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Sold Short : Uncovering Deception in the Markets

Sold Short : Uncovering Deception in the Markets

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Asensio is the most famous practitioner of an investment technique called short selling, in which one profits from a stock's decline. Although this practice has a bad reputation, Asensio argues that it is legal and even ethical. He often chooses to publish his research, issuing reports explaining precisely why his stocks should go down; this, along with his unmatched six-year record for spotting overhyped and fraudulent stocks, makes him very unpopular on Wall Street. His book offers amusing accounts of companies whose stock prices were irrationally buoyed by management's optimistic press releases (amusing, that is, to readers who didn't buy the stocks). Some companies had no products, others did not have the rights to the products they touted, and still others hawked failed drugs or previously discredited inventions. Readers' amusement will turn to concern, however, as the book documents the complicity of large institutions in these frauds. Asensio shows that the best-known investment banks praised these overvalued stocks, the best-known mutual funds bought them, skeptical business journalists wrote puff pieces, the stock exchanges allowed transparent manipulation and, in two cases, even the government helped perpetuate the frauds. Since he has already been (unsuccessfully) sued by many of the companies he discusses, Asensio can speak more frankly than publishers' lawyers usually allow; his no-nonsense writing style sets his book apart from the usual staid and pompous investment coverage. (May)Forecast: Asensio is a cult figure among some investors, and his book is fun to read; its skeptical approach to Wall Street hype should find a ready audience among the millions of investors who have recently lost money in the stock market and stock mutual funds.