TIP OF THE WEEK – Register your stocks in your own name

Register your stocks in your own name

Jason Brizic

January 20th, 2011

The MF Global bankruptcy proved one very important thing.  It proved that your assets are not your assets if you allow your broker to register them in their street name.  In fact, your brokerage can use your assets as their own to make risky derivative bets.  And when they go bust due to bad leveraged bets, then your assets can go to their creditors instead of to you.  This is what just happened in the MF Global bankruptcy.

Protect yourself by registering the stocks you own in your name.

Call your broker and tell them that you want all your stocks registered in your name.  Tell them you don’t want them in street name anymore.  There is a cost to this.  It will cost you time and some money each time you sell your stock certificates, but this is the price you must pay to secure your assets from brokerage theft.  If you are not willing to do this, then you probably should not own stocks.

This will make life very difficult for day traders, but much safer if you are a high dividend stock investor.  The high dividend stock investor buys when companies with earning power and strong balance sheets are priced at a deep discount.  He sells the stocks he owns when the company is not likely to deliver high dividend yields and when earning power and balance sheet strength diminishes.  This usually doesn’t happen overnight, so you can afford to register your stocks in your own name.

Here is an article by Gary North that summarizes the problem nicely.

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A lot of Americans do not know how ownership of stocks is handled. They think they personally own the stocks in their portfolios. They don’t.

There were investors in MF Global who thought they owned commodities. They didn’t.

Consider this.

Do you own gold and silver mining stocks? Or any stocks for that matter? Even if you say, “yes”, chances are you don’t really own them.

It is one of the dirtiest little secrets in the brokerage business. And 99.9% of people have no idea it is even being done to them. It’s called “street name registration” and it’s how the brokerage where you hold your stocks “registers” your shares. To save money and time, and to allow your shares to be included as assets that they can use to do what they want with, your brokerage never actually registers you as an owner of the shares.

Street name registration allows your broker to lend your shares to short sellers, thereby driving down the price of your own stocks. Additionally, this method allows your broker to “re-hypothecate” your assets–meaning it allows your broker to borrow money against your shares and speculate in the derivatives market.

These hidden risks are planting the seeds of tomorrow’s ultimate collapse – In which there may be a system-wide collapse of broker dealers, taking down millions of investors, and ensuring permanent non-recoverable losses to an entire generation!

Too extreme? Maybe. But consider this:

MF Global investors found out first hand just how secure their funds were. Most don’t realize it, but MF Global was a clearing house for both stocks and futures. Like many/most brokerages, they “invest” their own funds, often on a highly leveraged basis, to earn income. But, with the recent collapse of Greek government bonds and with MF Global’s highly leveraged position in them, MF Global was bankrupted in an instant.

The problem is, they tried to cover their losses with their customer’s own funds. You see, unless your shares are registered in your own name – a process that isn’t that difficult or costly – your brokerage considers it as assets they can use for their own needs.

Plus, once a brokerage goes bankrupt (which is something we expect to happen very often over the coming years) if you hadn’t personally registered your shares then your shares go down as assets of the brokerage and are used to pay off their creditors.

In normal times, this does not happen. We are heading into abnormal times.

Some believe their stocks will be protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which insures stocks accounts from broker collapse up to $500k for securities, and account cash balances up to $250k. But what if you have more than $250k in cash and/or more than $500k of securities in your account? What if one of the largest broker dealers in the country went bust, bringing down thousands of accounts and depleting the entire reserves of the SIPC? What if the SIPC itself goes bankrupt? What few people are aware of, is that the SIPC only carries about $1 billion in funds to cover investors! This means only one or two high profile broker dealer bankruptcies will be enough to completely wipe out the SIPC.

Some may claim the US government will bail out the SIPC to whatever extent needed. But what if two major broker dealers went bust while at the same time the US government suffers a major Treasury bond auction failure? This is all but a certainty in the coming years.

And the same thing applies in Canada to Canadian brokerages and Canadian stocks. The Canadian economy is intricately tied to the US. In fact, not many people are aware, but all that backs the Canadian dollar is the US dollar. The Canadian Government sold all its gold decades ago.

There’s lots more to learn here. Read the full article.

Continue Reading on www.resourceinvestor.com

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Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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