Thursday, 18 July 2013

Sydney Morning Herald shills the LICs

The Sydney Morning Herald's business and property sections have been overrun by shills with various vested interests. The business section is arguably the most important part of a newspaper to ensure independence for, given the importance financial matters have in people's lives, and given the damage a fraudster can cause by coopting content read by millions. This makes the rise of the shills in SMH all the more deplorable, with coopted content from WAM, Patersons Securities, Yellow Brick Road, Intelligent Investor and The Motley Fool, to name but a few.

The latest SMH "article" to tout the LICs is particularly egregious. This hagiography from Intelligent Investor lauds the fraudsters as "conservative", "wise", "having a sense of duty", performing "admirably" while managing "low-cost" and "hassle-free" investments. The shill then slaps a capitalized HOLD rating on all the LICs the piece had "analyzed" - namely AFI, ARG and MLT - even after acknowledging that these LICs now trade at premiums of 11% to 30% to their NTA.

The shill casually acknowledges how a quarter of AFI's $5.7bn market cap is now backed by nothing. The shill then immediately and for unclear reason concludes it is not a problem that a quarter of the company is vapor. An investment of $10,000 in AFI gives an indirect claim to $7,500 worth of shares (the operating income of which the investor keeps 80% for a fair value of $6,000). The shill acknowledges this, yet apparently sees no problem with a scheme featuring a de facto $2,500 brokerage fee on a $10,000 investment, with an ongoing 20% fee.

The shill also pretends it is no big deal that upwards of a billion and a half dollars of granny investor money at AFI is gone but not yet discovered missing. Is the shill complicit with the LIC scam, or is it just a moron? In the end it does not really matter. Every evil machine is built up of small cogs, each doing its minor part, and with its atrocious article the despicable piece of shill played its small part in The Great Australian Investment Ponzi.

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