Former House Speaker and Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California made a 65% profit on her stock trading portfolio in 2023, according to an analysis of House of Representatives financial disclosure records by the group Unusual Whales.
Pelosi and her husband Paul, a venture capitalist in San Francisco, have long been known for their jointly held stock portfolio, which has made significant profits in recent years. In 2023, the Pelosi portfolio’s profits were driven by trading options contracts — which allow the holder to purchase a stock at a lower price than its market value — and outperformed the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index of the U.S. stock market’s largest companies by a margin of 40%, Unusual Whales reported.
“It’s a sign of quasi-insider trading that’s corrupt and should be banned – it’s either an addiction to risk or a sign of corruption,” said Jeff Hauser, the director of the Revolving Door Project, to the New York Post about Pelosi’s profits. “There are teams of people at sophisticated hedge funds that exist to find minor arbitrage opportunities to make a profit. It’s preposterous to think they are finding profit where Bridgewater or Renaissance Capital is missing it.”
Pelosi’s profits exceed those of the largest hedge funds in the United States. The largest, Bridgewater Associates, lost 7.6% in 2023, while Millennium Management gained 10% and Republican donor Ken Griffin’s Citadel LLC gained 15.3%, though, unlike Pelosi, none of them beat the S&P 500.
Pelosi’s trading history was criticized after Unusual Whales reported that she had traded stocks in Nvidia, a semiconductor manufacturing company, shortly before shepherding the passage of the CHIPS Act by the House as speaker, with the law creating billions of dollars in subsidies for U.S. semiconductor manufacturing. She had previously divested from Nvidia to avoid a conflict of interest, the report claimed.
Despite her 65% profit, Pelosi was not the most successful trader in Congress. Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York, who has spent the majority of his career in elected office, topped the list with a 239% profit in 2023, with Pelosi being only the ninth-most successful lawmaker in the chamber.
The enormous returns posted by Pelosi and other lawmakers have frequently spurred efforts by some members of Congress — such as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida —to ban elected officials from trading stocks and other financial instruments.
“We are a free market economy. Congress should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi said in 2022 when questioned about her prolific portfolio and whether she supports a ban.
Pelosi’s office, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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