The Wall Street Journal reported the other day (here it is, but it’s behind a paywall) that as of his last disclosure form, House Republican leader Eric Cantor owned shares in a mutual fund that is short long-dated U.S. Treasury bonds. He is, in other words, betting that interest rates will rise, and hoping to make money off the fall in prices that would cause. (For my ancient primer on why bond prices fall when interest rates rise, see here.)
Cantor is in a position to help the U.S. default on its debts by blocking an increase in the debt ceiling. That would be very good for a short Treasury trade—rates would spike and prices would plummet. Even stoking the fear that that might happen could cause milder panics. Is this legal? Is anyone else doing this? Is the Republican flirtation with default a form of talking their and their donors’ book?
Note: following the WSJ story, I wrongly called Cantor the “whip” at first. He’s the majority leader.