The Bottom Line / What Would Have Happened if Gavison's Gamble Had Paid Off?

Where did the luck go when Ben Gavison's reckless gamble with Prisma's provident fund members' money failed? Well, his luck was bad, but this was actually good for the rest of the capital market.

Gavison figured that the market would prosper in January, and therefore cranked up the share exposure of the investment portfolios of the funds he managed (via options on the TA-25 index).

Now let's assume he had been right. His funds would have surged ahead of the competition and climbed to the top of the yield tables. Gavison could have closed his risky positions and then sat for a whole year on solid negotiable bonds, laughing at everyone all the while.

His success would have resulted in whopping yields for Hermon and Tavor in January - the worst month the capital market has had in a long time. The whole market would have applauded him, and Prisma executives would have praised their star manager.

If his gamble had paid off, Prisma's sales people would have thronged to the streets and could have raised millions for the funds. The money would have flowed into Prisma's funds like the champagne at Markstone events in the banquet hall at New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel. Before boarding a plane to New York, Prisma board chair Ron Lubash would have proudly announced a big bonus to his employees and weekend trips to Europe.

"Doing business in Israel is such a pleasure," he would think to himself. "I'll start raising money for the next fund."

If Gavison had succeeded, however, no one would have known that Prisma's funds were managed using the infamous "splitting" system. No one would have discovered that there are investment managers who think they are in a casino, doing what they want with the public's money and lying to their supervisors. If luck had smiled on Gavison, no one would have known that Prisma's executives had no idea what was going on under their noses; that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, that there is no command and control, and that no one is responsible for anything.

If all had gone well, the capital market players would not have been alerted to the dangers.

January's shakeup was traumatic, but even Prisma will be able to benefit from it, if everything is set on the right track.