Of the modern financial economy,
A transgression may start
With a loss on the part
Of a sure-fire thing, not uncommonly."
The New York Times reports that the notorious $600 million of MF Global customers' funds "may no longer be simply missing. It may be gone." Regulators and FBI agents who have worked around the clock to recover the funds now believe that they were used not to margin customers' trades, but to pay off the firm's trading losses. Futures brokers routinely use customers' cash to earn income for themselves, but always back such operations with collateral such as Treasury notes. MF Global now appears to have used up this buffer and simply taken the cash to plug the gaps in its can't-miss $6.3 billion European bond position. This is a shock to the futures trading community, which up to now has believed that its deposits were safely segregated.