Financial Surveillance Tool Exposes Flawed Political Trading Practices
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Transparency in politicians’ stock trading is, and has been, a major concern for Americans. Although the Stock Act of 2012 mandates that politicians disclose their trades within a 45-day window, this requirement falls short of offering real-time visibility into their trading activities. Moreover, politicians are still allowed to trade any stock of their choosing, making it difficult to track and scrutinize their trades effectively. Chris Josephs, CEO & Co-Founder of Autopilot, is hoping to help change this power imbalance and transform the investment landscape by allowing users to automatically copy the trades of top-performing investors. He hopes that this creates multiple streams of impact:

  1. He hopes it helps American citizens leverage the knowledge they wouldn’t otherwise have, knowledge that is traditionally held within the walls of Congress and other institutions in DC—some may consider insider trading.
  2. He hopes to allow the public to see, learn from, and scrutinize the actions of these politicians with the end goal being to stop politicians from leveraging their power to enrich themselves in unethical, if not illegal, ways while simultaneously increasing financial literacy.

Motivated by the disparity between politicians’ stock trading privileges and the average American’s limitations, Autopilot allows everyone to monitor and track the stock trades of elected officials. Josephs said he, “finds it preposterous that politicians can engage in individual stock trading while simultaneously passing laws that may potentially benefit their portfolios. To compound the issue, many ordinary Americans are prohibited from participating in individual stock trading, leading to a sense of inequality and frustration.”

The Age Of The Surveillance Economy

The Patriot Act enabled surveillance like our nation has never seen before, in the name of public safety. Little did the government and others in power think that at some point surveillance would be used against them. Yet here we are and the same technologies they use to surveil us are now becoming ubiquitous and incredibly cheap, to the point that it’s now impacting them. Jack Sweeney famously created a public service to track Elon’s Jet and he’s now doing the same to Ron Desantis. To many, this seems like a fun poke at the powerful but Elon didn’t offer Sweeney money to shut it down for no reason. A lack of privacy, one which they can’t control, is often the worst nightmare of those in power.

Josephs and Autopilot are applying that same surveillance to the trading practices of politicians throughout our country. “The implications of this lack of transparency are far-reaching. While bankers and consultants face restrictions on stock trading to prevent conflicts of interest, politicians operate under different rules that, when given light, are sure to undermine public trust and perpetuate a sense of inequality,” Josephs said. According to the team’s tracking, 61 separate politicians are being tracked and have traded over $65M in volume during the time they’ve been tracked. The results so far are returns well above the market average. Nancy Pelosi’s portfolio, for example, is up nearly 24 percent year-to-date. But it’s not just Pelosi.

Trust in the government is paramount but how can we have trust when it seems so clear that they’re gaming the system? The Autopilot team watched as multiple politicians traded stocks at the perfect time to avoid recent bank collapses, saving their wealth from the ruins that normal citizens face with their 401ks, index funds, and money market accounts.

Autopilot’s original mission was to democratize access to top-performing investors’ strategies and it just so happens that politicians seem to be the best traders. As the app continues to expose discrepancies in politicians’ stock trading privileges, it drives the demand for accountability and fairness in the financial sector like never before. Josephs hopes commitment to financial integrity and transparency paves the way for a more equitable and trustworthy environment for investors large and small.

Invest Like A Politician, Beat Inflation

Privacy might be the one issue that both sides of the aisle can agree upon today. For the first time in history, the government’s power is being put into a spotlight and it’s throwing our political system into a tailspin. By shedding light on the lack of transparency in politicians’ stock trading and advocating for meaningful change Josephs believes we can find solutions. He believes passing laws to prevent politicians from voting for their financial interests is crucial for the trust of our nation and our elected officials.

As of January 12, 2022, Senator Jon Ossoff proposed S.3494 Ban Congressional Stock Trading Act. One year later, on January 24, 2023, Senator Josh Hawley reintroduced his bill to ban politicians from trading, the Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments (PELOSI) Act. Neither seems to be very popular in Congress.

Josephs advocates for an outright ban on politicians trading individual stocks. He suggests the establishment of blind trusts or the adoption of ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) as viable alternatives. By implementing these measures Josephs believes we would eliminate any direct influence politicians personal financial interests may have on their legislative decisions, fostering greater trust and restoring faith in the democratic process. Until then, using Autopilot to invest like a politician might be the best way for you to fight inflation.

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