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I do know this -- when garbage-level "analyst reports" like the one issued by Taglich Brothers are still effective in pumping up a share price, we have not nearly gone through enough pain in the stock market.


Nah, that kinda stuff is always gonna happen, no matter what.

The intensity, frequency and volume levels may fluctuate over time, but unfortunately it's built into the fundamental system.
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Actually, I agree with that statement. There's no excuse for analyst reports that are not fundamentally honest. If a majority of Americans are willing to focus entirely on a war with Iraq and overlook the fact that our stock market lacks credibility and profitability (and I'm not convinced that's true), then Bill Mann is right, we haven't suffered nearly enough to do something about it.

So OK, Bill, if you ever run for office, I'll vote for you, too. Meanwhile, I've earmarked the Web sites for my reps and I will send them a brief note asking them to get serious about accounting accountability. But I'll be frank -- two of them are Republicans who have received large donations from corporations whose only interest is getting lawmakers to do what they want them to do, not what the rest of us want. Of course, I'm not voting for either one of them in November, but I will likely be outnumbered. That's OK, I'll just keep not voting for them until they're GONE or they straighten up. We do have one Democrat who will probably listen.

Thanks for a well-written article. Keep it up -- somebody has to tell the truth about this mess.
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two of them are Republicans who have received large donations from corporations whose only interest is getting lawmakers to do what they want them to do, not what the rest of us want

Trust me, I have no desire to start a political battle here but would you like to give odds that your Dem friends have not taken large donations from these same corporations?
Everbodys doin it, doin it, doin it. Everbodys doin, doin it now.
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You're absolutely right -- both parties have accepted large corporate donations. I actually voted for the two Republicans the last time around. It just so happens that the way things are stacking up in New Mexico, the Republicans are the least likely to take any action changing SEC oversight, and this is partly because they are taking their lead
from the Bush administration, which in my opinion is doing next to nothing. Bush and his buddies (not least of all Kenneth Lay) would rather have everyone focus on a war in Iraq so they can get more Republicans in office in November. Which is why I'm not voting for them. But the Democrats need to get their act together, too. I may be in a minority right now, but in my opinion, the U.S. stock market is a whole lot more important to this country's future than Saddam Hussein.
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OK, I sent my e-mails. This is the one I sent to the SEC (sorry about the mixed metaphors at the end -- I think they'll get the idea):

Dear Mr. Chairman:

OK, it's time to chime in on this. I am thoroughly appalled by the Bush administration's lack of interest in doing anything about the systematic ripoff of stockholders by unscrupulous CEO's like Bush's buddy, Kenneth Lay, and numerous other CEO's at companies like WorldCom and Global Crossing. Fighting a war in Iraq, which is all Bush seems to want to talk about, will not restore faith in the U.S. stock market.

I ask that you support the appointment, asap, of pension fund director John Biggs, chairman and chief executive of TIAA-CREF, a teachers pension fund that is one of the nation's largest, to head a new independent board to oversee the accounting industry. If the accounting industry doesn't like it, too bad. We're not talking about a fishing party here, we're talking about the credibility of the U.S. stock market. So let's stop back-pedaling and get down to business.

Thank you.
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Nah, that kinda stuff is always gonna happen, no matter what.

Then we might as well congratulate Lay, Fastow etc. etc. etc. on a fraud well executed and get on with business.

IMO it's exactly that "kinda stuff" by the Taglich Brothers and many others which fosters an atmosphere where it's O.K. to con the general public.

Otter: Are there still Saudi "princes" for hire in London? Hemispherx's stock might have gone up even more with one of those mentioned in the PR.

libra
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Ferretz, SEA, et al.,

Then we might as well congratulate Lay, Fastow etc. etc. etc. on a fraud well executed and get on with business.


That's not what I'm saying at all.

As I said earlier, garbage like this, in some shape or form, is always gonna happen, no matter what you do. That even though the levels of intensity, frequency, and volume will fluctuate with each era, the ability to mess around and break the law is built into the fundamental system itself.

Why? Because humans are involved. Sure, you can create laws and enforce them and all that, but you can't change human nature. There will always be greed and temptation lurking about. There will always be a few bad apples -- or even a few GOOD apples who have a momentary lapse in judgement -- who will try to get away with things, for whatever reason(s). Set up new roadblocks, and they will rise to the challenge and find a way around them. You plug a leak in the dam, and sooner or later, a new one is sure to spring elsewhere.

Also, because money is involved -- a medium that can be manipulated in a myriad of ways. And as much as money is a good thing for civilization, you have to expect the bad along with the good. People have been attempting (and some succeeding) to lie, cheat and swindle their way to riches -- for millenia (yes, thousands of years). Sure, you might be able to suppress it a little for a while, but it's not about to disappear forever anytime soon.


Hey, I'm with you guys... make new laws and regulations, punish the bad guys, be on constant vigil for any wrong-doing, all that good stuff. We obviously needed it -- and still do.

But remember, humans are humans. And where there's a will, there's a way. Humans are a creative, inventive, clever, and resourceful group. How do you think our species has stayed alive -- even flourished -- for so long? By using those very qualities for the good of the whole, not only to survive, but to propel ourselves forward. But in the same breath, we can also use those same qualities for purposes of evil. And some people do, as we now know all too well.

As depressing as it might sound, it's a constant struggle, one that will never see a total victor as long as we humans are around.
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Although I realize the point of Bill Mann's article was not to discuss Hemispherx Biopharma, per se, that the larger point of it was to show that people are still easily swayed by so-called analyst coverage, I was intrigued by the dubiousness of their press release regarding the "royal family" and did a Google search of the company.

Interestingly, it appears the company has run afoul of the FDA a couple of times in the past for its press releases, website and promotional materials. Here's a letter the FDA sent to the company back in July, 2000, admonishing them for promoting their drug Ampligen:

http://www.pharmcast.com/WarningLetters/July2000/Hemispherx0700.htm

It notes, "We previously issued an untitled letter, dated October 15, 1998, to Hemisphcrx for promoting Ampligen as safe or effective while the product was under investigation....However, notwithstanding your assurances, you continue to promote Ampligen as safe and effective prior to approval in your press releases and on your Internet website."

I looked around their website briefly but did not find any Ampligen "promotion," but I did notice that the Taglich report was laden with it. And as the Hemispherx pays the company a monthly fee to produce such reports, I wonder if that's not coming awfully close to flouting the FDA's directive...again!

Thanks, Bill, for pointing out this egregious case study.

Rich
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Although I realize the point of Bill Mann's article was not to discuss Hemispherx Biopharma, per se, that the larger point of it was to show that people are still easily swayed by so-called analyst coverage...


In my last post I covered only half the problem, that human nature is human nature, and it's human nature for some people to be tempted by greed and do almost anything in the name of a buck -- even if that means deception, fraud, and other types of law-breaking. In this case, that half consists of Hemispherx and their "analysts."

Well, it does take two to tango. Can't have one without the other, or else it just wouldn't work.

And Bill is right, in that Taglich Brothers was effective in pumping up the share price.

Why were they successful? Again, it comes to human nature. At least some segment of the population likes to believe, to have hope. So much so that they are willing to take a "leader's" word without much -- if any -- question. And unfortunately, this extreme carries over not only into politics, religion, and what-not... but also into the investing world, as well.

"Just you watch, it's only a matter of time..." say the small investors. "This new technology is gonna revolutionize the Internet! This new drug is gonna cure cancer! This new fad is gonna take the country by storm!"

Sure, and pigs will fly out of my butt any minute now.

"Oh, but imagine! Getting in on the ground level of an 'undiscovered and undervalued small [micro] cap' that will change the world! Remember all those early Microsoft investors that are now multi-millionaires? Untold riches, baby! Easy Street, here we come!"

At the root of all this hope and undying belief is just more greed... again, a part of human nature that will never disappear as long as we as a species are alive.


Bill says that "[t]here are a few companies...[he] cannot believe people invest in..."

I say: Why don't you believe it? Frankly, I'm not surprised at all regarding this particular case. Same old, same old.


Both halves have a responsibility.

But neither of them will ever fully take on their responsibility.

Human nature.


The levels may fluctuate, but expect more of the same, Bill.

(And btw, thanks for the article, as always!)
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