Friday, December 09, 2005

City Slickers hit the hay

One of Britain's largest criminal investigations has implicated Anil Bhoyrul and his colleague James Hipwell for the deceitful "buy-tip-sell" pattern of newspaper writing that resulted in illicit share dealing and cynical manipulation of the London stock market. The duo wrote the famous column "City Slickers" which advised investors to put their money in selective stocks. Often these stocks were those the rascals had themselves invested in. The two would ultimately sell their holding and earn handsome profits.

The Finance minister has been crying himself horse over the difference between speculation and manipulation. The former, he says, is the basis of financial markets and is principled. The latter however is not. But the line of difference between the two is thin. The ketan parekh and harshad mehta scams are still fresh in public memory. Sebi has been ineffective in maintaining vigil despite the tightening of norms. Investors must remain guarded lest they get caught up in this cycle of ill-advice combined with manipulation by a few select brokers. its a common joke in Bombay that the BSE is run by no more than 10 people, and one of them, lets call him RJ, is a frequent guest on business channels like CNBC-TV18 and NDTV-Profit. The sagacity of RJ's advice is questionable, to say the least.

The only consolation is that employees of the above mentioned news channels are barred from investing in stocks. That makes them a tad more bearable than the motley bunch of "guests". The viewer must however still endure the hubris that comes with working for prime channels.

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