Monday, April 9, 2012
I find this incredible. U.S. citizens blocked out a market that the rest of the developed world has access to. Of course, I am speaking about the CFD market. CFD stands for "contract for difference" and it is a marketplace where regular people can trade the markets of the large trading houses without the same capital requirements. So, basically it is a form of democratized financial trading for the masses.
diamonds and even bitcoin.
Due to restrictions by the Securities and Exchange Commission on over-the-counter financial instruments, trading in the CFD market is not an option for U.S. residents and U.S. citizens but curiously you can still buy a book about the practice on Amazon's U.S. site. Having lived and worked in both Ireland and the United Kingdom, the choices available to foreigners in the area of online trading and online gaming puts the U.S. market to shame. CFD markets and spread betting are prevalent in other locales not to mention the smorgasbord of voluntary online gambling and poker choices. Gibraltar has staked their jurisdictional reputation on supporting the online wagering industry and they are the leader.
America's puritanical heritage has traditionally steered it away from such pursuits but that is changing slowly. Legislation continues to be evolving in the direction of permitting online casinos and gambling provided that the established gaming lobbies and layered tax jurisdictions can receive their pound of flesh.
The restrictions against the CFD market in America are just another example of protecting us from ourselves, but instead of protection from the "sin of compulsive wagering" it is protection from the "sin of excessive leverage".
Now, there is also the sin of illiquid asset trading. Recently, the SEC charged SharesPost and Felix Investments over pre-IPO trading in the illiquid shares of Facebook. This activity occurs over an online trading platform for private shares that provides a way for small and large shareholders to cash out and new entrants to participate prior to a formal IPO event. Eventually, successful innovations such as SharesPost and SecondMarket may be driven overseas as well due to excessive regulation.
Although I disagree with Josh Brown's capitulatory conclusions of while-the-rules-aren’t-perfect-they’re-the-only-rules-we've-got attitude for the private shares secondary market, he certainly has a colorful way of describing it:
"Imagine a private market where tech-savvy people and the Digerati could buy and sell within their own little bubble stretching from San Francisco to the off-campus housing around Stanford to the Diablo Mountain range bordering the eastern fringe of San Jose. There would be no need for all that physical “dead tree” paperwork or the prying eyes of CNBC and the Wall Street Journal. There could be less rules because, frankly, these would be negotiated transactions between millionaires and billionaires – a brotherhood of enlightened self-interest, in it for the challenge and intellectual self-satisfaction with the money being a mere afterthought."But we do want our private markets if we so choose, sorry Mr. Brown. It isn't all millionaires and billionaires. Marketplaces like the CFD market and the private shares secondary market are alternative free-market solutions to a financial world rife with favoritism and increasing regulatory chokeholds. Regulating these emerging markets in the U.S. under the guise of "it's for your own protection" doesn't fly and it's offensive. Markets will always seek a way to self-regulate and to survive.