Keywords: political connections, political economy in banking, Insider Trading, TARP
JEL codes: D72, G01, G21, G28
We exploit the 2008-2010 TARP bank bailouts after Lehman’s failure to test for private information leakages from banking regulators to top corporate bank executives using insider trading data and information on political connections. In politically-connected banks, buying during the pre-TARP period is associated with increases in abnormal returns around TARP. For unconnected banks, insider trading and returns are uncorrelated. Results hold when comparing connected to unconnected executives within the same bank and are driven by political connections to financial branches of government. Through a FOIA request we obtained the previously unknown TARP funds requested by each bank. The ratio of requested to received funds strongly correlates with abnormal returns and is also a predictor of buying behavior by connected banks.