Entries in Funds (4)


'Superstitious Fund' Loses Money in Month Two

Courtesy Shing Tat Chung(NEW YORK) -- If you invested in stocks purely based on superstitions like avoiding Friday the 13th or lucky numbers, would you end up with colossal losses or spectacular gains?

Shing Tat Chung, 25, wanted to find out.  So he created the Superstitious Fund.  He described it as an "unproven" one-year project that is buying and selling stocks on the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index purely on superstitions.  

Chung is a designer, artist and now fund manager in London with degrees from the city's Royal College of Art and Slade School of Fine Art.  He said the idea was conceived when he was researching superstitions and case studies about "how these irrationalists come to affect the world we live in."

"As a society these examples are often hidden, or we choose to ignore them because we consider ourselves as very rational and scientific beings," Chung wrote in an email to ABC News.  "So there are examples out there that range from the more obvious, such as lifts avoiding suspicious numbers, to more surprising ones such as the fact that having a number 13 household automatically devalues your property by £7,511."

Chung said he created the Superstitious Fund "to poke fun at our irrationalities, but to do this in an engaging, thought-provoking way" while raising questions around algorithms, which are the formulae used in mathematics and computer science to solve problems.

Chung said he became interested in the role of algorithms in the "Flash Crash" of May 6, 2010, during which the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 1,000 points -- and recouped most of its losses in less than 30 minutes.

"So we know this was caused by trading algorithms, but we don't know how.  So we are creating these technologies, letting them loose and as a result becoming less privy to them," Chung said.  "The idea of technology or algorithms operating with basic human behaviors appealed to me.  So the idea was to raise questions around our irrationalities and technology though the topic of finance.  We become more superstitious in times of instability, searching for patterns to give us the illusion of control.  So with both economic and political instabilities, we are becoming more superstitious."

Chung approached a programmer named Jim Hunt, who works with an English trading software group called Trading Gurus.

Hunt, who describes himself as a "surrealist programmer" who experiments in art, said he was intrigued by the idea and said he would participate in the project for free if he could write the meta-trader program as open source software.  He and Chung worked together for several weeks talking about the specifications of the project, such as programming it to sell on Friday the 13th and buying on lucky days according to numerologists.

Chung has 144 investors with $7,585, or £4,828.88.  He presented the idea at his college.  He got media coverage, and interested audience members started to email him, saying they wanted to participate.  The minimum investment was £2, or about $3.14.

At the bottom of every page of Chung's website, he makes it very clear that investors can lose all their money.  One warning reads: "This experiment is a speculative, unproven, early stage investment looking to establish a premise with the risk of total loss."

The fund has been trading for just under two months and it is down about 9.5 percent as of July 30.

Asked about the progress of the fund thus far, Chung said it is too early to say, as there are 10 months to go.  He said the algorithm has been "quite active, fluctuating up and down."  One day it was three percent down and then a couple of days later it was down ten percent.

Those who now want to try their luck in the Superstitious Fund are, well, out of it.  The fund is closed to additional investors for the year the experiment is to run.  But Chung said there is a plan for a second experiment and interested parties can contact him for more information.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Occupy Wall Street Struggles with Redistributing Its Own Wealth

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the Occupy Wall Street movement expands, protest organizers -- many of whom support wealth redistribution -- are struggling with distributing the $500,000 in donations they have received. As the saying goes, money changes everything, and apparently it's causing infighting in the group.

Pete Dutro, a member of the Occupy Wall Street finance committee, dismissed reports that squabbling was growing as to who gets to collect.

"Finances are always a flash point for a lot of organizations," Dutro, 36, said.

The New York Post reported groups of protesters were upset for having to fill out paperwork to access funds, such as money to reimburse drums that had been vandalized one late night.

"There are people who don't want to follow the process and there's not a whole lot I can do for them," Dutro said.  "How is that going to be accountable?"

About 8,000 individual donors have given on average about $50 each, Dutro said.  Earlier this month, the Occupy Wall Street account was temporarily frozen due to a human error, losing $144,000 in online donations.

Occupy Wall Street had raised about $500,000 and as of Monday have $416,000 according to the bank balance sheet, Dutro said.  He said the majority of expenses are food, and next are clothing, medical expenses and credit card fees from processing the online donations.

The protests, which originally began on Sept. 17, have spread across the country, with people camped out in San Francisco and Chicago, among other cities.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Unclaimed Money? Five Signs You're Being Scammed

Ian Waldie/Getty Images(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) -- A new scam has surfaced that uses the promise of finding unclaimed money to lure would-be victims.

The scam arrives in email form, with a message telling people they have "millions of dollars" in unclaimed property waiting, according to West Virginia state treasurer John Perdue. The fraudulent message purports to come from Jeff Smith of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, but it's a fraud. NAUPA is a real organization of unclaimed property chiefs from around the country, but it does not have control over any actual money -- much less the authority to dole it out to people.

"My office has worked diligently over the years to return unclaimed funds to rightful owners. It is very disturbing to know scam artists are trying to exploit our hard work and take advantage of those people who trust the state to return their money," said Perdue.

Officials in Nevada, Maryland, Louisiana, and Ohio have also heard from citizens who received the false email. The crooks make their money by tricking people into calling an overseas toll telephone number to retrieve their supposed funds, then using various schemes to keep them on the line as long as possible.

Mary Pitman, a staunch advocate of searching for missing money on your own and author of "The Little Book of Missing Money," offers these five signs that somebody contacting you about unclaimed money is illegitimate:

  1. It comes as an email. State unclaimed property offices do not use email to contact you. They simply don't have that information. It's too hard to verify that the email is truly yours.
  2. It claims to be from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. NAUPA is an organization that unclaimed property administrators belong to. NAUPA does not do anything with reuniting people with their missing money.
  3. You get referred to someone else. State treasurers and comptrollers normally oversee unclaimed money and property. The work is never outsourced.
  4. You're asked for your bank account information. You may have to supply personal information such as your social security number to make a legitimate unclaimed money claim, but you will NEVER be asked your bank account information.
  5. There is a fee to file the claim. State governments do not charge money for searching their database of unclaimed accounts or for making a claim.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Billions in Stimulus Funds Paid to Tax Delinquent Contractors

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Critics of the $800 billion in taxpayer money that made up the Obama administration's so-called stimulus package have more ammunition, as it has been revealed the federal government awarded $24 billion in Recovery Act funds to contractors and vendors who owe hundreds of millions in unpaid taxes. This, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

The nonpartisan watchdog agency reported Tuesday that at least 3,700 recipients owed more than $750 million combined in unpaid federal taxes as of Sept. 30, 2009.  They represent 5 percent of all recipients of the so-called stimulus funds.

"For many years now, we've known that a small percentage of federal contractors and grantees who get paid with taxpayer dollars shirk their responsibility to pay their taxes," said Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. "Now the executive branch should get on with it and actually debar the worst of the tax cheats from the contractor workforce."

Levin, who chairs the Senate Permanent Investigations Committee, was to hold a hearing on the report Tuesday.

The GAO said their report likely underestimates the total amount of unpaid taxes owed by stimulus recipients.  Federal law does not require government agencies to check the tax compliance of prospective grantees.

When pushing for the Recovery Act, President Obama promised the taxpayers' money would be watched carefully, even deputizing Vice President Joe Biden with overseeing the stimulus operation, because, as Obama put it, "nobody messes with Joe."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio