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Mark Twain On Insider Trading

"Is there anything whereof, it may be said, See, this new?"
 
Roughing It is Samuel L. Clemens' highly engaging account of his time vagabondizing in Nevada, California and Hawaii. The book contains a great deal of information about "the rise, growth and culmination of the silver-mining fever in Nevada—a curious episode, in some respects; the only one, of its peculiar kind, that has occurred in the land; and the only one, indeed, that is likely to occur in it".  While it may be true that there will never be another Comstock Lode, it is also true that a very few things are new under the sun.  It seems that insider trading may be one of them.  Here is Sam Clemens' (aka Mark Twain) account of insider trading as practiced more than 100 years ago:

"A youth of nineteen, who was a telegraph operator in Virginia on a salary of a hundred dollars a month, and who, when he could not make out German names in the list of San Francisco steamer arrivals, used to ingeniously select and supply substitutes for them out of an old Berlin city directory, made himself rich by watching the mining telegrams that passed through his hands and buying and selling stocks accordingly, through a friend in San Francisco. Once when a private dispatch was sent from Virginia announcing a rich strike in a prominent mine and advising that the matter be kept secret till a large amount of the stock could be secured, he bought forty 'feet' of the stock at twenty dollars a foot, and afterward sold half of it at eight hundred dollars a foot and the rest at double that figure. Within three months he was worth $150,000, and had resigned his telegraphic position.

Another telegraph operator who had been discharged by the company for divulging the secrets of the office, agreed with a moneyed man in San Francisco to furnish him the result of a great Virginia mining lawsuit within an hour after its private reception by the parties to it in San Francisco. For this he was to have a large percentage of the profits on purchases and sales made on it by his fellow-conspirator. So he went, disguised as a teamster, to a little wayside telegraph office in the mountains, got acquainted with the operator, and sat in the office day after day, smoking his pipe, complaining that his team was fagged out and unable to travel—and meantime listening to the dispatches as they passed clicking through the machine from Virginia. Finally the private dispatch announcing the result of the lawsuit sped over the wires, and as soon as he heard it he telegraphed his friend in San Francisco:

'Am tired waiting. Shall sell the team and go home.'

It was the signal agreed upon. The word 'waiting' left out, would have signified that the suit had gone the other way.

The mock teamster’s friend picked up a deal of the mining stock, at low figures, before the news became public, and a fortune was the result."
 
How would the youth of 19, the ersatz teamster, the benighted telegraph operator, and the mock teamster's friend fair under current insider trading jurisprudence? 
 
 
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Insider Trading

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