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January 15, 2023 | Congress Outperformed S&P 500 in 2022

Rick Ackerman

Rick Ackerman is the editor of Rick’s Picks, an online service geared to traders of stocks, options, index futures and commodities. His detailed trading strategies have appeared since the early 1990s in Black Box Forecasts, a newsletter he founded that originally was geared to professional option traders. Barron’s once labeled him an “intrepid trader” in a headline that alluded to his key role in solving a notorious pill-tampering case. He received a $200,000 reward when a conviction resulted, and the story was retold on TV’s FBI: The Untold Story. His professional background includes 12 years as a market maker in the pits of the Pacific Coast Exchange, three as an investigator with renowned San Francisco private eye Hal Lipset, seven as a reporter and newspaper editor, three as a columnist for the Sunday San Francisco Examiner, and two decades as a contributor to publications ranging from Barron’s to The Antiquarian Bookman to Fleet Street Letter and Utne Reader.

The headline explains why the voracious bounders on Capitol Hill are willing to spend so much time, money and effort getting re-elected. For they are not just investment insiders, they are recidivist sponsors of legislation that directly benefits their stock portfolios. It is quite a racket, and whatever laws exist to prevent them from getting rich serving corporate lobbyists above all, those laws obviously are not working.  If you’re interested in the sordid details behind their headline-worthy investment success, a website called UnusualWhales publishes an annual report filled with titillating information. “By analyzing publicly accessible financial disclosures,” the Whale’s authors proclaim, “we found that a quarter of Congress actively traded up to $788M in various assets through 12,700+ transactions in 2022. Although this matches the number of transactions in 2021, the total value has dropped.”

I was unaware of Unusual Whales’ efforts to shine a light on our nation’s political cockroaches until my brother, Allen, sent me a link to their site. “For me, reading the headline Congress Outperforms S&P in 2022 was all the clickbait I needed,” he wrote. “While it’s my habit to look for the best in people, I eagerly make an exception for all politicians. The loftier their position, the greater my skepticism. To temper my deep disdain for them, I try to remember the old adage that it’s only 98% of them that give the rest a bad name.

Their Favorite Plays 

“Admittedly,’ he continued, “the report is too long for me to read at one sitting — think Tolstoy — and although I don’t think it will provide any revelations, it makes for fascinating reading nonetheless.  Imbibe just the opening paragraphs and you’ll see how the greed of Republicans and Democrats run on somewhat different tracks.  The top sectors with the highest stock investments were: Technology Services, Electronic Technology, Finance, Consumer Services, Health Technology for Democrats; and Technology Services, Industrial Services, Miscellaneous, Finance, Electronic Technology for Republicans.”

Our public servants evidently have quite a smorgasbord to pick from. And although they float sham legislation now and then purporting to ban stock trading by D.C. lawmakers, the practice still flourishes.  Said Rep. Dan Crenshaw in response to the Unusual Whales’ 2022 report: Without trading, “you have no way to better yourself” as a Congressperson. Politics surely opens doors to opportunity, but sometimes it seems as though that’s the main reason men and women run for office in the first place.

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January 15th, 2023

Posted In: Rick's Picks

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