March 20, 2021
Right off the bat -- gotta tell ya -- I got a problem with FINRA Regulatory Notice 21-12. Frankly, it's symptomatic of just about everything that's wrong with FINRA and with Wall Street's lame version of self-regulation. We're in the midst of a horrible pandemic. Wall Street employees are working from home. Hardly a day goes by when we are not regaled with unsettling stories about the so-called "gamification" of the stock market. Daily, we read about the industry's lack of operational capacity in the face of surging volumes. And just how does FINRA respond to all of this? Why, of course, it does what any bureaucracy does, which is a combination of nothing and doing something that makes doing nothing look like you're doing something when you're not.
The price of sushi -- and I'm talking about the really good stuff -- can be astronomical. We're talking hundreds, even thousands of dollars, for a meal or what may amount to a few bites. In a recent case, a Wall Street executive wound up paying $5,000. To be clear, that tab was not presented by a restaurant but in the form of a fine by FINRA, and the mandatory gratuity was a nine-month suspension. To add insult to injury, I'm wondering if the soy sauce packet ripped apart upon opening and splattered the diner.
In the "Grandfather Paradox" we are asked to wonder whether you could travel back in time to kill your grandfather before he conceived your father. If your time travel was successful, then how were you able to kill your grandfather and prevent your birth if, in fact, you were never born? In a variation on this theme, the "FINRA Paradox," we are asked whether you could backdate a document that was supposed to be submitted before you got approval to engage in an outside business activity. Which prompts the obvious question: If your backdating was successful, then would your grandfather have hired you to engage in outside business activity if a tree fell on Wall Street while you were clapping with one hand and no one heard the tree fall but, nonetheless, everyone bought GameStop shares on Robinhood in the face of naked shorting?