walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

of insurance and regulation

R. and I have had a number of conversations lately about what happens when brokers have trouble, in terms of their customers. I keep supplying bits and pieces of what precious little I know about SIPC. Today, I did a bunch of digging to find out how that process actually works. Sort of. It is, of course, very complicated. R. said, but they've never had to bail out anyone big. This sounded wrong to me, so I went digging.

And discovered the sordid tale of MJK Clearing from 2001. The tech bubble, a short squeeze, John Gray's _Men Are From Mars_ and Adnan Kashoggi. Wow. I totally missed it, because after 9/11, I quit reading the regular news in favor of the only news that wasn't completely bloodthirsty: health. Also, there was some hiking and travel, but never mind that now.

Read it and weep: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_19/b3832095_mz020.htm

Or:

sipc.org/pdf/SIPC_fitch.pdf

In some ways, that latter is more horrifying, altho the BW article makes for a soap-opera style narrative, while Fitch/SIPC just say things that make your skin crawl. Like:

"According to a document issued by a SEC, NYSE, and NASD task force in 1999, the MJK
Clearing situation is not unique. In the document, the task force reported the findings of a
review of broker-dealers. The examination staff discovered various instances of questionable
control practices, including: 1) Failure to audit entire functional areas 2) Inexperienced and
understaffed internal audit departments, and 3) Instances of department heads overseeing the
risk monitoring process of their own business units."

There are days when I realize I am inadequately paranoid. Not clear what I should do about it, if anything, but definitely inadequately paranoid.
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