Blog by Bill Singer WEEK IN REVIEW

October 29, 2016

You only get so many rolls of the dice at the crap table. You only get so many chances -- and second chances -- in life. At some point, you either make your point or crap out. You either walk away with your pockets filled with winnings or with a bit less cash than you started out with. Some folks seem wiser for having taken a beating at the tables. Some not. Consider a recent Securities and Exchange Commission settlement involving a Registered Investment Adviser and its guiding light. READ

When Blog publisher Bill Singer gets frustrated, he gets hungry. Today, Bill is very frustrated with an intra-industry FINRA arbitration. The dispute set up as a fairly interesting one involving allegations of unfair competition and raiding. In addition to the usual former employer versus former employee parties, we also have the new employer cast in the role of possibly aiding and abetting its new employee's misconduct. On top of everything, the arbitrators really, really, really didn't like some of the respondents actions, which the arbitration panel slammed as "wanton disregard." Unfortunately, just when we thought we were going to get a nice morsel to chew on, the FINRA Arbitration Decision leaves us hanging. That got Bill's stomach acids working overtime. Fact is, he's got a dying urge for Wonton Soup. READ

Has Big Data Made Us Lazy? Speech By SEC Deputy Director Scott W. Bauguess

The Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") recently published a speech delivered at an American Accounting Association meeting by SEC Deputy Director and Deputy Chief Economist (Division of Economic and Risk Analysis) Scott W. Bauguess: "Has Big Data Made Us Lazy?" Pretty catchy title and one that intrigued me; in fact, I read the entire speech and commend it to all serious Wall Street participants. Bauguess starts off his presentation by informing us that:

[T]his is the first time that I have focused on how the growth of big data may be shaping our behavior. In particular, I want to spend some time expressing my view on the role of human interaction with analytical processes that have developed as a consequence of the proliferation of big data.

As he develops his thesis, Bauguess offers us the economist's version of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, which argues that there is a limit as to how precise we can measure certain quantum particles (the trade-off being one between measuring a particle's position versus its momentum). Put another way, the more we drill down and try to focus on a particular sub-set of data, the more questions seem to arise about other issues.  READ

Was a time when the Blog regularly reported about imposters who pretended to be brokerage firm customers and managed to dupe the unsuspecting into issuing wires out of the victim's account. Then there came a time when the Blog's esteemed author and publisher Bill Singer tired of writing the same snarky article about how the same brokerage firms kept approving wire transfers without their real client's authorization.  After a while, you sort of feel like you're this lone voice screaming in the wilderness and the sound ain't quite carrying.  Maybe it's the cool nip in the air heralding the holiday season but we're publishing yet another piece about how easy it is to overwhelm the flimsy first, second, and last lines of defense that Wall Street has half-heartedly erected against online imposters and hackers. Make sure to watch the hilarious embedded TED speech video about online imposters. READ

There are some regulatory cases that leave you discomforted. In those moments of unease, the regulator is right and on the side of the angels but you still feel sorry for the respondent, who did wrong, should have known better, probably did know better, and offered, at best, a lame excuse. Why do you feel sorry for such a person? Perhaps it's what makes us human.

Today's Blog presents a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority settlement in which the respondent's conduct was wrong. It's that simple. A text-book case of FINRA doing its job and the respondent not doing hers. Nonetheless, when the dust settles, it's tough not be feel sorry for her. It's tough not to wish that the sanctions were less severe, but that would have required her conduct to have been very different. Yes, justice was done here.. But doing justice isn't always easy to behold. Sometimes we have to hold our nose and then swallow. READ

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