Sunday, January 21, 2007

Chuck Jaffe's "Stupid Investment of the Week - Few pluses in Morgan Stanley's 'structured' product"

Mr. Jaffe's story is here.

I just want you to look at the story, and stop at the word "cap", and ponder for a moment how you would feel if you had something like this in 2003, and your well-invested friends had made 35 percent on their equity holdings, and your statement, perhaps in a footnote, explained again for you how your 'double-the-upside' investment was "capped at a maximum index gain of 6.75% over the 16-month term. Double the gain to reflect the leverage and the maximum gain is 13.5% over 16 months." (Mr. Jaffe's paraphrase.)

There is no cap on the downside, of course.

My very general advice on things like this: Life, especially life in your dealings with the world of financial services, is not a visit to a candy store. All that glitters is not gold. Things with complex characteristics like this are usually made to sell. For salesmen, to sell to you. For a price. Caveat emptor.

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