Members of the US Congress are not exempt from the laws that ban insider trading, but as they generally do not have a confidential relationship with the source of the information they receive, they do not meet the usual definition of an "insider." House of Representatives rules may however consider congressional insider trading unethical. A 2004 study found that stock sales and purchases by Senators outperformed the market by 12.3% per year. Peter Schweizer points out several examples of insider trading by members of Congress, including action taken by Spencer Bachus following a private, behind-the-doors meeting on the evening of September 18, 2008 when Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke informed members of Congress about the imminent financial crisis, Bachus then shorted stocks the next morning and cashed in his profits within a week. Also attending the same meeting were Senator Dick Durbin and John Boehner; the same day (trade effective the next day), Durbin sold mutual-fund shares worth $42,696, and reinvested it all with Warren Buffett. Also the same day (trade effective the next day), Congressman Boehner cashed out of an equity mutual fund.
In 2014, federal prosecutors issued a subpoena to the House Ways and Means committee and Brian Sutter, staff director of its health-care sub-committee, relative to a price move in stocks just prior to the passage of a law favorable to the companies involved. An e-mail was sent out by a "Washington-based policy-research firm that predicted the change [in the law] for its Wall Street clients. That alert, in turn, was based in part on information provided to the firm by a former congressional health-care aide turned lobbyist, according to emails reviewed by the [Wall Street] Journal in 2013.
Security analysts gather and compile information, talk to corporate officers and other insiders, and issue recommendations to traders. Thus their activities may easily cross legal lines if they are not especially careful. The CFA Institute in its code of ethics states that analysts should make every effort to make all reports available to all the broker's clients on a timely basis. Analysts should never report material nonpublic information, except in an effort to make that information available to the general public. Nevertheless, analysts' reports may contain a variety of information that is "pieced together" without violating insider trading laws, under the Mosaic theory. This information may include non-material nonpublic information as well as material public information, which may increase in value when properly compiled and documented.
In May 2007, a bill entitled the "Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act" was introduced that would hold congressional and federal employees liable for stock trades they made using information they gained through their jobs and also regulate analysts or "Political Intelligence" firms that research government activities. The bill has not passed.
Some economists and legal scholars (such as Henry Manne, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Daniel Fischel, and Frank H. Easterbrook) have argued that laws against insider trading should be repealed. They claim that insider trading based on material nonpublic information benefits investors, in general, by more quickly introducing new information into the market.