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Stockbrokers as spin doctors

by Bruno Deshayes on 14 Jul 2016 permalink
Pump and dump strategies and other shenanigans were rife before the advent of discount online brokers. As the saying goes "it's never a bad time to take a commission".

Marketing and spin is taking a whole life of its own if you can spread a rumour and have enough bystanders repeat and embellish the story for you.

Can those good old times survive or has the internet killed the opportunity for brokers to dispense investing therapy? So what made a juicy good story? How easily could greedy investors (gamblers ?) be caught?

Since inside knowledge can be turned into a trading advantage there is an in-built collusion of interest between those who know of some impending market data and those who are eager to trade that information before it becomes common knowledge.

Full service stockbrokers were notorious to cultivate a following of people who wanted to be in on a good trade. For some unknown reason it always became a bad trade. Stock manipulation is more transparent now since any good online trading platform allows you to see the course of trades entered in the market. In the past a broker could interfere with the market of an illiquid stock by withholding either buy or sell orders to cause the asking price to temporarily rise or fall on demand. Then he could place the trades of his "preferred" customers at a more advantageous price. An electronic market has blown out those cosy arrangements.

Insider_trading is a hot issue and authorities play a cat and mouse game to unravel after the facts the actions of operators ever so clever at covering their tracks. After the stock market crash of 2007 authorities had to be seen as doing something. There is even an academic who claims to have written some software to identify suspicious insider trades!

A report by the Australian Institute of Criminology reveals that as long as you don't get caught the practice is too tempting to be passed by.

But life goes on and judging by the stockbroker fraud blog there is still plenty of action going around.

Bottom line: with a fast electronic market the goal post has shifted and there is more transparency. At the same time new opportunities are being created but we will only find out about them when they have been exposed and can no longer be exploited.

One notorious IPO which surprised all the pundits was Google who handled their float themselves. In fact the original Google IPO site is still around. But if you missed out on buying GOOG shares on NASDAQ at $85 on August 19, 2004 which fetched $500 in 2010 don't despair the next hot tip is now the Facebook IPO site



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Bruno Deshayes

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