Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Is Mary Schapiro Qualified to Chair The SEC?

CNBC, clearly understanding the significant implications of a proposed changes to high frequency trading rules brought SEC Chair Mary Schapiro on to get an idea of what she's thinking.

Please understand that I am by no means an expert on market trading practices and rules. However watching this interview it comes across as if our SEC chair understands less.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SEC May Ban Unethical Flash Trading

Up until recently certain companies had advanced access to the orders other investors made, ahead of the transaction. Today it looks like the SEC may be making a move to ban the practices.

By placing servers with special detection and fast trade programs on them next to the computers that run exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange, companies like Goldman Sachs could determine very quickly what orders were coming through the system.

Taking an advantage of a delay from when an order is entered by someone like me and when it hits the market, the company could read order and then go in and buy the equity themselves just in time to mark it up a very small amount to then sell it me for a guaranteed, albeit small profit.

This is one form of computerized flash trading. Very recently one company, Goldman Sachs accounted for about 48% of all trade volume on the market through these types of trades, and flash trading in general. The practice allowed the company, to rack up billions in profits that many in the market feel are unethical and against the general principals of free market exchange in that it grants specific players an unfair advantage.

Read More Here
More from Bloomberg News

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Kid in Guantanamo

I heard a snippet of a story today on NPR that I thought I must not have heard right because it sounded too outrageous to be true. I looked into it further only to find my fears realized.

A young Afghani, Mohammed Jawad, has grown up in our custody a the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility since 2002, almost 7 years now. The story of Guantanamo is not new, and the controversy surrounding it has been in the National Debate for some time now, but what shocked me was to hear that this particular kid may have been as young as 12 years old when he was captured by Northern Alliance Officials. (It's my understanding that at that time The Northern Alliance was being paid a bounty for handing over prisoners who were militants working in support of Taliban, or Al Qaeda.)

While tortured by members of the Northern Alliance it is alleged that Jawad admitted to throwing a hand grenade at a U.S. military Jeep injuring 2 soldiers and their interpreter. Jawad was then handed over to the U.S. and he was transfered to Guantanamo where he recanted those statements.

According to the Christian Science Monitor the interrogations continued while the kid was in our custody.

"Jawad's files show extensive efforts to obtain more detailed information through repeated interrogations at Guantánamo. Records show that Jawad was subject to a sleep deprivation technique called the "frequent flyer program." At one point Guantánamo guards moved him from cell to cell 112 times within a two-week period. This regime required him to be shackled, moved, and unshackled on average once every two hours and 50 minutes."

If the facts of the story are as I have come to understand them then I view this as a terrible violation of at the very least the spirit of this nations highest values and laws.

As citizens we cannot just allow these things slip by. Allowing our representatives to miscarry justice in such a manner is a threat to all of our security.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"You Cannot Any Longer Suggest That President Obama Is Advancing Civil Liberties"

The above quote is from GWU Law Professor Jonathan Turley in this interview with Keith Olberman.


Friday, March 20, 2009

On Inflation

The Feds recent proposal has many people concerned about inflation. While for others it just revives the debate of hyper inflation vs deflation. Minyanville brought about some greater perspective for me however this quote:
Inflation, like other economic entities, is controlled by supply and demand. The velocity of money is one way to represent the demand for “stuff” - when it goes up, prices tend to follow.
From Minyanville
I'm not sure this plays out in the real world but the idea makes sense. We're already maxed out and over leveraged. That's why the global economy is contracting. So it's only producers that can borrow, not spenders, not the banks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our American Challenge

Today we witnessed the inauguration of our nation's 44th president and yesterday we honored someone who helped make that possible.  

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a citizen who worked against powerful forces to expand liberty, justice and equality.  When my grandfather fought in the second world war, and when this nation's founders fought the British in The American Revolution, it was those same ideals that stood at the forefront of our national consciousness.

We enjoy the hard fought gifts of liberty,and justice, for all as a result of the sacrifices of many.  With that freedom comes our own individual burden of responsibility for the condition of our democracy. 

And while we vote in an exercise of our democratic ideals, that act alone does not satisfy our democratic obligations.

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, our nation was asked to open up our wallets and spend for the sake of the economy.  Consumerism became synonymous with patriotism.

It is a popular idea, that the economic decisions we make, can be a force for good in this world.  Undoubtedly the tactic of "voting with your dollar" can effect change, but it still cannot satisfy our obligations as citizens.  

Today this country faces tremendous challenges.  In the face of these challenges we must bring individuals to account for their actions, however we must not be victims.  

Consumerism cannot be allowed to replace citizenship. Our responsibility to does not end once our representatives are in office. And we must not simply surrender our freedom to victimhood. As citizens of this democracy we are responsible for our own fates and the fate of this nation. Our biggest challenges are not terrorism, or economic calamity, rather they are apathy and dogmatism.

Yesterdays celebration of Dr. King and today's presidential inauguration serve as inspiration, as we each take up action defending against the apathetic and dogmatic tendencies within ourselves.

It is on each of us to take up a cause.  It is on each of us to improve our communities. It is on each of us to listen with humility and empathy to those with whom we disagree.  It is on each of us to be critical and to petition our media and our elected representatives on a frequent basis.  It is on each of us to accept the responsibility of our freedom and to take on the task of making this nation better.

Yes We Can.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Porn Industry Bailout: A line in the sand?

Excellent publicity play:

The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Owen Moogan speaking for Hustler Publisher Larry Flynt. CNN

As Mish Shedlock points out "once you cross the line and start picking favorites, it is hard to stop."

CNN Political Ticker via Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis.