Back in 2011, many people were outraged when it was revealed that two months before the US Treasury pushed the insolvent GSEs into bankruptcy, then Treasury Secretary, Goldman alum Hank Paulson held a secret meeting with various hedge funds (most of them headed by Goldman alumni themselves) in which he gave them advance warning about the imminent bankruptcy, and allowing them to trade appropriately on material, and certainly non-public information.
Since then the general population has gotten far more used to encouraged criminal activity and facilitated insider trading by the government so comparable revelations no longer generate the expected loathing and disgusts, which is perhaps why over the past week the Obama administration once again leaked material information, in effect allowing and encouraging frontrunning of public data, when it told "asset managers last week that it was planning additional sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine."
Bloomberg reports that the meeting, convened a week before talks with Russia in Geneva that ended yesterday, left managers grappling with the question of whether the government intended to follow through, or was trying to trigger asset sales through the threat of sanctions, said the person. Former administration officials have said forcing Russia out of global financial markets is the strongest tool President Barack Obama has at his disposal in trying to defuse the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
Officials from the Treasury Department and the National Security Council met in Washington with mutual-fund and hedge-fund managers, according to a person who attended. Their comments sent a message that more sanctions are on the way and that investors, if they were concerned about the impact, should manage that risk, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the discussions weren’t public.
The meeting in Washington last week included several mutual-fund companies with large bond units, according to the person. Separately, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been asking U.S. asset managers about their investments in Russian securities, said the person.
The National Security Council is the president’s main forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters.
At least while Obama was happy leaking clearly material information to a select few, he didn't force them to sell Russian assets. At least not yet:
An administration official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said there have been no specific requests made to investors not to invest in Russia. The official said the Department of Commerce and the Treasury do have conversations with the business community to explain what they’re doing, such as briefing executives after a sanctions announcement. The official said the government maintains open lines of communication so businesses understand what policy makers are doinga.
No, the perfectly public trading "reco" was left to Obama spokesman Jay Carney. We all know what happened after.
As for those who participated, their actions indicate quite clearly that when it comes to securities laws, there are "laws", or rather loopholes, for the chosen ones, and then there are laws for everyone else.
One bond manager at a large U.S. mutual-fund company, who also asked not to be named citing company policy, said the firm has been working to sell Russian debt and wasn’t inclined to return to the market in the near future. The person, who hadn’t heard of any government attempts to influence money managers, said the company perceives risk in Russia as having increased significantly.
So just in case those lovely anchors with ultra white tooth veneers of financial comedy TV are still confused why the general public has completely given up on the stock, and every other "market", it is not only the HFT parasites, it is not only the Fed's gross manipulation of every asset class known to man and economist. It is the fact that insider trading is not only condoned but encouraged from the very top, and what's worse - it benefits only those who no longer have to worry about money ever again.