May 11, 2009
Thirty Five years ago when I first became a naive Account Executive with Merrill Lynch, and shortly after leaving to start my own firm, I was under the impression that the "Stock Market" was created to allow the public to participate in the growth of Corporate America. After listening to the SEC "Open Meeting", I now firmly realize how naive I really was. I now realize that the market was created (or at least has now evolved) as an alternative to legalized gambling. All I heard, ad nauseam, was greedy opportunists crying about how going back to the old ways, would hamper "liquidity". That may be so, but what good is liquidity if it still allows five and ten percent swings in a stock in a matter of seconds driven by computer trading and leveraged ETF's. Particularly in the last minutes of trading.
What good is "liquidity", if it scares the hell out of individual investor who doesn't have the desire, the knowledge or resources to wildly speculate in shares of companies that they have researched and want to hold as an investment? The current environment totally obviates those who follow the Peter Lynch method of true investing. "Invest in what you know". In this environment, price makes no difference as to the health or future of a Company.
Rarely do I ever feel that Congressional intervention is good for the market. But in this rare instance, I am firmly aligned with the Kaufman-Isakson Bill presented last March. If the SEC can't separate themselves from the pressure of big hedge funds, then hopefully Congress will force it to.
In my opinion, Circuit Breakers are not the solution. All they do is create more fear in the minds of average investors. Stock halts, accompanied by excellent corporate news, never instills confidence in the average investor. Only more fear as the stock in question is brought to the attention of all. The "up-tick" rule broke the backs of rampant speculators during the Jesse Livermore era and has served us well for many generations since. Lets keep it simple. go back to what worked for many years. Reinstate the uptick rule.