Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Something Strange Emerges When Looking At A Congresswoman's Daytrading Records


While we have often heard that members of Congress, who are not only exempt from insider trading oversight, are also ardent daytraders we had never seen it in action.

Until now.

The following publicly filed monthly Periodic Transaction Report by Democrat Congresswoman, Judy Chu, shows us just how pervasive daytrading is not only for algos, but for those who supposedly are paid to serve their constituents. What is interesting is the size of the trades - between $1,000 and $15,000 each, this is not some novice, penny pincher; what is even more interesting are the underlying securities of choice: volatile, and levered, calls and puts on not only the S&P500, but also on some of the most volatile securities out there, such as the VIX.

Here are some examples of the trades in question (the latest full report can be found here):




There are more of these. Much more: some 9 pages worth just for June. The full breakdown is at the bottom of the post (link here).

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While we would be the last to begrudge Ms. Chu her daytrading largesse, whether or not in possession of material, non-public inside info at time of trading - after all, if it is legal, by all means trade on inside information - something did catch our interest.

According to her public profile, the Democrat representing the 27th Congressional District, taught psychology for 20 years in an East LA Community College system, from 1981 to 2001, and reported a pension worth between $100,001 and $250,000 for those years of work. She also draws a smaller pension from serving on the Monterey Park City Council. She became a member of Congress in 2009.

In other words, a community college psychology teacher who daytrades S&P calls and puts in size up to $15,000?  Maybe she is merely "piggybacking" on her husband's net worth? Then again, maybe not. Her husband, former Assemblyman Mike Eng, is a senior partner at an immigration law firm in Los Angeles valued between $250,001 and $500,000.

* * *

And then we look at her net worth, which is where things get interesting, because this career psych professor, currently has an average net worth of $3.5 million, which according to InsideGov makes her the 103rd richest member of the House.  Chu's net worth was 3.2 times more than the average member of Congress and 4 times more than the average representative. When compared to the California Congressional Delegation, Chu had a net worth that was 3.6 times more than the average.

But most interesting is the history of Rep. Judy Chu's net worth over a short 6 year period, as shown in the chart below.


To summarize: a former East LA psychology professor (with an annual pension) started off her Congressional career with virtually nothing in the bank, and over the next 5 years, built up a net worth of over $3 million. We are curious how: it wasn't with the modest salary that members of the house collect; it wasn't from outside activities, it wasn't from her husband.

Which leaves just one possibility: her phenomenal daytrading skills, which are made even more phenomenal since her trades are exempt from regulatory oversight.

We are curious: why does Ms. Chu waste her amazing trading talent in D.C. when she could be working for Steve Cohen, or better yet, run her own hedge fund, making billions. Because if she can recreate her phenomenal 6 year return with outside capital, we would be the first in line to let her manage our money... assuming of course she can repeat her trading performance when the SEC at least pretend to care.



Judy's June trading disclosure is below