scorecardThe Queen of Stonks: How Nancy Pelosi became the biggest meme in investing
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The Queen of Stonks: How Nancy Pelosi became the biggest meme in investing

Harry Robertson   

The Queen of Stonks: How Nancy Pelosi became the biggest meme in investing
Investment3 min read
  • The investing world got a new meme in 2021: Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker and star stock-picker.
  • Pelosi's husband's winning tech trades have shot the couple into the investing limelight.
  • While some meme about insider trading, others actively copy, and follow, the Pelosi approach.

Move over GameStop and dogecoin, the investing world got a new meme in 2021: Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and star stock-picker.

Pelosi has become a regular feature on the biggest financial meme pages such as Litquidity and Parik Patel. And investing TikTok accounts are getting tens of thousands of views on clips about Pelosi's moves in the market. But why?

A fateful Alphabet bet

Central to the story of how Pelosi became one of the biggest memes on Wall Street is US legislation that forces lawmakers to disclose their and their family's trading activity. It means the general public can view Pelosi's – or, more specifically, Pelosi's husband's – often highly successful trades.

Pelosi has reported many stock trades carried out by her husband, Paul, over the last few years. But his trading activities shot into the news in July, when he made a cool $5.3 million by exercising call options that let him buy 4,000 shares of Google parent company Alphabet.

The trade was highly controversial. That's because it came just before the House Judiciary Committee voted on antitrust regulation, which ultimately wasn't seen as a big threat to the tech titans.

Spokespeople for Speaker Pelosi told media outlets at the time that she had no knowledge of the purchases and that she owns no stock herself. Insider contacted Pelosi's office but received no reply.

Although she didn't break any rules, the trades were seen as fishy by many, and two memes based around Pelosi quickly sprung up. One is that the 81-year-old is a high-rolling, risk-taking star trader. Another is that she's making the big bucks off of insider information.

Despite the transparency requirement, an Insider investigation revealed in December that dozens of federal lawmakers and at least 182 top congressional staffers are violating a federal conflict-of-interest law known as the STOCK Act.

But Pelosi rejected the idea of a stock-trading ban for member of Congress, drawing pushback from Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Paul Pelosi is one good day-trader

For the anonymous Wall Street banker behind the Litquidity meme account, the whole Pelosi situation is funny.

It's funny to imagine Paul Pelosi as just another WallStreetBets day-trader trying to make some money on his phone, Litquidity told Insider.

And it's funny that the family of the country's most powerful Democrat, whose party is seen as wanting to tax the rich and slash inequality, should be regularly buying and selling millions of dollars of stocks and options.

The whole issue of politicians trading stocks is highly partisan. Democrats frequently point to the cases of Republican Sens Kelly Loeffler and Rand Paul, whose trading activity has also been criticized.

Unsurprisingly then, memes on Pelosi generate a lot of heat online, Litquidity says. One Litquidity Instagram post is a picture comparing George Soros and Nancy Pelosi as traders. A comment underneath says: "Nice. Now do Rand Paul and his wife." Others are highly critical of the speaker.

Read more: The market is headed for its dreaded 'late-cycle stage,' Bank of America warns — but these 6 real-estate stocks offer strong fundamentals and inflation-protected dividends

Copying the Pelosi approach

Yet there's also a community online who are more admiring and look to copy the Pelosi family trades.

In a TikTok video from September, an account called Quicktrades got 70,000 likes in a post focusing on trades by the "queen of investing." Another account posted a TikTok saying "shouts out to Nancy Pelosi for the stock tips." And trading social media app Iris allows users to track Pelosi's disclosures.

Ed Moya, senior market analyst at trading platform Oanda, told Insider the new army of retail traders in the US are always looking for experts to mimic. "The newbie believes politicians have an insight to what will likely be a good stock pick, as government officials know what fiscal policies will impact which sectors," he said.

"Retail traders are somewhat realizing that they have taken AMC and Gamestop as far as they can go and need to look for other trades."