Does the recent collar of terrorist-supporting hedge fund chief Raj Rajaratnam suggest insider trading as back en vogue? The moving of markets with propriety information nobody else gets hasn't been cool since Wall Street...until now. Love it, says the WSJ.
The most basic definition of insider trading is: information that isn't available to the public shareholders of a company is given to sketchy assholes who already have more money than you, first. That way, said assholes can buy or sell stock based on whether or not a company's about to blow up or be royally screwed. Once the information becomes publicly available, the stock price is either too high for you to buy or your stock's already been screwed because they sold their gigantic loads of the company off before you could. And you would've bought and/or sold your stock because you know that when a company produces a bunch of planes that explode nine seconds after takeoff, you should probably sell your stock.
So: insider trading is bad, right? Bad for morals, bad for the economy, bad for people who get manipulated by other people by shady backdoor deals, right? Wrong, motherfuckers! Bwah. Ha. Ha. says the Wall Street Journal's suspiciously named Donald J. Boudreaux. How is this possible? Let's learn.
Donald J. Boudreaux suggests that because it's hard to tell what's a sketchy secret and what isn't, it (A) wastes the time of federal authorities, (B) it keeps asset prices "honest" by telling the truth about what their real value is and (C) it helps the market adjust rather quickly. Watch how he phrases this:
Time to stop telling horror stories. Federal agents are wasting their time slapping handcuffs on hedge fund traders like Raj Rajaratnam, the financier charged last week with trading on nonpublic information involving IBM, Google and other big companies. The reassuring truth: Insider trading is impossible to police and helpful to markets and investors. Parsing the difference between legal and illegal insider trading is futile-and a disservice to all investors. Far from being so injurious to the economy that its practice must be criminalized, insiders buying and selling stocks based on their knowledge play a critical role in keeping asset prices honest-in keeping prices from lying to the public about corporate realities.
Well, considering the small fact that federal authorities completely fucked the dog on Bernie Madoff, I'd say that anything that even remotely resembles something that might cost people who don't have the money of megalomaniacal bajillionaires a few bucks is probably worth the time of federal authorities. Also, a stock's "real value" is based on information attained through sketchy means? No, I'd say that's an asset's "shadow value." Its real value is based on the people whose fortunes are turned by it that can't afford (or, inversely, shouldn't be allowed) to have it do so. Information that insider trading works off of should be made public, not hunted out and used for profit; the big point Frederick von Dumbass is missing is that letting illegal information be freed up for legal use once obtained by white collar criminals makes said propriety information even more proprietary.
But I don't have a column at the Wall Street Fucking Journal, so, you know, I wouldn't know my ass from my face when it comes to money, which is to speak nothing of Mark Penn's Microtrends (For You To Buy Into, That My Clients Would Like You To Buy Into) column.
Boudreaux's column goes on to cite examples from the gas "crisis" of 20 years ago that allowed Big Unleaded to screw our parents in the tank, and the potential of Big Pharm to inflict damage on the public's health and wallets. Which is fair, but also, why we have regulatory agencies that exist to vette out this kind of thing. The second we let people with access to insider trading use it—people on Wall Street, guys who sit in front of their computer every day for hours at a time scanning forums for the slightest piece of corporate gossip—is the second we put the markets even further out of control of the majority of people who are layman's stockholders. This would be like letting the biggest Star Wars fanboys write the plot of the next three movies (and look what happened when we bought into George Lucas writing the screenplays for the last three).
Even more curious is how the Wall Street Journal allowed themselves to run this kind of complete nonsense without anything remotely resembling a counterpoint; they're big press. People who don't know Wall Street read the Wall Street Journal. This is dangerously stupid rhetoric. It's funny when Clusterstock does it, because they're mostly read by psychopathic, gossipy market obsessives, and because they often to have the counterpoint up five or ten minutes later. This is a little different. This is just patently ridiculous.