Political divisions in Washington are being felt because of the returns lawmakers are generating from their controversial stock bets.
Perhaps the best measure of this trade — which many lawmakers and outside groups say should be banned altogether — are two regularly rebalanced exchange-traded funds that allow traders to imitate legislators’ holdings by party.
Since the funds launched in early February of this year, Democratic investments have outperformed the market and increased by almost 20%, while the Republican Party lagged but still generated a return of just over 9%. .
The yields – in other words – almost exactly split the difference between the 14.55% offered by the S&P 500 over the same period, according to data from Yahoo Finance.
“We are now in a divided world,” said Christian Cooper, portfolio manager of Subversive Capital, which runs both funds.
In Congress, exchanges are authorized provided they are disclosed. It represents “a unique natural experiment” to see political division play out in financial markets, Cooper said.
Similar divergent returns based on partisanship are also visible among two other ETFs that track politics and stocks.
Looking to 2024: will he swing to the GOP?
Divergent 2023 results among lawmakers were largely based on outsized Democratic investments in high-flying tech stocks, especially those exposed to AI.
A prominent Democrat also made headlines in recent days by announcing that the Pelosi family is once again invested in NVIDIA (NVDA) after remaining absent in recent months, according to recent revelations.
Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, a venture capitalist, made the trades and is not informed, Pelosis have repeatedly said, of anything that has been gleaned from Capitol Hill.
THE top GOP headlines look very different. Republican investors are currently focused around ConocoPhillips (COP), NGL Energy Partners LP (NGL), Shell (SHEL), Accenture SA (ACN), and Elevance Health (PRINCIPLE).
While Republican lawmakers and the investors who followed them may have failed in 2023, Cooper sees a potential shift toward these stocks in 2024.
He said factors ranging from energy volatility to a potentially slower-than-expected pace of Federal Reserve rate cuts to a spreading conflict in the Middle East could distract attention from things like AI to focus on topics like AI. what he calls the more pragmatic orientation seen in many GOP portfolios, particularly in energy stocks.
“All these things suggest that KRUZ will be in favor in 2024,” he added.
This potential, if realized, would be similar to the change that occurred between 2022 and 2023. In 2022, GOP holdings would have outperformed the market as a whole if these ETFs had existed, largely fueled by a energy sector which jumped almost 60%.
Lawmakers as a whole beat the S&P 500 in 2021 and 2022, according to to reports from Unusual Whales, which provides the data to Subversive Capital.
DEMZ and MAGA funds, focused on corporate policy directions, have both been around longer. Comparing these funds since 2020, when DEMZ began trading, shows that long-term returns have favored Republicans by this measure, even after the recent strong year for progressives.
Lawmakers’ Efforts to Ban the Trade
This year, ongoing efforts to ban stock trading by lawmakers have again failed.
A bipartisan effort in the House has now 69 co-sponsors while another effort was reintroduced earlier this month. This latest bill seeks to ban not only lawmakers, but also the president and vice president, Supreme Court justices and top Federal Reserve officials, from owning almost any individual stock.
“The American people need to know that their elected leaders put the interests of their constituents first — not their own financial interests,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is championing the more ambitious bill.
The efforts are aimed at updating the current rules, which have been in effect since their enactment. by then-President Obama. This 2012 legislation clarified that insider trading laws applied to lawmakers and also established a requirement for lawmakers to disclose their transactions within 45 days.
But efforts to ban the practice appear to be struggling to get on Washington’s agenda in 2024, even after a new round of revelations, including lawmakers from both parties who sold bank stocks during the March financial crisis.
Ben Werschkul is Yahoo Finance’s Washington correspondent.