April 14, 2006

Overstock.com - The real truth

There has been much made of the rise and current fall of Overstock. I no longer care about speculating on such things, but some writers that have earned my trust have always made a good case that this boat would not float. Most visible has been short selling hedge fund Rocker Partners and Jeff Matthews , a former Rocker employee and excellent blogger. Mark Cuban has been an avid critic of the stock and beat the Times to most of the story.

Of course, the main point that continues to be avoided is the ponzi scheme that is Wall Street. Buried in the New York Time's piece on Mr. Rocker sits this paragraph:

"Of course, Rocker talked to Gradient and whomever else would listen, including Wall Street analysts. Never at any time did I ask or imply that Gradient should subvert or compromise its own judgment by asserting opinions on Overstock . . . that it did not hold, Rocker said in his affidavit. And it's hard to see any front running or market manipulation - at least on the short side. During the time the reports were being written, shares of Overstock continued to climb, reaching $77 in December of 2004 following a secondary offering and the buy recommendations of the analysts employed by Overstock's underwriters. Last year, as the company's financial situation deteriorated and Street analysts began downgrading it, the stock began its descent."

Let me get this straight. Rocker Partners - with a whopping 12 employees - has been sued by Overstock and investigated by the SEC for coordinating a short selling scheme. Shame on the New York Times for being so conflicted with Brokerage advertising that they bury the real story.

The truth is actually the reverse. Overstock was driven to ridiculous prices by THOUSANDS of Wall Street bankers looking to garner fees by distributing Overstock stock to as many suckers as possible, than unwinding their position as the stock falls from the $70's to the low $20's.

Individuals that tell me they can beat the market are just lying to themselves. You can't beat organized crime. Why can't we just call a spade a spade.

Please: This article was reprinted by the NYT Dealbook, and originally appeared in Absolute Return, a hedge fund magazine, and I am the writer and editor of the magazine. This wasn't buried--but the story was not a news story but a profile of Rocker, and it wasn't all about the Overstock case.

Glad, however, that you picked up on the salient point here. In an editorial accompanying the piece, I have asked why the SEC hasn't investigated this.

Michelle Celarier
Thanks for your comment. Can you please forward a copy of the editorial or a link.
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