"Burr has relatively lousy performance over the broad period," says Sacerdote. "It's not like he's a stock-picking genius."
Burr also did not typically trade in high frequencies. Between 2012 and 2019, he made on average 3.2 stock sales transactions per quarter. But on Feb. 13 of this year, Burr made more than 30 stock sales.
This finding by Sacerdote and his team is statistically significant, which means that it is highly unlikely that Burr made such a successful series of transactions by chance alone.
In this one day of transactions, Burr broke the pattern he had maintained over nearly eight years of stock trading. "He had both excellent market timing, and he sold stocks in sectors that did very poorly," Sacerdote says.
"But this investigation will hinge on whether there is evidence that the information imparted to any member of Congress was material and nonpublic. That's where the rubber will meet the road."
The senator sold his home off-market to a group of lobbyists who had business before one of the committees he sat on. The home was sold by what some assess to be above-market price.
The recent stock sales by the North Carolina Republican were a market-beating anomaly that didn't match his typically middling trading history, according to a new Dartmouth College analysis.