Fear and greed are what drives Wall Street. Just because the mutual fund industry serves the higher calling of providing for the retirement security of 95 million Americans, it appears to be no better than the next hypocritical analyst, commission-hungry trader or manipulative investment banker. Greed is greed. Even in the fund industry.
If New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's charges that late trading and undisclosed market timing are as widespread as he says they are, investors could - and should - rise in arms, bringing to bear the fund industry's first true scandal. There will be an ongoing, aggressive probe now that the SEC has asked every fund company to supply it with policies on market timing and late trading. While the first practice is unsavory, as it leads to higher costs, tax inefficiencies and, often, redemption fees that penalize all investors, late trading is out-and-out illegal. Both practices profit the arbitrageurs with billions of dollars a year at the expense of long-term investors. As Spitzer said it himself: Canary Capital Partners is only the beginning. People are going to go to jail for this.