Is Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, as ignorant as he seems or is he just a stone-cold liar?
These aren't mutually exclusive options.
We already know that Trump himself was privately aware of just how bad the coronavirus pandemic could be while he publicly downplayed it. The New York Times now reports that Kudlow, among other Trump regime figures, went a step further and warned donors and investors about the pandemic while he publicly downplayed.
Kudlow told privately told Wall Street that the virus was not contained on literally the same day he went on national television to say it was contained.
Hours after he had boasted on CNBC that the virus was contained in the United States and “it’s pretty close to airtight,” Mr. Kudlow delivered a more ambiguous private message. He asserted that the virus was “contained in the U.S., to date, but now we just don’t know,” according to a document describing the sessions obtained by The New York Times.
The document, written by a hedge fund consultant who attended the three-day gathering of Hoover’s board, was stark. “What struck me,” the consultant wrote, was that nearly every official he heard from raised the virus “as a point of concern, totally unprovoked.”
The market would have crashed in any case as a global pandemic annihilated global consumer demand, but it's evident that private warnings from the Trump White House also precipitated a massive sell-off. They were telling donors and investors to dump their stocks in private while telling the public that everything was fine.
I don't know if the letter of the law is applicable in this case, but this strikes me as one of the biggest instances of insider trading of all time. Hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars may have changed hands because of inside information from the White House.
The next session of Congress will have many things to investigate, but at least one thing they should look at is whether Trump's own family profited off inside information.
It seems unfathomable that they didn't.
The consultant’s assessment quickly spread through parts of the investment world. U.S. stocks were already spiraling because of a warning from a federal public health official that the virus was likely to spread, but traders spotted the immediate significance: The president’s aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Mr. Trump was publicly insisting that the threat was nonexistent.
Interviews with eight people who either received copies of the memo or were briefed on aspects of it as it spread among investors in New York and elsewhere provide a glimpse of how elite traders had access to information from the administration that helped them gain financial advantage during a chaotic three days when global markets were teetering.
The game is rigged.