On August 9, after more than a year of preparation, President Biden signed the CHIPS for America Act into law. Congress passed the policy to strengthen U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturers in January 2021 but didn't allocate it any budget until now. The bill comes at a time of increased dependency by U.S. companies like Apple, Qualcomm or NVIDIA on Taiwanese chip manufacturers. The latter company made headlines at the end of July when the spouse of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sold 25,000 of the corporation's shares from their portfolio, one day before CHIPS Act passed Congress a second time. As our chart based on data from Capitol Trades shows, NVIDIA is not the only stock drawing increased attention from U.S. lawmakers in the past year.
Topping the list are Big Tech stocks like Microsoft, Apple and Alphabet, whose trade volume amounted to $129.6 million, $8.3 million and $7.0 million in the last twelve months, respectively. With Antero Midstream Corp and Shell Midstream Partners, the top 8 traded stocks include two listings that could be categorized as left-field if not for the ongoing war in Ukraine. Shell Midstream partners, according to company statements, "owns, operates, develops and acquires pipelines", while Antero Midstream focuses on "natural gas and NGL production in the Appalachian basin". Interestingly, both stocks were only traded by Republicans in the past year, with the majority of trade activity coming from House Republican Mark Green from Tennessee, a notable opponent of the theory of human-made climate change.
Politicians using their knowledge of upcoming bills in conjunction with stock trading activities could, in theory, constitute insider trading. Discussing its perceived legality or illegality has long been a staple of the stock market. Still, the practice flies under the radar in day-to-day trading activities. While the so-called STOCK Act which prohibits trading commodities based on nonpublic information was signed into law in 2012, the fines tied to a violation are often minuscule. This could change soon though: Business Insider and other media outlets have identified 67 politicians not complying with the law in a recent report, and Congress is open to debating measures that would ban all federal lawmakers from trading stocks.