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Matt Levine

Insider Trading, Bitcoin and Libor

Also Venezuela, lawyer CEOs, quants and unicorns.

Insider trading. 

Yesterday I wrote about Mathew Martoma and the "personal benefit" test in insider trading law. One thing that I say all the time is that insider trading is not about fairness, it's about theft: The goal of (U.S.) insider trading law is not to prevent people from trading on material nonpublic information, but to prevent corporate insiders from enriching themselves using the material nonpublic information they get through their jobs. This explains the "personal benefit" test. If an investor learns something about a company that no one else knows, using legitimate research and moxie and gumption and shoe leather and elbow grease, and trades on that information, that's good! We want investors to try to find out information and then use it to make prices more accurate. That is the point of markets! If, on the other hand, the investor learns something about a company that no one else knows by bribing an executive for a tip, and trades on that information, that's bad! We don't want executives to betray their companies for their own enrichment.