Newman/Martoma: The Insider Trading Law's Impasse and the Promise of Congressional Action
71 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2019
Date Written: June 9, 2019
The prohibition against insider trading is a judge-made law that has evolved for over 50 years, and reached a critical impasse in two recent decisions in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals: United States v. Newman and United States v. Martoma. Judges of the Second Circuit sharply divided over what conduct constitutes improper trading on material nonpublic information, leaving the law in profound disarray. At bottom, the disagreement stems from a decades-old split within the judiciary about how to ensure a fair securities marketplace while enabling institutional analysts to probe for corporate information in furtherance of efficient market valuation of securities. In 1983, the Supreme Court in SEC v. Dirks sought to strike a balance between these two interests by holding that trading on material nonpublic information is not illegal unless the information was disclosed in exchange for a personal benefit. But the effort to balance two competing economic and moral interests should never have been the province of the judiciary, nor did its formulation ever win uniform consensus among the judges. After decades of struggle, the Newman/Martoma impasse is the consequence. Congress appears finally poised to pass a law of insider trading that would break the deadlock, but the bill under consideration apparently ignores the market efficiency interests that undergirded the personal benefit element of insider trading. The Article suggests that before passing any law, Congress must undertake an empirical review of the impact that the insider trading bill would have on an efficient market to ensure that the final law is not only clear but good for the health of the capital markets.
Keywords: Insider Trading, Newman, Martoma, Due Process, Separation of Powers, Market Efficiency, Parity of Information, the Insider Trading Prohibition Act, Sec v. Dirks, Void for Vagueness, Rule of Lenity, Misappropriation Theory, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Securities Fraud, Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation