One of Trump’s closest friends on Wall Street just demonstrated unusually perfect timing by dumping a million shares in a major American steel company right before the President’s surprise tariffs announcement this week rocked the market.
Former Trump advisor Carl Icahn is a billionaire, activist investor, who resigned in disgrace from the administration as Special Advisor on regulatory reform last summer in advance of a New Yorker report entitled, “Carl Icahn’s failed raid on Washington.” Apparently, they spoke too soon about the fortunes of Trump’s infamous financier friend, whose corporate raiding became literally personified in the 1987 movie Wall Street.
Icahn sold more than $30 million worth of shares in the Wisconsin-based manufacturing company Manitowoc Inc. just a week before the Trump administration’s announcement tanked the stock market. ThinkProgress founder Judd Legum reports:
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In a little-noticed SEC filing submitted on February 22, 2018, Icahn disclosed that he systematically sold off nearly 1 million shares of Manitowoc Company Inc. Manitowoc is a “is a leading global manufacturer of cranes and lifting solutions” and, therefore, heavily dependent on steel to make its products.
Trump’s announcement rattled the markets, with steel-dependent stocks hardest hit. Manitowoc stock plunged, losing about 6 percent of its value. Reuters attributed the drop to the fact that Manitowoc is a “major consumer of steel.” As of 10:20 a.m. Friday, the stock had lost an additional 6 percent, trading at $26.21.
Icahn was required to make the disclosure because of the large volume of his sale. The filing reveals that he began systematically selling the stock on February 12, when he was able to sell the stock for $32 to $34.
Icahn even told CNBC yesterday that he hasn’t had “much” contact with President Trump in the last four to five months, leaving the door open for some contact.
But nobody knows if the financier has spoken with other members of the administration, such as former steel magnate and ArcelorMittal Board member Wilbur Ross.
The Trump administration’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released a report calling for a 24% steel tariff on February 16th, but Carl Icahn shrewdly managed to avoid holding too much stock in the manufacturers about to get creamed by that policy announcement too.
Icahn also sold another block of shares on February 12th, just four days before Ross’ announcement.
Last year alone, America added more jobs in manufacturing, 138,000, than the number of people who are employed in the entire steel industry. A tariff policy will harm those manufacturers and their employees, but experts say that the real reason for the decline of lower skilled jobs isn’t trade, but technology.
This isn’t a theoretical discussion either; the Bush Administration imposed tariffs over a decade ago that gutted manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt, coincidentally producing the very same angry voters who brought in Trump because they thought he’d bring back manufacturing jobs.
Republicans spent an entire generation yammering about keeping government limited and refusing to “pick winners and losers” in the private sector, but now that they’ve elevated President Trump from lowlife gangster to Gangster-in-Chief, the GOP has abandoned any semblance of sanity on tariffs, again.
As for Carl Icahn, he’s already complying with the subpoena he earned from federal prosecutors in New York for his role in the Trump Administration
But today’s news shows that Icahn, who was a literal role model for the personification of greed, Gordon Gekko, hasn’t changed his stripes, and he’s still willing to risk prison stripes for insider trading.