Sold Short. Uncovering Deception in the Markets

  • ID: 2214155
  • Book
  • 288 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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A revealing exposé by one of today′s most controversial and successful short sellers

According to a 1998 New York Times article, "Satanism has a better reputation in financial circles than does short–selling . . . The controversy over Mr. Asensio is reigniting the debate over short–selling and the role it plays in the stock market, a debate that stretches back to Jesse Livermore." Manuel Asensio has taken this debate to a whole new level, not only short–selling deceptive companies but also researching and publicly exposing them. Each time Asensio practices his type of aggressive short selling he is branded "the Devil′s own Trader," but time and again his unpopular assessments have proved dead on the money.

"Sold Short reads like an action–packed and gripping detective story, exposing shocking and criminal tales that make the Hollywood scandal sheets look like a high school pantomime. Asensio is a brave and heroic bullfighter who dares to go up against the global stampede of the wildest bull market. He courageously nails down, one by one, grossly overvalued and corrupt companies."–Tony Shafrazi, Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York

"Sold Short is a rip–roaring ride through the netherworld of short selling. Part comedy, part tragedy, part horror flick, Asensio uncovers a world that would be ripe for sitcom portrayal where big–name fund managers dress in drag, buy silly stocks, but (and here′s the tragedy) lose millions. If short selling is up your alley, you shouldn′t miss this book. And if you′d sooner die than go short, you should read this book to make sure one of your longs isn′t made of fool′s gold."–Parker Quillen, Quilcap Corp.
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Diana Day Afternoon.

Making of the Short Seller.

The First Short: General Nutrition Takes Ill.

Diana: "The Switch Works!"

Solv–Ex: Something Oily.

Schonberg′s List.

By–the–Numbers Stock Promotions.

Gross Mismanagement.

Abusing the Process.

How to Sell Short.

Get Ready for a Big One.

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He′s in the Index, Too

Look for Wall Street and business–media types to scan index pages in the just–published Sold Short: Uncovering Deception in the Markets by famous short–seller Manuel P. Asensio. He delights in naming dozens of analysts, journalists and brokerages he says helped pump up dubious stocks that later tanked after he issued withering research reports. On the next–to–last page Asensio finally mentions the $75,000 fine he paid regulators last year to settle charges that, among other things, he and his Asensio & Co. overstated their own investment record.

––Forbes May 28, 2001

Short–sellers have a natural appeal to journalists. Members of

both occupations require deep scepticism about the motives of

the rich and powerful, and both engender a black humour that

can be off–putting to the innocent and uninitiated.

Short–selling is the sale of borrowed or never–owned securities

with the intention of profiting from a decline in their price. The

profit is made when the shares price has declined, and the

short–seller is able to repay the loan of the securities or makes

good the promise to deliver with securities bought at a lower


The profit is limited to the price of the security at the time the

short sale is made; the loss can be as high as a security′s price

can rise.

There are quiet, behind–the–scenes short–sellers – and then

there is Manuel Asensio. His brokerage house, Asensio

Company, specialises in executing short sales for clients, some

of which are almost certainly investment funds in which he has

an interest.

He searches for frauds and simple overvaluations in the

securities market, sells them short on behalf of his clients, and

then trumpets their shortcomings to the world.

Along with other journalists, I have made use of Asensio′s

material, though not without checking it first. When I did, it

turned out to be quite reliable.

Not everyone has the same feeling about Asensio. He is

regularly sued by promoters and others connected with the

objects of his research and mockery. He has, however, only

paid one fine to the National Association of Securities Dealers,

and believes he has been vindicated after he agreed to that


Now he has written a book, Sold Short, to tell the world how he

does it.

To use the type of military metaphor popular on Wall Street,

Asensio is the sort you would choose to lead an infantry charge

against a fortified position. However, as another short–seller

says: "I think I′d prefer to wait for the armoured division."

Even though the book has a professional co–author, Jack Barth,

the tone is pure Asensio: attack, attack, attack. Promoters are

scum. Establishment companies are corrupted by greed. A

typical sentence reads: "The bad guys were on the other side of

the river, laughing, with their saddlebags full of loot." Asensio

was wise to choose short–selling over a career in the diplomatic


Sold Short is most useful for the detail it provides on the stock

promoter′s bag of tricks. You can get more stringent, academic

detail on securities valuation from such classics as Graham and

Dodd′s Securities Analysis, but the standard works are not as

revealing on the social, as well as the financial, patterns that

fraud takes.

Another short–seller said Asensio′s analysis was good, but that

the market values of the companies he goes after were too

small to have the liquidity a large fund needed.

Asensio′s response was an unrelenting lecture on the market

caps of his targets along with cutting inferences about the

courage and work habits of the unnamed commentator.

Sold Short is a helpful book, though not a literary masterpiece.

The reader and the market participant should be fully aware that

Asensio is talking up (or down) his position. But he′s very

straightforward about that.

––Financial Times May 5, 2001
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