Congress Might Have to Stop Trading Stocks

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Programming note: Money Stuff will be off tomorrow and Monday, back on Tuesday.

I have probably been doing this too long, because I remember there were some scandals about congresspeople trading stocks, and everyone was like “well congressional insider trading seems pretty illegal already, but just in case let’s pass a law making it illegal,” and so Congress passed the STOCK Act, for “Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge,” and now it’s extra illegal for congresspeople to trade stocks on the basis of nonpublic information that they learn in their jobs. This happened in 2012. I must say that the STOCK Act has signally failed in its core purpose, which was to make the U.S. public confident that congresspeople are not insider trading stocks, because there are somewhat frequent scandals these days about congresspeople making well-timed stock trades. These scandals lead to occasional inquiries but really no prosecutions,  so I assume that for the most part congresspeople are not in fact insider trading based on information they get in their jobs, though sometimes the publicly available facts do look kind of bad.

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