As the year comes to a close, we’re left reflecting on everything that’s transpired over the past 12 months. From scandal to struggle, from innovation to investor education, it certainly hasn’t been a dull period. As we sifted through the blog posts of the year, there were ten that shone through, and may be worth another look. Happy New Year to all!
1. Vote of No Confidence: A Call to Investigate the National Futures Association
Far and away the most popular post of the year was our call to investigate the NFA. As the self-regulatory body of the futures industry, the NFA caught massive (and deserved) heat earlier this year upon the exposure of 20 years of fraud at PFGBest. The frustration and pain of the scandal were punctuated by revelations about the efficacy of the group in other regulatory areas, and while some of the issues we take with the organization are being addressed, there’s still a fair amount of work to do. It was this deficit that ultimately prompted Attain CEO Jeff Malec to run for a spot on the NFA Board of Directors.
2. Damning Evidence in the MFGlobal Case
While the PFGBest scandal was world rocking, its impact was compounded by the fact that the MFGlobal fiasco had occurred less than one year prior. This year, however, the big revelation about MFGlobal came from a monster of a report from the MFGlobal trustee. In 275 pages, the trustee broke down culpability in a way we’d only speculated about before, raising significant questions about why criminal charges were not being pursued.
3. Attain Presents Why Alternatives: Global Debt Panel at CFA
Over the past year, we expanded our coverage of a variety of financial conferences across the country, breaking down the chattering class’ perspective on a variety of economic trends, and what that meant for the savvy managed futures investor. The most popular of these posts was easily the Global Debt Panel from the CFA conference in Chicago, where juggernauts Barry Ritholtz, John Mauldin, David Rosenberg and Anatole Kaletsky broke down the investing climate in terms of politics, debt, and regulatory regimes.
4. Attain’s Top 13 Investing Movies
Now and then, we all need a laugh… and that is exactly what the point of this post was. List posts are common place, and financial movie lists can be a dime a dozen, but being the nerds we are, we decided to give it a shot on our own… and we’ll stand by our picks. Looking for a good movie for the weekend? Try these on for size.
5. Intro to Spread Trading: The Common Spreads
In our experience, one of the more poorly understood aspects of futures trading is the spread- or the idea of buying and selling economically similar contracts in an attempt to turn a profit off of the price differences increasing or decreasing. Here, we broke down the most common types of spreads you’ll see referenced in the space.
6. Six Takeaways from the Fast Money Interview of Winton’s Harding
The most recognized name in managed futures is easily Winton Capital, but in a CNBC interview earlier this year, Winton’s fearless leader, David Harding, made a series of comments that provided insight into their program, the evolution of their firm, and mainstream media’s understanding of the investment.
7. An Open Letter to Congressional Speculation Ban Proponents
Every year, one or two fools decide it makes sense to make a lot of noise about reigning in the speculators, but this year, the rabble rousers were calling for an out and out ban in the oil markets. This reactionary proposal was enough to get our blood boiling, so we decided to make a mockery of the arguments presented.
8. The Finance Meme Geek Out
2012 was, in many ways, the year of the meme. Terrible, awful, horrible memes. From McKayla being unimpressed and beyond, we noticed that there weren’t a whole lot of financial memes. Obviously, someone had to fill the gap, and that’s when we stepped up to the plate.
9. So, What Do We Do Next?
Following the PFGBest bankruptcy, the number one question on most investors’ minds was what they could do to keep their money safe moving forward. While some of the protections needed must be implemented on a regulatory level, we broke down different factors that investors can take into consideration in their future FCM selections.
10. The Risk in Hedge Funds as a Portfolio Hedge
We sometimes feel like a broken record when we go off about the differences between hedge funds and managed futures programs, but earlier this year, one of our favorite bloggers, Josh Brown at The Reformed Broker, made a good point about asking the wrong questions of hedge funds. It should be about how you use them, and what role they play in the portfolio. But what does that mean for you? We broke it down here.