Archive for December, 2011

Dec
24

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

Posted by: Don Miller | Comments Comments Off

Yes, the Grinch stole the tree and it hasn’t yet been returned …

… but the star remains.

Thank you God for the everlasting gift of your Son.

May we continue our journey in this fallen world to be continously reshapen in His image until we finally see you face to face.

Indeed, the “star” will forever remain.

Merry Christmas to all.

Categories : Motivational
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Dec
21

MF Global Links Continued – Boycotting JP Morgan

Posted by: Don Miller | Comments Comments Off

As noted in this morning’s New York Post article, I’ve joined James Koutoulas and the Commodity Customer Coalition in boycotting JP Morgan.

On related notes, the WSJ reports this morning more possible odd transfers to JPM, and five Congressmen from Illinois sent a letter to SEC Chairman Mary Shapiro and CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler in support of the immediate release of 100% of customer funds frozen in the MF Global bankruptcy.

View the prior chain of key MF Global links and posts, as well as our continuing industry prayer which continues to circulate.

And while I’ve been highly reluctant to mention any of our educational services during the MF Global debacle so as to keep focused on the task at hand and not benefit from the increase in traffic, several people have asked whether the Jellie course remains available, and the answer is yes.

Categories : Breaking News, MF Global
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Today I return to the video to supplement the last seven weeks of blogging and customer advocacy as it relates to the MF Global scandal.

Categories : MF Global, Video Post
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Dec
16

Special Post – Key MF Global Breaking News Links

Posted by: Don Miller | Comments Comments Off

Here are key critical links to Breaking MF Global news impacting traders, with my thoughts to help us team together and keep our eye on the ball.  New items appear at the top, and I’ll continue to communicate via Twitter (@millerdon) as new links are added.

Also be sure to check the Commodity Customer Coalition site daily for critical updates.

Lastly, please keep our recent prayer for industry healing and recovery circulating!!

12-16-11 5:50pm ET Busy day on the advocacy front as I sent a fairly stern note to CFTC Commissioner Sommers this morning on the heels of her pathetic performance in this week’s Congressional hearings, which hopefully – along with the Coalition’s efforts – helped prod her within hours to subsequently release this press release.

Then, the Motley Fool published this column today quoting myself and CCC leader James Koutoulas as we continue to keep the pressure on.

12-16-11 1:15am ET  Despite zero help from CFTC Commissioner Sommers who has repeatedly refused to respond to questions or support customers in clawing back our funds, as well as the pathetic MF Global executives in this week’s Congressional hearings, we seem to be getting closer to seeing the smoking gun thanks to the CME’s release of a detailed timeline of how/when our funds were stolen (timeline at the bottom of the link).

The coalition has also stepped up efforts to challenge JP Morgan, who will undoubtedly be found as one of the key recipients of the stolen funds.

12-10-11 7:15am ET While many are patting each other on the back - given Friday’s court decision to allow us to tap another whopping 10% of OUR funds - the fact remains that 28% of our accounts remains stolen, the judge didn’t rule on customers being AHEAD of creditors in the bankruptcy process, and we must keep the pressure on the CME, CFTC, and Feds for immediate 100% reimbursement.

Here’s a great “common-sense” piece in Forbes today by noted trader accountant Bob Green as to how to make that happen NOW.

12-8-11 9:15am ET Trustee AGREES customers get paid BEFORE all other creditors …  link via today’s CCC Press ReleaseWe’ve only been shouting that for five weeks … welcome to the real world Mr. Trustee … did that opinion really require $900/hour for 5 weeks??? 

Also, Corzine’s prepared testimony for today’s hearing stating he has no clue where the money went.

12-7-11 9:30pm ET  Huge two days coming up as our Coalition participates in and awaits the results of Thursday’s Congressional hearing and Friday’s “day in court”.  The CME has also somewhat helped our cause by reminding the court that all customers should receive every penny of their stolen segregated monies BEFORE any penny is provided to creditors via the bankruptcy process.  Here’s their court filing in support of our efforts.

Specifically, note the following comments: 

34. With respect to the merits of the committee’s arguments, first and foremost funds held and maintained in customer segregated accounts are property of no one else.  No statute or regulation requires customers to trace or prove that funds held in segregation for their benefit are in fact theirs. Moreover, 100% of the funds being distributed to customers were on the commencement date (and continue to be) held in segregated accounts for customers. Thus, the committee’s argument that the SIPC Trustee should be required to show that funds in segregation are customer property turns the burden of proof related to customer property on its head, and is specious.

35. Moreover, even if any of the funds to be distributed to customers were for some reason determined to be general property of the estate, any customers whose claims are not satisfied from customer property would still be entitled to assert claims against MF Global’s estate, and would be entitled to be paid in full before any equity distribution. There is also no evidence of any valid, unsubordinated intercompany claim by MFG Holdings against MF Global, and in light of the circumstances surrounding MF Global’s collapse the reverse is far more likely. Simply put, the creditors in MFG Holding’s bankruptcy case (whose interests are represented by the committee) should not see a penny of value from MF Global’s estate until all customer and other claims at the MF Global level have been paid 100%.

Please keep the pressure on the CME (by their own admission the primary regulator of our stolen monies) and not rest until we receive a guarantee of 100% recovery.  My trading boycott remains in effect.

12-4-11 5:00pm ET Continuing to put pressure on those entrusted with overseeing our stolen monies.  Stepping up advocacy & accountability efforts every further, including pursuing joining/filing class action lawsuits.  Boycotting all trading until the CME promises 100% restoration.  Let’s get perspectives straight everyone … CUSTOMERS are the victims … and we WILL continue to be heard in a loud way until every last penny is returned.

12-1-11 12:40pm ET I just had a very professional and earnest discussion with Mr. Bryan Durkin, COO of CME Group, who responded to my email plea for help as he was traveling overseas.

First, my thanks to Mr. Durkin for speaking with me. As one of MF Global’s largest non-institutional clients in recent years, as well as a member of the CME since 2004, I – like thousands of others – still have a great deal at risk as we await return of 40% (or more for many) of our funds.

During our conversation, I respectfully reiterated the thoughts in my weekend email which was sent to the CME Board of Directors, CME Management, Court, Trustee, and other influential leaders in the MF Global fiasco.

Specifically, I asked for the CME to continue its industry leadership role by – using the analogy of a “Tylenol-like moment” if you think back to how years ago Tylenol turned a major catastrophe into a huge positive and win for the firm, industry, and customers – step up and redeploy the $550M they’ve already put at risk with the Trustee to restoring the shortfall of our stolen funds.

I also reiterated that while the Trustee & CME are publicly touting their “tremendous success” in releasing 60% of funds, the fact remains that everyone’s focus SHOULD be on the 40% still owed us … vs. reveling in how “wonderful” things are that we’ve been 60% restored. (Sort of like saying to the one-armed man, “Hey, you STILL have the other arm!”)

He indicated he understood and was sympathetic to my/our concerns and agreed to further discuss the issue with Mr. Duffy and the Board, as well as stay in touch with me.

As one whose life has been completely disrupted, and given the theft which has occurred, I’ve personally curtailed my trading business until such time we receive a promise of 100% restoration. The heart, faith, and energy simply aren’t there.

The CME has a HUGE opportunity to complete the action which they began by turning their initial small steps into a giant leap for the sake of their customers and the future of the industry.

Doing so would swiftly end this circus, and based on the response of clients in the Maddoff fiasco, likely even save lives which have been ruined.

I again thank Mr. Durkin for his time and our conversation, and pray that they do the right thing … in Tylenol fashion.

Don Miller (Still missing one “arm”)

11-30 6:50am ET Despite CME $550M “guarantee”, Trustee only inches up distribution to 66% and admittedly retains large 20% reserve of OUR funds.  Duh, what was the CME guarantee good for then??  WSJ also summarizies tangled money web and tug-of-war disagreement over OUR funds

Further, the article suggests that per the Trustee, funds moved INTO our account on 10/31 may not be ours, and of course funds transferred OUT may not be recoverable.  Does this make sense to anyone???

100% remains the only resolution, and the CME CEO has responded to my weekend letter indicating he’d like to discuss it with me in detail.

11-29 1:02am ET The J.P. Morgan “got it, don’t got it, got it” (think Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety) saga takes another turn tonight toward “got it”And please keep the weekend letter below circulating as it seems to be gaining traction!

11-26 2:10pm ET I’ll be sending the following letter to Exchange and Industry leaders, as well as to U.S. Congressmen this weekend.  PLEASE CIRCULATE THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRY AND INTERNET SO OUR COLLECTIVE VOICES CAN BE HEARD.

An Industry Plea to Fully Restore Our Capital and Faith 

To: Leaders of the U.S. Futures Industry, Members of U.S. Congress, MF Global Trustee, and Court

The time has come to fully restore our stolen capital and, in turn, our faith in America.

We have been patient, but our patience has run out.

We have listened to totals of our stolen money that change more frequently than the New England weather.

We are told the world’s best forensic accountants are at work, yet four weeks later it seems as if they’re still choosing pawns in a game of Clue.

We have listened to what a wonderful job the Trustee has done in acting quickly to “free up” a small amount of capital, even though many of us have still not seen a penny.

We have listened to a CME “Guarantee” of $550 Million, even though only $50 Million is designed to replace our stolen funds.

We are told we live in the greatest country in the world that protects its citizens, yet are seeing customers in foreign countries being made whole as we speak while we await our rations.

We are supposed to live in a land of fairness and integrity, yet have seen behemoth J.P. Morgan cut in line in front of us to claim corporate self-interest ahead of our stolen monies.

We have been told for decades by the exchanges and industry that the segregation of customer futures accounts was sacred and that multiple fail-safe firewalls were at work, yet the vault was opened, ransacked, and burned beyond recognition without anyone knowing.

We are supposed to live in a land where our leaders take responsibility, yet have seen more fingers pointed at others than a Family Circus “Not Me” cartoon.

We are supposed to live in a country of opportunity, yet have seen the retirements and lives of families, farmers, and small businesses ruined.

Our country is supposed to exude trust and confidence, yet we’ve begun to see a crisis of industry confidence as people withdraw funds in mass.

And yet … this excruciating four-week treadmill of events can be switched off by one simple and swift move by the leaders of our industry and the Court.

A promise by Christmas Eve to cut through all of the red tape and corporate interests to restore 100% of our stolen funds.

Not $50 Million.  Not 60% or 75%.

100%.

Any penny less will forever compromise our faith in this industry and country.

The time has come for someone to step up and act swiftly and decisively.

The time has come to fully restore our capital … and our faith.

Don Miller

11-22 8:55pm ET A great article in the Chicago Tribune tonight about needing to make all customers 100% whole.  A must read!

11-22 7:43pm ET CME boosts guarantee to $550M to target 75% to customers by early December.  Says shortfall not going to be as much as reported.  BUT will (1) the Trustee listen, and more importantly, (2) the CME stop these baby steps (remember the $550M means nothing unless the Trustee uses it to act) and just fill the ENTIRE gap as they should.  Their future, that of the industry, and most of all – their CUSTOMERS’ money –  are hanging in the balance.

11-21 2:04pm ET  Here’s an outstanding and current overview articleespecially the J.P.Morgan part … from Fortune.  Keep the heat on!

11-21 10:42am ET THUDTrustee reports missing funds may now exceed $1.2 Billion – more than double previous figures released by the CME & CFTC (talk about sleeping on the job … the CME’s “asleep at the switch” liability and moral obligation just grew exponentially), and that funds under Trustee’s control have just about run out.  Not good and the future of this industry is at a major crossroads unless the CME steps in and stops the bleeding.

11-18 11:40pm ET Here’s an excellent interview that Forbes conducted today with the Commodity Customer Coalition’s counsel.  A must read for sure.

11-18 5:10pm ET Participated in a highly productive 90-minute conference call with the Coalition, and then an extensive interview with The Motley Fool as we continue to make our voices heard.  Keep the pressure on gang as we fight against this blatant theft of customer monies.

11-17 10:50pm ET All likely know by now, Judge Glenn approved the 60% payout for MF Global customers who had remained in cash as of 10/31.  Here’s the official order.  Also, continued congrats to our Commodity Customer Coalitionwhich continues to win the respect and standing of the Judge, Trustee, and industry.  Special kudos to James Koutoulas, John Roe, and Tim Butler … as well as the entire team who are working on a volunteer or pro-bono basis.

Read the CCC’s latest update including a plea from Congressman Huelskamp to not rest until 100% of the funds are returned to customers.  Meanwhile, the WSJ reports MF Global wired hundreds of millions of customer fund dollars into its own accounts as it was crumbling.

11-16 10:45pm ET A veryactive day in court for our oustanding coalition as we have emails (and twitter messages during the day’s court procedings) exchanged every few minutes … including as I write this at 10:45pm ET.  Official and realtime updates – as well as key news links - appear on the coalition’s website under the “Home” and “Press” sections at www.commoditycustomercoalition.org.

In addition, here’s a good NY Times piece on the continuing hunt for the money, and a good press overview of the CCC’s position beforetoday’s procedings (check the CCC site for updates resulting from today’s court meeting).

11-16 10:00am ET The CFTC issues a statement on the MF Global fiasco.  Not a bad perspective actually, especially the part about determining how we can return “all customer funds as soon as possible and punish any wrongdoing”.  For certain trustees, courts, and J.P.Morganites trying to cut in line, that’s “all” as in “everything”, “100%”, and “the whole enchilada”.  Let’s keep our eye on the ball.

11-16 1:00am ET Lots of news on all fronts over the last 24 hours including the Trustee’s filing of an expedited claims process and motion for “emergency” release of 60% of MF Global balances that had been in cash on the date of bankruptcy – Reuters release hereNothing like a fire engine responding with marshmallows & s’more sticks after the fire has been raging for weeks.

Nevertheless, we need to continue to push for a 100% release or other make-whole provisions, as well as a formal voice in the procedings.  Here’s the Trustee’s site and our initial coalition’s summary page hosted by BTR Trading with all relevant links.  The Commodity Customer Coaltion’s formal site is also now up and running.

Further, and unfortunately as I first suspected despite press interpretations to the contrary, here’s the CME press release confirming that they were “really” only providing $50M in relief in the event the missing funds can’t be returned … NOT $300M.  Pass the marshmallows and s’more sticks.

11-14 10:15pm ET: Here’s an IMPORTANT Wall St. Journal brief on the Commodity Customers Coalition’s motion to block J.P. Morgan from illegally stepping in front of CUSTOMERS in the bankruptcy process.

11-14 10:00pm ET: If you agree, sign the National Introducing Brokers Association (NIBA) Petition for the Honorable Martin Glenn to permit the release of the remaining cash balances of MF Global customers.

Here’s the full text:

Why This Is Important:  The National Introducing Brokers Association (NIBA) submits this Petition urging you to exercise your authority and immediately, to the extent it does not hinder the bankruptcy process, permit the release of the remaining cash balances of liquidating and transferred customers of MF Global, and of customers who were included in the bulk transfer process.

To the extent there are sufficient “segregated” funds available, they are the assets of the customers. Further, those funds are absolutely vital for the marketplace to function fully. The result of withholding these funds is affecting the ability of customers to maintain and trade their positions, and will impact liquidity and trading volume – absolutely necessary for an efficient market.

Customers and futures professional alike are suffering under the current scheme. We urge you to heed this Petition and release these funds. We want to get back to work.

Respectfully, The National Introducing Brokers Association

11-13 9:50am ET: Open Letter to MF Global Trustee to Resign -I urge everyone who has been violated by MF Global to fax the Honorable Martin Glenn at 212-668-2878 if they agree Trustee James W. Giddens (billing at $890+ an hour and who has billed $160 Million in the Lehman case over 3 years with little results) should resign.  This excellent letter from Andrew Abraham of Abraham Investment Management says it all.  Let’s keep making OUR voices heard.

11-12 10:20pm ET: Work continues around the weekend as a customer coalition comprised of industry professionals and MF Global customers has been formalized to liberate customer segregated funds, engage in a proactive public relations campaign, and be legally & actively represented throughout the bankruptcy process. The effort, of which I’m a part, will be referred to as the Commodity Customers Coalition, and a plentiful resource page containing sample letters to Congress, the Court, and Trustee, along with a general description of our effort and much more is now accessible.

11-12 11:10am ET:In light of yetserday’s CME news, we’ve revised our support of the motion to push for an immediate withdrawal of funds to reflect 94.2% of seg fund balances, believing the intent of the CME was to back half of the $600M shortfall.  If that wasn’t their intent, then they’ve just bamboozled the entire industry.

11-11 3:31pm ET: CME to provide $300M Guarantee to TrusteeHere’s the full Press Release.  Well, it’s a step.  Could this trigger the Trustee to move??  The way it’s worded, it’s a bit confusing as to whether it plugs half of the $600M hole or not, and we need to keep pushing for 100% reimbursement. 

11-11 7:15am ET: TELLING OUR STORY: Bloomberg piece released this morning as we make our voices heard loud and clear.  Includes quotes from James Koutoulas who is leading a grass-roots legal effort for the trading community (I participated on a 90 minute trader conference call with them yesterday), along with a few quotes from Tim Butler (the attorney who filed the 85% withdrawal request), myself (in the “Prudence Doesn’t Pay” Section) and others as we make our voices heard.

11-10 7:24pm ET: Bloomberg: CFTC Commissioner goes public, referencing high probability of illegal “hide and seek” ploy.

11-10 7:21pm ET: MF Global Trustee hints at claims process getting closer (link at top of page).

11-10 4:29pm ET: NY Times: Feds order an audit of all U.S. future trading firms. Looks like key players are essentially admitting the existing controls and “audits” weren’t good enough … opening the door wide open for litigation that they were negligent unless they make everyone whole.

11-10 1:08pm ET: ICE Futures supports 85% withdrawal request.  Here’s their letter to the court, as well as the WSJ article referencing the filing.  I’ve also already sent mine & remain in contact with Bloomberg news re: today’s developments to help get our voices heard.

11-10 12:00pm ET: Trustee Update: Shortfall in customer segmented accounts to be treated as UNSECURED CREDITOR CLAIM.  Aren’t customers – per all the legal docs I’ve read – supposed to be FIRST IN LINE??  Isn’t cash the “security”??  Have we been “demoted”??

11-10 11:02am ET: NY Times: MF Global customers question CME oversightand seeking their assistance in making them whole.  Completely agree, especially with:

It is time for the executive team at CME to save its business and do the right thing,” wrote Glenn Jackel, a managing member at Traxian Partners with about $1 million trapped at MF Global, in a letter to CME board members. “As it stands now, the MF Global debacle represents every single deep-seated underlying fear that commodity investors have, that their money will be lost or frozen in a commodity firm meltdown.”

11-10 7:10am ET: Futures Industry Association (FIA) issues statement requesting interim accounting and return of customer funds.

11-9 4:25pm ET: MF Global Bankruptcy Trustee just posted a FAQ on the Trustee website.  But there’s zero new news on it.

11-9 2:10pm ET:Just spoke with the attorneys who filed the request for 85% distribution (see link below).  We can all be heard by mailing our support and situations to the judge and trustee at the addresses below.  Hearing is scheduled for 11/22, but the main intent of the filing was to put the pressure on to get something done before that.  I also spoke with Bloomberg News to continue to put the heat on to get the funds released.

Hon. Martin Glenn
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004-1408

And cc:
James W. Giddens,
Trustee for the SIPA Liquidation of MF Global Inc.,
c/o Hughes Hubbard & Reed, LLP
One Battery Park Plaza
New York, New York 10004

Timothy F. Butler, Esq
Tibbetts Keating & Butler, LLC
36 West 44th Street
Suite 816
New  York, New York 10036

11-9  7:05am ET: Forbes reporting non-cash assets (more difficult to track than cash) may have been pledged overseas in last minute attempt to back desperate loans … and have since been liquidated by the lender.  Of all the theories, this one seems one of the more logical ones – especially as time has passed.

***** IMPORTANT 11-8  10:35pm ET: Traders seeking court permission to transfer 85% of cash.  All traders should continue to put this EXACT heat on the courts as all parties agree 88.4% of the money is there. *****

11-8  3:54pm ET: Per Forbes, looks like the missing funds may have been used on Corzine’s risky Europe bet via a little known loophole????? Say it isn’t so.  Although that doesn’t gel with MF’s management stating that they believed everything was accounted for, and the CME’s assertion that the funds WERE THERE during their recent audit!

11-8  4:05pm ET: Trustee seeking options to move on partial disbursements for those in cash.

11-8  3:54pm ET: Per Forbes, looks like the missing funds may have been used on Corzine’s risky Europe bet via a little known loophole????? Say it isn’t so.  Although that doesn’t gel with MF’s management stating that they believed everything was accounted for, and the CME’s assertion that the funds WERE THERE during their recent audit!

11-8  12:28pm ET: At the CME end, here’s a memo to the CME trading community that was sent today from the CME Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

11-8  12:05PM ET: Here’s a great link to an article by Avery Goodman from Seeking Alpha explaining the CME’s liability in the MF Global mess.  And here’s the direct link to the “CME Clearing Financial Safeguards” document referenced in the article, created by … none other than the CME itself. Pass the word in getting the CME to step up to the plate and fulfill their obligations.

Categories : Breaking News
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