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The Daily Reckoning

Leave Facebook's Eduardo Saverin alone

Eduardo Saverin's timely renunciation of his American citizenship is no reason to keep him out of the US. People should be able to move where they want, when they want, for any reason.

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Facebook is the biggest deal in the stock market…perhaps ever. It’s a company that didn’t even exist 10 years ago. We know all about the company’s founding; we saw the movie. Twice. Because our daughter has a role in the movie. She’s the waitress in the scene where Zuckerberg means Sean Parker.

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Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind The Daily Reckoning (dailyreckoning.com).

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Not a bad flick. But from an investment standpoint, Facebook is probably one of the worst moves you can make. Most likely, it will be gone 10 years from now. $100 billion of market capitalization will disappear. Poof! It’s just a website, after all. We looked at a Facebook page, once… We couldn’t figure out why anyone would waste his time.

The trouble with new technology is that in a few years it’s old technology.

Here’s our hunch: The Facebook IPO may mark a major peak…and the beginning of a major bear market on Wall Street.

It happens every time. There’s a big, big deal. And then, it’s over. We’d give you some examples, if we could think of them. But we can’t. You’ll just have to trust us on this.

We don’t really have any evidence or logic to back this up. It’s just a hunch.

But our intuition tells us that when investors finally get the full Facebook treatment, they are going to be turned off by the stock market and Wall Street. Not only will the company turn out to be not worth a fraction of the IPO price…investors will also get a clearer picture of how Wall Street really works.

About that IPO… The idea is to generate a lot of excitement…a frenzy…so that people are eager to get the shares. And with all these Facebook users, who like…like…Facebook…and think they can tell a good investment when they see one…it ought to be easy to create a buying frenzy. Besides, everyone knows shares are intentionally priced below what their backers believe they can get for them. This causes the share-price to “pop” right after the IPO.

Of course, the distribution is tightly controlled. You have to be an insider to get IPO shares. Say…you’ll get them at about $40…and then, you expect them to go to $50 on the “pop.” If it works out as planned, you make $10 per share. This is a lot of money. Easy money. So, the insiders all want a piece of the action.

How do you get to be an “insider”? You have to be a friend of Morgan Stanley. Which is to say, you help Morgan Stanley make money. How? For example, if you are a pension fund or hedge fund you put through a lot of trades. Morgan Stanley makes money on the churn. You make money on the churn, too. Customers don’t make any money on the churn. They pay for every transaction. But who cares about them?

Everyone is convinced that buying…selling…and trading investments makes money. As long as the illusion lasts, Wall Street is happy. The customers are happy too…more or less. They’re participating in the Great Illusion — all trying to make money without actually doing anything.

So everyone churns. And the more you churn with Morgan Stanley the more likely you are to get an allocation of IPO stock. There could be about 50 million shares handed to insiders in this manner. Let’s say they go up $10 in the “pop.” That’s half a billion in gains …in only a few hours.

Dan Ariely explains:

Morgan Stanley and the rest of the investment banks involved will … make sure that their favorite fund manager client “friends” are given lots of free money. Assuming that these “friends” are given 75% of the total number of IPO shares, or a total of 291 million shares, and assuming that the stock does rise from $40 to $50, then these fund managers will collectively, in one day, make $2.9 billion dollars in realized or unrealized profits. That’s right, 2.9 BILLION DOLLARS.

…where and out of whose pocket does this money come from?

Well, just think of it this way… Let’s assume you own a very expensive piece of waterfront real estate, and you hire a broker to sell it for you. After exploring the market and after getting indications of interest, your broker advises you that $10 million would be a great price for your home. You meet with the potential buyers and decide to sell it for $10 million. After the $1 million commission you have to pay your broker, your net proceeds are $9 million. An hour later, you drive by the house and see your broker in the driveway shaking hands with some different people. You pull over to see what’s going on, and you find that the people you just sold the house to for $10 million are very close friends of your broker. To your dismay, you also find out that those friends just sold your (former) house to somebody else for $15 million.

The same exact game is going on here… By the time you drive around the block, these folks will have sold their shares at $50 per share.

I am not sure about you, but I find all of this very depressing.

Regards,

Bill Bonner,
 for The Daily Reckoning

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on dailyreckoning.com.

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