Let Your Senator Be Your Stock Broker
Well, now we have some more evidence, see below, as to why the Senate has long been referred to as a"Millionaires Club." And, in the meantime, the government goes after Martha Stewart! It might be suggested that Senator Hillary Clinton brought her Futures advisor with her from Arkansas, but the Senate insider corruption predates the Junior Senator from New York. Ain't life in the American Empire a grand thing, as Mr. Dooley might put it. Sounds a lot like the good old Roman Senate of two millennia ago.
Financial Times February 24 2004
Senators' stocks often outperform market
By Deborah Brewster in New York
US senators' personal stock portfolios outperformed the market by an average of 12 per cent a year in the five years to 1998, according to a new study.
"The results clearly support the notion that members of the Senate trade with a substantial informational advantage over ordinary investors," says the author of the report, Professor Alan Ziobrowski of the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
He admits to being"very surprised" by his findings, which were based on 6,000 financial disclosure filings and are due to be published in the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis.
"The results suggest that senators knew when to buy their common stocks and when to sell."
First-time Senators did especially well, with their stocks outperforming by 20 per cent a year on average - a result that very few professional fund managers would be able to achieve.
"It could be argued that the junior senators most recently came out of private industry, so may have better connections. Seniority was definitely a factor in returns," says Prof Ziobrowski.
There was no difference in performance between Democrats and Republicans.
A separate study in 2000, covering 66,465 US households from 1991 to 1996 showed that the average household's portfolio underperformed the market by 1.44 per cent a year, on average. Corporate insiders (defined as senior executives) usually outperform by about 5 per cent.
The Ziobrowski study notes that the politicians' timing of transactions is uncanny. Most stocks bought by senators had shown little movement before the purchase. But after the stock was bought, it outperformed the market by 28.6 per cent on average in the following calender year.
Returns on sell transactions are equally intriguing. Stocks sold by senators performed in line with the market the year following the sale.
When adjusted by the size of stocks, the total portfolio returns outperformed by 12 per cent a year on average. The study used a total market index as the benchmark for comparison.
The study took eight years to complete because there was no database of information and the documents had to be gathered and examined manually. Stocks held in blind trusts are not included in the disclosure documents.