US officials made lucrative stock trades while preparing for Covid-19, WSJ reports.
As the United States ramps up its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, it’s become a financial industry treasure chest of sorts.
Many stocks have been sold to U.S. officials, who were often willing to make money on their trades while preparing for the potential pandemic.
“In general, the deals were executed as the market was about to fall by a few points before it rose back up,” said Mark B. Steube, a managing director at Stifel Financial Corp., which tracks U.S. stock and options trading. “It’s a little different than buying a company and then selling their stock to raise cash.”
So far, the U.S. government has announced purchases of stocks worth $5.7 billion – an average of $8.7 million – that have totaled up to $25 million worth of shares at a time when the S&P 500 has fallen by more than 1 percent.
Those deals have generated tens of millions of dollars worth of revenue for the U.S. government, as well as many millions more worth of gains for the stocks of U.S. companies.
That’s an unusual amount of revenue for a country undergoing a financial crisis.
“We’ve had stocks where we’ve made money and stocks where we’ve made losses,” said David R. Smith, a professor of finance at the University of Texas. “I don’t think there’s any question that those who benefit from the stock price gains are the folks who wanted to make a profit during this crisis. It’s really hard to see how there’s much of an agenda to help people or to help the economy.”
According to some analysts, the deals made by the U.S. government and its agencies may have been part of an effort to get ahead of a slowdown in the financial market,