We Track Political Stocks
We believe in that core American Idea - which translated for Emerson as "I'm as good as you be", and for Jefferson as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It was Lincoln, however, who connected the American Idea to "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
What makes us different is that we believe "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is idea that can be measured.
We do this by looking at how our politicians invest their own money.
There is a practical reason and also an idealistic reason for this focus.
The practical reason is that studies have shown Members of Congress to be exceptionally good investors. In various studies, they appear to have beaten the stock market by 6-12% per year. We want to figure out what they are doing, so we can do it, too.
That's not easy because political investment data is scattered. There are 535 Members of Congress, and each one takes a slightly different approach to filling out disclosure forms. (About 10% of the forms are still handwritten). We are also studying state-level legislatures and members of the executive and judicial branches.
This means that our first job is to gather, sort, and fill-in-the-blanks for these disclosures. Modern machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques make this job easier, so if Congress does have something to teach the rest of us about investing, it's a lesson we are ready to learn.
Our idealistic reason is this: the American Idea works best when political leaders have the same interests as the people they represent.
Since it's hard to know the truth about political interests, we start by watching political investments. By tracking how politicians invest, as a group, we can begin to read the political winds from the viewpoint of their own self-interest.
We believe that Political Investment Sentiment is a concept like Consumer Confidence or Household Savings Rate. It's important because politicians have enormous power over the economy, so it's worth paying attention to which ideas they're voting for with their wallets.
Our mission is to make this information easy to access, search, and comprehend. We work to gather, compile, and study their disclosures and our subscribers make that work possible.
We believe that many people - from investors to voters, from news media to stock brokers - will find something worth knowing here. Our job is just to organize the paper trail. (We have 175,000 documents and counting).
Sign up for updates and check out our blog. We are sending out short research excerpts regularly, as we get our database ready for subscription access. Keep exploring to find out more.
Joe cares about developing innovative, data-driven solutions to the challenges of political transparency. His focus is on the data science, programming, and database development aspect of FinePrint.
Joe spent his 20s and early 30s as an academic researcher and organizer for political campaigns. He has (almost) completed his PhD from Cornell University in Government, where his research agenda focused on the co-evolution of states and markets and business-government relations in the finance sector. Most recently, he held a Research Fellowship at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He holds a BA from Swarthmore College, an MA from the University of Chicago and has worked as a campaign manager, political scientist, and statistician.
Joe is originally from Kentucky and now lives in Massachusetts.