ASIC To Replace ASX As Supervisor of Australian Financial Markets

Someone asked me what I thought about the government’s decision to give our official corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), responsibility for supervising real-time trading on Australian markets, as announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan.

That means that ASIC would be responsible for investigating and uncovering insider trading, market manipulation and other fraudulent practices that occur on financial markets.

This responsibility was previously assigned to the market operator, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Since the ASX demutualised and became a publicly listed company in 1998, it has been argued that there is now a conflict of interest between its duty to supervise the markets and its duty to maximise profits for its shareholders. That was the government’s reasoning for ordering the transfer of powers.

My answer is that I agree that there is a conflict of interest, but I do not believe ASIC is competent enough to carry out its new duty. ASIC is under resourced, inefficient and has a culture of apathy and incompetence. In addition, they lack the ASX’s technological know-how. The government did not mention how much extra funding they were going to allocate, if any.

I want to hear more about plans for extra funding and a cultural purge before I would have any degree of confidence in the new arrangements.

The Great Short-Selling Swindle Explained

The recent decisions by major market regulators to reduce market volatility by restricting short-selling have generated much controversy.

Most media coverage has sought to educate the public as to what short-selling is and debate whether the growth of the practice is a cause or merely a symptom of the financial crisis gripping the world. Questions have also been raised as to whether it should be permitted or not.

Despite this, I have not seen anybody attempt to explain how short-selling has been abused in the last year to lead us to the situation we have today.

This article aims to uncover how short-selling has been abused as a tool of market manipulation and deception on the Australian Markets (the ASX). Before continuing, it is essential that you understand the following terms: short-selling, hedge fund, short-position, long-position, margin calls and stop-loss order.

Read more

Google News Aggregator Causes $1.14 billion loss

deeply concerning post, courtesy of slashdot.org.

Google News erroneously reprinted an old article from 2002 concerning United Airlines, which faced deep financial problems at the time. This caused a run on its NASDAQ-listed stock UAL, leading to its share price falling from $12 to $3, after which the stock was suspended from trading. This caused a drop in its market capitalisation of $1.14 billion. The stock has since recovered to over $10, but its market capitalisation is still down over $300 million from before the old article was published.

Google News regularly searches and indexes online news sites around the world. In turn, many other online news sites grab headline from Google News. The automated nature of this process provides many opportunities for false information to be widely disseminated.

With the growth of Social Bookmarking sites and News Aggregators, people wishing to manipulate the market, or spread any kind of propaganda now have a very powerful tool at their disposal.

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