Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Largest Ever Insider Trading Ring Used Kōans, Haiku to Transmit Information

Our second Haiku post in a week!*
From Cassandra Does Tokyo:
Insider Trading Secrets Revealed: It's All In The Haiku 
US Attorney for the Southern District Court of New York, Preet Bharara, may have his work cut out for him in trying to land the big fish atop what many believe to be the largest and most profitable insider trader endeavor ever.

Bharara is rumoured to have secretly questioned former employees of the target, none of whom are under investigation nor under threat of being charged, but nonetheless were believed to have given the US Attorney important insights into how it worked. After the revelations, the mood of his legal team was reported to be decidely sombre.

Here is what he has learned: Analysts, portfolio managers, brokers with juicy tips, have long been under strict instructions never to reveal material non-public information to the big fish since as everyone knows, that's illegal under current laws and their interpretation by the higher courts. But that doesn't mean the big fish doesn't want to know. Or trade accordingly should it become known. But, in order to not transgress the law, he needs to figure "it" out himself, whatever "it" is. To be free to act and trade in such situations, he needs to have the equivalent of an epiphany, or miraculous revelation, one that no court could prove, nor jury unanimously find, was the result of receiving inside information.

Enter the obscure and enigmatic Japanese art of Kōans and Haikus. The Kōan is an ancient form of teaching representing an allusive metaphor, conveyed by a perplexing story, parable, dialogue or series of impenetratable questions that confront the seeker with a riddle of sorts. The purpose is to provoke sudden awakening in the unenlightened or in western parlance, cause an epiphany, of precisely the type the big fish needs to insure no jury would ever be able to make the connection between something that superficially makes no sense, and that which requires years of rigorous zen-buddhist training to tease out.

To demonstrate, examine this Kōan:

Blind Man: Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Boy: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Blind Man: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Boy: No.
Blind Man: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Boy: [looks down and sees the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Blind Man: Young man, how is it that you do not?
...To the ordinary person, this just reminds them of Master Po of Kung-Fu, who was the Blind Guy with the white eyes and Fu-Manchu talking riddles to the flash-backed young David Carradine. To the trained Master, however, he KNOWS this has a deeper more important meaning. The first one, properly interpretated should be read as "ZOLL 2-be bot by Japs - Back up the Truck"....
*In last week's "European stocks closed generally mournful and reflective" it was Alphaville's Joseph Cotterill who gifted us with a half-dozen or so on van Rompuy and the Euromess:
A season of mists
And of mellow fruitfulness
But not you; you’re Greek