More than a year after the subreddit r/WallStreetBets sparked a populist frenzy for highly shorted “meme stocks,” such as GameStop and AMC, the internet has seized upon a new source for undervalued investments: the stock portfolio of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Users of Reddit, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter have created a new investment meme, resulting in greatly increased search activity for “Pelosi stock trades” and related phrases.
TikTok user Angela Zhang (@zhangsta) even went so far as to jest that Pelosi was “inside trader of the year—just kidding!” before noting that her trade timing is “particularly on point.”
The House speaker and her husband, Paul Pelosi, recently purchased call options for Disney, Google, Micron, Roblox, and Salesforce, and many retail investors believe that they can beat the markets by mimicking their trades. Pelosi, who has seen a 45.59 percent return on stock investments and a 66.7 percent return on options, is seen by some netizens as an insider with valuable information on upcoming government policy.
Pelosi consistently ranks among the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth estimated by Insider at $46 million—far surpassing the accumulation of her $223,500 annual salary.
Stock trades by members of Congress have attracted increased scrutiny, as senators and representatives frequently outperform the markets. Some critics say that these results are attributable to the foreknowledge of new policy outcomes and their effect on markets.
The financial ethics of Congress have come under greater scrutiny in the aftermath of the Federal Reserve trading scandal, which involved several high-ranking Fed officials who have resigned from their positions after revelations about financial transactions in which they appeared to benefit from foreknowledge of federal monetary policy. While the controversy resulted in a crisis of legitimacy and a subsequent reckoning for the Fed, there has been somewhat less criticism of the financial activities of members of Congress, even as senators and representatives significantly outperform markets in aggregate.
On Jan. 24, 27 members of the House of Representatives signed an open letter calling for a floor vote on proposals to limit trading of individual stocks by sitting members of Congress. The bipartisan coalition consists mostly of members of the Democratic Party, but they may have one unlikely ally: former President Donald Trump.
“She has inside information. It’s not right. It’s not appropriate. It shouldn’t be,” Trump told Breitbart when asked about Pelosi’s stock trading. “She doesn’t want to discuss that. … She should not be allowed to do that with the stocks. She should not be allowed to do that. It’s not fair to the rest of this country.”
“We are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi said, when asked by reporters about members of Congress trading on the stock market.
Of course, Pelosi’s profits on the stock market don’t necessarily insinuate anything illicit—after all, it’s conceivable that the House speaker and her venture capitalist husband are merely very savvy or lucky investors. In any event, the widespread perception of Pelosi’s prescience, whether because of insider information or mere financial acumen, are sufficient to motivate the retail traders of the internet to mimic her purchases, hoping to strike big and beat the system in so doing.
The office of Speaker Pelosi didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.