Monday, 22 July 2013

The flying hairpiece: WIG "soars" on vapor

The Australian stock market is at all time highs. This means the economy has never looked brighter, or alternatively the market has never been more manipulated. Which explanation you choose to believe in is up to you. The regulator simply assumes the market efficiency it is tasked to ensure. According to ASIC, share ramping does not exist, indeed cannot exist since the market is efficient. So even if a share is owned to 95% by a cartel, with next to no trading, and shows price movements that are inconsistent with an efficient market but benefit insiders, ASIC will still assume it trades at a 'market' price. This is why ASIC allows the LICs to commit securities fraud, it just assumes such fraud is impossible due to efficient markets.

Financial media and other market commentators also assume that manipulation does not exist, ascribing fanciful explanations to manipulated price movements in order to reconcile them with concepts of market efficiency. When WIG announced a buyout and performed the obligatory share price ramp, the 'soaring' price of this very illiquid stock was heralded by SMH on 3 July:

In reality, the WIG share price 'soared' from 18.5c to 22c because of the trading of exactly 8,236 shares on the ASX on 3 July, worth at most $1,800. Trades worth less than two thousand dollars moved the market cap of WIG by millions. WIG's share price didn't "soar on investor confidence", or any such ludicrous notion, it was purposefully moved.


  1. Perhaps you could explain in greater detail in another post how WIG ties in with the rest of the LICs. Are you suggesting WIGs specialty funds / Pinnacle are engaged in the same antics? Also, are you familiar with John Hempton of Bronte Capital?

    1. Stock Me,

      Much appreciate the support and tips. Not familiar (yet) with JH or Bronte Capital. The procedure of ramping shares a fund has invested in, to create an immediate unrealized profit, has spread to ubiquity in Australia, though, to the point it is accepted with a nudge and a wink in the industry. I've personally had analysts casually acknowledge such "bumps" for particular stocks as something perfectly normal. Since there is absolutely zero enforcement against this securities fraud and market manipulation, analysts will even talk about this on monitored company phone lines. Everyone does it, no one gets caught, so it's alright. The LICs are particularly brazen, but many new, niche and small cap funds have come to adopt the strategy. Perversely, the funds with the best reported "performance" are most likely to have manufactured that performance themselves in this way. But according to ASIC, every time this happens, it's just a magical lucky coincidence. Check out Wentworth holdings, for example, to see some such recent shenanigans.