 billion, but the Securities And Exchange Commission has charged a Florida businessman with operating a $900 million Ponzi scheme, telling people they were investing — risk-free and at interest rates upward of 26% — in his grocery business, when in fact he was just using the money to fund his lavish lifestyle.
“Waterfall” provisions of asset backed securities are the rules that explain the flow of funds in the transaction, and they are are very hard to read. Blogger/professor Jayanth Varma calls them “horrendously complicated,” leading trustees to make mistakes or pull stunts that investors never expected. To remedy this, the SEC is proposing that the provisions be written in a programming language, filed on EDGAR, and made available as downloadable Python source code.
The SEC today announced civil fraud charges against Goldman Sachs and VP Fabrice Tourre. The chargea allege that Goldman ripped off investors by allowing a client who bet against the housing market to pick the mortgage securities being sold to other investors who were also investing in the housing market.
On his personal website, “natural psychic and Remote Viewer” Sean David Morton claims to have predicted everything from the 1989 San Francisco earthquake to Bill Clinton’s impeachment to the burst of the dotcom bubble. But that doesn’t impress the SEC, who filed a lawsuit against Morton yesterday, alleging that he committed $6 million worth of securities fraud by claiming he could see into the future.
A U.S. District Court Judge signed off on the $150 million settlement between Bank of America Corp. and the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations of making misleading statements during BofA’s purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co., but he wasn’t exactly happy about doing it.
The SEC’s inspector general has released a jailhouse interview in which his royal Ponziness, Bernie Madoff himself, explains that he got away with his scheme because the SEC basically sucks.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office is gathering information in order to file fraud charges against some BoA executives over what they knew, and what they hid, when they acquired Merrill Lynch & Co. a year ago. Earlier this week, his office subpoenaed 5 board members to find out “what they knew regarding the mounting losses and bonus payments at Merrill before the deal closed on Jan. 1 and what role they played in deciding whether to disclose that information to shareholders,” according to the Associated Press.