Kudlow: Has Pelosi been slow-walking trading regulatory issues?
‘Kudlow’ host examines the House speaker’s stock trades while in Washington.
I'm extremely worried this evening over a 1% drop in the tech-heavy NASDAQ Index. Why this sudden concern? Because it may do great damage to Nancy Pelosi's almost perfect investment track record.
You may have read that one website has already nominated her as the 2021 Wall Street trader of the year. In fact, reading jacobinmag.com – which I'm told is a left-wing outfit – nonetheless, they have a fabulous story about Ms. Pelosi and her trading acumen.
The Gordon Gekko of the New York Stock Exchange. The oracle of Omaha is dead. Long live the Queen of Stocks. According to reports, she and her husband Paul Pelosi have traded over $50 million in assets over the past year with annualized returns at 69% as of October, according to an estimate from the Nancy Pelosi portfolio tracker.
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That's higher than Buffett, George Soros, Cathy Wood, and other star investors. Apparently, the Pelosi portfolio beat the S&P 500 by 4.9 percent in 2019 and a big 14.3 percent gain in 2020, according to an outfit called FinePrint. Ms. Pelosi is becoming a cult figure among stock investors.
One brilliant move was the purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Roblox when the gaming company went public in March, according to jacobinmag.com. Many were skeptical of the value of a kids video game, but the stock has doubled in value since then.
In July, she invested at least $1 million in computer chip maker Nvidia, which skyrocketed 70% during the worldwide chip shortage.
A TikTok account called @quicktrades got 70,000 likes for a post highlighting the "queen of investing."
Last month the Pelosis disclosed that they purchased millions in bullish call options for stocks including Google, Salesforce, and Micron Technology. The Pelosis have reportedly reaped at least $5.6 million and up to $30.4 million in capital gains and dividends from their holdings in five Big Tech firms: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.
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Now, frankly, I don't have any problem with Ms. Pelosi getting rich. I like the fact that she's heavily invested in stocks and is last year's Wall Street trader of the year. I've always believed that a rising tide would lift all boats,
But I do have a slight problem with Ms. Pelosi's trading companies that have serious regulatory issues pending before the Congress. Some people believe she has been slow-walking regulatory issues around the tech giants.
There is always an issue of access and influence and confidential briefings and non-public information. I know in the executive branch you are allowed to trade stocks, but anything above a thousand bucks requires an ethics signoff with respect to potential conflicts of interest.
Supposedly similar rules prevail in Congress, but I wonder about that. Ms. Pelosi has upset a number of her left-wing colleagues who think stock trading should be banned altogether. She does not agree.
And late last month, in response to criticism, Ms. Pelosi said, "We're in a free market economy."
Really, Ms. Pelosi? Just sayin' ma'am. Every policy you have backed runs counter to your "free market economy."
Not only does that include your advocacy for government takeovers for energy, health care, banking, and elsewhere, but you have always enthusiastically supported big tax hikes on those who "don't pay their fair share.'
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On that last point, I was particularly interested in the report that you may have reaped up to $30 million on capital gains and dividends over the past many years. Nothin' wrong with that, especially since George W. Bush slashed the tax rate on cap gains and dividends to 15% in 2003. But now Ms. Pelosi, you want to jack those investment rates sky-high and even tax unrealized capital gains as a way of getting to a wealth tax. So while you've got yours, you would effectively stop others from getting their benefits after tax.
I recall interviewing Ms. Pelosi about 15 years ago when she was on the verge of becoming House speaker. It was a very pleasant interview, requested by her, and I asked her at the end if she believed in the stock market and wealth creation, and she responded "Oh yes, Larry, how do you think I got these?" As she lifted her hair and showed a spectacular set of diamond earrings.
Truthfully, I kind of loved it. I think she was waiting for the question and had a terrific answer, and I was completely blinded by the diamond dazzle in front of me. Down through the years, I interviewed her twice more, both pleasant enough. I've never harbored any personal animosity toward her.
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When I went to work in the Trump White House, she greeted me before the start of a cabinet room meeting with a hug.
Of course, I disagree with her policy views. But then again, if Ms. Pelosi is back to defending the free market and stock market trading, maybe the gap between her economic thinking and mine is about to narrow. Wouldn't bet on it, but hope springs eternal.
That said, I would suggest to the speaker that she promote tax incentives that will create the grand opportunity for all Americans to get rich and benefit by superior stock-picking skills. If you tax something less, Ms. Pelosi, like stocks, wealth, or jobs and incomes, you'll get much more of it. The non-rich can get rich.
And by the way, I'd love to interview her again or even have another pleasant phone call. And that's my Riff.
This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow's opening commentary on Jan. 10, 2022.
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