Over 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 Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
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 the House Speaker was “inside trader of the year—just kidding!” before noting that her trade timing is “particularly on point.”
The House speaker has recently purchased call options for Disney, Google, Micron, Roblox, and Salesforce, and many retail investors believe they can beat the markets by mimicking Pelosi’s 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 U.S. government policy.
Pelosi consistently ranks among the wealthiest members of U.S. 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 U.S. Congress have attracted increased scrutiny, as senators and representatives frequently outperform the markets. Some critics allege that these results are attributable to foreknowledge of new policy outcomes and their impact on the markets.
The financial ethics of U.S. Congress has come under greater scrutiny in the aftermath of the Federal Reserve trading scandal, in which several high-ranking Fed officials resigned from their positions after revelations about financial transactions in which they appeared to benefit from foreknowledge of federal monetary policy. While the scandal resulted in a crisis of legitimacy and subsequent reckoning for the Fed, there has been somewhat less criticism of the financial activities of members of U.S. 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 stock trading by sitting members of Congress. The bipartisan coalition consists mostly of members of the Democratic party, but they may have one unlikely ally: former U.S. 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.”
When asked by reporters about U.S. congresspersons trading on the stock market, Pelosi responded “We are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”
Of course, Pelosi’s profits on the stock market do not necessarily insinuate anything illicit—it is conceivable, after all, 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, either 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 did not respond to a request for comment.