May 4, 2010
Remember all that scorn in Congress about evil shortsellers betting against America and bringing the country down?
Well, it turns out Congress-people did it, too. And they used derivatives to do it, which they now say they abhor.
(For the record, we have no problem with shortselling or derivatives, and we find the routine scapegoating of both after market crashes ludicrous. But if you’re going to complain about how awful shortselling is and how evil and venal people are for doing it, you should probably abstain from the practice yourself.
And, yes, most of the folks here were just betting against stocks, not actually selling stocks short. But it’s the same idea. To use their own tortured, populist logic, they were betting against the country and their 401k-holding constituents!)
Jason Zweig, Tom McGinty, and Brody Mullins in the WSJ:
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Some members of Congress made risky bets with their own money that U.S. stocks or bonds would fall during the financial crisis, a Wall Street Journal analysis of congressional disclosures shows.
Senators have criticized Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for profiting from the housing collapse. And Congress is considering legislation to curb Wall Street risk-taking, including the use of financial instruments known as derivatives and of leverage, or methods that amplify returns.
According to The Journal’s analysis of congressional disclosures, investment accounts of 13 members of Congress or their spouses show bearish bets made in 2008 via exchange-traded funds—portfolios that trade like stocks and mirror an index. These funds were leveraged; they used derivatives and other techniques to magnify the daily moves of the index they track.
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