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Insider Trading: Under the Radar in Washington

While no one was watching, insider trading just got a little easier on Capitol Hill.

Last Monday, President Obama very quietly and without unwanted fanfare signed legislation that rolled back a law meant to discourage corrupt trading by members of Congress and high-ranking federal employees. The law would have taken effect this week.

The STOCK Act became law just over a year ago, and required extensive disclosure of financial holdings of government officials. Those disclosures would have been posted on an online database open to the public. Needless to say, the disclosure requirement is an important part of the law: publishing holdings makes it possible to catch unusually successful trading that could be based on non-public information. And needless to say, modifying that requirement undermines the intent of the original bill.

To be fair, the disclosure requirement will still apply to members of Congress, the President and Vice President. But the rule was scrapped for around 28,000 top officials.

If ever there was evidence of bipartisanship this is it: the House and Senate approved the repeal legislation quickly, unanimously, and with any debate whatsoever. Things can get accomplished in Washington after all.


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