Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

 President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable with automaker CEOs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday, May 11, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

House Democrats Demand Probe Into 'Suspicious' Stock Trades Surrounding Economy-Shifting Statements by Trump

"Multiple large trades, resulting in billions in profit, occurred shortly before geopolitical events or statements by the president of the United States that moved the markets significantly."

Jake Johnson

Two House Democrats on Friday urged federal agencies to investigate possible insider trading by President Donald Trump or members of his administration after a Vanity Fair story detailed several immensely profitable stock market bets that appeared suspiciously timed around Trump's actions or statements.

"Timing and scale [of the stock bets] raise serious suspicions about whether the traders received material nonpublic information that would affect the S&P and how they received such information."

Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), in letters to the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, requested a probe into "potentially unlawful behavior related to the trading of electronically traded futures contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in the last several months."

"On October 16, Vanity Fair reported on numerous instances in which individuals or groups of individuals made millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars in profits by trading large numbers of Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P) e-mini futures contracts immediately prior to major geopolitical events," Lieu and Rice wrote.

"The trades preceded such events as the Saudi Aramco attack as well as announcements related to progress in talks between the United States and China over the trade war and the withdrawal of the extradition bill in Hong Kong," wrote the Democrats. "In one case occurring in August, the trader or traders made $1.5 billion when the S&P rose after President Trump lied about phone calls taking place between United States and Chinese officials."

"While the aforementioned trades may be purely coincidental," added Lieu and Rice, "their timing and scale raise serious suspicions about whether the traders received material nonpublic information that would affect the S&P and how they received such information."

"We urge you to swiftly investigate whether trading on insider information or any other fraudulent behavior occurred in relation to these trades," the lawmakers wrote.

Vanity Fair highlighted a number of profitable trades since the beginning of the Trump presidency that have been met with a "mixture of shock and awe" among traders.

According to Vanity Fair:

In the last 10 minutes of trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday, September 13, someone got very lucky. That's when he or she, or a group of people, sold short 120,000 "S&P e-minis"—electronically traded futures contracts linked to the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index—when the index was trading around 3010. The time was 3:50 pm in New York; it was nearing midnight in Tehran. A few hours later, drones attacked a large swath of Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, choking off production in the country and sending oil prices soaring. By the time the CME next opened, for pretrading on Sunday night, the S&P index had fallen 30 points, giving that very fortunate trader, or traders, a quick $180 million profit.

It was not an isolated occurrence. Three days earlier, in the last 10 minutes of trading, someone bought 82,000 S&P e-minis when the index was trading at 2969. That was nearly 4 a.m. on September 11 in Beijing, where a few hours later, the Chinese government announced that it would lift tariffs on a range of American-made products. As has been the typical reaction in the U.S. stock markets as the trade war with China chugs on without any perceptible logic, when the news about a potential resolution of it seems positive, stock markets go up, and when the news about the trade war appears negative, they go down.

The news was viewed positively. The S&P index moved swiftly on September 11 to 2996, up nearly 30 points. That same day, President Donald Trump said he would postpone tariffs on some Chinese goods, and the S&P index moved to 3016, or up 47 points since the fortunate person bought the 82,000 e-minis just before the market closed on September 10.

One anonymous trader told Vanity Fair he has no doubt these cases involve some sort of wrongdoing.

"There is definite hanky-panky going on, to the world's financial markets' detriment," he said. "This is abysmal."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Number of Covid Boosters Given in US Exceeds Single Shots in 8 African Nations Combined

"Our leaders' failure to help bring the vaccines to everyone, everywhere will keep us on a cruel and never-ending cycle of illness, death, and economic suffering."

Jake Johnson ·


Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·


Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·


'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo