So, the accusation being pushed by Matt Yglesias and Co. is that Paul Ryan profited from some sort of insider trading by selling his stocks in Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase & Wachovia in September 2008… except that Ryan was also selling those same stocks earlier in the year and later in the year. He was also buying and selling non-bank stocks at the same time: AT&T, General Electric, Apple Computer, and investing in a variety of funds.
In other words, there’s nothing to indicate the purchases and sales were influenced by any inside information, or even that Ryan made much money out of these transactions. In fact, we know all of these purchases and sales involved sums less than $15,000.
Yes, Ryan sold some of his Citigroup shares in September 2008… but he also sold shares in Citigroup in January 2008, March 2008, June 2008, August 2008, and December 2008. He also purchased additional Citigroup shares in February, April, July, and October. While we don’t know precisely how much these purchases and sales were, to see if Ryan suddenly dumped one particular stock, we do know that none of Ryan’s transactions are for more than $15,000.
Ryan sold J.P. Morgan in September… but also in January and July. He sold Wachovia in September… but also in January, June, and August. Yes, Ryan purchased Goldman Sachs shares that autumn… (allegedly part of this scheme) … but he also bought Goldman Sachs shares in February, March, June and August, before he this meeting where he allegedly learned all the inside information. The only thing we see in September 2008 is the same pattern of purchases and sales Ryan had made throughout the year – a pattern that continued through the rest of the year.
He sold shares of Wells Fargo in January. Wells Fargo stock spiked to nearly $40/share on the day of this alleged insider briefing. If he was operating on some inside information about the fiscal crisis of 2008, why didn’t Ryan purchase Wells Fargo?
The blog post Yglesias links to charges that Ryan attended the meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and “instead of doing anything to help” he sold his shares.
“Didn’t do anything to help”? The man voted for TARP. Twice.
In other words, Yglesias & Company select a handful of transactions, ignore all the rest, and scream “INSIDER TRADING!” without looking at the pattern of Ryan’s trades.
But why should we expect anything better from them?
UPDATE: Credit Yglesias for recognizing mistakes: “The claim was wrong and the item has been corrected.” He adds, “He was trading a lot in 2008 for whatever reason. Nothing keyed to meetings.”