“Learning to Love Insider Trading”!!??

Want to keep companies honest, make the markets work more efficiently, and encourage investors to diversify? Let insiders buy and sell.

–Donald J. Boudreaux, “Learning to Love Insider Trading”; The Wall Street Journal (10/24/2009)

Goldman Sachs director Stephen Friedman resigned from the New York Fed in May, after The Wall Street Journal reported he had bought more than 50,000 shares of Goldman stock following AIG’s takeover.

Bloomberg.com (10/29/09)

One of the technology industry’s highest-profile executives has become ensnared in an alleged insider-trading case that is shaking the corporate and financial worlds.

–“Ex-Chief of AMD is Linked to Galleon”; The Wall Street Journal (10/28/2009)

One has to conjure up Jon Lovitz’ infamous Saturday Night Live character, “The Pathological Liar,” to properly respond to Donald Boudreaux’s assertion (above) that investors who put their faith in fair markets and “a level playing field” should, well . . . get over themselves.

“The market’s perfectly fair to rank-and-file investors right now,” The Pathological Liar would say.

“In fact, small shareholders have it too good.

Negative returns on their stocks for a decade?

Zero interest on their savings?

Why, the spoiled jerks. They should be grateful to get any of their capital back!”

“Really, Wall Street, Really??!!

Moving on to CEO pay:

“CEO pay, at 600 times the average worker’s salary? Why, the employees are lucky to get paid anything. Make the pay ratio 1,000:1! Better still, 5,000:1. That’ll teach ’em who calls the shots.

“In fact, executive compensation now is an insult! Executives should make even more money, by front-running other investors trading their own company’s stock before publicly disclosing material news.

“Yeah, that’s the ticket. Why should companies have to disclose anything?”

And so on.

About all I can figure out is that, the SEC’s recent track record is so abysmal enforcing insider trading laws, it has decided to mount a rear-guard action arguing that insider trading is benign, or — cue The Wall Street Journal article — actually good for the markets (and average investors).

To channel another, more recent Saturday Night Live bit:

Really, Wall Street?? Really??!!

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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