Paul Ryan was pegged by The Guardian as possibly engaging in insider trading by selling bank shares on the same day he “attended a confidential meeting where top level officials disclosed the sector was heading for a deep crisis.”
Further analysis reveals a couple of bits of info: 1) the meeting took place in the evening, making it highly unlikely Ryan could have executed trades afterward, and 2) Ryan was trading bank shares in a wild, irrational manner for the whole year. This latter points leads financial blogger Brad DeLong to conclude:
The impression I get from these 27 transactions in individual bank stocks in 12 months, 17 of which involve not net injections or withdrawals but rather switches between banks, is of a guy who simply does not know what he is doing. . . .
Now stocks as a whole have historically earned 6%/year above inflation (but, alas! only 1.5%/year since January 1, 2000). The gap between the return to stocks as a whole and the return to individual investors–which, in the case of Paul Ryan, is considerable: unless he is actually trading on his inside Congressional information his portfolio strategy underperforms the market by 2.5%/year–accrues to the princes and professionals of Wall Street: Ryan and his ilk are the meat on which they feed. . . .
I don’t want to hire as my vice president and federal budget czar somebody who uses Congressional inside information to profit by switching his portfolio back and forth between Citigroup and Goldman five times a year: I want somebody with better ethics.
I don’t want to hire as my vice president and federal budget czar somebody who investing very part-time with no analytical support and without inside information switches his portfolio back and forth between Citigroup and Goldman five times a year: I want somebody with a better brain.