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Privacy Will Burst Bubble 2.0

Expect privacy concerns to be the eventual catalyst that ultimately bursts the Internet investment Bubble 2.0. It is rare when there is a profound disconnect and suspension of reality between industry behavior/investment expectations and customer wants, needs and expectations, but that is precisely what is at work in Bubble 2.0.

 

  • Almost by definition, investment bubbles are unsustainable; what goes up must come down, it is only a matter of how and when -- not if.
  • Simply what fuels Bubble 2.0  is the patently false core assumption that the current unfettered, widespread, and largely clandestine data mining of individuals private information in order to target specific individuals with personalized online advertising:
    • Is aligned with real user interests;
    • Is a forthright business practice consumers are aware of and have meaningfully consented to;
    • Will not be legally constrained in the future; and
    • Will become the accepted norm -- meaning that the populace and governments will adapt to the wishes and desires of the online-ad- industry and not the other way around.
  • In a word, is online tracking, profiling and data mining a consumer-driven model? -- or a consumer-dragged model?

    This is deja vu for me. I've seen this movie before when I had a front row seat as the original dotcom Bubble 1.0 wiped away $4 trillion in market valuation in a few weeks.

    Google Price Index: Insider Trading & Market Failure?

    Google announced it is working on an economy-wide Google Price Index, but has not decided whether to make it public, per Google Chief Economist, Hal Varian, who spoke at the National Association of Business Economists conference this week.

     

    • This development has under-appreciated implications for insider trading and also spotlights how Google's online dominance of market-relevant information suggests market failure and a new potential systemic vulnerability to the integrity of global capital markets.

     

    I.  Insider Trading

    In March, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: "One day we had a conversation where we figured out we could just try and predict the stock market... and then we decided it was illegal. So we stopped doing that."

    Now any hedge fund (or market regulator not born yesterday) understands that if Google is actively working on a Google Price Index, Google has not stopped trying to use its uniquely comprehensive and timely, repository of sensitive market information to predict information highly useful to predicting the stock market.

     

    Systemic Flash Crash Vulnerability: Financial Crisis Root Causes: Part IV

    The SEC/CFTC report on the May 6th "Flash Crash" helps confirm that automated index trading technology was a contributing cause of the 2008 Financial Crisis and why recent financial reforms are not enough to address the ongoing destructive systemic vulnerability that automated index trading technology increasingly poses for financial markets going forward.

     

    Systemic Uneconomics: Financial Crisis Root Causes: Part III

    To discern the real “root” causes of the financial crisis of 2008, one must probe beneath the surface and examine the health of the “root system” of our capital markets “forest.” The roots of the capital markets forest are sound economics; the natural market function of automatically equilibrating supply and demand and risk and reward, that is commonly appreciated as Adam’s Smith’s “invisible hand.” We generally assume that the natural market strength of the capital market forest’s root system ensures that all the trees are not in danger of being blown over in the crisis of a storm.

     

    In the fall of 2008, we all were shocked to learn that the root system of our capital markets, that we had always assumed was healthy and strong, was actually frighteningly weak and brittle requiring the slapdash reinforcement of multi-trillion dollar emergency scaffolding of whatever material was close at hand, a TARP, bailout lifelines, capital sandbags, etc. -- to buttress the main market “trees” from toppling over, trees that the Government judged to big to be allowed to fall.

     

    More un-economics nonsense from FreePress: Regulation does not discourage private investment

    Does anyone else see the irony of a staunchly anti-business and anti-property activist organization like FreePress -- which openly advocates for an information commons and a broadband public utility model -- attempting to be credible doing private investment analysis for the FCC? 

    • Mr. Derek Turner of Free Press wrote  "Finding the Bottom Line: The truth about network neutrality & investment." 
    • The last time FreePress attempted economics in a public forum, FreePress asked in a letter to Congress "whether above-cost... pricing for broadband constitutes an unfair business practice." 
      • Given that FreePress was not aware that "above cost... pricing" is called profit and has always been legal in America, despite FreePress' views to the contrary, call me skeptical about FreePress' competence and genuineness in attempting private investment analysis.

    If FreePress does not believe in free enterprise or private property, and does not understand concepts like profit, I am doubtful they can accurately or objectively analyze the economics or the business case for private long-term capital investments. 

    Mr. Turner tries desperately and unsuccessfully to assemble "evidence" to prove the ridiculous assertion that regulation does not deter private investment.

    “Systemic Risk Laundering” -- Financial Crisis Root Causes -- Part II

    How could American taxpayers get stuck with a multi-trillion dollar tab that they weren’t even aware that they were running up? How could that huge tab still be allowed to run up unchecked today? For the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the sad answer is one of the biggest root causes of last fall’s devastating financial crisis and one of the biggest continuing systemic risks to the financial system and the economic recovery.  

     

    A decade ago, in what may prove to be the most expensive bipartisan legislative mistake in U.S. history, a bipartisan policy became law that effectively ensured that no Federal regulator had oversight or enforcement jurisdiction over derivative financial instruments. The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA) created “legal certainty for excluded derivative transactions.” That law allowed a shadow derivative overlay system to be built literally on top of the public financial system, with none of the inherent accountability of the underlying financial system.  In other words, a deliberate bipartisan U.S. government policy change a decade ago unwittingly created an unaccountable “black hole” market that sucked enormous value out of public markets, (Bear Stearns, Lehman, AIG, Fannie, Freddie, securitized sub-prime mortgages, etc.) while laundering the risk to the U.S. taxpayer.

    Diagnosing the Financial Crisis' Root Causes

    This is an introduction and background for my new multi-part research series on diagnosing the root causes of the Financial Crisis.

    Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths