Monday, August 13, 2012

Did Rep. Ryan use inside information to dump bank stocks? The answer is no

Matthew Yglesias cites the Richmonder blog's accusation about Rep. Ryan's inside trading during the early days of the financial crisis.

From the Richmonder
Ryan attended a closed meeting with congressional leaders, Bush's Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on September 18, 2008. The purpose of the meeting was to disclose the coming economic meltdown and beg Congress to pass legislation to help collapsing banks.

Instead of doing anything to help, Ryan left the meeting and on that very same day Paul Ryan sold shares of stock he owned in several troubled banks and reinvested the proceeds in Goldman Sachs, a bank that the meeting had disclosed was not in trouble. 
As Yglesias writes, "it's about as clear an example of a public official trying to use his office to obtain personal benefits as you're likely to find."

The Business Insider investigates further. Although the transactions are reported to have occurred on the same day as the Paulson/Bernanke meeting, they may have happened just prior to the meeting.The Business Insider was also not able to obtain confirmation of who attended the meeting.

Given the miraculous timing of the transactions, it seems the Rep. Ryan has some 'splaining to do.

Update (5:16): Yglesias has walked back his story, saying the Richmonder doesn't "have the goods" to make its case. He cites Brad DeLong's analysis of all of Rep. Ryan's trades in 2008 which include numerous other instances of trading bank stocks.

Also, Rep. Ryan's office has offered an explanation that indicates that the timing was a coincidence.