When it comes to talking about the problems in our financial environment, Bernie Madoff certainly knows a thing or two. The one-time businessman and investment advisor was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 for putting together a massive Ponzi scheme that took as much as $65 billion from those he counted as customers. Now 74, Madoff has penned a letter from prison in response to those who were asking him for his views on the currently problems with electronic trading.
Madoff ‘s letter was sent on Christms Eve to CNBC. In it, he declines to talk about his own case but does open up about some of the Wall Street issues he’s seen from afar. You can read the full letter below:
A number of you have been asking my views on a couple of subjects that I am comfortable in going on the record, because they are not related to my case. there for(sic) the following are remarks that you are free to use for whatever value you feel are appropriate.
The issue of electronic trading has recently been focusing on the lack of transparency of the markets with the emergence of DARK POOLS.
This has now spread to the recent acquisition of the NYSE . While I have always been an advocate of electronic trading due to the efficiency the lower costs they bring o the markets, I am nit (sic) a fan of the lack of transparency the DARK POOLS create.
It is important to examine why there has been this growing interest in the use of dark pools. Markets have always focused on the speed with which information becomes available. Of course this information can be composed of various types.
It could be corporate developments like earnings or mergers or it can be information regarding the placements of buy and sell orders and who is placing these orders. It is the latter information that has created the interest in the dark pools.
Institutions have always attempted to guard this buy and sell information from exposure to the market for fear of being FRONT RUN. Certainly they are entitled to have this right of confidentiality.
This being said, the more secret this information. The more valuable this information is to those that can obtain it. Therein lies the problem. It is naive to think that there will be no leakage of this information.
Although one would be lead to believe that with the recent spate of Insider trading prosecutions, that insider trading is a new development. This is false. It has been present in the market forever, but rarely been prosecuted. The same can be said for front running of orders.
The other area of discussion involves the growth of hedge funds, particularly feeder funds. In spite of the early held belief. of which I was of this opinion, that the extra layer of costs related to commissions and profit sharing that went along with feeder funds.
They have continued to grow. It has been this additional layer of costs that have created the need for more risk to be taken to earn worthwhile returns. This has created a minefield of regulatory problems involving the very reasons that the desire for a lack of transparency has grown.
Both of these areas are going to be the greatest challenge that both the industry and the regulators are going to face .