Wednesday, August 26, 2009

frontrunning and now the "trading huddle"

BusinessInsider | We find it hard to believe that the top hedge funds in the world get a lot of value out of Buy/Sell ideas from analysts, unless they're blatantly telegraphing market-moving reports, in which case that could be trouble.

Still, this timeline looks pretty damning:

Susanne Craig at WSJ takes a deep dive into the practices of Goldman Sachs (GS) stock analysts, and notes that preferred clients get, well, preferred access to ideas and advice.

Here's the nut of it:

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. research analyst Marc Irizarry's published rating on mutual-fund manager Janus Capital Group Inc. was a lackluster "neutral" in early April 2008. But at an internal meeting that month, the analyst told dozens of Goldman's traders the stock was likely to head higher, company documents show.

The next day, research-department employees at Goldman called about 50 favored clients of the big securities firm with the same tip, including hedge-fund companies Citadel Investment Group and SAC Capital Advisors, the documents indicate. Readers of Mr. Irizarry's research didn't find out he was bullish until his written report was issued six days later, after Janus shares had jumped 5.8%.

Every week, Goldman analysts offer stock tips at a gathering the firm calls a "trading huddle." But few of the thousands of clients who receive Goldman's written research reports ever hear about the recommendations.

This story will bring fresh, unwanted attention to the bank, which is reeling from a string of undesirable media stories.