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Opinion
Matt Levine

There’s Inside Information in SEC Filings

Also Web3, drug-trial insider trading and Olive Garden NFTs.

A good plot for, like, an insider-trading Hollywood thriller would be if the villains hacked into the computers of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC, after all, is maybe the world’s greatest repository of material information about public companies. Companies are constantly filing earnings releases, merger announcements, management changes, proxy fights, all sorts of material news on the SEC’s Edgar system. If you hacked into Edgar you could … well, in a movie, I guess you could delay every filing by like 10 minutes, to give you a chance to read and trade on it? In the real world most of this stuff gets announced after market hours, and anyway it mostly goes out on non-Edgar press wires too, so this probably wouldn’t work that well. 

You know what would work, though? There are companies that provide software for public companies to use to make Edgar filings, to “Edgarize” their press releases and other documents so that they comply with SEC formatting requirements. These services frequently store companies’ material information for a while as it is being finalized, before it is filed and made public on Edgar. You could hack them: