A man got to have a code - Omar, The Wire
Today, I am issuing a full pardon in favour of former hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who many years ago supposedly engaged in insider trading if you believe the patriarchy. While as a strict matter of US law, Raj will continue to have a criminal record, for all other purposes, he is no longer to be regarded as a persona non grata. He is now a persona yes grata. As of this date, any person who thinks of Raj in an opprobrious light is guilty of being a total square and is liable to be mocked as such in a future OPM Wire post. Raj is now free to have his picture taken with Bill Clinton, attend Milken Institute conferences and enjoy all the Ganesha-given freedoms of man, to the extent possible in the namby-pamby world we live in. I wish him well.
So, great news: Raj is out of prison. He got out 2 years early, because of a new law Kim Kardashian lobbied for. He's still in house arrest, except for going to work, but how's that different from your life, huh? I should have visited him while he was in prison. Big regret. I didn't know he would get out this soon. Brian Mulroney visited Conrad Black when he was in prison. He's such a master networker! LinkedIn is lame. Visiting moguls when they're incarcerated is what power networking is all about.
Sri Lankan Tamil Raj Rajaratnam was prosecuted by Indian Preet Bharara. Sad! I have noticed that some Indians have animus towards Sri Lankan Tamils, because the Tamil Tigers ordered the assassination of their beloved Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Boo-hoo, did sending Raj to prison bring Rajiv Gandhi back to life? I don't think so! There were three major Gandhis, it was getting too confusing anyways. The assassination was carried out by a 17-year-old girl with the last name Rajaratnam, but I swear there's absolutely no link! Raj is still probably worth somewhere between $500m and $1 billion. Preet is now a TV personality and runs a podcast and is an all-around attention whore. Michael Milken was prosecuted by Rudy Giuliani, the paragon of virtue. I prefer Canadian prosecutors, who tend to stay anonymous.
Now, you might wonder why I am writing about Raj, when my focus is Bay Street. Er, hello? Canada has the largest Sri Lankan population outside of Asia? Half my readership is Sri Lankan. Don't ever question my editorial choices again.
In granting my pardon, I have carefully considered the totality of Raj's character. First, he's a playful and fun-loving person with a passion for pranks. He used to make bets with his traders with the loser having to spend the day wearing lingerie. That's all I needed to know. Fun fact: even when he was a billionaire, Raj lived with his parents. If you're thinking, "You already mentioned he's Sri Lankan", that's so racist. Raj once asked city hall permission to build two kitchens in his apartment. Apparently, the reason he cited was "adherence to Jewish traditions". You have to respect a guy who hedges his bets!
So, yes, I don't think insider trading is a real crime. Where's the crime in making the prices of stocks reflect ALL the information that's available? You can read policy papers from the Cato Institute as to why insider trading laws make no sense. The stigma against insider trading is simply a case of unthinking sheep who accept anything The Man tells them. The Fake News Media gets in a tizzy about insider trading cases, the same way they would over a Madoff or an Enron, but there's no equivalency at all. Laws change. Slavery was once legal! Apartheid was once the law and now, I am the Nelson Mandela of insider trading.
To be frank, I have an ulterior motive for taking sides with total badass Raj Raj. I am pulling a Miley Cyrus. That time she twerked on prime time TV. To shed her good-girl image as a Disney Channel actress. Because I have sometimes highlighted poor fund performance, some people think I am some sort of consumer advocate. Boring! Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm a personal responsibility, law of the jungle kind of guy. I am a brooding, unpredictable badass like Batman. I have a complex moral code. The ladies go crazy for that sh*t. On the other hand, I don't know if the ladies go crazy for Rob Carrick, I will let him speak for himself.
As a result of writing this blog, sometimes, virtue-signalling total square busybodies get in touch with me complaining about how "bad" the industry is. Like I am told that I should have highlighted some trades in a recent article that might be "too creative". People will say that a cabal of Bay Street funds conspired to trap retail investors in pot stocks. I don't believe in any market manipulation theories. If you like a quote, place the trade - no one is holding a gun to your head. Some people whine about naked shorting. I am sure Grandma would have Druckenmiller-like returns, if only there was less naked shorting. And if a manager is willing to risk prison to make money for his clients, it's a choice I can respect. In fact, how dare you call yourself a fiduciary if you’re not prepared to go to prison for me? Raj paid the price for his choices, never took a plea and refused to incriminate his friends to gain a lighter sentence. Even as many of his friends testified against him. After Raj got handed an 11 year sentence, he was offered a 6 year discount by prosecutors if he testified against his friend Rajat Gupta. Even Rajat Gupta, who blames Raj for his own tipping conviction, pointed out how creditable it is that Raj turned down 6 years of freedom flat. Finally, if there's one thing you should take away from this rant, it's that I’m a good girl gone bad, so to speak. Ladies, I am on LinkedIn.