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Intelligent Trusts Infest Indianapolis
March 16, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS--Officials from the Consumer Protection Division of the Indiana Attorney General's office revealed Monday that a recent spate of consumer goods shortages and price spikes in the state are the result of "aggressive, opportunistic and potentially criminal" purchasing and investment activities conducted by an unknown number of "autonomous, intelligent trust investment vehicles" active largely in the Indianapolis and Bloomington areas. "We'd like to assure the good people of Indiana that we're taking the necessary steps to curtail inflationary speculation by these trusts," announced Indiana Attorney General Bernhard Hearty. "Prices will return to normal; life will return to normal."
Artificially intelligent computer programs designed to manage and invest money, intelligent trusts control a small but steadily growing portion of U.S. assets. "The basic concept of a trust is quite simple," explains Kelly Pressupmanship, Executive VP of Trusts and Indentures at Citigroup. "A trust separates day-to-day control over the trust funds from beneficial ownership. In exchange for giving up day-to-day control of their assets, trust settlors gain certain legal advantages, including the insulation of trust assets from the claims of the beneficiary's creditors."
Originally designed to curtail trust abuse by unscrupulous trustees, intelligent trusts have evolved complex and profitable investing strategies never imagined by their programmers. "I-trusts have really branched out in recent years," notes Pressupmanship. "Last year they got interested in real estate for the first time. Up until that point they'd only ever really been into traditional securities and some sophisticated derivatives trading, but it looks like they've got their eyes on the consumer goods sector now."
"I don't know why they're focusing on Indianapolis," exclaims Wal-Mart Mid-West Regional Purchasing Manager Helmut Quince. "But they're hitting us hard there, buying up goods, cornering markets. And they're real tenacious. Once they get into your supply chains its almost impossible to get them out."
Acting on a tip from a local wholesaler, lawyers from the Attorney General's office last week visited a complex of warehouses in suburban Indianapolis owned by the Radcliff Willoughby Trust, a self-settled spendthrift trust created by a New Jersey man to manage his retirement assets. "What we found was evidence of a serious attempt to corner the local market for a number of popular consumer products, including Kleenex and several flavors of Doritos brand chips," recalls Assistant AG Becky Waikman. "Warehouses full of chips just sitting there while prices around town hit record levels."
Recognizing that intelligent trusts are responsible for the price spikes and prosecuting them legally may, however, prove to be two entirely different things. "The problem is showing that they intend to manipulate the markets in these goods," notes Waikman. "In most cases it's just a matter of pack behavior. With a few exceptions, no one trust does buying that really reaches an abusive level. It's just that when you put it all together, it amounts to a manipulation. They don't just get together and plan to corner a market. One of them just takes a position while the others hang back. But, once there's blood in the water, they all rush in, driving up the prices and putting a stranglehold on the market."
Local retailers have vowed to stay open and keep their inventories stocked. "It's a real challenge, but we owe it to the community," intones Wal-mart's Quince. "The trusts are making a real run at us, but we're not going to run out on our customers."
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