by John Rubino
Towards the end of financial bubbles, two things generally happen. First, legitimate ways to put capital to work become scarce as prices outrun expected cash flows. Second, large numbers of traders, who have grown used to seeing everything they buy go up, start chasing “innovations” with exciting stories but (in retrospect) insanely high risks.
One recurring variation on this theme is the “dark pool” or “blank check fund,” which is someone with a well-known name saying “Hey, give me your money and I promise to do something cool with it.”
Today this con is known as a SPAC, for “special purpose acquisition company,” and generally takes the form of a publicly traded shell company that raises money with the intent of buying another company, in effect taking the acquisition target public. In other words, it’s a quicker, simpler version of an IPO, which appeals to the instant wealth mindset that dominates late-bubble markets.