Study: Insiders Profited from Foreknowledge of CIA-backed Coups
Forensic economists Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Suresh Naidu just released a study which indicates insiders with access to classified intelligence information engaged in insider trading to profit from CIA-engineered coups against Iran-Mossadegh, Chile-Allende, Cuba-Castro and Guatemala-Arbenz. Limited information is available from the SEC by FOIA, so the authors were not able to determine who engaged in the trading, but in the case of Gautemala at least, it's possible it was Cabot and Dulles brothers, who were in the CIA, State Dept and United Fruit Company, a US corporation that stood to profit handsomely from a successful coup. As noted in the article, insider trading is illegal- but to use classified intelligence information for such a purpose may be treason.
Forensic economics is a growing field apparently; investigations will be conducted into the build up to the Iraq War, as data becomes increasingly available.
This exposé is a contribution to the rapidly expanding field of "forensic economics," which tries to understand the who, what, and why of illicit transactions. Since these are activities that take place out of sight (at least when they're done right), researchers are forced to look for fingerprints left in the data by smugglers, bribe-taking politicians, and other lawbreakers.
Dube, Kaplan, and Naidu examine how the stock market reacted to events that no Wall Street trader should have known about: top-secret meetings of the coup-plotting cabals at CIA headquarters and presidential approvals of CIA-organized invasions. These events would have increased the expected future profits of companies like UFC—if the CIA-led coup in Guatemala were successful, for example, UFC would get its plantations back. If stock traders were privy to the coup-planning process, we would expect them to bid up the prices of affected companies in anticipation of these higher profits. These meetings and authorizations were all highly classified, however, and since you can't trade on information you don't have, UFC's stock price shouldn't have budged until the coup actually took place and the investing world learned of the regime change.
Unless, that is, some of the Cabots, Dulleses, or other insiders were using their privileged information to profit personally from a future coup. To understand why insider trading would boost a company's stock price, suppose that someone in on the planning—perhaps at UFC or at the State Department itself—started quietly buying up cheap UFC stock in anticipation of the price jump that would come when the coup took place (or tipped off his stock-trading cousins about the future boost to UFC so they could do the same). All of this pre-coup buying would increase demand for UFC stock, bidding up its price even before CIA operatives actually got to work overthrowing the Guatemalan government.
Such trading on inside information is illegal, and when it involves highly classified details about a future CIA coup, it verges on treason. Yet the researchers found that prices of companies affected by the CIA's regime-toppling efforts—UFC in Guatemala, Anglo-Iranian (oil) in Iran, Anaconda (mining) in Chile, and American Sugar in Cuba—went up in the weeks and months preceding the coups. (The authors restrict their analysis to coups for which they had access to declassified planning documents and for which U.S. companies had had property nationalized by the targeted regimes.)
Kinda makes ya wonder what the results were, of those still-undisclosed 38+ SEC and FBI investigations into pre-9/11 insider trading. Who made the $5 billion purchase of US Treasury Notes, early September 2001? If it was Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaeda, don't you think that would've been trumpted around the world? Instead, the 9/11 Commission said the money trail was of little practical significance, ignored most of the insider trading, mentioned the put options on UA and AA, but said there was "no conceivable connection to Al Qaeda" and didn't disclose any names; even though at least some of the trades were done through CIA director Buzzy Krongard's Deutsche Bank.