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11/08/2011

CFDs are for sophisticated clients

With the MF Global bankruptcy turning into another lemon juice, more questions are being raised on CFDs in the media in the Sunday Times. When all the toxic notes and bonds were introduced to the market, they too were listed as sophisticated products, complex products for sophisticated clients. When the Lehman bonds have gone one step further and have been condemned as a con job in the US, when high risks housing mortgages were packaged and given triple AAA ratings to be sold to sophisticated investors, they also found the issuers betting against the failure of the bonds. The issuers thus made both ways, selling junks and if junks failed they would be paid by their insurers.

CFDs, like many derivatives, are highly geared instruments for trading in the market. And everyone knows that it is high risk and high return. Not only the sophisticated investors know of this risk, even the unsophisticated layman will know what they will be dabbling in.

For the less sophisticated investors, who are more prudent in their investment outlook, more are turning to the mundane and traditional stocks where the risk is lower. Simply, when one buys a stock, it is unlikely to lose everything unless the company goes bust or the management ran away. In trading derivatives, the margin is the capital in play and it is quite easy to lose everything in a short time.

Then again, lately stocks too have a very high tendency to go bust or with management running away and investors losing everything. Stocks too are not as safe as before the advent of derivatives. Many derivatives are stock based. What could happen is that the trading and fluctuating of stock prices are now tightly knitted with the prices of derivatives. Stock prices can also go on a wild ride when big derivative players have to cover their positions by manipulating stock prices. Though price manipulation is a breach of stock trading regulation, often it is very difficult to prove and to apprehend the manipulators. The latter have many sophisticated and complex ways of covering their tracks.

The seemingly innocent stocks are not that docile and safe anymore.

Does anyone spend a moment to think of what the word ‘sophisticated’ means in derivatives and stock trading? It is a sophisticated way to describe high risk gambling in the stock market. A sophisticated client is a client willing to take high risk, like a gambler. A sophisticated product or derivative is a high risk gambling product. Period.

High risk gambling belongs to the casino and not the stock market where the dynamics and conduct of business are different. Gambling is just gambling, take a bet, be fast, no need to worry about fundamentals, or no fundamentals at work. Buy white or red does not need analysts and their back breaking reports. Pressing the button of a jackpot machine only needs to look at the probability of winnings. A computer that can be attached to the machine will definitely increase the odds.
There is such a thing called blue chips in the stock market where the business and bottom line of the companies are more important in determining the price of the stocks than simply betting it up and down by algos in split seconds. Is the stock market turning into a casino or is it a mixture of both?

Perhaps the high risk derivatives should be assigned to a different platform, something like casino counters, and govern by the Casino Regulatory Authority. High risk gambling must be controlled under more stringent rules and regulations. Better still that they be delinked from the primary stock market. They can create derivatives from anything, not necessarily stocks in the stock markets, and this will spare the blue chips and good stocks from being murdered by the big derivative speculators.

And the word ‘sophisticated’ should be cast to the world of gambling and casinos.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it is good that many are poor. This will cause the people to work and have little or no time to gamble with investment.

Think! If everyone that invests makes money, who will work? So, whether simple or sophisticated, it is best that investors or gamblers? Do not make monies from paper and keyboard works.

Anonymous said...

Since the Government deem it proper to allow such investment vehicles to be marketed here, they must be thinking Singaporeans are all sophisticated investors.

Hell, there must be a ranking for investor sophistication and we should be right on top! Good for the economy too! Yes, we must go for it. Casinos, F1, YOG, whatever the social cost. Just raise GST and other taxes if there are cost overruns.