Blog by Bill Singer WEEK IN REVIEW

November 7, 2015

Grandparents Victimized In Narcotics Bail Scam

A few months ago, my mother telephoned me, quite distraught, and told me that she had received a call from the Internal Revenue Service warning her that she would be arrested unless she immediately sent money.  After much back and forth, I convinced my mother to ignore the call and tried to explain to her that it was a scam. She doesn't use a computer. She doesn't have a smartphone. She doesn't go on the Internet or social media. Trust me, it took a lot of explaining about how some predator was trying to scare her into paying the IRS, and that it wasn't really the IRS, and, no, don't call them back and yell at them. 

Maybe you've gotten a similar threatening call or you know someone who has . . . fact is, even I got that IRS call via a voice-message on my home line. Thankfully, the Department of Justice is going after some of this scam artists who often target the elderly with this crap. If nothing else, keep a copy of this article and the linked Complaint, and show your grandparent, parent, or other family-member or friend that they are not alone in being targeted by fraudsters. READ

You may have heard of the Fear Index, which is traded in the form of the VXX and similar products. If you read the ongoing commentary about this product, you will be struck by the chorus of naysayers: both industry professionals and regulators. Notwithstanding the concerns raised about such matters as correlation and cost/benefit, traders (both professional and otherwise) dive into this trade as both a way to gain exposure to volatility and to hedge long equities positions. All of which brings us to an uncomfortable compliance and regulatory ground where you got a product that trades and that many folks love to day trade but the product is not in favor with Wall Street's cops. Consider this recent FINRA regulatory settlement. WATCH


November 3, 2015: Bill Singer talks with Shah Gilani, a market analyst with Capital Wave Forecast and Short Side Fortunes, on his trading career and popular investment newsletters; the downside of the rise of electronic stock exchanges; the connection between regulatory issues and volatility; how the SEC has been complicit in the rise of High Frequency Trading; and the implications of scandals like LIBOR and foreign currency manipulation. "Volatility is the new face of the market," Gilani says. "It's here to stay, it's going to increase and it will drive the markets." WATCH

If you have been a stockbroker long enough, inevitably you are presented with the prospect of opening a brokerage account for a customer who presents issues that give you pause. A recent FINRA regulatory settlement raises questions about a customer who appeared intellectually challenged and whose account sustained losses of nearly one-third its value. Did the stockbroker take advantage? Is this simply a case of unfortunate losses sustained via a well-meaning recommendation? You be the judge. READ


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Compliance Advisor Fined And Suspended For Falsifying Data

It's sort of a reasonable expectation, I would say, that if you are hired to do a job, you have an obligation to do what you're being paid to do.  Of course, sometimes you bite off more than you can chew and you're overwhelmed; and, sometimes, you figure that if no one is looking over your shoulder, hell, I'll get to this crap when I'm in the mood. In a recent FINRA regulatory settlement, we are confronted with a respondent who didn't quite seem to be clocking in everyday and paying attention to the details. Let's just say, we got a guy who may have gone through the motions . . . if even that. READ