Inside Job: Paul Ryan May Have Profited From 2008 Private Briefing by Dumping Stock
In Gone With the Wind, uber-capitalist Rhett Butler sums up his view of the South's financial collapse to Scarlett O'Hara: "My dear, there's as much money to be made from a civilization’s destruction as from its rise."
Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan would heartily agree. Mitt Romney's Number 2 has some inconvenient questions to answer about whether he profited from information obtained from a 2008 meeting with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Seems that on September 18, 2008, while the rest of us were freaking out about our homes, our pensions, and our jobs, the congressman was huddled in a meeting with Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and others who warned that the banking industry was about to blow up, big time.
"On the same day as the meeting, Ryan sold stock in troubled banks including Wachovia and Citigroup and bought shares in Goldman Sachs, Paulson's old employer and a bank that had been disclosed to be stronger than many of its rivals. The sale was not illegal at the time.
Not long after the meeting, Wachovia's already troubled share price went into free fall. It plunged 39% on the afternoon of 26 September alone as investors worried the bank would collapse. It was eventually taken over by Wells Fargo for $15bn, a fraction of its former value.
Citigroup's share price fell soon after the meeting. In October 2008 Citigroup was among the largest beneficiary of the troubled asset relief program (Tarp), the taxpayer-funded bailout of the banking sector."
It comes as no surprise that Mr. Ryan gave a thumbs up to the TARP bailout -- in contrast to many of his fellow Republicans -- and that Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo rank among his biggest supporters.
Since the Richmonder blog broke the story, Team Romney has been hustling to kill it. But people are pretty damned tired of greedy public officials who line their pockets as their fellow Americans are suffering. This one may not go away.
As I reported on AlterNet some months ago, Ryan is not the only lawmaker who seems to pay more attention to serving his stock portfolio than his constituents. Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama attended the same meeting as Ryan and he also ran straight to his broker, dumping General Electic stock, which took a nose-dive soon after.
In April, Barack Obama signed legislation that prohibits members of Congress and other federal workers from insider trading, and requires them to cough up details of transactions over $1,000. That's nice. The law makes it clear that the kind of behavior illustrated by Ryan is an affront to the public interest. But the fact that Ryan himself did not intuit this at a time when his country was in great peril speaks volumes about his character.
Looks like a snake has his sights on the White House.